Friday, December 30, 2016

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

Life is filled with the unexpected and unplanned. Some unexpected life happenings can be joyful and that long awaited job offer or a surprise birthday party. 

We can plan as much as we like, have all the details worked out and orchestrated to run as smoothly as possible and yet the unexpected happens.  

A few years ago, this unexpected event occurred.

My husband had just dropped me off at a school for an interview. He was driving across the city and would be returning to pick me up within an hour or so. 

He never made it across the city because the unexpected occurred. 

When my interview was finished I thought that I would begin walking to meet him rather than staying at the school.  

I had walked a few blocks away from the school when my phone rang. It was my husband saying that he was on his way to pick me up so I mentioned that I was no longer at the school and told him the road that I was walking along. 

"Oh, and I will be arriving in a tow truck," he said. 

I didn't respond right away because I was hoping that I had misheard what him. 

"Did you hear me? I said that I'll be arriving in a tow truck."

"Yes, I did but I was hoping that I had misheard you." 

Sure enough, a few minutes later a tow truck driver pulled up beside me, with my husband as his passenger and our van as his most recent rescue victim. 

My husband was smiling and all I could do was shake my head. Not again! 

Just two weeks prior our car had been in an accident and insurance had written it off.  Unfortunately for us, insurance decided the van was also a write off and the combined amount for both vehicles was only enough to purchase a small car. 

After all that happened that day, I wasn;t offered the job for which I had interviewed. I do however, continue to trust God and the plan He has for our lives. 

The Bible has many examples of the unexpected and God's grace.  Saul is just one example. 

Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul, was certainly the most unexpected person to become an apostle. Yet, God knew that this young man's passion would make him the perfect individual to bring the Good News of Jesus to the Gentiles. 

Saul had to lose his sight before he could see. He had to rely on others to lead him. He become a radical heart listener. He had to surrender himself completely to God and to God's will for his life so that he could become a new man with a new name and a new purpose.  

Like Paul, we will experience the unexpected. We can let the unexpected be an opportunity for God to work in us.  As a result, we can be changed for good due to the unexpected.  

Other By His Grace Posts of Interest: 

Are You a Heart Listener?

For the Broken

Mending the Broken Heart

Blog Posts From Others About The Unexpected:

Michael Hyatts' blog post: Why You Should Welcome Problems

Karen Ball from the Steve Laube Agency writes about:  Lessons From a Crab 

The photos are by JennyEBurr 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are You a Heart Listener?

 Are you a heart listener? 

At a conference a speaker shared that her father who had lost his hearing was a better heart listener now than when he was able to hear. 

I thought that this was a great way to describe how God speaks into a person's heart on behalf of someone else or a situation. 

Any of us can be heart listeners if we tune in to what God is telling us. 

In today's noisy and busy world when you and I are filling every moment of our day with work and activities...busy you and I take the time to stop and listen? 

Listen to the inaudible?

Listen to the feelings and emotions?

Listen to the unsaid, unshared fears and concerns?

Listen to the unspoken joy? 

Listen to the heart? 

Do you and I listen to all that someone says and to what they don't say?  

Perhaps the unshared information would send them and you into a downward spiral.   

A spiral so deep and so long and so unnerving that you wouldn't know how to cope with what they share?  

Yet, you can see the sadness behind their eyes.

Their mannerisms indicate they have more to say but...can they? 

I have found that when I take the time to just sit and listen, I hear God prodding and nudging me to be a heart listener. 

In the heart ache, pain, stress and joy of our messy world, God calls you and me to be heart listeners. 

Listeners who may not know what to say or what to do except listen and pray. 

Has God spoken to your heart?  

Have you been urged and prodded to pray for someone or a situation?

To speak with someone?  To bless someone?  

Have you followed up on God's leading? 

There have been many times in my life when God has whispered into my heart. 

These are a few examples. 

A young woman who is pregnant needs you to pray for her. She is feeling unworthy and contemplating suicide. 

A friend's daughter needs prayer. She needs to know that no matter what she has done that she is loved. 

Someone needs to know that they are loved by me (God) and their family. You do not need to know who they are....just pray. 

Guilt and shame, this person for whom you are praying feels guilt and shame. Tell them that they do not need to feel this way because of Jesus. Tell them! 

Are you willing to surrender your daughter(s) to me? No matter what the cost? 

The doctor needs to know that you are praying for your daughter's health. 

He is being obedient! 

Are you a heart listener?  

Your turn: Have you become a heart listener? Feel free to leave a comment. 

Other By His Grace Posts of Interest:

For The Broken

Are We There Yet?

Mending the Broken

Mending the Broken...Heart

Thursday, October 13, 2016

For The Broken

For the broken

For the one feeling unloved

You are worthy
You are important
You are valuable
You are precious
You are beautiful
You are loved
You are terrific

You are a blessing to others
And you are blessed 

For the broken times in your life remember that you are valued and that you are appreciated.  

Sometimes it takes helping another person through their time of brokenness to realize that you do have something to offer.

I have had times of brokenness. 

I have also seen others during their times of brokenness and this was one of those times. 

A stranger came into our house. 

My husband had found her sobbing in her car at the side of the road. He convinced her to pull into our driveway and to come inside to meet me. 

This woman was broken. Her life was shattered. Her heart had been pierced. 

Being the introvert that I am, I just listened to her and let her cry. 

She wasn't in need of a lecture or advice. She simply needed to pour out her tears and weep. 

Our dog nestled in beside her as she sat on the floor of our kitchen and cried. Hugging our pet, she sobbed for about hour as she made negative comments about her life, her decisions and her actions. 

When she called herself a "loser" I responded by saying, "No, you are not. You've just made some mistakes." After about an hour, she was ready to leave. 

She thanked me for letting her come inside, for listening and for letting her hug our dog. Then she reassured me that she had a friend with whom she could stay for the night. 

I have prayed for this stranger ever since. 

Sometimes, just being a listener is all that we can do and all that we need to do. 

Your Turn:  Have you been broken? Have you helped someone who has been broken? Feel free to share in the comment section. 

Image Credit: JennyEBurr 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Are We There Yet?

"Are we there yet?" chorused two young voices from the back seat. 

That was often a question our daughters would ask as we traveled home to visit family. 

A two and a half hour drive to see my husband's family and a seven hour drive to see my family led them to ask that question numerous times. 

Over the years, I too have asked my Heavenly Father the same question. 

"Are we there yet?"  

Are we there yet? 

It has been eight years and counting since my husband was laid off from Nortel.  Eight years of financial stress and struggle.  Eight years of unsteady employment for us both. 

"Have we learned everything that You want us to learn from these experiences Heavenly Father?"

"Have we been humbled enough?"

"Have we given up our will for Your will?"

"Are we now trusting You completely?" 

"Is this part of our journey finished?" 

"Are we there yet?"

We are more than ready for God to pour out His blessings and we look forward to the future.  

We are waiting and trusting in God's timing and plans for us. 

During these years we have started to notice the little things.

The love-wrapped-blessings-in-the almost-hidden-gifts.

The falling-in-love again and growing stronger in faith in our precious Heavenly Father. 

Sometimes in waiting for the future and the BIG BLESSINGS we miss the LITTLE BLESSINGS that God offers to us. 

The daily offerings of His presence.

The blessings He provides in nature: 
the grass, 
the dirt,
the fragrance after the rain, 
the ever changing sky above us, 
the colourful wonder of fall, 
the rocks, plants, water,
and animal life. 

The blessings He pours out in the people we have in our lives:
our adult daughters,
their grandparents,
our siblings and siblings in law,
our friends,
and our church family.

Taking the time to appreciate all that our Heavenly Father offers us daily has been helpful in our life journey. 

Are we there yet? 

Your turn: Do you sometimes find yourself asking the question, "Are we there yet?" Please feel free to share.  

Other By His Grace Posts of Interest: 

Blessed Are...
Mending the Broken Heart
Mending the Broken Just Right

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blessed are...

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kngdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

These verses are from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible in the book of Matthew Chapter 5 verses 3-12. The photos were taken by JennyEBurr, wandering around the family cottage. 

Sometimes I just need the reminder that no matter what happens, God is truly aware and in control.  He is blessing me through all of the circumstances in my life. 

I am truly blessed. 

You are also very blessed. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the many blessings which you have given me. In Jesus' name. Amen

Your turn: Are you feeling blessed today? 

Other By His Grace Posts which may interest you. 

Mending the Broken....Heart
Mending the Broken
Just Right
Unlikely Impossible

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mending the Broken ....Heart

These photos were taken by JennyEBurr

Continuing with the theme of Mending the Broken I had a broken heart. 

In fact, I was born with one but my family and I were told that it was just a heart murmur. 

It wasn't until I was 26 years old that I learned that it was more. 

At the time, my doctor thought that it would be a good idea to have my heart murmur checked out and in doing so, we learned that I had a hole in my heart. 

A broken heart indeed

I was engaged to be married in a year's time and I was living in St. Catharines, Ontario. Arrangements were made for my surgery to take place at St. Michaels in Toronto. 

I was petrified! 

Not only was I scared of hospitals, because I never had a reason to be in one but I had no idea what the outcome would be. My get married and my immediate have heart surgery were at a crossroad. 

I was told by someone whose son had the same surgery that it was an easy surgery. But this was Me we were talking about and My heart. The thought of having heart surgery didn't sound easy to me.  
I can honestly say that the only way I made it through the experience was through prayer and faith. 

As I talked to God about my fears, he replaced the fears with calm and peace. Others supported me in prayer and I supported them with the calm God had supplied me. 

To prepare for the surgery and to ensure that yes indeed a hole certainly was in my heart I had to have a test. This test was worse than the surgery because at least during the surgery I would be put to sleep. For the test I had to be awake. 

For someone who feared hospitals, this was difficult to endure but necessary. The reason that I had to be awake during the test was so that the hospital staff would know that I was okay and able to respond, as a catheter was sent up an artery to my heart. 

The test confirmed that I did require heart surgery, Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) repair. 

When it was time for the surgery, the hole was large enough that a patch was needed to mend my broken heart. As I was recovering, my mom and my aunt came in to see me. 

They had been warned by the doctor that I would be very pale and this was to be expected after my surgery. When they visited me they couldn't help but smile. I had more colour than I ever had in the past. 

Broken hearts like mine, take a few weeks to heal. I was blessed to be enveloped in God's love and peace and surrounded by friends and family and my husband to be. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing your calming presence during my life...through the good times and the times of healing.   In Jesus' name. Amen. 

Your Turn: Have you had an opportunity to ask for God's peace during a time of brokenness? Feel free to share. 

Other By His Grace Posts:

Mending the Broken

Just Right



Monday, August 8, 2016

Mending the Broken

These photos were taken by JennyEBurr 

Mending the Broken

Each of us will experience brokenness in our lives.  

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
 Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. 
Matthew 5: 3,4 NIV 

Jesus is referring to parts of us that can be broken. 

Our heart
Our mind
Our spirit
Our physical body
Our lives  

How can we be blessed when we are broken?

Aching in pain, grief, despair, guilt, shame or abandonment. 

Weeping until we can no longer shed a tear and our head throbs. 

Wanting to wipe out memories of what once caused our hearts joy but now only leaves us with emptiness and sorrow. 

Utter heartbreak!  Piercing pain! 

It is in our brokenness, 
Our pure emptiness,
When our strength has been fully depleted,
When our self-reliance has run aground,
That we are then ready to ask God for help. 

It doesn't mean that when we reach out to God that "POOF" our circumstances will automatically change.  They may but more than likely they may not. 

What it does mean is that our attitude toward our situation will alter, ever so slightly at first and more so over time.  

It means that instead of returning to our self-reliance we become God-reliant. 

We may experience peace and we will have the assurance that God loves us.  Healing begins when we give God control of our lives and this is a blessing indeed. 

God is in the business of mending the broken. 

I remember feeling broken and empty when my parents passed away.  It seemed as though all joy had fled my life. I would see other mothers and daughters in a store and I felt as though my heart was being ripped out. 

"Why do they still get to have their mom Lord?" I asked. 

I would see grandmothers with their grandchildren and my heart would break for my daughters who would never know their maternal grandmother beyond their ages of five and seven. 

Perhaps if my parent's deaths hadn't been just a couple of weeks apart I may have fared better but it took quite awhile for my brokenness to mend. 

I hurt. I ached. I wept and I hugged my daughters and my husband. 

My siblings and I were supported by our maternal cousins, aunts and uncles during this time, for they too were grieving. 

Grief is brokenness. 

Thankfully, God was very patient with me and gently nudged my healing along. I had two young daughters to care for to help keep me busy. Prayers from friends and family got me through my brokenness. 

Since then, I have been able to be a listener and a comforter for others who have lost a parent.  Being familiar with the heart ache helps those feeling a similar pain. 

Mending the broken. 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for accepting us in our brokenness, for your love, your patience and healing and for helping us to become more God-reliant than self-reliant.  In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. 

Your turn: Have you been able to come alongside another because of your experience with brokenness? Feel free to leave a comment.

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Other By His Grace Posts of Interest: 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Just Right

Photos were taken around the family cottage by JennyEBurr

Just Right

Too difficult

Too easy

Too long

Too short

Too neat

Too messy

Too new

Too old

Too dark

Too light

Too hot

Too cold

Too early

Too late

Too young

Too old

Too many

Too few

Just right?

Just right!

Puddle reflection photo by JennyEBurr.

I think that I spend too much time waiting for something to be just right before proceeding, just as my poem, Just Right suggests. 

What am I missing by waiting?

What am I gaining? 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for presenting circumstances which challenge me to be ready because You know when the exact time is just right. 

Your turn: I wonder, if you dear reader also wait for life to be "just right?" Feel free to leave a comment. 

More By His Grace Posts:

Perspective on Time


Good News Bad News

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Perspective on Time

A swamp near the village. Photo by JennyEBurr

Did you ever play the game, "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" when you were young? 

One person is Mr. Wolf and he or she stands with their back to the rest of the group. A distance from Mr. Wolf is the group which calls out, "What time is it Mr. Wolf?"  Then Mr. Wolf calls out a time. If he or she says, "It's four o'clock," the group takes four steps toward Mr. Wolf. 

Each time Mr. Wolf calls out a time, the group advances forward that number of steps.  When Mr. Wolf realizes that everyone is very close, he or she is ready for the the final "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" 

"It's lunch time," says Mr. Wolf and he or she turns and chases after the group hoping to catch someone to be the next Mr. Wolf. Then time is reset and the game begins again. 

A swamp near the village.  Photo by JennyEBurr

Time in reality
We spend a great deal of time talking about time, wondering about time and working our way through time each day. 

Yet, none of our discussions about time can advance time or turn back time unless it is during Daylight Savings Time. Then we are blessed with one hour of extra sleep or we lose an hour of sleep, depending on the season.

As a child, I can remember thinking that time moved very slowly, especially when I was waiting for a special day to arrive. Now as an adult, time seems to move very quickly. 

Putting time into perspective
Although time hasn't changed because I still have 24 hours in a day, my perspective of time has changed.  

Experience, learning and knowledge take a commitment of time. Our prayer life, faith, love and trust in God also increase as time passes. 

While I may think that I am aware of the best time and the right time for something to happen, I only have a limited view of the bigger picture. It's almost like I am looking through a narrow tunnel and the only thing that I can see is that dim light at the end of it. 

I get impatient when life gets in the way of my timing and my plans. Instead of waiting for God's timing, sometimes I decide that I know when the best time is and decide to take control.  

Then what happens? 

The unexpected? Life goes amuck and gets messy! It may take longer for God's blessing to occur. 

Instead of blaming myself for wanting to take control I get upset with God because He didn't work things out the way I thought that He should have.  I forget that I decided that I wanted to be in control.  Perhaps my impulsiveness and my impatience have slowed down God's timing. 

Waiting on God's timing can be challenging because it means having to give up control of a situation and giving the control to Him. It means trusting God to work all things out for good. Even though I might think that my way is better, ultimately it isn't. God knows best. He knows what I need to learn along the way and he also knows who will benefit when He is given control.  

Sometimes it takes a long time....
When I get ready to grumble to God about how long it is taking for our finances to improve I am reminded of various times in the Bible where a situation took a long time to change. Days, months and years would pass before people turned away from their lifestyle and self-reliance to putting their faith and trust in God. 

For those in scripture, like Daniel and Joseph who had remained steadfast in their faith, it still took days or years for changes to occur. God was at work in the hearts and minds of others. The right timing for circumstances to change was crucial. The right timing is crucial in my life too. 

The right time
I now have a better perspective on time and I realize that God has a reason for things to happen, in His time. Patience and timing go hand in hand when mixed with prayer and faith. 

As my love for God has grown over the years, my prayer life has improved, and I have been blessed by God in ways that cannot be measured in finances or in consumerism. I am thankful, that God is patient and that He really does have the best timing in mind for my life. 

Bible Verse
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6: 33,34 NIV 

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to remember that you have my best interest in mind and that your timing is always best. In Jesus' name. Amen

Your turn
Do you sometimes have trouble waiting for God's timing? 

Please feel free to leave a comment and to sign up to have By His Grace posts sent to your email. 

Other By His Grace posts which may be of interest: 
Good News Bad News
Unlikely Impossible
Mid March Grays and Jeremiah

Thursday, July 14, 2016


In the village photo by JennyEBurr


What time is it?

Is it time yet?

Are we on time?

Just passing time.

Timing is everything.

Time flies when you're having fun!

You can't change the hands of time.

How much time do we have? 

Is it time?

Once upon a time...

A long time ago... 

Passage of time

The best time

A good time

Pressed for time.

Investing time. 

It's about time.

I forgot the time.



Next time

This time

Down time

Daylight savings time






What no Falltime?

When time stands still.

No time

Lots of time

Many times

Real time

Time has run out. 

Time's up!

Lost in time.

Time travel

A moment in time.

It's the wrong time. 

End time

Right time

In the village photo by JennyEBurr

As a writer, I find that words are often floating around in my head. 

In fact, they tend to stay in my mind for quite awhile as my thoughts absorb and process them. Turning them into possible blog posts, article ideas, stories or just thoughts to write down and revisit another day. 

Time has been one of those thoughts. As I was thinking about the word, time, I began to think about various phrases that involve the word time. So I wrote them down. 

One evening, before falling asleep, a few more time words waltzed through my mind. I didn't get up and dash down to computer right away because I was certain that I would remember them. 

Fortunately, I was right.

The next morning as I checked email and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn a few more words and phrases about time came to mind and I added them to my list. 

God and Time

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 Are verses which speak about a time for everything. 

There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heaven: 
a time to be born and a time to die, 
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal, 
a time to tear down and a time to build, 
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
a time to search and a time give up, 
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
a time to love and a time to hate,
 a time for war and a time for peace.  (NIV) 

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we learn to use the time that we have wisely and to do all that we can to show others how much you love them. In Jesus's name. Amen

Your turn:  Are there other time phrases which I have missed? Do you think about time?  

Sign up to receive my blog posts via email. 

Other By His Grace Posts:

Good News Bad News

Peace Prosperityand Prayer

Unlikely Impossible

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Good News Bad News

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah,

out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.

And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

And he will be their peace. Micah 5: 2-5a (NIV)

Micah, who lived during the time of King Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, was given these words from God. 

I believe that Micah is talking about Jesus in these verses. Words such as shepherd, strength, majesty and peace are often used in the Bible to describe both God and Jesus. 

Being a prophet during Biblical times was not an easy job. Often God gave them good news and bad news to share with his people and with those living around them. 

All seven chapters in Micah are no different. You have the bad news presented along with the good news. 

You can imagine how well the bad news would be received!

It's not much different today. 

Who likes to receive bad news? Not me! 

Bad news can make me feel as though life is out of control. For someone who loves to plan and organize a lack of control is my worst nightmare. 

And yet, it is an integral part of life. Bad news creeps right in and has to snatch away the good news, the excitement, and the joy. 

Or does it? 

We don't have to allow the bad news
  • to take our joy.
  • to shake our faith.
  • to destroy our integrity.
  • to cause us to seek revenge. 
  • to be in denial.

Instead we can be proactive and acknowledge that despite the bad news we have been given we will actively
  • pray.
  • ask God to help us find joy in the little things.
  • express our thankfulness for God's love.
  • read the Bible.
  • memorize verses that help us grow stronger in our faith.
  • ask God to guide our thoughts and words.

It's a time to grow and deepen our faith and to put our trust in God whether it is good news or bad news.  

Your Turn: How do you react when given bad news? Feel free to leave a comment.  

Other By His Grace Posts