What did I see today? I saw that an Oblivious Spring ignored the harsh realities of a winter weary world and came anyway. That’s the message Springtime delivered to me this year.[Read more…]
by Christine Wingate
“Can I squeal for a sec?” I typed into my family’s long-running Facebook Messenger chat thread.
“I JUST SAW A CARDINAL!!!!!”
Now, spotting a cardinal might sound like a small, non-squeal-worthy thing. But for me, it was a novel, and therefore treasured, experience.[Read more…]
by Kathleen Neely
Last year, at the beginning of our beach vacation in Hilton Head, my husband became ill and I took him to the ER. In truth, he hadn’t been feeling well during the days before vacation, but we kept expecting it to get better.
At the Hilton Head ER, they performed many diagnostic tests before ordering an ambulance to transport him to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) hospital in Charleston where doctors performed surgery to repair a hiatal hernia that had bulged to dangerous proportions.
I initially took him to the ER around 6:00 Sunday evening. Following our time in that hospital, it was after midnight before his transport to Charleston. We arrived close to 3:00 am. By then, I had been awake 21 hours. There was no sleep to speak of that night as teams of people came in and out of the room to assess his condition. Surgery was scheduled for noon on Monday. I caught less than three hours sleep on a small bench in his room. The surgery lasted a few hours, then I stayed awake with him and our sons for a little while. By seven that evening, I looked like I had come off of a windy beach, been awake for about 45 hours, and had a middle of the night ride to keep up with an ambulance. I looked that way because that was exactly what happened.
Here’s the part I want to share.
A nurse told me I could shower on the third floor. I should stop at the concierge’s desk. When I arrived, no one was at the desk. I walked around aimlessly looking for someone, but the halls were empty. Just then, a petite women came through a door, pushing two trash cans that needed to be emptied. I must have looked like I was ready to cry because she stopped and came toward me.
“What do you need, honey?”
Fighting tears, I said, “I need a shower. They told me to see the concierge.”
She touched my shoulder and turned me around. “She’s gone for the day, but let’s get you some towels.”
I told her I thought God had sent me an angel.
She replied, “That’s right, honey. Just you, me, and God. We’re gonna take care of you.”
With her arm wrapped around my shoulder, we walked to a storage closet where she pulled out towels and a washcloth. “What else do you need?”
I didn’t even think of saying—soap, shampoo, a toothbrush. All I could think of was my hair that lay flat against my head. “I need a comb.”
Again she turned me around. “We’ll get you a comb, but here’s the thing. We still need to see a concierge. We’ll have to go to the fourth floor.”
She could have told me where to go and pointed me to the elevator. Instead, she stayed with me, her trash cans waiting back in another hallway. We rode the elevator up a floor and found the fourth floorconcierge who then opened a bag with small travel sizes of everything I needed. The concierge gave us a location for my shower and we returned to the third floor. My cleaning lady friend walked me to where the showers were and made sure I was okay before leaving.
It was the most glorious shower I’d had in ages. That night I slept like a rock.
I’m fine. My husband is fine. Life is back to normal. I share this story because God has a history of using seemingly insignificant people to impart His grace and provision. She wasn’t a doctor or nurse. She wasn’t a social worker or administrative assistant. She wasn’t even the concierge. She was just an ordinary cleaning lady who went the extra measure to serve. But on that evening, to me, she was so much more.
Meet Kathleen Neely
Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.
She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.
You can find Kathleen at these social media outlets:
by Lori Hatcher
I was overwhelmed. Homeschooling my two daughters, serving in a leadership position in our church’s women’s ministry, and juggling a part time job, I struggled to get it all done. But I loved to please, which is why, when a friend asked me to take on a special project, I said, “Yes.”
A week later, when she asked me if I’d completed it, I said, “Yes.”
Except I hadn’t.
Shame over my inefficiency and fear of what she might think of me squeezed me into a corner. The lie had escaped my lips before I realized it.
Now I’d failed twice—first by not doing what I’d promised and second by lying about it. Imagine what a field day Satan and my conscience had with those two sins.
After a miserable day of Holy Spirit conviction and self-condemnation, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I called my friend and confessed. Her grace-filled words brought tears to my eyes and gratitude to my heart.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I understand. We all take on more than we can handle sometimes. Why don’t we work on the project together?”
Ephesians 4:29 encourages us:
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”Ephesians 4:29, NKJV
My friend certainly imparted grace to me that day. She modeled Christ and demonstrated the power of Spirit-inspired words “For the law was given through Moses,” John 1:17 says, “but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” That day, grace and truth also came through my friend Lisa.
If you’d like to practice Christ-like speech, here are five phrases you can borrow from the language of grace.
I forgive you.
We are most Christ-like when we extend grace freely and unconditionally. When we let go of grudges and trust God to right wrongs and administer justice. When we surrender our desire to punish the offender. When we remember how lost we were and how much we needed to be forgiven.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”Ephesians 1:7, NKJV
Scripture tells us Christ, who was fully God yet fully man, wasn’t above the struggles of humanity. He was tempted as we are. When we extend grace to others by identifying with their struggles, we model Christ to them. We don’t excuse their behavior. Instead, we acknowledge the battle and walk alongside them as fellow soldiers.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).John 1:14, NKJV
You don’t have to act this way.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to sin. Sometimes the most grace-filled thing we can do for another is to challenge them to live godly lives instead of settling for half-hearted efforts or lukewarm attempts. Encouraging others to honor God in their words, actions, and service can empower and inspire if we do it in love.
As ambassadors for Christ, we can remind fellow believers, as Romans 6:14 so powerfully states, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
Today’s a new day.
When we fall short of our own or someone else’s expectations, it’s easy to slap a FAILURE label on our foreheads and give up. Grace reminds us God’s mercies are new every morning. Every day is a new beginning. Even our weakness is an opportunity for God’s strength to manifest itself in us.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV
Let’s do it together.
Life is often overwhelming. Some days, the Christian life seems even more so. Perhaps this is why Jesus sent out his disciples two by two. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 describes this: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, gor he has no one to help him up.”
When we come alongside another sister or brother in Christ and work together, we can operate in a strength we don’t have on our own. Differing gifts and abilities complement each other. Varying perspectives and insights provide collective wisdom. The body of Christ works together to glorify the Father and accomplish His work in the world. Best of all, we grow in courage, faith, and love by serving together.
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”1 Peter 4:10, NKJV
The Last Word
Many in our world are quick to condemn, criticize, and judge, but believers answer to a higher calling. “Let your speech always be with grace,” Colossians 4:6 encourages us, “seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer.”
The five sentences I’ve listed above are only the beginning. As we invite the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts to be more like Jesus’, our vocabulary will expand. So will our love for one another. With God’s empowering, we’ll become more and more fluent in the language of grace.
Lori Hatcher is a pastor’s wife who lives delightfully close to her four grandchildren in Lexington, South Carolina. She’s the author of several devotional books including Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible (Our Daily Bread Publishing) and Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , (2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year). The editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, she’s also a blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on: