Celebrating God’s Hidden Gifts

Celebrating God’s Hidden Gifts

Can I tell you something crazy?

I’m not a fan of summer. (Sorry, Olaf.)

Oh, I love the change in our routine. I enjoy the slower pace, the grilling out, the extra time for hanging with family and friends.

But I don’t like the heat. At all. I hate getting sweaty. I dislike slathering up with sunscreen. I nearly cringe at coating everyone with bugspray. If it weren’t for my kids, I’d probably stay indoors most of the summer. In fact, I even have difficulty enjoying our beautiful Southern springtime because I’m dreading the onset of summer.

Crazy, I know.

My oldest made a comment recently which stopped me in my tracks, causing me to take a long look at how I’m spending my mental, emotional, and even spiritual energy. She said that, while she doesn’t like being hot, she loves the feeling of stepping out of the heat into a cold house.

Such a little, everyday thing. But she celebrates it as a built-in happy spot in the middle of her hot, summer day.

I wonder…how many of God’s gifts are hiding in my everyday?

When days are hard, when difficult seasons are long – are there grace-filled blessings in the middle of the struggle which I walk right past because I’m focused on what I wish wasn’t’ there?

Like gems hiding in plain sight, God’s kindness is all around us (Psalm 31:19).

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

This short little verse implies that, in every situation, gifts from God are present for which we can be thankful.


We’ll never face a moment where His grace is absent.

In every situation He’s working for our good (Romans 8:28).

Woven through each day are tokens of His affection and reminders of His kindness – even when life is at its worst. We don’t readily see these things, but if we ask, He’ll show us how He’s surrounding us with His love.

What are you facing today that’s uncomfortable? Maybe your struggle is more than uncomfortable. Maybe it’s downright gut-wrenching. Will you join me in asking God to open our eyes to His gifts in the middle of it all?

May He show us where He’s working and teach our hearts to celebrate His good gifts– even when it’s crazy hot outside.

How do you take note of God’s goodness? Comment below to join the conversation!

Twenty Questions with a Stranger

Twenty Questions with a Stranger

Have you ever played Twenty Questions with a stranger?

Last fall, a new friend on Instagram invited me to participate in an interview — twenty questions about life and faith and my relationship with God. It took me until Christmastime to return my answers — they weren’t quick and easy! A lot of other interviewees were in line ahead of me, but this week the interview went live.

Questions ranged from “What’s on your nightstand right now?” to “What are your top three tips for staying spiritually strong?”

Here’s my favorite question, along with my answer:

“What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you?

“When people see my life and hear my story, I hope the relentless love of God comes to the forefront in dazzling splendor. I pray they sense the still, small voice of God whispering His delight over them and graciously drawing them closer to His heart.”

If you’re curious about the rest of the interview, I’d love for you to hop over to Modern Witnesses

Grace, and Why It’s Amazing

Grace, and Why It’s Amazing

What comes to mind when you hear the word grace?

Do you think of a formal church service? Maybe a girl’s name? If asked to define it, what would you say?church-3250118_1280

Those who grew up in Sunday School might remember the acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Maybe you’ve heard some other catchy definition. Maybe you really aren’t sure.

I’ve heard about grace my whole life (something for which I’m incredibly thankful). But amazing didn’t really describe how I felt about it.

I was a good girl. Sure, God had forgiven my sins – at five years old. But my kindergartener shortcomings didn’t seem all that significant. Even during my teen and young adult years, I never did anything too bad.

So the grace we discussed at church only seemed amazing when I heard stories about drug addicts and ex-cons coming to faith. For people like that, grace truly was amazing. For me, though, I just didn’t feel it. Not only did I not do the really bad stuff, I spent my life doing lots of good stuff – having daily quiet times, leading Bible studies, teaching my kids about Jesus…

Because of my goodness, the amazingness of grace was lost on me.

Until that good girl life crumbled and I couldn’t keep up with my checklist Christianity. In that season of survival when I had nothing good to offer God, I felt His favor like never before. Suddenly, I saw the repulsiveness of my self-righteous Christianity, the utter inadequacy of my good deeds to earn His smile.

Suddenly, I began to understand grace.

Through all those years of pride and performance-based faith, God knew the depths of my heart. He saw the judgment with which I looked at others. He recognized how unimpressed I was with His blood-purchased grace.

Yet He loved me.

That is the essence of grace.

For the self-righteous and the unrighteous, grace is the key to understanding our Father’s heart. It’s an inseparable part of His nature, the basis on which He relates to us.

If your view of grace leaves you uninspired, maybe a fresh perspective will jump-start your heart as it did mine.

Our pastor recently gave this definition:


If you imagine God’s face as He looks at you, what expression do you see?

Do you see Someone excited to lavish you with good gifts? Is He favorably disposed toward you? Do kindness and generosity radiate from His eyes? Do you feel Him drawing you close, not to give you tomorrow’s to-do list, but to just be? Be close, be loved, be renewed, be transformed…

Or do you feel it’s up to you to keep yourself close to Him, to make yourself want Him, to grow and produce fruit so He’ll be happy with you? Must you earn His grace by trying hard to be humble, or is humility merely the recognition that you can’t?

Grace is only grace if we don’t deserve it (for both unbelievers and those who know Him). It flows freely, abundantly, exponentially from the heart of our God.

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

Unexplainable, illogical, even scandalous by human standards, this grace is woven into every facet of our relationship with God.

You are deeply loved, daughter of grace. Your Father delights in you. He is lavish in kindness, abundant in power, persistent in His pursuit of your heart.

Grace is yours if you are His.

Rest in it. Revel in it. Run free in it.

What amazes you about grace? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Giving Thanks when Things Aren’t Perfect

Giving Thanks when Things Aren’t Perfect

by Meredith Mills


What does the perfect Thanksgiving look like to you?

christmas-583369_1280I think of Norman Rockwell’s painting Freedom From Want – all the family gathered around a beautifully decorated table laden with once-a-year favorites. Sweet smells, pleasant company, happy hearts.

But real life isn’t always that perfect, is it?

Just last week, we had a “Thanksgiving Feast” with our homeschool co-op. I should have known it wouldn’t be a perfect Thanksgiving when my car refused to start that morning. My hubby, mom and dad were all out of town.

Thankfully, a family friend was working from home that day and came over to jump my car. It ran long enough for us to arrive at co-op, dying once again as I turned it off the in the parking lot.

Thankfully, I had all day to figure out what to do next.

As I took our feast contributions to the kitchen, I realized I’d forgotten the two-liter soda I was supposed to bring.

Thankfully, a friend would be joining us later in the day. I sent her a quick text and she agreed to pick up the drink for me.

Festivities were scheduled to begin around noon, so I hurried to our abbreviated classes. A few hours later, I looked up to see my daughter’s face in the door. She mouthed the words, “We have a problem!”

Her costume had ripped, and she needed me to fix it. I had neither a sewing kit (who knew a mother should carry one in her purse?!) nor the skills to mend it well.sewing-kit-1468262_1280

Thankfully, another sweet friend offered to run home and get hers for me. And thankfully, my visiting friend had just arrived and is quite skilled in sewing. She fixed the problem in no time.

We enjoyed a delicious meal and an adorable program with more little pilgrims and Indians than I’ve ever before seen in one place. Before the program started, my friend texted her husband and asked him to come look at my car saying, “He’s pretty handy with cars.”

Thankfully, he knew just what to do. While we watched to our little ones perform, he jumped it, drove it to buy a new battery, installed the battery and brought the car back.

Later I found yet another friend washing my dishes in the kitchen when I forgot to pick them up after the program. Thankfully, she overlooked my forgetfulness.

As I returned home in my recently-repaired vehicle, I thought about the precious gift of friendship. It was a rather imperfect day – car troubles, costume troubles, memory troubles (not to mention the flu bug that hit that night!)

But my God supplied my every need…using my friends. His people were His hands and feet to me that day – sharing Jesus’ love in very practical ways.myGodwillsupply

Perfection isn’t often experienced outside of fairy tales (or Norman Rockwell paintings). And sometimes things are much worse than a day ridden with frustrations and forgetfulness.

But, as my daughter reminded me after my husband’s car wreck several years ago, “There’s always something to good” for which to be thankful. Because our God delights in lavishing love on His children – and in bringing good out of imperfect circumstances.

So this year as we celebrate Thanksgiving, may God help us see His abundantgood gifts. May we savor His kindness and enjoy the people with which He’s surrounded us.

For what are you most thankful today? Please comment below!

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Thanksgiving in the Midst of Failure

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When Life Hurts

When Life Hurts

by Meredith Mills


Sometimes life is really hard.

As a nation, we’ve experienced some tragic events lately – from the Las Vegas massacre to hurricanes and wild fires leaving destruction in their wake.


Closer to home, several dear friends lost loved ones in the last few weeks. We attended one funeral on Saturday – a dearly loved husband and father. Unexpected. Much too soon. Today, my husband played piano for yet another funeral – a beloved wife of nearly 59 years. Still too soon.

So much pain and heartache. Such enormous needs.

Many of us carry “smaller” burdens, concerns we voice to no one. Fears that plague us when we’re all alone. Important to us, nonetheless.

Whether your needs are immense or you carry less-big burdens today, my prayer for you is this:

May you find hope in the presence of God who promises it won’t always be this way.

May His love be a balm to your soul.

May you know the healing power of the One who is also acquainted with grief.

May His nearness be your ever-present comfort.

May He enter your loneliness and whisper words of tender affection.

May He give beauty for your ashes and be the stability of your soul.

May His grace be your lifeline,

His wisdom your next step,

His love the very breath that you breathe.

In Jesus may you find rest and healing for your soul.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” Ps 46:1.

refuge and strength

What burdens do you carry today? I’d be honored to pray for you – please leave a comment below.

How has God been a refuge and very present help for you in the past?

Related Posts:

When You Need Refuge

It Wasn’t Supposed to be This Way