Unexpected Grace

I am guilty!

Oh, yes, I am! Big-time guilty!

I am a confirmed bibliophile!

Do you know what that is?

My guess is that there are a few more of us lurking around out there in the world.

A bibliophile is a person who collects or has a great love for books!

Yep, that’s me! It all started when my parents introduced me to the world of books. They would read out loud to me and I would look at all the pictures as they read the words upon the page. Mom and dad read some of the greatest stories to their little girl. We would spend hours discovering the joy of reading a book. I was fascinated by them. My bedroom was full of storybooks. I couldn’t wait for the day that I learned to read complete sentences, by myself, from the pages of a good book.

But the real problem started when I discovered the school library! That’s another word for book heaven! The “hang-out” spot of every genuine bibliophile. Well, for me it was. So many books. So little time to read. Yet, my determination was to read them all before I left Hudlow Elementary School.

And then, it got worse when mom introduced me to the Pima County Public Library. Oh, that was glorified book heaven! Rows upon rows of books of every possible subject to delight the heart of a bibliophile. There I was introduced to the greats— great books, great authors, great biographies, great animal stories, great adventures to go on through pages and pages of books, great mystery stories to try and solve before I got to the end of the book, and great librarians who would point me into the direction of the “bestest” books an avid reader could get her hands upon. I hungered for more. Loved that I could take five books out of the library at one time— but for a week? Really? Man, I had those books read within just a couple of days, never mind a week. My mom gave her three daughters a very clear message, on our trips to the library: “When you have overdue books, the cost of your fine comes out of your weekly allowance.” Ugh! We knew mom was serious. I did my best, but there were a few times when my books were late, and I learned to pay my fine with a smile on my face.

Now, as an adult, I still love libraries, bookstores, and gifts of books, books, and more books. With every move I made in life (stateside or across the world), I carried only my favorite books with me, giving the rest away to new homes and hopefully to another avid reader. And then, when I got settled in my new place, I started the book collection all over again. Quite often, you will find me on the prowl of a good book to read. Got any suggestions? Oh, so many times, you will find me curled up with a good book in my hands and my nose buried into the printed page. In one corner of my multiple bookcases, you will find it contains the “soon to be read!” books, although I am noticing of late how that corner is taking over the whole shelf. So, yes! I am a bibliophile! And I am proud of it!

But I have to tell you about my unexpected moment in the library, just down the street from my house. Totally unexpected!

I went into the library with really good intentions. I was going to donate a few copies of my newly published book to the library. Which I did in hopes that someone might see it and want to read it. In the process I had to check out the “new” books that the library was offering. And of course, I found one that just had to come home with me.

So, I went to the librarian’s desk to check out. “Do you have your library card with you?”

Yes, but I first had to find it. After a few moments, I handed her my card and smiled. She did her thing on the computer. “I’m sorry, but you will not be able to take this book out the door until you pay your fine!” she says with a not so nice smirk upon her face. “What do you mean I have a fine? I haven’t checked out any library books for well over three years now,” was my reply.

“Yes, I know,” said the librarian. “You have fines that have mounted for three years!”

I was stunned. What? is all my brain could think of in that unexpected moment. Nor could my brain even begin to handle the calculation of that whopper of a fine! “Don’t even tell me how much it is, I really don’t want to know. I would rather go and check and make sure that book isn’t over there sitting happily upon your shelf” and I pointed in the direction of all the books. She thought that was a good idea. We both went on an unexpected mission. I asked God to join us in that unexpected moment! He did and He presented both the librarian and me with an unexpected surprise.

“See! Right there!” There upon the bookshelf. In its proper place. Sat the very book. The book that I had a three-year fine for. The librarian reached up and pulled the book off the shelf and she walked away. I followed her, hoping for a great outcome to my unexpected moment. She disappeared behind her desk, did a few things at the computer, got up and walked to the back room and was gone for what seemed forever.

Then, she finally emerged with that long-awaited-for smile. “You should be thankful for your GRACE period. It’s still in effect, my dear. And you won’t be paying any fines today!” I wanted to give her a big hug! But instead, I picked up my library card, ready for the next time I’m brave enough to walk through those doors again! I glanced in the direction of her computer and yes, my donated books were still there. I left the one book that I had wanted to check out behind me. Someone else could have the pleasure of reading that new book. I turned tail and left the library in a hurry, just in case the librarian changed her mind. Whew! What an unexpected moment!

But, with that unexpected moment came an unexpected gift. Did you catch what that was?

Unexpected grace! From the librarian! Thank you, God!

On my way home, I got to thinking about all the different times that God gives me His gift of unexpected grace. Wow! Now, there’s a thought that could easily fill a book. Maybe I’ll write a new one.

Unexpected grace! Yes, our God blesses us with unexpected grace every single day! Just think about it. Even today, God will, if He hasn’t already, surprise us with His gift of grace. And that grace just might come in an unexpected moment. Grace is mercy, lovingkindness that Jesus paid for with His very life. Not one of us deserves grace; but God will lovingly lavish His grace upon us today. Just watch and see for yourself.

Have a read of this biblical encouragement:

“The Lord will give GRACE and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11 (NKJV).

As you go through your day today, whether you have unexpected moments or not, be on the lookout for displays of God’s gift of grace towards you. It will be there. You just have to look and receive His great gift of grace!

Oh, and one more thing.

If you have any overdue library books, get them back to the library! Now! Before your GRACE period runs out! And tell the librarian that Kathy sent you!

God’s Word Is

God’s Word is life to me!

I spend a great deal of my life in God’s Word! Reading it, meditating upon it, studying it, writing about it, and sharing it with others. I would be lost without the Word of God influencing my life!

The following Bible verses are among my personal favorites for my life.

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path… I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:11, 13-14 (NKJV).

God’s Word holds my reality! “I would have lost heart” (oh, so many times!), “unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord” within the pages of God’s sacred Word. I saw/see His goodness every time I open the book and turn its pages. I believe it more and more with each word, phrase, and sentence that wraps itself around my heart and soul.

God’s Word leads me to prayer! “Teach me Your way, O Lord” is my prayer every day. I do not want to live life my own way, because I know I will mess it up and mess it up badly. “Lead me in a smooth path” is my prayer of acknowledgement that His way is way better than mine. He knows the right paths that I should take, and He will walk with me on every path of life, wherever it may lead me.

God’s Word challenges me! “Wait on the Lord” challenges me to wait for His perfect timing, His amazing leading, and His life-changing answers. Waiting is never easy, yet, I have learned that to wait on my Lord, the wait is always adventurous.

God’s Word provides the promises! And I just happen to love the promise that these Bible verses hold. “He shall strengthen your heart.” Oh, yes, that is what God’s Word does. It strengthens my heart. That’s why I’m in it every single day. I would lose hope. I would lose life if I didn’t have God’s Word. The Bible is full of precious promises just waiting to be claimed by His children as their own personal promise from a God who loves them.

This “land of the living” (our world of today) gets crazier with each and every passing day. I need God’s Word to keep me focused on what is right and true, pure and lovely, honest and of good report. God’s Word keeps my eyes on the God of the Word.

There is no doubt in my mind, I need God’s Word!

His Word is life to me!

The Prayer of my Heart

O Lord, my God, my Yahweh

May I always be humble enough to seek You first and foremost in all things pertaining to life. May I desire Your ways and will You show me Your righteous ways. May I always have a teachable spirit so that I can walk with confidence on the paths that You show me. I know You will always guide me in Your truth, for You are truth. You are my God, my one and only. You are my Savior, for you have rescued me and set my feet upon the right path. You are my hope, my only hope, in this life here on earth. All day long, I want to walk with You, in hope and in confidence, in faith and in trust. May I always stay upon Your path. May I always trust Your leading and guiding me through life. May I always cling to Your truth. Thank you, O Lord, my God. You will always be my Yahweh. Forever and ever. Amen!

I Choose to Praise God

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent goodness! … Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! —Psalm 150:1-2 (NKJV).

Sharing with my blog readers an excerpt from my newly published book, Praises, Promises, and Provisions.

“The psalmist David knew all about praising his God… Throughout his lifetime, David had a heart that was not afraid to burst forth in bold praise to his great God. David chose to praise God!

“It did not matter whether David was tending his father’s sheep in the field, relaxing at home with his family, facing the giant that no one else wanted to fight, singing before King Saul, running for his life from someone who wanted to kill him, fighting the enemy on the battlefield, encouraging his soldiers as they returned tired from war, feasting at the fully loaded banqueting table, or pursing his kingly duties from the regal palace. One would often find David offering up his praise to God. David chose to praise God! …

“Praise should never be influenced by those around us. It should be instrumentally instructed by the contents of our hearts. Praise should never be dependent on our current circumstances being good or right or even fair. Praise is not based on our feelings at a certain moment of time. We can feel perfectly lousy and still choose to open our hearts, lift up our voices, and burst forth with praise to the God who loves and cares about us.

“Praising God is a choice. It is our privilege. It is our way of acknowledging that our great God is present with us (never to leave us or forsake us!). He is there, right in the midst of our circumstances. Praising God is a means of giving thanks for all the great things God has done for us, has given to us, and has answered on our behalf. Praising God is boldly declaring His faithfulness, His greatness, His power, and His majesty to the world around us. It is an honor to lift up our hearts, our voices, our hands, and our very beings in praise and worship to a God whose heart we seek after.

“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6).

“I choose to praise God today!”

If you are reading this blog today, and have a reason to praise God, I would love to join you in that “praise party.” Consider sharing your praise in the comment section and let others raise their voices with you in praise to our great God.

Lord God, every day You give me reason to praise You. You are a God worthy of all praise, including mine, especially mine. I just want to praise you in awe and wonder at Your great faithfulness to me!

New Book Release

The challenge is on! A challenge between student and teacher has them searching through the Book of Psalms for the praises, promises, and provisions contained within. Little did this teacher know that God had some specific lessons for her to learn during her search.

In Praises, Promises, and Provisions, author Kathy O’Brien shares a journey through Psalms and what she discovered. She seeks to answer some of the following questions?

  • Does the psalmist praise God in any way?
  • What is he praising God for?
  • Is there a promise from God shared in the psalm?
  • Is it a promise we can claim too?
  • Does God provide something for the psalmist?
  • Does God provide food, shelter, help, strength, wisdom, or any other thing for the psalmist?

Through a scavenger hunt of sorts, Praises, Promises, and Provisions helps Christians discover the blessings God provided for the psalmist in the Book of Psalms and thus for all those who believe.

This newly released book is available now in hardcover, softcover and e-book formats through WestBow Press Bookstore (www.westbowpress.com). It is also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It is my heart-felt prayer that my book gets into the hands of people who need a little encouragement and inspiration. May it be a blessing to all who read it. May God use it to minister to hearts in an awesome way that is so far beyond my imagination.

To God be all praise for His promises and provisions upon the lives of His children!

The Challenge Was On!

“Hey, teacher! Do you want to do a Bible challenge with me?” said one of my eleven-year-old students, with a smile on his face. He was shifting his body from one foot to another, anxiously awaiting my answer. I could not help but chuckle a little. Usually it was I who was presenting the challenges to my students. It did this teacher’s heart good to see the roles reversed for a change.

“Hmm,” I replied as I gave him a quizzical glance, “what do you have in mind?”

“Well, I really want to read through the entire book of Psalms. Do you know that it has the most chapters of any book in the Bible? I was wondering if you would like to do it with me. You could make sure that I read it from the beginning to the end, all one hundred and fifty chapters.”

While I was delighted at seeing his enthusiasm to read a portion of the Bible, as his teacher, I was just a little curious as to what led this young student to want to read the entire book of Psalms. He normally was not a keen reader at all. In fact, I had noticed the struggle he often had just to find his way around the various pages of his Bible. I clearly saw a teaching moment standing right here in front of me.

“You know what? I would love to accept your challenge!” Instantly I saw a smile break out on his face that rocked my heart as a teacher. “But, if it is okay with you, I would like to add something extra to your challenge to help make reading God’s Word a little more exciting for both of us.”

“Okay!” he said. His feet were practically dancing as his level of excitement went up a few notches. “What? What do you want to add?”

“Do you know what a scavenger hunt is?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, I love doing scavenger hunts!” His excitement level went up a few more notches. “With scavenger hunts you have a list of objects to find, and if you find them all, then you win the hunt and you get a prize.”

I gave a thumbs-up to his explanation. And before I could say anything, he quickly piped in.

“But I don’t know how to play a scavenger hunt using the Bible. I’ve never done that before.”

“Well…

…To be continued…in my soon-to-be-released published book!

And, my dear blog readers, I have to let you in on a little secret!

Some of my new book you have already read in my blog!

Over the past two years, I have already been sharing some of my “teacher discoveries” from the scavenger hunt that I shared with my eleven-year-old student. Perhaps you’ve already read some of them.

When my student and I finished our “scavenger hunt” through the book of Psalms, I began writing a blog, sharing with readers, from around the world, various things that I had learned through this challenge with one of my students. I have to tell you that both student and teacher are still learning from our fun way of reading the book of Psalms.

Then my student challenged me even further. “Ms. Kathy, I have been reading all your blog entries. Now I want to challenge you again. I want to see you turn your blog into a book. Can you do that?”

Hmm, a blog into a book? Can I do that? The challenge was on! Again!

What is that old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way!”

For the past year and a bit, I have been working with WestBow Press to turn the will into a way! They are helping me turn my blog into a book! I picked out twenty-one of my favorite blog entries to include in my published edition. Don’t you wonder which ones I might have picked? Would you like to know if, perhaps, I picked one of your favorite blog entries? I invite you to tell me what your favorite blog entry is that I wrote, and then I will tell you if it’s included in my soon-to-be-released book. Feel free to leave me a comment in the appropriate section; I would love to hear from you!

Need I tell you just how excited I am over this challenge?

I can hardly keep my dancing feet still as the excitement level just went up a few more notches!

A newly written, soon-to-be-released book, by Kathy O’Brien, will be coming your way!

Watch my blog for further details!

The Paths of Life

One of the first blogs I ever wrote. I’m still walking on my path of life that God has ordained for me. I’m still hanging onto the promise of God found in Psalm 16:11. I’m still finding JOY in the journey!

Word of Truth Ministries

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fulness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Paths of Life. We all walk them every day. Every one of us has a different path of life that we are called to walk upon. Sometimes we walk that pathway alone and at some seasons of the journey, others will come and join us for a time upon our pathway. Have you ever considered the path of life that you are now walking?

Paths can be smooth; when everything seems to be going just right. There doesn’t seem to be any problems or stresses, no signs of trouble anywhere in sight, no arguments or disagreements with others on the pathway. Everything is calm, peaceful, happy and even joyful. The walking on such a path is so easy and comfortable; your step is light and…

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Lord, Help Me!

Lord, help me to pray!

Even when I’m feeling tired,

Even when my patience is thin,

Even when the words won’t come,

Even when the hard circumstances are present,

Even when I feel lost!

Lord, help me know that You are there!

Even when I think You are not,

Even when I feel distant from You,

Even when I walk right past You,

Even when I assume You are not listening,

Even when I question Your will and plans!

Lord, help me to turn to You!

In my brokenness,

In complete surrender,

In total trust,

In faith believing,

In acceptance of Your love!

Lord, help me!

Amen.

“Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy”

Psalm 109:26 (NKJV)

Sleepless Nights

How many times have you been here and done this?

What do you do, at 3 am in the morning, when everyone else in the household sleeps and you are laying there, wide awake, and unable to sleep a wink?

We all have those times when sleep is evasive. Nowhere in sight. We toss and turn. We “count sheep” until we are “Baa-ing” softly in our awakeness. We might get up for that proverbial “hot milk” drink that’s supposed to help us quickly go back to sleep. We try all sorts of things. I am just a little curious, what is your secret to sleepless nights?

I pray!

Yes! It was 3:14 am, according to the alarm clock on the bedside table. I rolled over and groaned. Hubby laid beside me, softly snoring a sleepy melody of zzzz’s. I tried not to be envious of the apparent good sleep that he was getting. From the little bed on the floor beside mine, came sounds of muted barking and growling from our little Maltese dog, Max. I leaned over the side of my bed to have a look. Yep, his little legs were moving as though running after someone or something. I watched Max for a few moments. Yes, I was envious that he was obviously having a fun dream and I was not. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little at my loveable dog. I wondered if I was part of his dream. I rolled back over and pulled the covers up.

I did not want to disturb either hubby or dog, although going to the kitchen to fix a hot cup of tea or a warm cup of hot chocolate was a temptation at this point. Both would have tasted so good, with a few shortbread cookies thrown in to satisfy the growling tummy. Yet, I knew! If I dared to sneak out of the bed and head in the direction of the kitchen, soon the dog and hubby would follow, and my day would start just way too early. So, I snuggled under the covers just a little more.

I opted to do the one thing I love to do the most whenever I cannot sleep.

I began to pray!

“God, what would you like to talk about as I lay here sleepless and awake?”

Almost immediately thoughts of my family and friends came forward. I remembered a couple of promises to pray for them, with certain prayer requests having been shared. So, I prayed! I talked with my God about so many special people in my life, about their needs, and asking Him to do His perfect work in their lives and bless them with showers of blessings.

As I prayed and talked with my God, in the sleepless moments of the wee morning hours, the word WATCH came to my mind. “God, what is this about WATCH? What do You want me to WATCH? Do you want me to pray about WATCH?” I paused in silence before my God. Waiting to understand WATCH.

It wasn’t long before my thoughts tumbled out into words of WATCH-full prayer to my God.

“Dear God,

“I ask that you set a WATCH over my family and friends. Send your angels to WATCH over them and keep them all safe. Draw each one closer to You and WATCH over their individual concerns.

“I pray, God, that You would WATCH over these things for myself, my family, and my friends:

“WATCH over our daily walk with You. May we always desire to walk in Your ways. May we joyfully walk where You lead us and not be tempted to take our own path that would lead us away from You.

“WATCH over our attitudes and actions. May these be pleasing in Your sight always, Lord. When we stumble and fail in our attitudes and actions, may we be quick to confess it as sin and seek Your forgiveness. Give us all the courage to change the attitudes and actions that we need to change.

“WATCH over our thoughts and our talk, dear God. May both be wholesome; may they be kind toward others; and may they bring You glory. May our thoughts bring us into Your presence more often. May our talk reflect that we know and love You. Set a WATCH, God over our minds and our mouths as we contemplate what to say to others. May our thoughts and our talk be kind and encouraging and always full of You.

“WATCH over our circumstances, challenges, and commitments. Help us God not to take on more than we can handle at one time. Give us grace and wisdom in all our decisions. Help us to learn to say “No!” when we need to. Help us to keep that which we commit to; to rise to the challenges of life that enable us to grow as a person; and to accept our circumstances as from You, in that they are for our good and for Your glory.

“WATCH over us all by granting us happiness and hope. We seek happiness in this life; a true happiness that comes from having joy in knowing You, Lord. We have hope through Your Son, Jesus, and the eternal life that awaits us through His death on the cross.

“God, WATCH over me, my family and my friends. WATCH us Father as we WATCH You perform Your perfect work in our lives here on earth. WATCH over us as we WATCH for the soon-coming return of Your dear Son, Jesus! We WATCH and we wait, Lord!

“Now God, would you WATCH over me as I go back to sleep!

“Amen!”

I also asked God to help me remember that prayer in the morning so I could write it down. As you see, He answered that prayer!

I have to tell you, dear readers of this blog, that prayer is the best thing to do at 3 am when you cannot sleep. Pray and Watch!

Once I said, “Amen!” I rolled over and went fast asleep. “… for so He gives His beloved sleep” Psalm 127:1 (NKJV).

I awoke up at 6 am (with Max wanting to go outside!). I felt rested and refreshed as though I had slept right through the entire night. I started my day with a “Good Morning, God! What would you like to talk about now?” I’m ready to see what this day will hold for me as I carry on talking with my God and WATCH-ing His perfect day unfold!