An Open Letter To My Children on Larry’s & my 30th Anniversary ~ Call It Grace (by Unspoken)

The Grace of Christ - It's nothing less than scandalous! Click to view music video "Call it Grace" by Unspoken.

Dear Bobby, Kaitlyn, Brittany & Carolyn,

As Dad and I celebrate our 30th anniversary, my thoughts turn to you, our beloved children and daughter-in-love.

If you only learn one thing from Dad and I and our 30 years together, I pray you learn about GRACE.

Grace sees all we are and all we’ve done and still chooses us.

Grace walks in when the world walks out.

Grace removes all fear — fear of punishment or rejection, even when we deserve it.

Thirty-one years ago, the grace and kindness of God brought your dad into my life.

His smile grabbed my attention. His grace captured my heart.

I first experienced it when a group of us were playing Keep-A-Way.

Your dad held the ball high in the air, taunting me in my shortness.

So I grabbed his shirt — his brand new shirt — and pulled.

Riiippp!

I stood frozen, horrified.

Your dad stood as the picture of grace.

His shoulders slunk, he yelled out an oscar-worthy, exaggerated, “Noooo!” — the way you’ve seen him do a million times– and then he laughed — as you’ve seen him do a million times.

Then he took off running with the ball again.

Grace.

It may seem a small thing, but to someone who continually needs and longs for grace, I was hooked. I knew I needed that — wanted that — for the rest of my life.

Larry & Jean Wedding B&WThe grace your dad has shown me these past 30 years has been nothing short of a miracle.

Some may even say Christ-like.

He would say he’s just passing on the grace Christ has shown him.

The grace Christ has shown him, me, you, us is literally scandalous.

More than anything in life, I pray you fully understand, experience, and embrace Christ’s grace.

That’s a little scary to wish because we never really understand something until we need it.

I understand it.

And I’m still learning to understand it more.

I wouldn’t dare to try and count the many times I should have received judgment but received grace instead.

Christ has been a bottomless well of forgiveness and love.

I pray you know that Christ’s grace reaches in and pulls you out of all judgment.

Has that sunk in?

There’s no judgment in grace.

Not even the fear of judgment.

No wagging of the head and extending grace despite your obvious guilt.

No penance asked for or even wanted.

No shame.

Just grace. 

Christ’s gift of grace pulls you into His arms and tells you He loves you — yesterday, today and forever — no matter what.

But, like all gifts, you can only experience it by taking it, receiving it, and embracing it.

Please don’t miss living a life filled with more love, joy, and contentment than you can even imagine.

And courage.

Yes, grace gives us courage.

It gives us courage to try again because it doesn’t point to our failures. It overlooks them and reminds us we’re loved.

Grace never gives up.

Larry & Jean at Luau 2015Today, Dad and I celebrate 30 years of a grace-filled marriage and life.

I pray you fully embrace a life of grace — the grace of Christ.

And I pray you spend the rest of your life with someone who’s also embraced His scandalous grace.

And that you’ll wrap each other in it every single day for as long as you both shall live.

Just like your dad has done for me.

I love you!

We love you!

~ Mom

Unspoken’s song, Call It Grace, is a beautiful description of what I’ve gotten to experience since the day I met Christ in 1973.

I didn’t really understand the depths of it back then, but over time I’ve come to see it for what it truly is.

There’s just nothing better.

The grace of Christ has taught me what love is.

His grace is softening my hard edges and gives me joy that wells from deep within.

And it’s His grace that will continue to mold and shape me into the image of Christ, the One from whom all grace flows.

There's no judgment in #grace. Not even the fear of it. Watch CALL IT GRACE by @unspokenmusic #MondayMusic Click To Tweet

GRACE sees all we've done & still chooses us. @unspokenmusic #CallItGrace #Christ Click To Tweet




What If We Lived What We Say We Believe? (Guideposts Blog Post)

Click to view post: What if We Lived What We Say We Believe? (Guideposts: Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines, August 17, 2015)

“Not always easy, but always right.” 

That’s what one Facebook reader wrote in response to my question: “What If We Lived What We Say We Believe?”

Michelle Medlock Adams, an author, speaker and generous friend, writes an excellent column for Guideposts called “Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines.” She graciously featured my blog post in her column on my birthday no less!

I’ve been thrilled by the response. The number of people on Guideposts’ Facebook page who’ve shown that their hearts are also set on living out authentic faith has been amazing.

It’s encouraging to see the passion of so many who want to present to the world an accurate reflection of Christ in all they say and do. 

Read my Guideposts blog post by clicking on the link below, then come back and share your thoughts as well.

Join the Journey!

What If We Lived What We Say We Believe? (on Guideposts: Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines)

Click to view post: What if We Lived What We Say We Believe? (Guideposts: Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines, August 17, 2015)

Click to view post: What if We Lived What We Say We Believe? (Guideposts: Deadlines, Grocery Lines, Laugh Lines, August 17, 2015)

 

 

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Sometime I Can’t Even Look Myself in the Mirror, and It’s Not Because of My Haircut ~ “Flawless” by MercyMe (Monday Music)

Click to listen to "Flawless" by MercyMe. The Cross Has Made You Flawless. Amen!

Sometimes I can’t even look myself in the mirror.

It might be because that new hair cut was a mistake, but usually it’s when the past jumps up to haunt me.

That “past” may only a few seconds ago.

The past can pop up when a song on the radio transports me back to a moment in time I’d hoped to forget forever — back when I was a much different person.

Or when I overhear a conversation about someone who did something to someone else that I’ve also done. My shame reminds me I could’ve been that person they were talking about.

Other times it’s when I knew I should keep my mouth shut, but refused. I said it anyway and can’t take it back.

My thoughts love to torture me over the sheer number of times I bring outright shame to the name of Christ through the countless things I say and do.

Guilt wants to crush me, but the cross has set me free.

To borrow a line from MercyMe: The cross has made me flawless.

It’s not that I’m flawless in myself, but God — in His grace and mercy — has made it just as if I am.

Think on this thought:

God is never disappointed in us.

What???

Seriously. In order for God to be disappointed, He had to have expected a different outcome than what happened.

Hmmmmm.

Remember that memory that makes me want to turn away from the mirror? God knew I was going to do that thing. He already knew before He ever created me that I was going to blow it. He chose to create me anyway.

I’m not saying He’s pleased about that thing I did. He’s never pleased over sin. But He wasn’t disappointed in me, because He already knew I’d do it.

Here’s another bit of encouragement I learned from a friend. She shared a conversation she had with her daughter about a verse she’d learned in Sunday School.

“For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
~ Psalm 103:14

Here’s the powerful truth of that verse through a child’s eyes:

She said her teacher told them they didn’t need to be afraid of God when they did something wrong. She said the verse tells us that God made us, and He understands that we’re just “butt dust.”

You gotta love how kids interpret adults at times.

Pretty profound, wouldn’t you say?

We’re not God.

We’re not even close to being God.

We’re so far from being God we might as well be . . .  well, you know . . . “butt dust.”

Excuse my French.

When we make mistakes and horrible decisions, yes, we should feel terrible over our sin.

Not just over the consequences, but over the actual sin.  

But once we’ve owned up to it and repented, we must lay it at the cross and leave it there. We’re foolish if we continue to carry the guilt and shame. Christ’s blood paid the full price for it.

Instead of living dressed in shame, we should wear a perpetual grin.

Our sin and shame are over. They’re done.

We’re not our mistakes or wrong decisions. 

The cross has made us flawless.

Imagine how we’d feel if our child, or the love of our life, was caught up in horrible thoughts about themselves.

Wouldn’t it break our heart?

But imagine if we told them, “You’re immensely valuable, exceedingly precious, and I would die for you,” and they looked up at us with a bright smile on their face and believed us — actually, really believed us.

Our heart would soar to know that they’d been set free from self-hatred simply by believing us.

Christ hasn’t just told us we’re valuable. He went to the grave to prove it. 

Why would we choose to carry suffocating guilt and shame when Christ has removed it all at the cross? Why wouldn’t we believe Christ?

Let me introduce you to amazing grace. 

Christ has paid it all. He’s already removed every stain of shame. It’s never too late to believe.

We never glorify God more than when we believe Him and live like it.

MercyMe’s video of their song Flawless wonderfully illustrates the transformative truth that the cross has made us flawless: 

No matter your bumps, bruises, hurt, and shame, the cross has made you flawless.

If this song has encouraged you, I hope you’ll share it with someone today.


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Surviving a Broken Heart and the Dreaded Bleh’s of Life! ~ “FIRST” by Lauren Daigle (Monday Music)

Click to listen to "First" by Lauren Daigle and read "Surviving a Broken Heart and the Dreaded Bleh's of Life!"  ~ Matthew 6:33

I’ve held onto too much in my life, unable to let go.

I’ve never been so happy as when I learned to let go of my rights, shame, unforgiveness, and that obnoxious shirt that hasn’t been in style since 1987.

But letting go of my children? Bleh!

That one feels like it just might kill me. 

My baby, Carolyn, is headed to college. 

Two years ago, I felt this day coming. See my post: I Know, But . . . How Do I Survive My Children Leaving?

In this post I share how to avoid becoming like Norman Bate’s mother. I’m proud to report — and my children are relieved — that I’ve successfully not morphed into her!

But the empty nest is descending up on us faster than the humidity in South Carolina. 

Fortunately I’m not clinging to my children desperately like Norman Bates’ crazed mother, but my heart is still broken over missing them. 

How do we live joyfully despite a broken heart and the bleh’s of life?

Lauren Daigle hits the mark in her song “First.”

Before I cry over my children, I will rejoice over my God.

Before I dwell on my pain, I will dwell on His presence.

Before I do anything, I will seek God FIRST.

“But seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.”

~ Matthew 6:33

I’m not saying we should treat God as if He were our genie in a bottle or manipulate Him into giving us what we want.

I gave you my heart, God, now give me three free houses all next to Larry’s and mine for our three children — and make Lexington, SC just like Hawaii.

Seeking God isn’t about getting what we want, except that it is.

When we seek God first — truly seek Him with our whole heart first and foremost — we actually do end up getting everything we desire because everything in our being actually desires Him.

I’m not saying that I don’t truly desire my kids — they’re keepers! 

I’m saying that even more than our kids, or anything we could ever desire, God is our highest desire.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~ Psalm 73:25-26

Think about it. Even individuals who reach the pinnacle of success in their field only enjoy a measure of contentment for a period of time. They don’t stay content.

People who’ve lost hope and appear to desire nothing actually feel deep desire — a deep desire to stop feeling desire.

Desire never disappears until it reaches its truest and deepest longing — God.

I don’t want to stop desiring my children, but I do want that desire to stop hurting so much.

I want to be able to give them over to God and send them off into the world with a genuine heart full of joy, not a quivering upper lip.

When God is my first heartbeat, my first breath and my first thought — my all — then all that I’m experiencing — all my sorrows or sadness — are covered by Him and His radiant glory, and His joy is mine.

“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
~ Psalm 16:11, NASB

Living in the midst of our highest desire — God’s presence — will turn our tears into laughter. 

Some pain shouldn’t be erased. It’s good to miss our children, so long as we don’t turn into a crazed Mrs. Bates.

Some broken hearts can’t be completely mended on this side of heaven, but fullness of joy relieves a lot of pain. It has the power to wash away our bleh’s.

I’m thrilled for my children and their exciting futures, but as long as they’re far away, I’m still going to miss my babies.

So if you’re reading this, kids, call me!

Yep, Lauren Daigle’s song “First” is my go-to song this month as I pack up my baby and send her to college.

I will seek God first as our last child leaves. 

What about you?

What is tugging at your heart today?

Seek God first and let Him fill your heart with His glorious presence and fullness of joy.


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Parachute Lights & The Peace of Christ (They’re better than frown lines and fewer friends)

Click to read about the rehearsal dinner that led to parachute lights and the peace of Christ rather than frown lines and fewer friends. via www.JeanWilund.com

Forty-five people were coming to dinner, and it looked like we’d have no place to seat them.

This wasn’t just a regular dinner.

As if dinner for 45 people is ever a regular dinner.

Our son Bobby and his fiancee Kaitlyn were getting married, and this was their rehearsal dinner.

The groom’s family has one job. Just one. Feed the wedding party and special guests the night before the wedding. That’s it.

Plus, you want to impress the new in-laws, so they don’t grab their daughter and run.

So, what do you do when you learn the night before the dinner that there may not be a place to feed the 45 people coming?

“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Forty-five people are coming for an alfresco dinner with forecasts of thundershowers and the possibility of no place to seat them and keep them dry, but do not let your heart be troubled.

Sure, no problem.

My husband Larry and I pulled into Black Mountain, NC. and stopped by The Mill Pizzeria to size up the situation. 

While Jay, the owner of the restaurant, explained that the city hadn’t given him the permits he needed to finish the structure that would host our rehearsal dinner party the very next night, Larry and I listened and smiled.

I was going for a relaxed and casual smile as though I wasn’t worried at all that the dinner would be anything but a huge success. I’m not sure I achieved anything more than an awkward look.

Jay shared his vision for how he’d transform this construction site into the perfect, romantic setting for our dinner for 45 people in just 24 hours.

Did I mention there would be 45 people coming for dinner in 24 hours?

He explained how he’d take the rain-soaked parachute currently covering the footings and tie it to the excavator, which looked like a small steam shovel to me. He’d use it to hoist the parachute over one of the large tables.

If an army green parachute held up by a small steam shovel doesn’t shout wedding, then I guess I don’t know what does.

I fought the urge to laugh but couldn’t hold it in any longer when he said his next statement:

“Don’t worry. This place looks much better in the dark.”

Bahaha! I lost it — and now I have a new favorite line to repeat often.

 

I’m In

Jay instantly won me over.

All I could think was, “I’m in! Whatever he’s got planned, I gotta see it now.”

Besides, I knew the food would be great. His pizza is quite famous. Bobby and Kaitlyn chose it because it’s their favorite restaurant in Black Mountain.

What did it really matter if we had to eat in the rain, right?

There was a time when all this would have caused me to fret and pull my hair out.

Before I’d have been so stressed I would’ve snapped at Larry, the kids, and the dog if they even breathed wrong.

But over the years God has been graciously leading me through stressful situations and patiently pointing me to truth as I’ve studied His Word.

Studying God’s Word is a vital part. Before I studied God’s Word, emotions attacked me and truth eluded me.

Over time, God’s truth has begun to click and sink in as I’ve obeyed it.

Obeying God’s Word is the other vital part. If I studied it, but then didn’t do it, how could I expect His promised results? And His truths don’t really click until you put them to the test and see how faithful they are.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27

For those who’ll actually take God at His Word, Christ’s peace will fill your heart, and stress will dissolve in His presence.

Those who’ll choose to believe Christ will be able to choose not to let their hearts be troubled or be fearful.

That Thursday, Larry and I drove off in excited anticipation as to just how bizarre of a rehearsal dinner we’d be hosting.

One day earlier I’d not been so victorious.


What a difference a day makes

One day earlier I was sitting at my kitchen table throwing a crying fit. No peace to be found.

Would you be surprised to hear that a computer was involved? Not many things can bring a person to their knees faster than modern technology. 

I was trying to put together a sentimental video of Bobby and Kaitlyn’s life and love, but I couldn’t get the sound to work with the photos.

Then I realized that the wonderful Ken Burn’s Effect had effectively cut off their heads in many of the photos, and there didn’t appear to be an easy way to fix that.

I had wonderful, clear shots of their stomachs, but it’s not quite the same as seeing their smiling faces. 

I dissolved into tears. Larry could only hug me because computers bring him to his knees too.

But then, suddenly, as though a bright light of hope filled our home, our daughter Brittany came to the rescue.

She looked at my problem and then said the blessed phrase, “What if you just . . . “

Sure enough, it worked. She saved the day, and I felt ashamed.

I didn’t care that I couldn’t figure out the problem by myself. I was ashamed that once again I’d taught my daughter to cry in the face of struggles rather than rest in God.

Brilliant, Jean. I keep acting human! Imagine that.

But I can be taught.

So that’s why, when it appeared that 45 people would show up to a construction site for the dinner on Friday in the rain, I was laughing on Thursday.

God had mercifully reminded me through the video meltdown that resting in Him is infinitely more fun and productive than throwing a hissy fit.


To fret or rest. That is the question.

If you’re facing a trial today, you have a choice to make. Fret or rest.

Your trial may not be as inconsequential as feeding 45 people. It may be downright serious.

Regardless of our situations, we all have the same choice. Will we choose to fret or choose to rest in Christ?

How tragic that so many of us followers of Christ either refuse to follow His example of resting in the face of a trial (like I had with the video), or they don’t believe they can.

Many Christians actually think they can’t help but fret even though the Spirit of Christ assures us we can rest. He promises He’ll do it in and through us if we’ll choose to trust Him and choose not to let our hearts be troubled.

Christ is our example. He wasn’t feeding 45 people when He told His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled.

He’d already fed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish without fretting.

Christ wasn’t feeding a crowd in the rain. He was facing His crucifixion.

Just look at what He said to His disciples next:

You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

When Jesus tells them they should rejoice that He’s going away, understand that He’s already been telling them that He’s going to be killed at the hands of His enemy.

I’m not talking about Christ being given a lethal injection. He knew He was going to be tortured. But much worse than torture, He knew He was going to become sin and be separated from the Father.

God would turn His face away from Christ as Christ bore the detestable sin of the whole world.

That’s a little heavier than a rehearsal dinner dilemma.

In fact, Christ had just sent His disciple Judas off to betray Him. And now Christ is scolding His disciples for not rejoicing over His impending death.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” (John 14:29-31)


But God, You don’t understand!

“But God, You don’t understand! I can’t have peace in the face of this circumstance!”

You can try to stand your ground and convince God of how right you are, but you won’t succeed.

God knows the truth. He is the truth.

You will, however, succeed in making yourself miserable if you don’t do what He commands. 

He’s actually commanding us to be happy, because when we trust Him, we experience His peace, which leads to happiness.

But Christ didn’t say He’d do exactly as the Father commanded Him so He’d be happy.

He says He’d do it so that the world may know that He loves God.

Happiness shouldn’t be our goal for choosing to rest in Christ in the face of trials.

That the world may know we love God should be our goal.

God’s glory should be our motivation. Choosing to rest peacefully in Christ is the path. Happiness is just a natural by-product of Christ’s peace.

 

Do you love the Father? Do you love Christ?

Then do exactly as He’s commanded you.

Stop fretting. Stop throwing hissy fits.

Trust.

Rest.

Rejoice.

And get up and go.

Leave the unrest in your heart.

Enter into the peace of Christ.

Remember that God’s taking care of everything that concerns you.

He may call you down a hard road, but He’ll lead you every step of the way.

And He won’t lead you down a place you don’t want to go unless it’s necessary.

We can choose not to worry.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Follow the logic. Follow Christ.

I’ve never met a fretter who was happy.

I’ve never met anyone who worried themselves into joy.

But I’ve met perennial fretters and worriers who have frown lines and fewer friends.

We all have our moments, but if we’re characterized by fretting and worrying, we’re headed for misery — if we’re not there already.

I’ve never met anyone who truly rested in Christ who wasn’t happy or filled with joy. They tend to have laugh lines and people who love to be around them.

Follow the logic. Follow Christ. 

After my video debacle and in the face of a potential rehearsal dinner disaster, it was time for me to stop talking about trusting and resting, and do it.

 

Both Christ and Jay were right.

So, how did the rehearsal dinner turn out?

It was brilliant! And Jay was right. The place looked amazing in the dark.

But not because we couldn’t see anything. But because he’d created an artistic and serene ambience with lights strung everywhere, glowing through the darkness.

His wonderful, creative vision had turned into a fabulous reality.

It’s the same with Christ.

Christ’s truth looks amazing in the dark, too.

In the face of uncertainty, I chose to rest in Christ and His promised peace turned into fabulous reality.

Christ’s truth shine brightest in darkness.

Even the army green parachute held up by the steam shovel was magical. Seriously. He’d hung branches and lights down from the center that drew oohs and ahhs from everyone.

The picture below doesn’t do it justice. It was amazing.

Look in the bottom right corner and you'll see Jay working the steam shovel.

Look in the bottom right corner and you’ll see Jay working the excavator.

And we all got a great laugh when Jay decided to raise the parachute up a bit to give more clearance for our heads.

He cranked up the excavator and raised the parachute higher.

He gave a literal meaning to the popular phrase, “raise the roof!”

When he turned the excavator off, it all settled back down. The decorations almost popped Larry’s dad in the head.

Everyone laughed as he quickly cranked it back up again and hoisted the parachute and branches even higher.

That’s a story I bet no one else has ever gotten to tell. And as my sister Kimbi loves to say, when everything runs smoothly it’s boring. There’s no good story to tell, and everyone loves a good story. (She’s so right!)

And then came my video debacle.

Not the one at home while I was making it. The one at the restaurant when I was trying to show it.

We couldn’t get the sound to work.

Oops.

After much clicking of buttons and switching of cords, we realized that the problem was me. I’d somehow saved it without the sound.

Hmmmm.

Fortunately I had the original copy of it that did have sound.

Whew!

With the cheers of 45 people spurring me on, I started the video — just as a train came roaring by.

No one could hear a thing.

More laughter.

I hit pause and waited for it to pass.

It passed, I restarted it, and it went off without a hitch — until everyone noticed that on the last slide I’d typed the date of their wedding: July 25, 2105.

July 25, 2105

Oops! Apparently they’re not getting married for another 90 years.

More laughter.

Oh, and by the way, it never rained! Thank you, God!

 

I choose laugh lines and friends

I could’ve have been embarrassed, but laughing is so much more fun.

I could’ve fretted all week about the dinner, but excited anticipation is more fun.

I could’ve been upset that the restaurant wasn’t exactly as Jay had said it would be when we reserved it in the Spring. But the setting he created was not only more fun and unique, it made for a fabulous story.

Choosing fretting and frustration leads to frown lines and fewer friends. 

In this world we will have troubles. That’s a promise.

But when we choose to rest in Christ, we choose to glorify God. All who glorify God will be blessed.

Choosing the peace of Christ leads to joy and laughter.

I choose laugh lines and friends. I choose peace.

Not peace as the world gives, but the peace that Christ freely gives to all who trust in, rest in, and follow Him.

What will you choose today?

Click to read about the peace that Christ gives (John 14:27) and a pretty funny story too.

(I woke up the morning after Bobby & Kaitlyn’s wedding to this gorgeous, peaceful view of the mountains with the clouds resting among them.)


If this post encouraged you, then I’m thrilled our misadventures could bless you. I hope you’ll pass it along to others. 

And if you’re ever in or near Black Mountain, NC you’ve got to visit The Mill Pizzeria. Outstanding pizza baked by Jay, the fascinating, visionary owner, and his dog Anchovie. (Anchovie doesn’t make the pizza, but he’ll be glad to eat some of yours if you’ll share. Don’t worry, he’s not pushy.) Check them out on Facebook.


 

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