Tag Archives: Grace

GRACE and Starbucks…

Yesterday was my younger daughter’s birthday. Today’s post, entitled GRACE and Starbucks, is dedicated to Sarah, a wonderful daughter, wife, mama and 4th-grade teacher, plus a woman who exhibits much grace—and, like her mom, enjoys Starbucks!

     I know. I write often about GRACE! That’s because I never cease being amazed by the sweetness of God’s grace.

     I had a unique thought about grace while wrapping Christmas gifts a couple weeks ago. Let me try unwrapping the story.

     It began at a Starbucks in Williamsburg, Virginia last October. We were on vacation, and I wanted to return with a “Been There…” mug to add to Sarah’s collection.

     As is often the case, Starbucks was very busy, and I needed to wait in line. When my turn came, I placed an order—iced coffee for Ron, an iced green tea for me, plus Sarah’s mug.

     I pulled out my phone, ready to pay with the Starbucks app, when a lady standing next to me told the employee at the checkout counter, “Here, I’m getting that for her!”

     I have occasionally done a random act of kindness, but this was the first time I’d been the recipient. Several months later, the encounter still makes me smile.

     The mug was one of Sarah’s Christmas gifts. As I wrapped her present, I revisited the Virginia incident. Perhaps it was because it was Christmas, but my thoughts transcended the generosity of a stranger.

     Grace thoughts came to mind as I wrapped–cutting paper, taping, affixing a sparkly bow and adding a snowman gift tag: To: Sarah; From: Mom.

     em>This is an example of “First-World” grace.

     Over-priced drinks from a hip Seattle coffee company are excessive. Although I knew the gift would bring Sarah pleasure, it certainly wasn’t a necessity. My daughter already has a cupboard filled with trendy mugs.

     I’m glad God doesn’t withhold grace because I’ve been blessed to live in an affluent land. I sure don’t deserve such grace.

     But, wait! Isn’t that what grace is all about—the divine gift of receiving what I don’t deserve?

     Even after Sarah’s gift was wrapped, I couldn’t shake the thought of “First-World” grace. I’m aware of abject conditions experienced by millions living in “Third-World” poverty. I’m acquainted with the horrors of a little girl being sold as a sex slave because destitute parents can’t afford to feed her.

     My prayer following these thoughts was in the form of this question:

     Lord, what do you want me to do with these thoughts other than to give you thanks?

     Immediately, three organizations I know work hard to alleviate “Third-World” suffering came to mind. Go into your office and write each a check. I felt certain the thought came not from goodness in my heart, but from the heart of a good God who has lavished much grace upon me.

     As I placed Sarah’s Starbuck package under the tree, I realized layers of grace were represented in that one small gift.

     First, the grace-filled memory of a stranger who blessed me.

          Next, Christmastime reminded me her grace reflected God’s grace.

               Finally, recalling God’s grace led me to a gracious action.

     There is nothing simple about God, and there is nothing simple about grace.

     Grace enables us to trek through some dreadful seasons.

     Grace gives courage when our situations are terrifying.

     Grace nudges us to forgive grievous wrongs.

     John Newton wrote ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.’ Holy ‘fear’ convinced Newton to surrender his life to God and leave behind his involvement in vile slave trade.

     Then, there are times of sweet, simple “First-World” grace like I discovered at Starbucks. Grace stirring me to show grace to others.

     My Starbucks discovery illustrates that planting a seed of grace has the potential to grow more grace.

     As we enter a new year, I pray you and I will be recipients of God’s great grace and in turn, we’ll be givers of much grace to all whose journeys intersect ours.

Happy birthday, Sarah (and Karol, my sister who shares the same birthdate) & NEW YEAR blessings to ALL!

Sue Reeve

Grace Speaks…Beware but not Afraid

Reminding, “Beware, but not Afraid…”

     The second stanza of the cherished hymn, Amazing Grace, says,

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
grace my fears relieved;

      The beloved lyrics in the hymn written by John Newton reflect his personal experience. During a violent storm off the coast of Ireland, the terrified, non-believing Atlantic slave trader cried out to God for mercy.

      God’s mercy enabled John Newton to embrace God’s grace. His conversion experience led him away from the vile business of slave trade. Instead, he began studying theology, eventually becoming a curate in the Church of England and writing a poem that would be set to music and revered worldwide.

      The kind of fear Newton wrote about reminds me of the U.S. National Weather Center’s ‘red flag warning,’ which is the highest level of alert for extreme fire danger. When the voice of grace reminds me to ‘beware,’ I imagine the divine ‘red flag warning,’ may be God’s way of alerting me—not to cause panic but to help me prepare and avoid choices that have the potential for extreme danger in my life.

      I was growing up in the church, fear of God’s judgment was often a tactic used to help control potentially damaging conduct. I’ve come to believe the intentions of leaders were good, and this strategy may have protected me from some harmful behaviors. But, behavior modification wasn’t enough to transform my heart.

     Grace is transformational.

          Grace declares God loves little ol’ me—simply as I am, just who I am.

               Grace changes my desires—transforms ‘should do’s’ into ‘want to’s.’

                    Grace reassures God is for me and not against me.

                         Grace promises God will never leave me.

                              And, Grace my fears relieve.

     I agree with John Newton. God’s grace is amazing! How sweet is the sound of this 5- letter word.

     If you are struggling with a sense of fear or condemnation today, I pray these simple words will point you to the promise of God’s Grace.

Sue Reeve

Grace Speaks…

Probing, “Does this really matter?”

     My husband and I were on the brink of an argument the other day. He’d heard a request I’d made one way, and I was convinced I’d communicated it another way—which, naturally, in my opinion, was the RIGHT way! (You can imagine a smiley-face emoji inserted here!)

     Just as I was preparing my defense against Ron’s perception, I heard it—the voice of grace, asking, “Really, Sue, in light of eternity, does it matter?” I knew the correct answer. No, of course it doesn’t! I’m grateful I listened and was able to capture and set aside argumentative words that day. Otherwise, resentful feelings that could have easily become harsh, hurtful and long-lasting may have been the outcome. I know that from experience!

     I’m not sure when I started listening to the voice of grace ask me the ‘in-light-of-eternity’ question, or more importantly, when I realized that in light of eternity, most potential gripes and grievances truly do not matter.

     I’m one of those people who has a passionate opinion about almost everything! I possess a very strong sense of fairness and justice. And, on top of that, somewhere during childhood, I determined it was vitally important to be RIGHT.

     Here’s what grace has taught me.

          It’s all right to be passionate and have opinions, but wisdom will help me manage my
          passions and opinions, choosing with whom and when I share them.

          Fairness and justice are important, but I can decide which battles are worth fighting,
          and if I feel the need to fight a battle, I can prayerfully decide on a strategic plan for
          maximum effectiveness.

          Finally, grace has taught me I don’t NEED to be RIGHT!

     Grace not only challenges me to consider what doesn’t matter in light of eternity. Grace also reminds me that much does matter:

     a kind gesture; a helping hand; an encouraging word; generosity;

          forgiveness; gratitude; willingness to listen; temperate correction;

               gentle truth; inconvenient or undeserved acts of kindness;

                    persistence; non-malicious laughter; validation;

                         and always, always unselfish love.

I want to learn to listen more carefully, obey more readily and turn my behavior around more quickly when the voice of Grace asks, “In light of eternity does this really matter?”

     How about you?

Grace to you…

Sue Reeve