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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Behold The Pupcycle

Today marks our 50th Gracieland webstrip.  Thank you for all of your support.  Please click on the Gracieland icon on the bottom right of the home page to see this week's strip.  Also please feel free to "share" Gracieland.  We really appreciate it when you do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ask Ellen: Can you give me a resource I can use with my family to engage in Mass more fully? Kris

Great question!  And I happen to have a very timely answer.  My friend, Emily Cavins, produces a great resource every year.  It takes the Sunday readings for a year and creates activities and prayer that you can do as a family.  I have done it with my kids at Sunday dinner and I was pleased to see how much more they understood what was read at Mass after engaging in the activities.

Cycle C begins in Advent so this is the perfect time to buy it and begin.  You can find it at:  You can download it and be ready to go when Advent rolls around. 

If you decide to use it with your family, please let me know.  I’d love to be able to share with Emily how it has enriched your family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reliance Is A Dirty Word?

Reliance is a touchy subject in today’s world.  We are told that it is a negative thing to be reliant on others.  We are told to be self-sufficient.  We are told we can be who we want to be and have what we want to have without any help from others.  In fact, we are encouraged to do so.

The dictionary describes reliant as “dependent on something or someone, contingent upon, subject to.”

The truth is we are all reliant on people and things.  But where does God fit into the equation?  The Bible gives us an excellent example of a reliant king. His name was Hezekiah.  Hezekiah did many great things including sparking religious reform, he made Jerusalem the center of worship again and he listened to God’s prophet, Isaiah.

Let’s look closely at 2Kings 18:14.  Here’s some background.  Hezekiah just received a threatening letter from his enemy telling him that God was deceiving him.  It said that he and his people would not be delivered from Assyria.

Let’s look at what Hezekiah does with this information.  Read verse 14.  What would be different if we spread our problems before the Lord?  On a personal note, I had a dear friend do this very thing last week.  Although the answer wasn’t immediate from God, there was a sense of calm and peace that accompanied just laying it down.  Hezekiah shows us in this one verse a life strategy.  When it is too much to bear (or better yet even before it is) lay all your problems, failings, concerns and hopes before the Lord.  Allow Him to help you sort out where to go next.

Continue to read verses 15-19.  This is a great example of reliant prayer.  You can use this same model in your own prayer life, especially if you haven’t done it in a while and unsure of where to start.  Hezekiah begins by praising God.  All too often we rush in with our concerns and forget to acknowledge all the blessings we do have.

Hezekiah then makes his request known to God.  He actually says it.  Yes, God know what we want and need before we do.  But actually saying it out loud, helps humble us and gives us clarity on what exactly we are asking.  God honors that.

The key to Hezekiah’s prayer is the next part.  He trusts that God heard Him.  Notice I didn’t say he was sure God would do what he wanted.  He was sure that God heard him.  Many times if our prayers aren’t answered exactly the way we want, we feel that God ignored us when we needed Him most.  Hezekiah shows us that this is not the case.  God hears you the same way you hear everything your child says to you.  You heard him ask for five more cookies, but you might not grant his request.  You heard him because you are his parent, you love him, you value him and you appreciate that he came to you for help.  It is no different for God.

If we believe that God truly heard us, we focus less on the outcome.  This is how you successfully lay it before the Lord.  You ask and leave it there for Him to sort out.  He will.  And He will resolve it far better than you could.

Finally, Hezekiah concludes by returning all the glory to God.  We can do this in prayer.  But we also do it by leaving our troubles before the Lord.  We allow Him the freedom and room to move in our lives and show His power.

Examine your prayer life in light of Hezekiah today.  If you don’t have one or haven’t in awhile, use his example to start to today.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I pray?
Do I praise God for all He has done in my life?
Do I ask God to hear what I need?
Do I simply make my request?  Or do I seek to justify it?
Do I trust immediately that my prayer has been heard?
When the request is granted, do I return the glory to God?

Who or what am I reliant upon?  Why?

Have I bought the myth that I should rely only on myself?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Where Did She Go?

Wanted to update you on the status of things at AGOG.  As I mentioned I took some time off to be with my family at the end of August.  That turned into the month of September, which has been a blessing for us.  I hope to resume our biblical character study in October.

In the meantime we have been working on some exciting changes to Gracieland.  Gracie now has her own Facebook page.  You can find it here:

Right now we are uploading the strips one each day until they are all there.  Check it out and "like" the page.

You can also follow our work on Gracieland on her webpage:

We will continue our journey with our biblical friends and their issues soon.  We will complete our Old Testament friends this year and look at the New Testament in 2013.

I appreciate your understanding while I take some much needed time off.  I am eager to resume in the next few weeks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fun...Hey Jude

Cut and paste the following link to see this week's song.  It's all about redemption.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ask Ellen: I am currently pregnant with our first son and I was as well a teacher (before now)in my previous life, like you. I just wanted to say that I admire your vocation to motherhood, as I find myself constantly praying for wisdom as I embark in this new role. I guess that I was just wondering if you felt like that too when leaving teaching behind.

Thanks so much for getting in touch with me.  Congratulations on your pregnancy.  It is one of the most exciting and terrifying times of your life, I assure you.  I also had very mixed feelings about leaving teaching behind.  I loved my students and coworkers and was very afraid of the isolation of new motherhood.  The first few months were very difficult as I learned about my daughter and adjusted to life away from the workplace.  But I will also tell you that even now, more than 12 years later, I look back on the first few months as the best of my life.  Even though I had a son later and I love him dearly, those first few months of just my baby and me were priceless.

I have not regretted my decision to stay home once.  Sure, some days were lonely and the world doesn't value my choice as much as I did.  But for me and my children it was the right thing to do.  You are ahead of the game as you see motherhood as a vocation.  A life-long one at that.  I will be praying for you as you make the transition.  I hope you will keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

I appreciate your kind words about my work.  I am blessed to be able to do it all from home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That's A Solomon

We have spent the last few weeks talking about David and Bathsheba and the trouble they got themselves into.  This week I want to focus on what pulled them out of this trouble (besides God of course)- Solomon.  The name Solomon is a Hebrew variation of the word for peace, Shalom.  I imagine that David and Bathsheba didn’t object to naming him that because after all of their struggles, Solomon somehow brought them God’s peace.  God explains this in 1 Chron 22:9.  Think about that in terms of your own struggles and sin.  Out of it, God promises peace.  Wow!  That just speaks volumes to me.  In fact, I feel like we should stop right here but that wouldn’t be fair to Solomon.

I am going to give a brief overview of Solomon’s life.  There is much to read and absorb and I encourage you to do so.  But this week’s focus isn’t so much on the man as it is the redemption he provided.  So here goes.  Solomon built many things in Israel.  He organized his monarchy.  He imposed heavy taxes on the people to support the construction.  He had many marriages to foreign women which allowed pagan influences to creep in.  He was responsible for vigorous trade for Israel.  His greatest accomplishment was building the Temple, a place for God to reside.  Remember that God told David that David’s son would build this.  Voila!  He was a priest and king like his father.  He was noted for his wisdom.  Probably the most famous story of his wisdom can be found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.  Read that now.  He is believed to have written over 3000 Proverbs as well.

But it wasn’t all good news for ole Sol.  See his 700 wives and 300 concubines proved a bit much for him to handle.  They led him astray with their pagan beliefs and eventually he turned away from God.

That is Solomon’s story in a nutshell but I am struck by how Solomon was David and Bathsheba’s redemption.  Now before you get your knickers in a bunch, I am clearly aware that our redemption is in Jesus alone.  But Solomon has shown me that God sends these “Solomons” into our lives after periods of struggle and sin.  They keep us holding on.

The dictionary defines redemption as, “to offset or compensate for a defect.  Release,  bless, cleanse, restore”  Solomon did all of these things for David and Bathsheba.  God took a complex and sinful situation and brought forth Israel’s greatest king, the wise Solomon.

Think about the times of sin and struggle in your own life.  Have you been given a Solomon? Have you struggled with work, only to be given a promotion?  Have you struggled through marriage, only to be given a fresh start?  Have you gone through divorce or a death only to be offered new hope?  Those are your Solomons!

The other thing I’ve noticed as I studied Solomon for this week is God didn’t just give him to David and Bathsheba.  He gave him to all of Israel, with wisdom to spare.  He expects the same from the Solomons he’s give to us.  If he has redeemed you and given you something good, use it to bless the world.

On a personal note, this week really hit home for me.  I have been through my own period of sin and struggle with God for years now.  As I looked for my Solomons this week, I didn’t have to look far.  I realized they are right here.  They are AGOG and Gracie.  Through it all, God has given me the ability to bless people.  He has provided my redemption through it.  These are my Solomons.  What are yours?

We have a new phrase at AGOG.  It is, “that’s a Solomon!”  I’d love to hear about yours when they happen.

Ask yourself the following question:

Where are my Solomons?