Redemption Stories, Part 2

I enjoy listening to other people’s stories, especially men and women  who really love Jesus because of their redemption from a rocky past.

I think about the lady who annointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and washed His feet with her tears…

All of her sins were forgiven! She was so thankful. 

I know that I can look back  over my life and see all my past sin, pain, guilt, shame, and hurt–I’ve been healed from so much!–that God’s goodness is overwhelming in comparison. 

Some people get really uncomfortable about such open displays of gratitude. “Can’t you tone it down a little?” they ask. 

All Jesus says is, “It’s okay. I really appreciate your act of worship, your sincere devotion.”

There are many Christians who feel like they did Jesus a favor by accepting Him, but what did we have to offer?

Enough baggage to fill a cargo plane? 

Empty attempts to gain the approval of others?

In Romans 8:17, it says that we are joint heirs with Jesus, meaning that we are each other’s inheritance. 

This is awesome news for us because it means that all of God’s blessings are given and not earned. Though,  it got me to thinking:

Jesus got the bum end of the deal. 

 I don’t mean this disparagingly, either.  It’s just that in light of His great sacrifice it’s hard for me to be real uppity about how awesome I am. 

Without Christ, I am nothing and I have nothing, so all I have for Him is gratefulness and a heart full of worship.

This is why I get so excited to hear redemption stories and to share my own. 

We were redeemed at great cost and the chance at a do over is more than we could ever imagine. 

One thankful girl

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s hard to believe 2015 is almost over.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve accomplished so much this year. 

Blogging everyday, learning sign language, running a half marathon, and going to Rhema?

Wow. I am a truly thankful. 

Here’s few other things I’m thankful for:

  1. My family. I have a big family and it only keeps growing. I’m an aunt now and we’ve added a lot of cousins. 
  2. My friends. I’m thankful for my friends who’re actually more like family. They’ve been with me through everything. I’m also thankful for new friends. The Lord continues to send the most amazing people into my life. 
  3. My job. I have a great job. It’s been nothing but a blessing since day one. 
  4. Reading. I’m really close to my goal of 50 books. The gift of reading is something that I do not take lightly. 

I can go on and on…

How about you?

What are you thankful for this year?

Take some time to write it out. 

Talk about it with your family over dinner.

 Praise God for being the giver of all these precious gifts. 

All I need is a cup of coffee and a little perspective

I used to be a chipper morning person. My grumpier self told her to get lost.

My younger siblings do not care.

They are loud and boisterous and excited about the day–even if they don’t know what day it is.

“Audra, what day is it?” Caleb asks.

“It’s Tuesday,” I reply.

His response is normally something like:

“Yay! That means we get to ________” or “What are we going to do today?”

Maybe us grumpy adults should be more easily excitable.

We tend to see each day from a more practical, soul sucking point of view. I don’t think we mean to, though, but it’s easy to fall in line with our work hating, wish-it-was-the-weekend culture.

Last night my little brother–in his childlike wisdom–prayed the most beautiful blessing over our dinner.

“Dear God,

Thanks for having us today.

Thank you for dinner and this time with my family.”


Caleb thanked God for letting us live.

And the thunderbolt of conviction struck my heart….

IMG_1692Every breath, every day comes from God. Begrudging my life and all the things I “have to do” is a slap in God’s face.

I understand that we all have hardships and bad days, but our worst day–especially if you live in the West–is someone else’s best day.

The minor inconveniences of our life will not affect whether we live or die. With that in mind, you and I have very little to complain about.

This is not meant to be a guilt trip.

Just call it a good, old fashioned reality check.

Sure, you’re not a morning person but you can be a thankful–yet quiet–non-morning person.

Sure, money is tight but you have food, water, and shelter. A cancelled Netflix account or a month without cable will not kill you.

Perspective has a way of making us honest.

Thankfully overwhelmed

We all face busy days. 

The first of the month is especially busy for me. I have customers coming in and out of my office all day–on top of a pile of paperwork from the previous month to complete. 

Plus, today I was juggling getting my car to the shop. (There was a lot of moving parts to coordinate.)

On days like today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

I know I was…

Not allowing temporary inconveniences to derail you from the bigger picture can be difficult. 

I encourage you to take a breath and count your blessings. 

You and I have a LOT to be thankful for. 

It’ll help you when the phone rings and a customer walks in and your boss wants you to dictate a letter–right now. 

Even in those moments, remember your blessings. 

Eating with gratitude

Today I ate a grape salad.

It’s not that I wanted a grape salad or even that I particularly care for grape salad….

A new friend wanted me to try something she really enjoyed.

I’m not a super picky eater. The list of foods I don’t like is very small.

I consider this a gift because being weird about food, especially in America, is quite common.

We can be as picky as we want. There’s food everywhere.

Don’t like KFC?

Try Popeye’s or Church’s or Bojangles.

thanksDon’t like McDonald’s?

Try Burger King or Rally’s or Five Guys or Jacks or Wendy’s.

We have so much food that we throw a lot of it away.

You can eat as healthy or unhealthy as you like too.

So many choices and yet there’s a high level of ungratefulness.

This is what bothers me.

People die of hunger every day.

There’s no need for that.

In America, eliminating wastefulness would solve the hunger problem.

Around the globe, we can teach people how to grow crops more effectively.

The answers are all around us!

Countless ministries and nonprofit groups are leading the way. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and a whole heap of generosity.

It’s time to quit being so ungrateful.

Many of us have never known the pangs of hunger.

Suck it up, okay?

Eat a grape salad every once in a while–even if you don’t care for it.

Because the person sharing it with you has a lot less than you do….

*Disclaimer: Do not eat foods you’re allergic to just to be nice. Doing so doesn’t make you nice, it makes you stupid.*

Thankful for Snow

It snowed!

And there’s still piles of it on the ground.

This is a new experience for a small town Southern girl.

Life has continued as usual. School is still in session and businesses are still open. I’ve seen the snowplow riding through our neighborhood every day. Winter is officially here. I cannot leave my house without a heavy winter coat and gloves.

The other day, I shovelled snow for the first time in my life!

It’s a lot harder than it looks in the movies. My dad told me that shovelling snow is the leading cause of heart attacks for older people in the North. I can believe it. That was a hard job.

Hopefully, you’re not too bored with this conversation. I’m just so excited about the possibility of a white Christmas. That will be a first for me. And maybe a last. Who knows? I won’t live in this region forever.

If I’ve learned anything while living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been that life is something to be enjoyed, treasured even.

Every day is such a gift and somewhere along the way I had forgotten. I needed to be reminded.

If I can’t get excited about the weather—hot or cold—how can I appreciate my family, my job, or my hobbies? It’s likely that I won’t recognize those blessings if I can’t get excited about the little things.

A picture from my sister, a penny on the sidewalk, a compliment from a friend…these are the small things that can potentially produce thankful thoughts.

A grateful attitude, I’m convinced, is more important than a college degree, job status, or the clothes you wear.

Those who are content have more opportunities and lead more fulfilling lives.

The power of contentment requires no complex formulas to understand. It only requires a choice.

Will I be thankful or will I be unthankful for the blessings around me?

North American Problems

I believe Dave Ramsey was the first person I heard use the phrase “That’s a North American problem.” His platform is devoted to helping people get out of debt. Of course, money is the biggest resource lacking across the globe, especially in third world countries.

This leads me back to North American problems…those of us in North America rarely find ourselves lacking.

Now, I understand that there’s a lot of people who really struggle to make ends meet. However, even those citizens who fall below the poverty level are still considered to be some of the wealthiest in the world.

All of these thoughts were swirling around my head as I was faced with a frustrating dilemma: cancelled my book order and I had pre-ordered six weeks in advance.This is a perfect example of a North American problem.

So would Starbucks not having your favorite drink flavor or having to wait in a long line to return an ill-fitting blouse to the store.

Most of our modern day conveniences—which we perceive as our right to have—are not readily available across the globe.

This is not meant as a slam against anyone.

I love hot showers, gourmet coffee, and electricity as much as the next person.

What I am learning is that my true needs are few. Many of the items on my “needs” list are merely wants—justifiable as they may seem.

Don’t go into the holiday season feeling condemned because Audra is a meanie.

Just don’t take for granted the blessings in your life.

I’m guessing that your closets are full, your electrical outlets are overloaded, and your pantries are stocked. That’s a huge blessing in itself!

It’s my goal this holiday season to get my mind off the need to buy everything. Sure, stuff can be useful, but I’d much rather focus on the people who are most important to me.