Just Being Here Is Reason to Celebrate
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Remember the saying, “God don’t make no junk”? It’s corny but true.

Just being here is reason to celebrate.

I remember the saying became popular a few years’ back.

It appeared on billboards, t-shirts, your parents’ email forwards.

I know I'm special'cause God don't make no junk

Corny, but clear. The message remains valid.

If you’re here, you matter.

You deserve dignity, honor, respect simply because you’re here. You’re one of God’s own. You’re important.

While we *know* it’s true, sometimes we don’t *feel* it’s true. We don’t recognize our inherent value. We don’t understand that our worth isn’t tied up in what we do or how we look or where we live. We may sometimes not even want to be here.

But just being here is reason enough to celebrate you. Because you are a living representation of God.

God created you as a living celebration of himself.

That’s your foundational truth. And mine. Each of us.

None of us are junk. All of us are valuable.

Because we’ve each inhaled the breath of God.

Featured Post—Do This for 5 Minutes

Astrid writes bravely and honestly on her blog about her mental health journey as a childhood trauma survivor. I appreciate the lessons I learn from her on resilience and God and love.

Last week she linked up a post about being born premature, about wondering if her life started as a mistake based on bad math.

But while reading a devotional on YouVersion by a woman who had survived a stroke, Astrid heard something about herself, too.

“God chose for me to be kept alive and that’s what matters.”

Read all of Astrid’s post here, then add your own blog links below.

I AM NOT A CALCULATION MISTAKE

Do you sometimes doubt your worth? Do you ever wonder why you’re here? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for sharing, Astrid! Here’s a button for your blog.

blank


I’m linking at these blog parties

blank

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

7 Books I Recommend—July 2021

“I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.”
– Nicholson Baker

Below are books I recommend from what I finished reading in July. 

[See previously recommended books here]

blank

Nonfiction

1. We Need to Talk
How to Have Conversations that Matter
by Celeste Headlee

we-need-to-talk

Ugh. We’ve all either had hard conversations this past year or else we’ve needed to but put them off. This book shows us how to have more productive dialogues. Headlee include five key strategies: be curious, check your bias, show respect, stay the course, and end well. I succeed in some ways, but fail miserably in others. I already need to re-read this book and I just finished it.

2. Think Again
The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
by Adam M. Grant

think-again

It’s okay to have doubts. It’s actually beneficial to have doubts. This book gives evidence that rethinking our stances is more important than we realize. And it’s a skill we can each learn to do.

“The goal is not to be wrong more often. It’s to recognize that we’re all wrong more often than we’d like to admit, and the more we deny it, the deeper the hole we dig for ourselves.”

3. Kent State
by Deborah Wiles

kent-state

Very intriguing. This book is written as an oral conversation. As you read, you hear the voices of those who were at Kent State University, May 4, 1970, when four American students were killed by National Guardsmen. This is a Young Adult book, but I learned a lot.

4. White Awake
An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
by Daniel Hill

white-awake

Highly recommend! Sometimes we white people don’t realize there is such a thing as white culture.

“I was oblivious to what I didn’t even know. I was blind, but I didn’t know I was blind. And that’s the most dangerous blindness of all.”

If we want to be more fully aware of other cultures, we need to be more aware of our own. And how our culture affects other cultures, for good and for bad. Daniel Hill does an excellent job in laying this out for us from a moral and spiritual perspective so we can be better people to all people. 

“We have encountered race daily since the day we were born. But we’re taught to internalize white culture as normal, so we’re unaware of the profound ways race shaped us during our early years. Not until we have an interruption connected to a person of color or a confrontation with overt racism do we begin to see something outside our cultural norm.”

5. Becoming Kareem
Growing Up On and Off the Court
by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

becoming-kareem

Although this is a young adult book, I found it excellent for us older folks too who actually remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar through the years. He tells about his childhood in New York City and his rise to basketball stardom. I appreciate hearing the hard choices he often had to make, and how he chose integrity.

Fiction

6. The Book of Longings
by Sue Monk Kidd 

the-book-of-longings

This is fiction; remember that. Then dive into this fascinating story of Ana, the wife of Jesus, a curious girl raised in a wealthy family. The book focuses more on Ana than Jesus, but it is rooted in many historical and biblical facts (just not the marriage part). It gives a fresh perspective of life in the times of Jesus.

7. The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig

the-midnight-library

Such an interesting premise! This novel is about a special library with an infinite number of books detailing all the different lives that one can experience. The main character Nora Seed finds herself there and must make choices. I zipped through this book. It’s also a wonderfully narrated audiobook. 

Reading Now

  • A More Christlike Word
    Reading Scripture the Emmaus Way
    by Bradley Jersak
  • How God Works
    The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion
    by David DeSteno
  • Murder Your Darlings
    And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser
    by Roy Peter Clark
  • Scarcity
    Why Having Too Little Means So Much
    by Sendhil Mullainathan
  • Four Thousand Weeks
    Time Management for Mortals
    by Oliver Burkeman
  • Open and Relational Theology
    An Introduction to Life-Changing Ideas
    by Thomas Jay Oord
  • If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk
    Finding a Faith That Makes Us Better Humans
    by John Pavlovitz

What good book are YOU reading this month? Please share in the comments.

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend


Share Four Somethings—July 2021

Each month I share four somethings. From July, here is something I love, something I read, something I treasure, and something ahead. I’m sharing at Heather’s.

Plus my One Second video from last month . . . 

[click here if you can’t see the video]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Loved

  • BUFFER, A SCHEDULING APP 

Because I’m such a planner, I love apps that allow me to schedule things in advance. One of my favorites is Buffer for scheduling tweets on Twitter.

I use it almost daily to schedule a quote to publish at 6:36 a.m. on weekdays (you can create your own schedule; 6:36 has special meaning to me) or to schedule a tweet about blog posts in the afternoons or to spread out tweets from around the web.

blank

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Read 

  • QUOTES FROM HERE AND THERE

I rarely go searching for a quote, but they arrive anyway. From books I’m reading, from someone else’s blog post, from a podcast, etc.

Here are four more quotes I’m sharing on Twitter this week that I found in various places. They each made me pause. Just a second more than normal. And think.

  • Tuesday
    “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”
    —Steven Wright
  • Wednesday
    “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
    —Henry David Thoreau
  • Thursday
    “Tell your own story and you will be interesting.”
    —Louise Bourgeois
  • Friday
    “I always tell anyone criticizing me, ‘You could be right.’ It has a nice double edge; sometimes the victim never feels a thing.”
    —Jerry Saltz

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Treasured

  • RETURNING TO FRIENDS

I’ve not seen my friends at one of our local housing units since the pandemic began. I was finally able to return this month after the authorities granted us access again to bring meals from our food bank. I am thrilled to see their faces and catch up!

And to top it off, my youngest daughter Jenna and grandson are going to regularly visit the residents with me. You can only imagine how thrilled our friends were last Monday when we walked in with a baby! It was an emotional boost that we all needed. As long as the covid numbers don’t increase too much, we’ll get to continue on a weekly basis. 

blank

However, I discovered too many residents either died in the past year or moved to nursing homes or just moved away. We never got to say good-bye. I miss them. 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Ahead

  • A GIRLS’ TRIP

I hope we’re not pushing our covid freedoms, but my three girlfriends and I are going to one of their parents’ condos in two weeks for a few days on the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama. (We’ve all four been vaccinated.)

blank

We try to stay connected with each other throughout the year with a few dinners, emails, and a sleepover, but it’s much nicer to have four days to spend together to catch up on each others’ lives more fully. 


previous Share Four Somethings

What’s a highlight from your July? What are you looking forward to in August? Share in the comments.

I’m linking up at these blog parties


Hands Off? When It’s Hard to Be Quiet
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Do you really want my advice?

Or do I need to stay hands off and be quiet?

blank

Listening to the Young Moms

I’m sitting in the rocking chair in my living room, holding my newest grandbaby as he sleeps. I’m listening to the young moms in the room. They’re sharing their experiences of parenting in front of their parents.

And how difficult it can be.

I lean in closer. I want to hear them clearly.

This is what they say: As young parents, they want encouragement from us, their parents.

They want our support. They want our presence. They want our love.

And they even want our advice, when needed.

But they don’t want our judgment.

My Advice?

That’s where it gets tricky with us older parents and now grandparents. Our advice isn’t as needed as often as we think.

And especially not when it flows out of judgment.

Sure, we do know some hacks and tricks. We have solid advice to give. We have years of wisdom built in.

Yet part of our wisdom requires our exercise of discernment, knowing what to share and what not to share, when to step in and when to back off.

I’m still on the learning curve. It’s hard to stay hands-off (or more importantly, mouth-closed) when I want to step in and make things easier for my kids with their kids.

But as I hear one of the young mothers saying now:

“You all had your turn. Now it’s our turn.”

Our Turn for Discretion

And she’s right. We’ve been in their shoes, but they no longer fit us.

We usually know it deep down. It’s just hard to put it into practice on the surface.

We can learn to do it though. It just takes practice. Not just in parenting relationships, but in ANY relationship. 

And as we practice keeping our advice to ourselves unless asked, we’ll mess up. We’ll often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. We’ll sometimes interfere when we should have butted out.

Even though our wrinkles suggest otherwise, we’re still new to the game ourselves. We still are growing. We still are being transformed into the image of Christ at a slower pace than we (and our kids) might prefer.

But as in the past, so also in the future:

God gives enough grace to go around.

There’s hands-on grace for the grandkids when they make mistakes. There’s hands-on grace for the parents when they make mistakes.

And there’s hands-on grace for us older generation when we make mistakes, too.

None of us are immune from the human condition of falls and failures. But neither are any of beyond the reach of God’s hands of relentless and unfailing love. From him to us. And from us to each other.

Let Love wipe away a lot of offenses (1 Peter 4:8).

Featured Post—On Trust

Lauren Spark’s words spoke to my soul when I read them this week:

And in His kind way, God whispered, “I will speak truth into the mess.” and “I love them even more than you do.” and “I can handle it.” I confess that this initially caused me additional anxiety. But if I’m honest, I also felt relief. I can’t know. I can’t do. I can only pray and be.

I thank God that I don’t have to know how to fix every relationship problem. And that sometimes I don’t even need to do anything. Except step back and let God work.

“I can only pray and be.”

Read all of Lauren’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

AN UPDATE ON TRUST – ONE WORD 2021

How hard is it for you to stay hands-off and be quiet? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read More:


blank

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

One Word 2021 Linkup for July

Do you have an update on your One Word 2021?

Please add your link below for our July linkup.

You can also leave us a comment about your One Word.

blank

 

Set 3 Reminders 

I’ve put three reminders on my calendar for the next 30 days. They each start with “Uncertainty.” It’s my One Word for the year. I want to intentionally spend a few minutes with my word in the following categories. 

  • Reminder #1 says: “Uncertainty: Relationship with God.”
  • Reminder #2 says: “Uncertainty: Relationship with Others.”
  • Reminder #3 says: “Uncertainty: Relationship with Self.”

Can you choose 3 days from the next 30 days to sit for a few minutes to pray and/or meditate over what God wants to do with you and your word for the remainder of the year? We’re in the second half of the year already. 

Then write down any ideas you receive, however small. Remember that even a small step in the right direction is progress.

It’s less about what we’re accomplishing and more about who we are becoming.

Who Knows Your Word?

“What’s my word?”

If you asked your partner, your friend, your kids, who could answer correctly?

We took an informal poll in our One Word Facebook group. Most people have shared their word with online friends, then with their partners. You can share your word here today with us! And give us an update on what you’re learning through it.

This linkup will remain open from July 21 – July 31.

The next One Word linkup will be August 21.

If you’d like to receive a monthly email for suggestions about your word, sign up here.

You can also join our One Word 2021 Facebook group here for more interaction. 

Share your thoughts in the comments.


Link Up About Your One Word!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


How One Small Habit Adds Up

What goal could you reach if you’d take one small step a day? Can small habits really add up to big results?

How one small habit adds up

Moving to Overload

I’m sitting at the kitchen table at 8 a.m. My biscuit is hot on the plate. I open my Kindle to read while I eat breakfast. I am tempted to click on my favorite book of the week, whatever that may be.

But today, instead, I click on “Samples.”

It’s the folder I set up on my Kindle to store all the Kindle samples I send myself from Amazon. When you recommend a book to me, or I see your excitement over a book on your own blog, I head to Amazon, click on “Send a free sample,” and transfer it to my Samples folder when it arrives.

Send a free sample to Kindle

And there the samples have been sitting. Piling up, one after the other.

For years I’ve been adding sample after sample to my Kindle. I would occasionally read one right away, sometimes several in a row.

But not often. And the samples kept coming.

I was adding more books to the Samples folder faster than I was eliminating them.

It was a small habit. But it was adding up to overload.

Until 2021. . . 

One New Small Habit

A year ago, I had 368 samples on my Kindle.
Today, I have 89.

What changed?

The smallest of things.

I made a plan at the beginning of the year. I would read two samples a day, six days a week, and clear out the Samples folder. 

If I find the book quite interesting, I’ll transfer it to my Borrow folder and look it up at the library. If I find it irresistible, I’ll transfer it to my Buy folder for purchasing.

And if I don’t like the sample at all? I’ll delete it and that will be the end of it. I only have a limited amount of time left in my life to read a limited amount of books. I need to be picky.

But the decision to read two samples a day included a caveat: Read the samples before reading other books (well, not counting my daily Bible reading and my daily devotional from Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go). But the samples were to be read before library books. Before books to review. Before books I’m studying.

I’m now in Month 7. I haven’t followed the plan perfectly, of course.

Yet I’ve followed it often enough that the strategy is working. And it makes me happy.

It’s a small habit.

But small habits can create big results.

Celebrate Small Beginnings

One of my favorite Bible verses is Zechariah 4:10:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. . . .”

Here’s the context. The Lord was sending a vision to the prophet Zechariah through an angel. The vision was assuring Zechariah that the Jewish people under Joshua and Zerubbabel would be successful in building the temple. Every obstacle would be defeated, even if only a little at a time.

I’ve had many small beginnings in my life, many small habits, many small goals I’ve wanted to reach.

And it’s usually only little by little when I succeed. The Lord stands alongside me as we go, one small step at a time.

I don’t always finish strong—and sometimes I don’t finish at all—but the Lord always rejoices to see the work begin.

Whittling down the Samples folder on my Kindle may indeed be a very small thing, but it is another reminder to me of the bigger principle:

God isn’t impressed by the smallness or largeness of my goals, but instead values my perseverance in tending to them.

Even if only little by little.

One small habit at a time.


What small habit do you keep? How has it added up? Share in the comments.

I’m linking at these blogs