Timeless truth in a changing world





Christmas isn’t about pomp and pageantry. It’s not about the gifts or the feast or how many people are in church. Christmas is all about God’s grace.

Sure, we get that, but what does that mean? To get a full picture of “grace,” join me in taking a look at the word in Greek. In this article I wrote for the Concordia Publishing House blog “The Word Endures,” I explore the nuances of God Extending Grace to us at Christmas and beyond.


Photo is A Blessed Birth by Carol VanHook

A Bit of Grace

Come on, come ON!  I seethed inwardly as I watched the Walmart cashier ring up 20 individual Yoplait cartons v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y before placing them carefully in an insulated bag the customer had brought for just such an occasion.  Really?  Who does that anyhow?  I always get the slowest line!  I bounced my baby in the infant carrier to keep him calm as I took candy away from my two-year old who was grabbing it from the check out selection, all the while impatiently eyeing the progress of the lady ahead of me.  When it was our turn at last the cashier said brightly, “I see you’ve got your helpers with you!”  “Mmm-hmm,” I said with a polite but tight smile, hoping she’d get the hint and just start ringing up my items.  No such luck.  “I know all about that,” she continued.  “My grandkids always want to come over to ‘help’ me ever since my open heart surgery earlier this year.”  Whoa.  Hold the phone.  You had heart surgery this year and you’re back here already?  Suddenly I felt ashamed.  My minor irritation at waiting a few extra minutes in line with my kids was instantly small potatoes compared to open heart surgery.  So she wasn’t ringing up the items in record time.  Maybe she couldn’t ring them up and bag them any faster.  Recovery takes time, after all.  And even if she was just naturally slow, hey, maybe she was lonely and simply enjoyed talking to her customers.  At any rate, she deserved a bit of grace from me.

Continue reading “A Bit of Grace”

Surface Cleaning

Last week I unearthed a surface or two that I haven’t seen since… well, maybe even since we moved here.  And I have to admit, that clean and empty surface looks really nice.  But I know it won’t stay that way for long, because in our household we cannot keep a surface clean.  Any cleared off surface attracts clutter automatically.  Whenever we wish to have a family brunch at the dining room table, we have to clear it off before we can eat.  By dinnertime, it’s right back to being cluttered.  Kitchen counters, dressers, even the washing machine- no surface is safe.  Kids’ homework, books, keys, coats, papers, crayons, Legos, you name it.  There’s something irresistible about a clean surface.  It’s just waiting to get cluttered again.

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Last week I had a chore day with the kids, and they pitched right in and helped cheerfully, no complaining or whining or anything. Okay, well, maybe a little. Actually, a lot. Oh, who am I kidding? They were anything but happy to help, and from their protests you’d think I was torturing them. I must be the meanest mom in the entire world, because I made them sweep out the garage and the screened in porch and the patio! And then I had the gall to have them vacuum the living room and steam mop the kitchen. Can you think of a crueler thing for a mother to ask of her kids? Now, look, I didn’t expect them to smile and thank me for the chance to help out, but as I observed their behavior as we worked, I came to a sobering realization. Despite my very best efforts otherwise, my children are entitled.

Continue reading “Entitlement”

Forgive and Forget?

Yesterday’s Ash Wednesday service was all about pardon.  And let’s face it, we love stories about forgiveness, don’t we?  Think about the beautiful accounts of forgiveness in the Bible.  Joseph forgiving his brothers for selling him into slavery, God forgiving David after he had committed adultery and murder, Matthew the hated tax collector who became a disciple and went on to write a Gospel account, the thief on the cross who repented in his final hours and was granted eternity with the Lord, Jesus forgiving Peter after he had denied his Lord three times, the dreaded persecutor Saul becoming the staunch apostle Paul… Continue reading “Forgive and Forget?”

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