A Grace Note: Our Life Begins on Christmas Day


Dear Reader, 

“And in despair I bowed my head; “There is no peace on earth,” I said: “For hate is strong and mocks the song of Peace on earth, good-will to men!” Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead nor doth He sleep! The wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men!” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1863 

This song reminds me of the world this year. It reminds me of myself. I was the one who said there is no peace on earth. I was the one who in despair bowed my head. Infertility hit me so hard this year. I cried more days than I didn’t. I struggled with it more than I kept hope. I worried more than I prayed and I looked away from God instead of right at Him. But you know what? The past two days I have been filled with inexplicable Hope in what is to come. God is not dead nor doth He sleep. He is present, Alive, Powerful, and so attentive to our cries. The Bells of Christmas Day will ring every year for eternity, because nothing can ever take away the Hope that day brings for us. The Christ Child brings us the Hope of new Life, the Gift of Salvation, and the Beauty of His presence. He is God with us. He is God for us. Hard years don’t define us. We are defined by the Hope of Christmas Day. It is our new beginning and the Light to every form of darkness. Your world will never get too dark as long you carry His Light. I keep telling myself that our strength in Him is made evident by our ability to have Joy even in our darkest nights. That’s how you defeat the hard things. That’s how you live even though you die. The Joy of Jesus lights every room of our heart and shines out every window of our life. I find my strength in His Joy and I carry it with me into every battle. Merry Christmas, friends. Praying the Joy of Jesus lets you win every battle in this new year. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

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A Grace Note: Our Weary World Rejoices


Dear Reader, 

This week before Christmas is doing us in over here. It’s been a week of hard decisions, new beginnings, friends in the hospital, and on top of all that myself and all the ladies in our small group got hit hard with the stomach flu within hours of each other…and our husbands are just now getting hit with it too. Needless to say, the Christmas cookies for the neighbors never got baked and it’s a miracle some of our Christmas cards made it out. Our Christmas travel plans are delayed by at least a day (fingers crossed my hubby stays strong and doesn’t start exhibiting flu symptoms!) and my presents still need to be wrapped. It doesn’t feel like Christmas…but then again maybe it does. As I was eating my plain toast this morning and dreaming of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies instead, I realized that Mary and Joseph had an equally if not more unenjoyable week before the first Christmas. Mary was 9 months pregnant and on the road with no inn willing to let her rest her feet or even willing to allow her some comfortable place to give birth. They were exhausted, they were rejected, they were seemingly cut off from the world as they sat among the animals. And yet amidst all that, God gave them the greatest gift ever to be given. The Christ child. And isn’t this how He arrives to each of us? When we are broken, exhausted, and rejected? He came to bind up the broken, to raise the dead, to breathe new Life and Hope into a weary world. Christ didn’t wait to arrive until we were all ready for Him, He arrived just when we thought we were alone and broken. He came for the people who feel like that. He came to bring Joy to the exhausted, the sick, the sad, the weary. He’s here with us now, and our weary world rejoices. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I don’t feel ready, but that’s exactly the point. We were never going to be perfectly ready, and that’s why He came, because He was always perfectly ready for us. We have no control over how the Christ enters this world, we just have to be willing to Love Him when He does. Rejoice, even you who are weary. He who has loved you with an everlasting Love is here. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

P.S. Above is a photo of my parents house where I hope we will end up celebrating soon. Praying you all stay safe from the flu bug this Christmas. 

A Grace Note: Unexpected Places of Joy 


Dear Reader, 

It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you do it and why you do it. I’m sure someone has said that before, but those are the words that are speaking to me today. When we are kids we get asked the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. We can pick anything in the world they tell us. But often times what we do picks us, and we find ourselves in a place we didn’t expect to be. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be a writer. I also strangely enough wanted to marry a Power Ranger (90’s kid reference). Today I find that I’m not a mother, but I still hope to be one someday. I find that I’m not a school teacher, but I’m about to start working with the smallest kiddos again very soon. I find that I’m not really a writer, I only have a small personal blog. And I find that I married someone better than a Power Ranger, I married a man who supports what I do, however glamorous or not glamorous it is. He has let me pursue all my crazy dreams, and he’s remained optimistically encouraging of them all. My point today is that most likely you aren’t where you thought you would be or who you thought you would be. Life hands us hard battles and curveballs but God hands us Grace and Joy and Strength to handle them all. Knowing the God of Grace changes our perspective. Your life may feel small, but you are not insignificant. Christ came in the smallest and most humble way imaginable. We thought He would arrive in a more majestic way, we thought His Life would begin noticeably bigger. He was the most important person ever to be born and yet He came in the quietest way possible. How He arrived didn’t define who He was…why He arrived did. God has shown us that small and simple are huge and beautiful in His eyes. He has shown us that He almost always works in a way we do not expect. I am determined to be Joyful. I am determined to see God at work in every area of my Life. I am so hopeful for the future, and I am striving hard to be content in the places God has put me. It’s not the “how you got where you are” that matters. It’s the “why you’re there and how you thrive there” that does. God’s got a plan, take Joy in that.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

A Grace Note: Joy in the Waiting 


Dear Reader, 

Just one more quick thought for today! Sometimes we think our dreams are coming to an end when really God is just saying “not now. Wait for me and I will deliver you”. And it’s in those moments that we must consider how we will react, and how we can live with Joy in that moment of not knowing what comes next. We are told in scripture not to worry about tomorrow, that God will take care of it, that we can’t see the entirety of our timeline but He can. For those of us going through infertility, those of us who don’t know what will come or if what we are waiting for will ever come, we must consider how we can live THIS day with Joy. Our lives are no longer held captive by darkness. Instead they are ignited with the Light and the Life of Christ. This means that we are free from our worries. What if today we physically and emotionally and spiritually said “No” to worry and to anxiousness and to hurt? What if today we said “Yes” to the beauty of the moment God is creating? What if we thrived in the waiting? What if we cling closer to God in this instead of pushing Him away? What if we just fully trusted Him to make our Lives beautiful? God is Good. Sometimes we forget this. He is not hurt, or anxiety, or impatience, or defeat. In Christ we have victory, Joy, love, peace, and hope for tomorrow and all the days to come. He will not abandon you. He will provide for you right where you are. Choose His Joy. Show the darkness that it no longer has power over you. Christ has made all things new. He can turn this moment around for you. Speak His Joy into your Life and into the Lives of those around You. There is power in the name of Jesus, there is Joy unspeakable, and there is Hope in His everlasting arms. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: Jesus is Greater 


Dear Reader, 

I’ve had it written on a chalkboard above my sink…”Jesus is Greater”. And it’s been running through my head each time I’ve faced something hard the last couple months. But the truth is that we can whisper those words, “Jesus is Greater” even when the beautiful things in life are taking place. Pretty presents all perfectly wrapped, fresh blankets of fallen snow, shiny Christmas lights hung high on the pines, they all point to Him because they’re all for Him. And we do all of these things because He is for us. The circle of giving and receiving is continual on both ends. We give Him our hearts because He gave us His. We give Him our lives because He gave us His. We give Him our voice because He speaks for us…to our Father God every single day on our behalf. We are what Christ gives us, and He’s given us everything…His Life, His Breath, His Voice, His Love. It doesn’t matter what we’ve accumulated here on earth…not our possessions, not our baggage, not our growing list of imperfections. What matters is what Christ has accumulated for us in our new Life with Him. Your world doesn’t have to be spinning perfectly to walk with our perfect God. All it has to do is spin towards Him instead of away. His arms are open and His heart waits for us to see Him and the Joy He has prepared for us. Leaning on the everlasting arms is what it’s all about here. Those arms are strong enough to catch us, to hold us, to provide for us, to rejoice with us. Those arms spread wide to both hold us and declare victory for us. Nothing is stronger than Him. No one Loves us more. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Day 10 of Advent Joy 


Dear Reader, 

 “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15: 9-11 This morning I heard a sermon on Mary. It was about how she surrendered her life to the will of God. How she said yes to maybe the hardest job in the history of the world, to give birth to the Son of God and then later to see Him die for all of us. She said yes to a life that wouldn’t make sense to the world, and yes to the power of the Holy Spirit. To obey the will of God and trust His heart is so hard for us who cannot always see Him. And yet it is by saying yes to God that we find true Joy. Mary knew that and Christ reiterated that truth with the words He spoke in John. Maybe God is asking you to do something hard this Christmas, or to walk a hard road, or to surrender the plans you thought you wanted for your life. Mary said yes to God in all of those things, and she was able to experience the absolute closest relationship with Christ. This brought her the greatest Joy. The hardest things in our lives are often only doorways to deeper relationship with the Savior of our souls. Christ came to bring you Joy that would last. Hard days aren’t meant to defeat you and beautiful days are yet to come. And I pray these last ten days have brought you to a deeper realization of that. I pray this Advent prepares us all to start saying yes to God, yes to the entrance of Christ into our lives, yes to the power of the Holy Spirit, and yes to the Joy that Christ was born for. He lived, died, and rose that you would live in His Joy and carry His light. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Day 9 of Advent Joy 


Dear Reader, 

The snow is deep here. It took us three hours to get to my parents house last night when it usually takes an hour and a half. But sometimes I think the whole purpose of snow is to slow us down. Snow always brings about a hushed quiet and a peace I can’t quite explain. The roads may be slippery, our heat might be blasting, our wind shield wipers might be freezing up, but if we roll down our windows all we hear is the soft padding of flakes falling softly on the earth and the muted crunch of tires as they tread carefully through the new terrain. We all just slow down, and hold our breath as we travel through it. There is a slight bit of fear as we grip the steering wheel tighter than usual, but at the same time there is quiet wonder as our world is turned into a winter wonderland and we marvel at how the elements can still cause us to stop in our tracks despite all our leaps in technology. And tonight all this slowing down has once again brought me Joy. We prayed for traveling mercies, that God would keep my family safe as we all gathered this weekend. And God has not only graciously given that protection, but has also allowed all of our other plans and obligations to fall through because of the falling snow and has allowed us all more time together. The day today was slow, and quiet, and what my heart needed. I find so much Joy in how God navigates our seasons and guides how our time may be spent. We can rush all we want, but an act of God (as we like to call the weather) can slow us all down in a heartbeat. Soft falling snow has done that for us again here in Wisconsin. And tonight I’m thinking of the angels who filled the sky and stopped the shepherds right in their tracks the night Jesus was born. Another act of God causing the world to slow down for a night and bringing people quietly together to gather around a manger bed…to gather around family. Joy doesn’t always come loudly and it doesn’t always come as a result of our plans. Sometimes the Joy of the Lord comes unexpectedly, interrupts our plans, and brings us the beauty of simply being together. That’s Jesus’ greatest desire, that one day we will all just be together as family.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Day 8 of Advent Joy 


Dear Reader, 

December is a flood of emotions for me. Not only does it contain Advent, Christmas, and New Year’s but the 16th of December is my birthday as well my baby brother’s 16th birthday in Heaven. I turned ten the morning my brother who was born three months prematurely went to see Jesus. And I remember so strongly how God spoke to me when that happened. I remember so clearly the prayers I prayed and the answers I received from Him. My brother was only here for a little less than two months, but it would take pages and chapters and books for me to adequately lay out for you how his tiny life impacted me and my family. And so my birthday has always been bittersweet. I like to say that God sent two baby boys to this earth to save me, Jesus and Jack. Because without Jesus I wouldn’t have salvation, and without Jack I may have never asked God the hard questions or listened when He spoke to me. I’ve never really fit in, and I think it’s because my soul has always carried a deep understanding that God is real and also a sadness that Life often comes through loss. This is where Joy is tested, as all our Joy is. The devil tried to steal mine at such a young age, and I can’t explain to you why mine still stands except that God made sure it would. He strengthened me through something that should have broken me. A little girl as I was, I felt like God had marked me or maybe punished me by taking Jack away on the day I was born. But now I believe that God allowed this so I would never forget the prayers He answered and so I would never think of Jack without knowing God loved Him and holds Him now. Our lives are connected, mine and his eternal one. And I believe God did that on purpose. My Joy today is real though. Maybe someday I will share my whole testimony here, but for today I just want you to see and know that God is so real, and so personal, and the Joy we have in Him can’t be stolen or broken or crushed. Even the hard things point to His glory. Even tiny babies are part of His story. Repeat the sounding Joy my friends. God turns even the hardest things into the most beautiful stories. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer

Day 7 of Advent Joy 


Dear Reader, 

 1 Peter chapter one has this to say: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now , you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious Joy, for you are receiving the goal of your Faith, the Salvation of your souls.” These words are the summation of all I have been feeling this season. There is so much grief in the world. Today our hearts break for Aleppo, for broken homes, for orphaned children, for infertility. And yet the heaviness that the grief of the world brings can never outweigh the weightlessness of His Joy. We weep because of what we see, but we are filled with unexplainable Joy because of the Salvation we can’t see. This world is broken, but Heaven is not. Our hearts are breaking because they are flesh, but our Souls are strong because Jesus fights for them. Jesus was born for broken people like us. We can have Joy even today because while we stand helpless Christ stands strong. This world is not our home, and it wasn’t Christ’s home either. Though we do not see Him now we love Him, and while we do not see Him now He loves us. Nothing can separate us from Him. Nothing. Joy is so closely linked with Hope, and both of those are found in Christ. Joseph felt like his future marriage was crumbling before it even got started when he discovered Mary was pregnant. It took an Angel from God to show him that what he saw was different from what was true. We know that Joseph found Joy because he didn’t leave Mary and Jesus alone in this world. He found a truth He couldn’t explain, an act of God he was trying so hard to see. And we, much like Joseph, when we have found the Joy of Christ won’t leave Jesus and His people alone in this world either. Because Joy unites our souls, it is a family trait of those who are His. It doesn’t always mean a smile on our face and a perfect life, but it means we have a never ending Hope in the Goodness of Christ and the Light that He brings to break apart the dark. Joy can spread and Jesus can save. Nothing is ever too broken for Him, nothing is ever too hard, no one is ever out of His reach. Joy to the world, the Lord has come,to save and heal and hold

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Day 6 of Advent Joy


Dear Reader, 

 Sometimes we have to fight to keep our Joy. We have to keep our hearts beating steady when everything seems like it’s working against us. I think there is truth to the idea that once you decide to do something with Christ, live for Him, serve Him, love Him, that the enemy is sure to hit you full force. To be full of the Joy of the Lord when our world is crumbling away is something the enemy can’t stand for, because he knows that Joy is often one of our strongest lines of defense. To have a Joy that it is unshakeable, that can’t be taken away or compromised, is to be invincible. That is what Christ has made us. He instilled in us Hope, and Peace, and Joy when He died and rose to give us Salvation. I admit that recently I have had some very hard days. And each of these days God has given me the strength to stand back up, take back my purpose in Him, and smile with Joy that He is on my side and nothing will separate me from Him. Joy is not happiness. And this has taken me a lifetime to realize. Happiness is fleeting, a product of the world, something we can never seem to get enough of. But Joy is eternal, a product of God, and it fills us completely. Joy allows us to smile through tears, to ignite Hope, and to hold onto unshakeable Peace. The Joy of knowing Jesus is that we have Hope in all things Good and Holy and Eternal, and we know that all of those things now belong to us because of Him. If Joy seems hard to find today then I ask you to read His Word, to fold your hands in prayer, and to be reminded that if He is for us then nothing can be against us…and nothing can steal His Joy away from us. Today I think of Mary, whose life was surely hard. Mary whose life didn’t go according to her own plan, but God’s plan. Mary who knew first hand that she was blessed because an angel came and told her so. She was loved and chosen and provided for by the God of endless Joy. And friends, so are we. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer