Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Grace Journey

Hi everyone!

Today, I am doing something a little different in the blog. Instead of the regular devotional, I want to say "hi" and introduce myself.
This is me -- in our yard! 

My name is Sharilee and I have been blogging in some form for the last seven years. My first blog (which I still have) started out as 100togo (a weight loss blog) and has morphed into a nature/reflection blog called Life in the Woods. that focuses on lessons through nature.

I also have a collection of articles at Hubpages and a little site on journaling. My goal is to write e-books and print books to encourage others.

During the day, I am a grade six teacher at a First Nations school. I have been teaching on and off since 1999, and plan to leave the classroom at the end of this year, to pursue writing and business full-time. I started the Grace Daily Blog to help get myself more into regular reading of God's word.

It seems like most of the readers have been coming through the Facebook page. Welcome! It's so nice to have you here. I would love to meet you, and I am hoping you will comment to let me know that you are reading. I would love to hear a little bit about you. Where are you from? What stage of life are you at?

A little bit more about me. I am married to a man I call my gorgeous husband. We have three cats, a few plants (I just started my first garden) and a big yard in the forest. This is the second marriage for both of us. Neither one of us believed in divorce, but were left by our former spouses years before we met.. When we met, both of us had been hurt badly by our past, and God has used each other to help bind us up again.

I guess the reason I call this blog, "Grace Daily" is that by God's grace, that I am here today. And it's by his grace that I was able to know true love in a marriage.

I grew up in a Baptist Church with Christian parents, and asked Jesus into my heart when I was six years old, led by Mom, who was a real lover of Jesus. I feel grateful that God showed me himself so early in life, and I know it helped get me through the next years. In my childhood, we had abuse in our home. There was a lot of yelling and some physical violence.  At school, I was bullied a lot. The worst bully was a church kid.

My Mom and me at my graduation
So, by the age of 14, I was a bit skeptical of churches. I had to attend but when I left home at 18 to get away from the craziness, it took me a while to get back to church. Then I ended up meeting and marrying a man whom I thought would bring me back to the LORD. He was a church-goer and we did go to church together. Two years later, after a lot of yelling, and physical threats, he was out the door, and I was left alone again, this time with a "Mrs." attached to my name, at the tender age of 22.

I was now a divorced Christian: a big taboo in the circles where I hung out. It certainly wasn't my ideal plan. It wasn't what I wanted, but God did use this situation and many others to get me to know what it really meant to follow Him. My divorce brought me to a place where I felt determined to follow the LORD, no matter what.

Like I said, I started this blog to help keep me focused on reading God's word. If the LORD uses this to help bring others closer to  Him, that's awesome!

So, please tell me a bit about yourself. What has been a bit of your faith journey? What are you looking for, from this blog? I look forward to "meeting" you.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Do You Ever Judge Others?

Do you ever judge others?
Do you ever judge others? By judge, I mean look down on others? I confess do this sometimes, even though I know it is wrong. God's word says:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For the same judgement with which ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured ot you again. 

Matthew 7:1-2

I admit that I struggle with judgemental thoughts about other people sometimes. In my secret heart of hearts, I notice flaws of others sometimes and put them down in my mind, or I judge their actions, and assume that they did it with a bad intention.

We all know it's wrong! Wes try not to do it, but at times, the thought slip out. We try to confess it right away, but sometimes it festers, especially if it's someone that's hasn't been so nice to us.

The commandment of Jesus to not judge others is one of the hardest of his commandments to follow. We, as women, especially, find lots of ways to judge other women: their clothes, their body, their house, their personality, their job, their job. Let's be real -- it happens a lot.

I love how God introduces to Noah in Genesis 5. Notice he says nothing about what he does for a living, or how he looks. He just simply says, "he found grace in the eyes of the LORD," and he was "just" and "perfect in his generations."

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:8

We can really see that God puts importance on different things than we do. When was the last time you introduced your new friend as someone who "finds grace in the sight of the LORD." When was the last time you praised God for someone in the church for being "just?"

It seems like as humans, we tend to focus on all kind of stuff about each other, but forget the most important thing of all: what God looks at. He looks at our heart, and our walk with him. Everything else is just not that important.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Let's Keep Drinking of His Well!

Today, in my reading, I came across the story of the woman at the well. In this passage, Jesus was travelling, got thirsty, and asked a woman for a drink of her water. When the woman refused, Jesus told her (we do not know her name) that He could give her living water, if only she would ask.

The LORD goes on to say that this living water would eliminate her thirst forever. Wow, what a claim!

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water ... 

But whoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting water.

John 4:10, 14

But what kind of thirst was Jesus talking about? We know it's wasn't physical thirst, but what other kind of thirst is there?  According to Strong's Concordance, the word "to thirst" can also mean to "desire earnestly." It's a longing, an intense want. 

As humans, we thirst for so many different things! The list is endless, and so individual for each person. We may thirst for success, for love, for stability. We may long for a new house, children, a better job. And sometimes it is more frivolous: our favourite food, a new couch, or a tropical vacation.

Are these desires wrong? Do we stop longing (thirsting) because we know Jesus? I don't think so! God says he will give us the desires of our heart:

Delight thyself also in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of they heart.

Psalm 37:4

The Vincent's Words commentary helped me to understand this passage better. The writer points out that we don't stop wanting things, but rather that we begin to want things that can satisfy us, rather than things that will frustrate us. 

Instead of random sex, we seek committed lovemaking. Instead of driven shopping, we seek deliberate purchases. Instead of ruthless wins, we seek fair play. We will always have desires, but the LORD of heaven and earth promises to satisfy the desires of our hearts, with "a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

And most of all, we thirst for him, our LORD. Knowing him satisfies most of all, if we take time to really know him, and let him know us. 

Let's keep drinking of his well, so that he can purify our desires more and more. And let him fill us up to overflowing!

And talk to me ... how have your desires changed since coming to know Jesus? And if you don't know Him, would you like to? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do You Believe Today?

One of the first memories I have is as a toddler, from the back of the church, through a nursery window. I grew up in the bosom of the First Baptist church, and accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour when I was six years old. I definitely do identify as a believer in Jesus Christ. 

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:36

But I am also beginning to realize how many times I am not a believer. There are many moments when I don't really believe that:
I see how easy for my heart to quietly slip into a state of unbelief and a state of uneasiness. And in these quiet moments, my heart actually forgets that I have God himself living inside my heart, working out his good and perfect will.

In order to really believe day by day, we need to fight for it. We need to renew our minds, and constantly remind ourselves that he has saved us.

Believing in the LORD Jesus Christ means being saved from the eternal consequences of sin, but it also means being saved from our own dark thoughts, our haunting fears and our sense of helplessness.

But be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Romans 12:2

Saturday, April 23, 2016

God's Love Endures Forever

Last night, my husband and I went to our first Seder. The Seder is the Passover dinner when Jewish people celebrate the exodus from Egypt. It was a very meaningful ceremony where every element represents some aspect of God's deliverance of his people from their oppressors. 

I think my favourite part of all was when the leader called out something that God has done for his people, and everyone repeats after each line, "God's love endures forever." 

How powerful to hear those words called out again and again! God's love endures forever. Whatever we are facing right now, we can always count on God's love. Whatever battle that Satan appears to be winning, God's love endures forever. He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. His love endures forever. However unlovable we feel, God's love endures forever. 

The Jewish people were told to keep repeating the same stories of God's deliverance to their children over and over again. "When you are going out, when you are going in."

And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt ...

Therefore shall ye lay up these words in your heart and your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand ... And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 11: 2-3b, 18-19

We need to keep repeating this word to ourselves, to our children and to each other. It's not enough to hear it once. We need to keep hearing it and reminding ourselves: that God's love is always there. His love is the one thing we can count on. He loves us now, and He always will. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Seek The LORD

Last night, my husband and I went sunset-hunting. It was kind of late, and we couldn't see the sunset at our house because our land is too low, but we decided to see if we could catch it a different location. (I was taking pictures, and my husband was nice enough to be my chauffeur!)

The first place we stopped was a dud. The sun had already gone down too much, and the light was just a thin slice, barely discernible. It seemed we'd missed it but we decided to try one more location, since we were already out. 

We live by a huge lake, and the road we were on went to the end of the lake. We drove to the end of the highway, and after that, there was a very rough trail leading down a shoreline. I was a bit nervous about the roughness of the trail, but my trusty driver got us in there. We hopped out, ran through some pretty deep mud, and saw this: 

Sunset off the lake -- Author's Collecti
It was exquisite! My camera couldn't do it full justice. And so worth the extra work. I was glad we hadn't given up. 

The LORD also asks us to seek Him: 

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found: call ye upon him while he is near. 

Isaiah 55:6

Sometimes it seems like God is so far away. We try to feel His presence, but we can't. We want Him to listen to us, but it feels like he isn't. 

Keep seeking Him, because he likes to be sought. He reserves his best treasures for those who won't give up on knowing Him. 


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

God Has A Good Reason

As a teacher of a group of grade sixers who are halfway between little kid and almost adult,  I often have to discipline my students.  I don't enjoy doing it, but it's part of the job, and necessary if I am going to do my main job: which is to give lessons and help them learn the skills and knowledge they will need to survive in our complex world, and to make it to high school. 

Having to do the sometimes unpleasant job of discipline has given me a new perspective on authority and rules. As a teenager and young adult, I often thought rules were put into place just to ruin my fun. I wasn't a big rule-breaker, but sometimes those  little rules just seemed petty. Like, don't go out the fire escape. Why did it really matter? Or take off your school clothes when you're going to play outside. 

But now as a teacher, I understand rules a lot better. Rules help run the classroom, so everyone can function together. Some of them, like don't sharpen your pencil sharpener when the teacher is talking, might seem to slow you down, but it is extremely hard to talk or listen to a math lesson with the drone of the pencil sharpener going off in the middle of it. 

Some kids, when spoken to about the rules, seem to always point at another student who did something worse. But that really is not relevant because they also broke the rules. 

I understand better now that rules are there to help out all the student learn and do their best. The rules help create a safe and motivating atmosphere for all students and the teacher. 

And this does help me understand God's rules better, too. Just like a teacher has to take all of her students in to account, so does God take all of the earth's peoples in mind when he gives us directions. 

When he told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree, he knew the knowledge of good and evil would be devastating for humankind. To Eve, it may have seemed like a petty little rule, but the consequences were devastating. 

So do we need to trust God today, that He has a good reason for all his directions. 

But the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in that day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16, 17

A picture of my classroom without any students

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The same God

Image by Pixaby
If you ever feel anxious but you're not sure why

And a vague sense of uneasiness 

Just nips at the edge of your consciousness

Then please, please know, 

O child of God ... 

The same one that formed the earth

The same God who established the heavens

Is guiding you. 

Pursue HIS wisdom, and

Embrace HIS ways, and 

You will never stumble

And you will always be safe

And you will not be afraid

When you go to sleep, 

And your dreams will be sweet,

Just as long as you keep holding

Unto Him. 

The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath the established the heavens. By his knowledge hath he established the heavens. ... My son let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion. ... Then thou shalt walk in thy way safely, and they foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid, yea, thou shalt lie down, and they sleep shall be sweet. 

Proverbs 3: 19, 21, 23-24

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Are You Taking Time To Rest?

With our busy schedules these days, who has time to rest? Who would even admit that they were taking time to rest? Being busy seems to be the main thing people brag about these days. 

Image via Pixaby
A few months ago, I remember a friend posting on Facebook that she couldn't remember the last time she had a good night's sleep. I remember being surprised at the responses to her: several women confessed that they were getting by on four hours of sleep or less. The sad part is they seemed to accept this as normal.

Four hours or less! A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that adults from 18-64 need seven to nine hours of sleep a night to function properly. These study also states that sleep is a basic need, like food or water.

I know I sure struggle to get my eight hours rest. Work is so busy, and stress often keeps me from sleeping properly. As I was reading God's word yesterday, I was asking the LORD for wisdom for the exhaustion I was feeling, and came upon these two verses:

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Genesis 2:2-3

God rested on the seventh day, after six days of working. He took a whole day! And I was reminded of how he created the world: day and night. The day was for working, and before electricity, people slept at night. God himself rested -- and he gave us a day just for resting. He also gave us a time of darkness every day, just for resting. 

LORD, please give me the wisdom to learn how to take care of my mind and body by getting my sleep. Forgive me for being so careless in meeting my need for sleep. LORD, let me not give in to our culture's dictates that I must be busy every day, every hour. Let me take time to rest, O LORD.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

His Grace Makes Me Right

Photo created by author
Do you ever struggle with pride? I admit it,  I struggle with pride, even though I know, know, know it's wrong! Many commentators say that pride is the original sin, the one that got Satan kicked out of heaven: he thought was better than God, and wanted glory for himself.

You know when I seem to struggle with pride the most? I find it's when I have been especially insecure: unsure of my abilities and down on myself. And my flesh thinks it needs an ego boost: a way to feel better about myself. What does it sound like? It is a swarmy, tempting voice whispering: 
  • you're better than her
  • you're so smart -- you deserve to be praised
  • you're so righteous -- better than those Christians over there
  • look at you, with all your talents
Do you ever hear that voice? So many times have I heard that voice, and often pray to God to rescue. I don't want pride in my life, but how do I escape? 

These verses spoke especially strongly this morning to me, about pride:

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight...For all have sinned,  and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...Where is boasting then? It is excluded.

Romans 3:20a, 23-24, 27a

We can never be justified, in our own strength. We can never be good enough, without Him. Our own greatness is never really that great. 

Please, O God, remind me that I do not have to be better than anyone else, because we are all sinners saved by grace. Wrap me in your grace, so that pride's voice cannot even reach me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When We Are Confused

My husband has been at his job for 31 years. And he is ready for a change: retirement, and then after some time, he will be starting a new phase of  his life.  I, myself, am also doing a change from full-time school teaching. 

Sometimes we feel  like a deer caught in the headlights! 
Boy oh boy, are we both confused right now! The possibilities seem endless: go back to school, start a business, move somewhere and start over? We go over scenario after scenario. After 31 years of working in one place, he really doesn't know how to imagine himself anywhere else.  I am simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices available to us.

It's confusing when you can't see something shaping up, you don't know which direction to take. 

Yesterday, I was reading in Genesis, and came across this verse:

And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 

Genesis 1:2

I was curious about the phrase "'without form, and void."  I discovered that the words "without form, and void" refer to confusion and disorder.  There was confusion and disorder before the Spirit of God moved. Wow, I could relate! And then the verse says, the spirit of God moved. The next verse refers to the light that God brings: 

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. 

Genesis 1:3-4

He was bringing light into the confusion, and darkness! Next, it says:

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 


So, he created the light, but he also allowed the darkness to stay: the times of "non-light." Just as he does in our lives. We have these times of confusion and disorder, where we don't understand what is happening. 

But then, he brings light. We begin to understand, to see the form of what is happening in our lives. God is the one who moves upon the depths of our souls, showing us what we need to do. He is the one who brings light, and then direction as to go where to go. He is the one who brings wisdom. 

I know we just need to keep seeking Him, first of all, and then he will show us. Because when it is just us flailing about in our confusion, the light never seems to come. 

Are you in a time of confusion right now? Draw close to God, so He can start to bring light, and start to move. He has been bringing light into situations since the beginning of time. It's what He does! 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

In the Beginning, God ...

Do you remember your first day of school? I don't exactly remember it myself, but I do know that my mother told me I clung to her, and did not want to enter the classroom. But once I did, I absolutely loved it. It was a new beginning for me. It meant leaving the safe environment of home, and entering into an exciting world of learning. 

Starting school is one of life's new beginnings.
Prrince Christian
By VisitCopenhagen [CC BY 2.0)
via Wikimedia Commons
And every September, children also get a fresh star when they are promoted to the next grade. They get a new teacher, new classmates, and a chance to start again. Whatever happened last year is gone. And there is a general buzz in the school as the kids re-connect, share about their summers and maybe most importantly, show off their new "school clothes!"

Why do we humans love new beginnings so much? Weddings make us emotional. Babies being born get us so excited. Opening a new building deserves a ceremony. Why do we value "new" so much? 

I think it's because somethig new gives us hope. We muddle along in our lives, messing up, falling down, feeling like things might never get better. But when we experience something new, whether it's for us, sor someone else, we feel hope. We feel like things are not alway going to be the same. And it revives us. It's the cycle of life. It's spring, for us, and it's what makes us feel alive.

Today, I read a couple of Scriptures that referred to beginnings. The first one is the first verse of the Bible: 

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

And this one from the New Testament: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 

And finally, this one from Proverbs: 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. 

Proverbs 1:7a

These verse all tell us that the beginning of everything is God. He created everything. Without Him, we have nothing, and we literally are nothing. And without fearing (respecting) him, we know nothing. 

So, I know I need to be reminded that ultimately, all my hope comes from God. My knowledge ultimately comes from him. And my very existence comes from him. He is the new beginning, and very time we draw near to Him, our hearts can have hope. In fact, His grace makes every day a new beginning: 

His mercies are new every morning. 

Praise you, God!