<![CDATA[GRAMMARFANATIC.COM - Blog]]>Fri, 27 Aug 2021 21:57:59 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[One Final Breath]]>Mon, 09 Aug 2021 15:51:40 GMThttp://grammarfanatic.com/blog/one-final-breathPicture
​I don’t know about you, but I have been crazy busy this summer! I’ve continued to read a good number of books because that is my sanity—I take moments here and there so I can get in a few pages at a time. One of the books, One Final Breath by Lynn H. Blackburn, is number three in a series about a team of underwater investigators who work for the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina. I’ve read the first two without being able to put them down, and this one did not disappoint.
Without giving any of the story away, the main characters is the team captain, Anissa Bell, who’s tasked with solving the shooting of a teenage boy. To complicate matters for Anissa, she has been trying to solve the cold case of a friend’s murder and the disappearance of a little girl. In the process, God uses the two cases to help Anissa as she works through issues we all face: finding our purpose, accepting God’s will and how He chooses to accomplish it, and dealing with emotional pain.
When you think about the experiences you’ve had and the situations you’ve found yourself in, do you ever wonder if you minimize what God is doing in your life? I don’t know about you, but I have found myself limiting God because of my finite thinking.

Anissa doubts God’s calling on her life as an investigator and, at one point, prays, “‘Oh, Lord, what have I done?’ She whispered her confession. ‘How have I only imagined that you work in one way, when I know you are the God of infinity? I still don’t see how there could be any good from Carly’s death. Any good from Jillian’s disappearance. From thirteen years of pain for her family. For me. I don’t understand and I know I never will. But when did I stop believing you could—or would—give me anything good? When did I stop seeing my job, my friends, my life in Carrington as a gift from you? As your plan for me? When did I get it in my head that you would only give me the minimum?’”

Don’t we do the same thing? We get so caught up in the circumstances we find ourselves in, we forget how big our God is and that He is our loving, heavenly Father who only has our best interests at heart. I remember a wise person telling me years ago that God doesn’t allow anything into our lives unless it’s passed through His fingers first. In the midst of pain or difficulties, I can forget that.

I’ve realized as I’ve matured in the Lord, I find myself remembering more quickly the times God has been faithful and going to His Word to Scriptures that brought comfort or encouragement in the past. One such verse is Isaiah 49:16, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (ESV). Not only does this speak to how much God cares for us but, when I meditate on this, it brings to mind those same palms felt the pain of spikes being driven through them as Jesus was nailed to the cross. He took on my sin and allowed Himself to suffer and be put to death in my place because of His great love for me. How could I ever doubt what He does in my life?

Another character in One Final Breath is an older man Anissa views as a surrogate parent. As she talks with him about her doubts, he tells her, “I know you think you messed up and missed God’s best for you. But I wish you would consider the possibility that God called you to police work. That he gave you the skills needed to be a fabulous investigator. That his plan—his good works planned for you before the foundation of the world—was always for you to change lives right here . . . Sometimes God calls his children to sacrifice everything and serve him in far-flung places. Sometimes God calls his children to sacrifice everything and serve him in the up-close spaces. In the hospital, the courtroom, the classroom, the sheriff’s office. Staying put and doing the hard work right where you are takes the same obedience, the same passion for the Lord, as any other calling.”

Are you aware we all have a calling? God’s call on a person’s life isn’t just for those who are pastors, evangelists, or theologians—those whose professions are clearly based on doing “God’s work.” We ALL should be doing God’s work in whatever place He has us, whether we work at home or in an office, whether we are retired or still laboring at a job, whether we are a student or an adult.

Did you know God called you from the time you were in your mother’s womb? Isaiah 49:1 affirms it: “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Throughout the New Testament, the word “calling” is frequently used. We are told “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30 ESV). We are “called to freedom,” not to serve our flesh “but through love [to] serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 ESV). In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”

If we want to know God’s will for us—His purpose for our lives—we would do well to study what His Word has to say about what being called by Him means. A concordance at the back of your Bible is a great place to start. Grab your spouse or a friend and study together. Knowing God’s calling on your life and all it entails will change your walk with the Lord and deepen your faith.

I’ll end with a prayer Anissa prayed that really touched my heart.

“Father, you know our hearts. You know our fears and our desires and our failings. You know our weaknesses and our weariness. Your Word says that your strength is made perfect in our weakness. That when our flesh fails, you will never fail. So we ask that you will give us the strength to trust in your faithfulness to us. Give us the hope that you are working all things for the good and for your glory. Thank you for loving us . . . May we glorify you in all things. We love you, Jesus. You’re the best. Amen.”

​Blessings to you!

<![CDATA[Before I Called You Mine]]>Mon, 24 May 2021 19:29:13 GMThttp://grammarfanatic.com/blog/before-i-called-you-minePicture
Have you ever started reading a book without really understanding what it is you’re about to experience? Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese is just such a book. I found it by accident—I wasn’t familiar with the author, but the cover and the title drew me in. Once I started reading it, I found it hard to put down.

Before I Called You Mine is the story of first-grade teacher, Lauren Bailey, whose love of children leads her to pursue international adoption. The author paints a beautiful picture of the challenges adoptive parents face, both in the waiting and after the adoption takes place. As Lauren struggles against giving up hope, one of her wise friends tells her, “Right now your child is sitting across the world in an orphanage, waiting for you, too. You may not know your child’s name yet or what their face looks like when they laugh or cry, but God has already gone before you in this. He’s already connected your heart to theirs in a way only He can. I know the wait can feel excruciating while on this side of things, but it’s not in vain. There is purpose in the waiting, Lauren. Don’t allow yourself to lose sight of that.”

Even if we’ve never been involved in adoption first-hand, we all know what it’s like to find ourselves waiting on God for the answer to a prayer—a new job, healing from illness, the return of a prodigal child, etc. Waiting is never easy!

The duo Shane and Shane sing a song called, “I Will Wait for You,” based on Psalm 130. The chorus says,
                I will wait for You. I will wait for You.
                On Your Word I will rely
                I will wait for You, surely wait for You
                Till my soul is satisfied.
Psalm 130:7 sums it up: “O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption.”
The answer to waiting on the Lord is to rely on His Word and His promises. In His Word we find comfort, encouragement, strength, peace, and God Himself. As we lean into Him, we begin to give up feelings of stress and worry, and instead we find we can trust in His whispered reassurances and perfect timing.

In the author’s notes at the end of the book, she wrote: “Before I Called You Mine is my tenth novel. And while I’m usually partial to my most recent manuscript, there is something vastly different about this story’s hold on my heart. Because so much of the journey found in these pages—of this struggle to live out the kind of faith that often calls us to the edges of ourselves—is my story, too . . . my ultimate hope for this story isn’t about the events of the climax at all; it’s about you. Specifically, it’s about a question I hope you’ll ask yourself: What is the hard that God’s asking me to partner with Him in?”

Who knew that reading a book about adoption would bring the reader to the point of the “struggle to live out the kind of faith that often calls us to the edge of ourselves”? This is where the “rubber meets the road,” where we identify with characters in the Bible who found themselves on the edge. I started to name some of them, but then realized that all of the characters in the Bible at some point, had to come to that same place, because it’s there that we have to decide whether to take God at His word or succumb to our fears and insecurities.

But then comes the author’s other question: “What is the hard that God’s asking me to partner with Him in?”

I have recently begun volunteering at a Christian pregnancy center and even though it brings me joy, it has been hard. I get to see God’s hand at work every time I’m there, but it’s tough to see young girls and women in crisis, faced with the decision to keep a baby and raise it, give it up for adoption or, sadly, to abort it. It’s never easy watching someone dealing with the consequences of a poor decision, but God can bring good out of a bad situation, even abortion, and it builds my faith and confirms to me the promise found in 2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.”

None of us is perfect and God knows it, but He loves us anyway. Even though this book told the story of a woman who adopts a child, it made me realize we are all children in need of adoption. Ephesians 4:4-7 reiterates this: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [daughters]. And because you are sons [daughters], God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son [daughter], and if a son [daughter], then an heir through God.”

I pray this humbles you as it does me, and lets you know you’re not alone in whatever it is you’re struggling through right now. If you’ve accepted your adoption in Christ, embrace it and the whole of God’s love for you! Bring your cares and concerns to Him, because He truly cares for you, and wants to hold your hand through the hard that He’s asking you to partner in with Him.

I commend moms and dads who have walked through the difficult journey of adoption as it is a definite hard. God will surely bless you for your selflessness and desire to serve Him in this way. I’m thankful God gave Nicole Deese this story to tell because I know it will bless those who read it, and may even plant a seed, or confirm, in someone’s heart about adding to their family through adoption.

​Blessings to you!