Grace – the Perfect Gift

We have just finished a season of giving – and receiving. As I get older (I just celebrated my 71st birthday) my focus is less and less on “stuff” for presents and more on giving “experiences”.

This desire has backfired recently. Our daughter told me her son said “Nana always gives us a present, then we don’t get to do it”

Full disclosure – So, three years ago we scheduled NASCAR Go-Cart rides for all the grandkids but had to cancel because some family members had COVID and some couldn’t travel because of COVID. (we did get to ride go-carts together this summer – just two and one-half years later) Then last year we planned to go snow tubing – but it was raining so we all went to an indoors play center with trampolines, games, and simulated rides. This year we again planned to go snow tubing but it was 14 degrees and everyone felt that it was TOO cold. That is when our grandson made the above statement. For children a delayed experience may seem like it never happens. (we ended up giving them money – a last resort)

This got me thinking about receiving God’s grace. It is clearly a gift, scripture mentions that fact repeatedly. Grace is unmerited favor and God gives us grace – not because we have

  • earned it
  • deserved it
  • paid for it
  • said the correct words
  • worn the correct clothes
  • served the poor
  • prayed enough

You get the idea. NOTHING I do can merit God’s matchless, unconditional grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says –

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves,

it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

God’s grace is a gift.

His grace keeps on giving.

Unlike Nana’s gifts that sometimes change at the last minute or are delayed because of weather, God’s gift of grace is eternal. It never expires or is canceled. It is never late or misplaced.

God’s grace is the perfect gift.

Just as God has extended His grace to us, may we extend His grace to others this year.

Blessings in the New Year – 2023!

We did get in snow tubing on December 29th. It was cold, but not 14 degrees!

Good Work

Three of our grandsons helped load fire wood Saturday as part of Cullowhee Methodist Church’s service to the elderly in Jackson County. Volunteers cut wood, split wood, load the wood on trucks, and deliver it to folks all over the county.

What a blessing!

It is a blessing to those who receive wood, and it was certainly timely with the cold snap we are experiencing. But, it is a great blessing to all who work serving as well. I was so pleased to see four generations of folks represented among the volunteers.

Serving has no age limits.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post – good work.

Work can have a negative connotation for our children and grandchildren. “I have a job for you” is a statement that is often met with wails of distress from children who would rather be playing, reading, using an electronic device – anything but work. That same statement, “I have a job for you”, has a totally different response from someone who has been out of work and is LOOKING for a job.

Meaningful work is very important for us as humans. It gives us a reason to get out of bed each morning. We need a purpose.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul is explaining to the Church that we are not saved by the works we do, yet God does have work for us to do.

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God has prepared good work for each of us! Our attitude toward work is an example to our children and grandchildren.

  • are we thankful for our job?
  • do we see our job as a way to serve others, or just for a paycheck?
  • do we do our best at work, or just enough to get by?
  • are we honest, faithful, and joyful at work?

Working alongside our children and grandchildren is the best way to show them the blessing of work. These boys have worked with their Mom and Dad in the Hope Garden, a community garden which helps those in need.

Good work can be fun, especially when done together. Milkshakes afterward don’t hurt….

 

 

 

A Legacy Lives On

It has been a year since my Mother passed on to her eternal reward. As others who have experienced this loss, you know how you miss your mother every day. So many thoughts pass through my mind, and an instant response is “oh, I need to tell Mother”. I see something and I think, “oh, Mother would like that.”

Yet I am so thankful for all the wonderful memories I have and treasure. Esther Barker lived 90 blessed years!

Mother loved Bible study. While visiting our daughter Hannah recently, I started working on my study of Hebrews while I was waiting for the rest of the children to wake up. Our granddaughter, Adella, asked me what I was doing and when I told her, she went and got her Bible and said she would help me. She certainly did! After looking up a passage and reading the question, Adella came up with very good answers.

I noticed Adella had highlighted verses and I asked her about that.

“Mom said I couldn’t underline in my Bible any more so she gave me a highlighter to use instead.”

After seeing where Adella had underlined, I understood my daughter’s concern. (she had drawn lines right through the words instead of UNDER the words) Adella showed me her favorite verse in Psalms and I showed her my favorite verse, Romans 12:2.

I had forgotten my Bible in the car, so I found Hannah’s old Bible. She had used this Bible while in college and she had written many notes and underlined verses special to her.

So, the legacy Mother left of Bible study and loving God’s Word is living on in myself, our three daughters (who all attend Bible studies) and on to the next generation as well.

Psalm 119 states –

73 You made me; you created me.
    Now give me the sense to follow your commands.
74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy,
    for I have put my hope in your word.

103 How sweet your words taste to me;
    they are sweeter than honey.
104 Your commandments give me understanding;
    no wonder I hate every false way of life.

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
    and a light for my path.

We are blessed!