Tag Archives: Grace

Thoughts About Acronyms…

     A few years ago, while still working for a government agency, I participated in a presentation on managing workplace stress at a conference attended by over 300 technical professionals. Our presentation was last on the schedule.

     I sat through multiple talks on topics about which I was totally ignorant, and, to be truthful, quite uninterested. As I listened, I became aware that one professional acronym after another was being used. Glancing around the large conference room, I had the feeling I was the only one who had no clue what they meant.

     Hoping it appeared I was taking notes, I began jotting down every acronym familiar to me, identifying a couple that had become helpful tools.

     An acronym is a word or phrase formed from the first letters of other words.

     Acronyms are used in:

  • Government (CIA – Central Intelligence Agency;)
  • Business (AKA – Also Known As)
  • Identifying an individual (SWF – Single White Female) or organization (AMA – American Medical Association)
  • Describing (OTC – over the counter) or informing (PST – Pacific Standard Time)
  • Expressing emotion (LOL – Laughing Out Loud)
  • Texting or Messaging, (BTW – by the way;).

     Today’s post isn’t a tutorial on acronyms, but I’d like to share three acronyms I’ve found beneficial.

     The first is commonly used in 12-step groups and helps people in recovery identify relapse warning signs. Any 12-step participant will recognize the acronym HALT, reminding him/her to ask:

  • Am I HUNGRY?
  • Am I ANGRY?
  • Am I LONELY?
  • Am I TIRED?

     A “Yes” answer is reason to stop and assess a vulnerable emotional state.

     The next acronym is one my friend, Ashley, taught me. Concerning “naughty” childhood behaviors, think of the word, HOT, asking:

  • Is the child HUNGRY?
  • Is the child OVER-STIMULATED?
  • Is the child TIRED?

     Soon after talking with Ashley, Ron and I watched our granddaughter. Emmi spent the night at our house, sleeping in a strange bed and getting up extra early. We’d taken her to McDonalds for lunch. She’d eaten mostly French fries. Then, we took her to the park where she ran around, climbed bars, went up and down slides and played hard with new friends.

     When it was time to go home and take a nap, our granddaughter ran away, balked when asked to hold our hand, pouted and then cried uncontrollably. I felt frustration mounting, afraid I’d lose patience. Then I remembered the HOT acronym. I wasn’t sure if my 4-year-old granddaughter was hungry, but there was no doubt she was over-stimulated and very tired. Extending grace, the acronym reminded me, was the best response.

     Three little questions within an easy-to-remember acronym reminded me to speak softly, gather up my granddaughter, rock and sing gently. Soon, the worn-out little girl was sound asleep. Grandma also napped, and because she’d followed one little acronym, fell asleep without regrets!

     The final acronym—THINK—has been one of the most helpful communication tools I’ve ever learned. Before speaking or pushing that “Send” button—especially during a tense situation—THINK,

  • Is what I’m about to say/write TRUE?
  • Is what I’m about to say/write HELPFUL?
  • Is what I’m about to say/write INSPIRATIONAL?
  • Is what I’m about to say/write NECESSARY?
  • Is what I’m about to say/write KIND?

How about YOU?

  • Are there acronyms that serve as helpful reminders to you? If so, we’d love to hear about them.

Now, in closing, I’d like to say, TTFN and TTYL[1]

Sue Reeve

  1. Ta-ta for Now and Talk to You Later! While Ron barbequed steaks for dinner when we were in Missouri last October, this rainbow appeared. The magnificent show of nature made a rainy vacation day feel worthwhile! I love this quote by Maya Angelou, a woman who really knew how to craft words!

Grace I Don’t Deserve

School is back in session now. While driving past Ramsey Elementary School this morning on my way to work, I thought about a blog post I wrote several months ago. Here’s a portion of that post.

     I was traveling to work one morning, lost in deep thought about my 9 a.m. appointment. I liked the lady I was scheduled to see. She was a devoted mom, actively involved in church volunteer work, and I found her quirky sense of humor refreshing. But, she was also in deep pain. She couldn’t seem to find freedom in a difficult, often toxic, relationship. “Lord, help me see what I need to know about this precious woman’s heart,” I prayed while driving to the office.

     I was only a few blocks away from the church when I glanced in the rear view mirror and noticed the unmistakable flashing blue lights following me. A quick glance around at the empty street convinced me those lights were meant for me. At the next cross street, I turned, parked the car, all the while wondering whatever was wrong.

     The handsome young police officer (HYPO) exited his patrol car. The conversation that morning between the police officer and me went something like this:

HYPO: “Morning, mam. Do you have any idea why I’m stopping you?”

Me: “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t have a clue.”

HYPO: “I didn’t think so.”

Me: Perplexed as I handed over my up-to-date driver’s license, registration and proof-of-insurance card.

HYPO: “Thanks, mam. You remember those flashing yellow lights by Ramsey School back there?”

Me (gulping): “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t.”

HYPO: “I didn’t think so. You sailed right on past me.”

Me: “Oh, my goodness. I am SO sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. [At this point—rather wisely, I believe—I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to explain I wasn’t paying attention because I was praying for my 9:00 appointment!!]

HYPO returns to his patrol car. I assume he’s checking my record for any criminal activity.

Me: I’m feeling confident he’d find none!

HYPO, sauntering back to my vehicle: “Well, mam, I’m not going to give you a ticket today, but in the future, you need to be more careful when driving through school zones.”

Me: “Thank you so much! I know I deserve a ticket, and I assure you I will be more careful in the future.”

HYPO: “You do that, mam. Now have a good day!”

     After taking a couple minutes to catch my breath and return the documents to their rightful locations, I began thinking about my interaction with the nice young police officer. He had every legal right—plus the authority—to give me a ticket for exceeding the 25 mph speed limit through a school zone when the yellow light is flashing.

     Instead, the officer acted with grace and showed me mercy.

     I know I may be running a risk here of over-spiritualizing a ticket for driving too quickly through a school zone, but as I finished my short commute to work that morning, I couldn’t help but believe once again, grace had found me! My encounter with the HYPO was an apt illustration of God’s grace.

     There have been many times in my journey of faith when I realized God had every right to deal harshly with me, and God had the authority to do so. But, that wasn’t the heart of God.

     Instead, God acted with grace and showed me mercy.

     I still drive past that school several times each week, and I never fail to watch for flashing yellow lights. My decision isn’t because I’m afraid my luck ran out. I’m not fearful of being caught, forced to pay a big fine and run the risk of insurance premiums being raised.

     The experience of receiving the HYPO’s grace motivates me to pay attention and reduce my speed because I realize the law behind those flashing yellow lights is intended to protect little children—to ensure safety.

     Likewise, the experience of receiving God’s grace motivates me to consider more carefully my behavioral choices because I believe sincerely God’s ways are meant to protect me and those I love. God’s direction is intended for my wellbeing. There may be times when I suffer painful consequences because of my choices, but even when that happens, I believe beyond any doubt

Grace is being given a great gift I really don’t deserve.

Prayer:

Thank you, God, for the really good gift of grace you’ve shown me even when I know I’m undeserving. Help me become an ever-increasingly gracious woman. Please keep teaching me how to extend your grace to those whose lives intersect with mine. And, Lord, I ask you to show your good grace to each person reading today’s post. Amen

May you be blessed with God’s good grace!

Sue Reeve

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Difficult Grace Transformed…

Sue’s Note: Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts about grace. The January 8th post was entitled, “Difficult Grace…” Today’s post includes excerpts from that entry as well as a section called, “The Rest of this Story.”

     The medical report my family doctor gave me sent chills up my spine.

     The research I set about to do on reputable Internet medical sites added to the foreboding.

     The specialist I saw was very nice, very professional but also very straight about potential possibilities.

     I tossed and turned through several sleep-deprived nights.

     And, then…

      I determined I was going to dig in my heels of faith and trust God—no matter what the outcome of my medical condition might be.

     I resolved to discuss the situation with no one but my husband—and, of course, God. I talked to God A LOT about it.

               I poured out my fears.

                    I requested God give what I felt certain would be the best outcome.

                         I asked for strength to accept any outcome.

                              I searched the Bible for verses to bolster my faith.

                                   I reminded God—as if God needs reminding—about what seemed to be biblical promises.

     After almost three months of extensive—and expensive—testing, I re-visited the specialist.

     The medical report he gave me resulted in a huge sigh of relief. There seemed to be nothing to worry about—at least for the present. “We’ll monitor the situation yearly,” the doc instructed with cautious optimism.

     The doctor’s office was only a 10 minute drive from home. I was thanking God for His good grace when my ears perked up by something a radio minister was saying on the Christian station to which the car’s radio was tuned. I don’t know what program was on nor do I know who was speaking—I didn’t normally listen to that station—but the words I heard landed with tremendous impact.

     “Sometimes God’s best grace is difficult grace,” the speaker said.

     Difficult grace! Is that what I’d experienced for nearly three months? Yes, those months through which I’d traveled were difficult—really difficult! Yet, along the way, my chilled spine developed into stronger spiritual backbone. Instead of scrambling for pity from others—my typical go-to behavior—I was empowered to stand firm with only the support of my husband and my God. After an intense immersion in prayer and Scripture, I emerged a more faith-filled woman.

     During that difficult time, I experienced:

           Grace that distilled dread into determination.

                Grace that taught me I can trust truly a truly trustworthy God.

                     Grace that fueled fear into faith.

                          Grace that subdued scary thoughts and sleepless nights.

      To be perfectly honest, I prefer the kind of grace that paves a pleasant path. Yet, when I look back at this experience, I realize I learned valuable lessons.

  • No matter how difficult, I will receive strength needed to keep moving forward.
  • An unseen, but real, guide goes before me.
  • Peace is possible even when problems seem impossible.
  • Difficult grace is designed to build my faith.
  • Even during life’s most difficult moments, grace will find me!

The Rest of this Story…

      This past week I had my third yearly visit with the specialist. He came into the office where I was waiting, shaking his head slowly. “I’ve never seen this before!” The doctor explained the diagnostic test done three weeks ago was within normal range. He said this was the first time he’d ever seen anyone with my condition who had a normal test range.

      One additional test was done in the office. That too was normal. We joked about me being a “boring” patient. I told the doctor, where my relationship with him was concerned, I like being “boring.” He agreed boring was good. Then he cautioned me not to forget about him completely, adding, “But, I don’t think we need to see each other for two more years!”

      So, what was my response to this good report supposed to be?

      Smugness that I’d finally figured out how to get God to answer my prayers and grace to work in my favor?

          Yikes! I hope not!

      Guilt because of all the precious people out there who ask and ask God to answer their prayers, and an answer doesn’t come?

          No, guilt isn’t necessary. It’s okay for me to rejoice in this good gift from my Heavenly Father.

      Entitlement to instruct others in the “right” way to exercise their faith?

           “Please, Lord! Help me to NEVER do that!”

      I believe the answer to my question can be found in these words spoken by Jesus:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)

     And, so, I conclude: my response to divinely imparted grace is to love God more and more and to allow that love to be translated increasingly into greater love for others.

     Whether you’re in a season of happiness or a season of difficulty, my prayer for you is that you’ll be able to see the gracious imprint of God’s grace in whatever this day brings…

Sue Reeve