A Grace Note: Seek Justice, Love Mercy


Dear Reader, 

We caught this photo of this beautiful little songbird on our walk through the arboretum last night. The last two days have ripped our hearts open wide to so much pain in this world. Sunday was freedom Sunday at church. We talked about human trafficking, about the International Justice Mission, about bond slaves. About children caught in a world of cruelty and harm. And then today we woke to news of Las Vegas. This little bird, perched high in the sky, staring back at us like Hope, even for just a brief second, calls my heart to a single message: Stay the Path. Do not let evil keep you from doing good. Be the Light in this world. Carry the Light of Christ into dark places and through dark nights without fear because Christ has gone before us illuminating the Lost and chasing away the shadows. On our heart this week even more than usual was this message: children need safe homes illuminated by the Light. And we need the Light of those children and all the Hope that they carry. This songbird gives me hope. How strange that he would fly so close, stare so intently at us. But that’s what God does, He comes close when things make no sense and He stares right at us giving us hope, conviction, illumination. Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God, friends. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

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Grace Under Pressure: The Force of Pressure Unseen 


Dear Reader, 

I was in the shower this morning when I noticed my anniversary ring, the one my husband gave me last year during our trip to the Black Hills, felt different on my finger. I thought maybe it had twisted funny. I’ve worn it everyday for over a year, and though it’s been exposed to the heat of the shower daily, it has never been subjected to any known type of pressure or force. Which is why I found myself in shock when I realized it had somehow become bent so badly that I could barely pry it off of my finger. I tried to bend it back by running it under steaming hot water, thinking maybe the steam from the shower had caused it to bend in the first place, but it wouldn’t budge and I couldn’t get it to regain its former shape. All these weeks I’ve been searching for words to write. I’ve been feeling like the well had run dry and for some reason, God had stopped speaking to me through this way that He seemingly always has. But this ring this morning caused me to realize that the silence I have been experiencing is not unexplainable. There have been pressures unseen bearing down on my soul that I simply had not noticed. They hid themselves behind my earthly worrying and exhaustion and when God caused me to open my eyes to them, I was made aware that once again nothing is without purpose. I was made aware that if I feel God has become silent in my life it is not because He has chosen not to speak, but it is instead because the enemy has found a way to cause me not to listen through the force of pressures unseen which cause what I see to become warped and different from what God intends. Those pressures make me feel like the pieces of this life God has given me won’t fit back together. What unseen spiritual pressures are taking hold of your life? God says that nothing which comes into the Light stays hidden. Perhaps the only way to know what is hiding and holding our souls back from deeper relationship with God is to simply ask God to illuminate what we can’t see. I let the pressures of isolation and anxiety and worry overshadow the power of Hope and Grace and Purpose. God has Good things for you. Allow Him to light up your dark spaces where the hard things hide.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With The King Days 32 & 33


Dear Reader, 

I wandered into these 40 Days of Prayer hoping to experience a miracle. We are in the waiting stages of adoption and I had secretly hoped God would show up within these 40 days in a mighty way. That maybe by the end I would have a testimony of how God finally built our family, or something along those lines. To be honest these 40 days have been rough. That’s not to say that God has not shown up. I can feel Him working in reverse on my heart, the ways I thought He would work being turned inside out. He has used the small moments to remind me He is listening, and the absence of the physical presence of the desires of my heart have held me in captivation of His every word, knowing only He can provide what I need. He is speaking to me in many ways, though I admit not specifically about what I had hoped He would. So how do you keep praying when it feels like what you want is at the mercy of your God? You pray for what you need, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. Until all those prayerful moments amount to years and all those years amount to a living testimony in which you can proclaim, God has provided. We live in a world of want, but Jesus came to supply all our needs. I hang on to the hope that God hears our most desperate prayers, like those of Hannah as she prayed for her child. He knows what we want, but He wants to give us what we need because He can see how everything intertwines and how every prayer will play out into eternity. In a world of instant gratification, we must come to understand the eternity of our God. What if all of our Bible heroes had every one of their prayers instantly answered? How different would things have turned out? What if God had let Moses give up right when He was called to from the burning bush? What if Mary hadn’t said “Lord, be it as you say” to carrying the Savior of the world? What if Abraham was granted Issac immediately? Would we have understood how serious God is or how He loves us throughout time? We would have missed out on all of their testimonies. So tonight I pray for peace to surrender. Picking up a cross looks nothing like getting all I ever wanted. But the weight of Christ’s glory makes it beautiful.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

How to Love: Grace When We Don’t Understand 


Dear Reader, 

We love butterflies specifically for their many colors, and yet when it comes to the many beautiful colors of people we find barriers. We see “difference” as something to fear, instead of to praise God for. We see it with many things. We see the harsh criticisms across denominational lines of what we as Christians “should” believe, but the truth there should be simple. As Christians we “should” believe in the Bible as sole truth. However, ask Christians from different denominations and they will explain that truth differently. We can’t agree, even on something as simple as what is truth. If we elevate this to the color of the people in this world, we find the same holds true. Everyone believes the answer is simple, to love. But it would appear that what love looks like is understood differently by many. My husband and I are hoping to adopt our first child, and friends, I have no idea what race our baby will be. But I want them to know they are loved by us fully. I fear for how they may perceive “love” in this world. The “truth” spoken “in love” by this world is often not truth at all, but hatred dressed up in sheep’s clothing. Every single person has great worth, great beauty, great potential to love one another. But we must seek out how to love. What does it mean to love someone who is different than us? It means to speak up when the world has lost its mind and its heart. It means to be humbled and admit when we’ve been wrong or when we’ve been unable to understand. In order to love deeply, we must begin to understand where we have gone wrong and how we can do better. How can we understand what we have done if we never speak to those we have hurt with our silence or with our wrong words? God’s love is so much deeper than the surface love we often offer other people. Saying there is no problem simply means we can’t see the problem. It’s like closing our eyes in the midst of a tragedy and saying the commotion is nothing serious. To love our neighbor takes humility not condescension. To love our neighbor takes real conversation and real concern. Wherever you stand, don’t stand for hatred. Love, and learn what love means. We’re all learning together. Apart we fail.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With the King Day 7 


Dear Reader,  

It’s storming here tonight in Wisconsin. Ever since I was a small child I’ve been afraid of these summer storms. I remember being glued to the old television in the basement as I watched the meteorologists forecast which way the storms were headed and praying to Jesus to keep us all safe. Those were my real and desperate prayers. As a young child those prayers were as real they got. I was in trouble, something dangerous was coming, and even then I knew Jesus could save me. He calms the storms of life. If the prayers you are lifting to Him over the course of these 40 days are prayers rooted in fear, know that Jesus hears you. Know that the Father gives you His ear. I admit that I think almost all of my prayers stem from a level of fear. Some of those fears are that my plans will never happen, or because I’m scared of harm coming to my loved ones, or because I feel like things are beyond my control. Jesus wants us to come to Him with all of our fears, but He also wants us to lay those fears down at His feet. It’s human to feel fear, but it’s miraculous to feel Jesus lift those fears away. Prayer is our powerful connection to the King of Heaven who even the wind and waves obey. He is our calm and our peace when all the world is in turmoil. Keep those honest prayers flowing. He hears every one of them. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

40 Days of Prayer: Conversations With the King Day 5


Dear Reader, 

When I started this series, 40 Days of Prayer, I had it in my head that I was going to pray diligently for 40 days over one single thing to my Father God. But that one single thing is not as simple as the three words I chose to remember it by. That one single thing cannot stand on its own because it’s attached to a million other dreams, and people, and situations. Chances are, that one prayer you want answered isn’t a stand alone situation either. If God would just answer your one prayer, and ignore all the others, it would probably be true that what you would find yourself with wouldn’t be sufficient. God knows that. That’s why He tells us to pray without ceasing. Bring it all before Him. Bring everything before Him. Our prayers aren’t stand alone requests. Instead they are a continuous conversation thread with the King of Heaven who supplies ALL our needs. This is just one more reason that prayer can’t end up on my to-do list. To-do lists are meant for actions that can be accomplished and then crossed off. But prayer is continuous. We should never be done praying. Because God is never done responding to us. His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on you. I encourage you today to go beyond simply reading off the prayer request list, and dive deeper into the real honest things we need to be discussing with our God. God is real. Our prayers should be too.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

40 Days of Prayer: Conversations with the King Day 2 


Dear Reader, 

Today my honest conversation with the King of Heaven took place in the car. What started as a stream of worries quickly became a flowing river of intercessions. Sometimes I think I’m selfish with my Christianity. I hold Christ so dear to my heart that I forget to look around and see that He holds many others dear to His heart. Community is hard for me. My faith in who I am and how God sees me is quickly shattered by the doubts of others. Insecurity often reigns where confidence in Christ should reign supreme. My prayer life feels like safety to me, a place where no one else can intrude. But God tells us that where two or three come together in His name, there He is with them. He doesn’t want us to carry our burdens alone in this physical life. That’s why His church is made up of many parts and many people. He loves us powerfully in an individual way, but He moves among His people when they gather together in communion with one another.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: Grace in Weakness 


Dear Reader, 

I planted this Hydrangea bush in our shade garden last spring. Last year it only yielded a single stalk with one beautiful blossoming flower on the end of it. Its beauty too great and too heavy for the stalk to hold, it bent low to the ground in seemingly close connection with the soil from which it sprung. But this year, the single stalk has become a hardy bush, with not one, but five beautiful flowers lifting their heads high because of the strength of the stalks below them. This bush may be the only beautiful thing in my yard this year as our busy season of life has kept us from tending to the gardens we had hoped would spring to life. It has grown entirely of its own power without help from me. It has thrived there in the shade. There are so many lessons to take away from the life cycle of this gorgeous plant. But I think the one I find most speaks to me is the one which utters truth in the fact that last year, it bloomed even though it didn’t have the strength to hold itself high, and this year, like a comeback kid, it has multiplied and radiates strength and beauty. Whatever season God has you in, it is possible for you to bloom and to grow. If we possess the strength to grow and blossom even when we are weak, how much more will God allow us to thrive when we are finally secure. Every life is a testimony to His Grace. Every story contains His fingerprints. Today I sit in awe of my Creator. I sit in wonder of all of the personal ways He has assured me that He is near. God is Good all the time. So today friends, I pray that you will grow even when you feel you can’t. I hope that you will see beauty in God’s telling of your story even when the chapter feels dark or meaningless. And I rejoice that our God is one of truth, and that His truth will always yield the beauty it deserves. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

A Grace Note: The Grace of Empty Vessels 


Dear Reader, 

I love empty vessels. Mason jars, milk bottles, anything glass that can be filled. I love how sunlight can fill them up, I love how the twinkle lights in my kitchen cause the mason jars to shine and shimmer. And yet, I wonder if I ever view the vessel of my heart in this way. It too can shine in the light. It too can hold the shimmer of contentment and the shine of Grace. Maybe the key to letting go of all our worries is to allow our hearts to be washed clean, to allow our lives to be hand washed in grace by our Father God who loves us and who sees our hearts full of the potential to soak up mercy and love and grace and walk brim full out into the world where we pour it all out again. In order to see real beauty in the world, God urges us to be completely poured out before Him, He encourages us to take the fullness of His Grace and give it away because we trust and we know that God has the power to fill us completely back up again. We pour out before the King of Kings and we are filled to the brim by the King of Heaven. Our hearts can carry all the light He shines on us. We can be washed clean over and over and over again like these glass bottles. That’s how Grace works. It keeps on washing us and filling us and allowing the Light to sparkle. So whatever Grace God is filling you with, don’t be afraid to pour it out into the world.

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

How Sweet the Sound of Grace: When the Joy of Jesus Defeats Your Battles

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7

Spring is in full force here in Wisconsin. I can see it bursting forth in the buds on the trees and in the little purple flowers peeking up above the ever growing blades of grass. The Sugar River has begun sweetly flowing again, and any sign of frozen ground has melted away. It seems too poetic to say that my heart is experiencing its own season of new life. The winter was hard, both on my soul and on my body. But God has begun placing sweet blossoms of hope on the hard places of my life and I’m seeing Him revive me in every sense of that word.

Revive. What emotion that word evokes for me! I know I keep talking about this same battle, but it’s the battle that has most tried to define me. Infertility…infertile…as in nothing will grow. And I believed that for a short while with all my heart…that nothing would or could grow from me. I sought doctors who prodded and tried to jump start my body, but nothing. I had placed my hope in needles and in x-rays and in hormone therapies and in procedures. And as sterile as those doctor’s offices felt…so did my heart.

I had wanted Jesus to bring about new life naturally. I hope that one day He will. But for now, I am experiencing a form of new life that I had not planned on. I feel as if something inside me has woken up. Some storehouse of Joy that I had left untapped. My husband and I are on a new adventure, and I had thought maybe that was what had made the difference. But I think it goes deeper than that.

It goes all the way down to the roots of my disappointments and to the ugliness of my dark days. As we come out of the season of Lent, the season of grieving both for our Savior and because of our sins, I have discovered that Jesus went right to the darkness I had reserved for myself. He broke down that door, and He entered with Life.

Joy has everything to do with Hope, and is based entirely on Grace. Infertility brought out the ugliest side of me I have ever seen. I was broken, shattered, fragile, and bitter. I cried more nights than I didn’t. I literally grieved for a life that never existed. And yet I kept pushing. Something would come of this. Something HAD to come from this. And so I preached Hope. I clung to Grace. Even in my ugliness I ran toward my Savior. I wasn’t sure how this battle would end….I just knew it would.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

I am not pregnant…and yet I feel like this battle has been won. I can feel it in my soul. I walked blindly for over three years with the hope that infertility would fade away, and I grieved what I thought I had lost. I prayed God would heal my heart, even if He chose never to heal my body. I prayed that infertility wouldn’t become my idol…that it wouldn’t cover up who I am in Him.

I prayed those words, but I’m not sure that I actually expected to feel almost a physical weight being lifted up off of my shoulders. I told my women’s group a few months ago, that I actually felt like I was coming out the other side of this battle. A friend had sent me a message, concerned that I had lost the peace that passes all understanding. And just in that week before I read what she wrote, I had experienced that exactly. I do not understand how the bitterness of my soul was lifted. I can not explain why the depth of sadness in my heart has been healed. But it has continued on being healed, more and more so each day.

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Next month is Mother’s Day. For three years that has been a day of sadness for me. I watched as mother’s in our churches were praised and how their children loved them. And I couldn’t understand why God would keep me from becoming a mother. I was broken as those around me became pregnant and as their families continued to grow.

But now…something has changed. I have been changed.

My life was never mine to plan out. God has shown me this so clearly. I belong to Him, every part of me does. And this is true whether we are aware of it or not. He is our creator, our Father, our maker. Our lives belong to Him. And we can go through this life kicking and screaming, complaining at every “wrong” turn, or we can surrender.

We can surrender to the beautiful sound of Grace in our lives. We can sit back and watch how God unfolds the moments of our life right before our eyes. Beautiful lives don’t come from plans and savings and working our days away. They come from the Giver of Life. They come when we loosen our grip on bitterness and disappointment and heartbreak. We so often hold onto to those things…and we don’t have to.

We may experience hard winters. We may feel them coming. We may see everything freeze around us. And yet…God will bring about Spring. He can melt what freezes in us. He can bring fresh sprigs of green from hearts that we thought couldn’t grow anything. You are not what you battle. You are who He says you are, His child, His beloved, His redeemed.

Joy won’t come with the fulfillment of our plans. It won’t come in the safety of our savings. Joy is found in Him alone.

Your life is found in Him alone. Until we turn our faces toward Him, we are simply wandering away. I used to worry that all this talk about prayer would simply be talk. That I would talk to God, and He would always for eternity tell me to wait. I was scared that I wouldn’t see an answer, that I wouldn’t feel a difference.

But I feel changed. And my circumstances haven’t changed. The only explanation is Jesus.

I find myself completely defined in this hymn, Amazing Grace. It is who I was and who I am and who I will become.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that Saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.  – John Newton

Friend, if you have been praying that God would heal you, that He would mend your broken spirit, that He would revive your withered soul…know that He will. He is faithful. He who created the heavens and the earth, He who became like us and died a death that only we deserved, He who conquered death and who declared victory over our sins…He has not forgotten who you are. He won’t leave you alone in this.

I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49: 15b-16a