1/1/18 grace notes: minimizing stress

Happy New Year to all! While in the confines of prison walls, Apostle Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) He spoke this affirmation while restricted, limited, and defeated by his circumstances. He recognized that in his own might, he could not withstand his crushing conditions, but he knew that the God that was with him and in him was more than able. If you think about it, in today's culture, the pressures to succeed can often feel as overwhelming as the struggles of defeat. In fact, studies have shown that the drive to succeed is actually damaging our children's health. Specifically, a 2016 New York Times article by Vicki Abeles entitled, "Is the Drive for Success Making Our Children Sick?" points out that nearly one in three teenagers reported to the American Psychological Association symptoms of anxiety and depression that were related to school-related stress.

So what can we learn from Apostle Paul's proclamation? We can learn that successfully handling the pressures of both failure and success requires a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a dependence on Him. That is, relying solely on our own limited strength will only lead to anxiety and depression; however, realizing that we have a friend in our life's journey whose supernatural strength can sustain us through ALL circumstances is refreshing, encouraging, and soothing. Want to experience peace and joy this year? I encourage you to come to know this Jesus Christ who Paul speaks of in this verse. And I encourage us all to trust God more this year in ALL that we do and go through; that is, doing what we can, and believing and resting in the fact that what we can't do, God can. Here's to a fulfilling new year filled with peace and joy!  



8/19/13 Weekly Grace Notes: A Back to School & Work Prayer

This week, as many of you return to the classroom and to your offices after enjoying a bit of rest over the summer, I pray the following for you and your loved ones.

May you daily meditate on God’s Word so that the stresses and worries of the world will fail to distract, discourage, or disable you.

May you choose to serve God in excellence in all that you do—both big and small; both the exciting and the mundane.

May God protect you from danger and peril as you travel the highways, walk the parking lots, move through the hallways, study and teach in the classrooms, work in your offices, and socialize in public places.

May God give you peace while you travel to and fro, and safeguard your home, your resources, and every asset that He has given you stewardship over from theft and destruction.

May God keep a watchful eye over those you love and let no hurt, harm, or injury befall them. May He surround your children with authorities who will encourage and inspire them, friends who will support and better them, and an environment that will challenge and strengthen them intellectually, emotionally, and physically.    

May God surround you with authorities who will encourage and inspire you, friends who will support and better you, and an environment that will challenge and strengthen you intellectually, emotionally, and physically.

May God govern your words and direct your walk as you interact with your peers and teachers; your teammates and coaches; your advisors and mentors; your colleagues and bosses.

May God be the center of all of your relationships— both professional and personal. May God’s light shine so brightly within you that those around you are warmed by your presence and can’t help but desire to bless you.

May the applause of God motivate you to be a better student, a better colleague, a better citizen, a better friend, a better spouse, a better parent, and a better child.

May you seek to regularly experience the blessing of giving-- the giving of your time, your effort, and your resources to those who are in need, as well as the institutions and organizations that serve those who are in need.

May you seek to represent God well in mind, body, and spirit.  

I ask these things in the precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ, Our Saviour, and according to Your Will. Amen.

Scripture meditation: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. (New International Version) 1 John 5:14-15


5/10/13 Weekly Grace Notes: Are You Plugged In?

The most fuel-efficient cars today are plug-in hybrid electric cars, which utilize rechargeable batteries that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external electric power source. Experts argue that these fuel-efficient vehicles reduce pollution in our environment, eliminate our dependence on foreign sources for supply, and save us in costs. Beyond the logical implications, this leads me to wonder whether there is something we can learn spiritually from this latest innovation.

Might the extent to which we can minimize drama in our lives (that pollute our personal and family environments), reduce our likelihood to struggle with bad habits and addictions (that depend on foreign sources), and lessen our inclination to make poor choices and judgments (that cost us) correspond to the source from which we choose to get our spiritual power? If so, let me ask this question: do you get your spiritual strength from plugging in (to God and His Word) or by gassing up (by the world and its means)? While we will still experience to some degree the bumps, detours, traffic jams, road construction, alternate routes, fender benders, and perhaps even the car accident or two that come with living this life, I am told that one is superior in providing a smoother ride. Can you guess which one?

Scripture meditation: But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (New Living Translation Version) Isaiah 40:31


4/18/13 Weekly Grace Notes: Experiencing Bittersweetness

On one of the biggest days in my life, I lost one of the greatest men I knew. That is, in early March of 1996, when preparing for graduation ceremonies at The Ohio State University to receive my PhD in accounting, I learned of the expectation that my father-in-law would transition at anytime after a two-year battle with cancer. The news was indeed bittersweet. Consequently, you could imagine my shock when my husband Kevin and I arrived at my father-in-law’s home on the day of graduation to find banners and streamers throughout his home celebrating me!

Kevin and I got word shortly thereafter that the doctor did not expect Mr. Turner to make it through the day, and so I insisted that Kevin go to be with him, and I prayed that God would keep my father-in-law here on this side until I could make it back. You could then imagine how further dazed I was to see Kevin at the ceremony when it was time for me to cross the graduation stage.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

He replied, “My family would not let me stay and I know that this is what my dad wants.”

So that morning I crossed a graduation stage to receive my PhD in accounting and that evening Mr. Turner crossed another stage to receive his eternal wings in heaven.

Torn, perplexed, and uncertain as to how to process what had taken place on that day, I asked God what could I learn from this? He revealed to me the following: Because life is uncertain, living must be intentional.  

Praying for all of the families who have lost loved ones in 2013, and particularly those who have suffered from the most recent tragedies. May you find the peace that only God can provide, and find strength to move on with intentionality.

Scripture meditation: I know there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (New International Version) Ecclesiastes 3:12-13


4/3/13 Weekly Grace Notes: Living a Designer-Made Life

I am told that an original design always includes the unique signature or markings of the designer on it. Hence, when the designer’s unique tags, logos, and features are missing, so is its authenticity. In other words, it is considered to be a designer “fake.” Likewise, I have determined that we cannot fully realize and enjoy the life that was specifically designed for us unless we decide to carry the signature of the One that created us. And since we can’t literally wear God’s signature on us, we must live a life that reflects His signature in us. That is, our walk and talk should reflect God’s signature.


Apostle Paul shared similar sentiments in the book of Colossians where he wrote to the church of Colossae because they had encountered a teaching that was contrary to the gospel and threatened to seduce the young believers with its attractive arguments. He encouraged them to strive to live a life “worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”  (Colossians 1:10) He also encouraged them to let their conversation be “always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)

Consequently, it is important for us believers to be a part of church body where God’s Word is central, as well as be students of the Word ourselves. We must study His Word in order to understand what God considers to be a lifestyle that is pleasing to Him and a conversation that is full of grace, particularly in this day and age where these values sway according to the popular vote of the created rather than stand according to the purposeful design of the Creator. And let’s not get it twisted, we are all sinners who are in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. However, as believers, our sole aim should be “to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere” and “be the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)

 Here’s to striving to live the Designer-made life!

Scripture meditation: Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (New Living Translation) Colossians 4:5-6