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40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 19

Reflections on Acts 7 – 11

So Philip ran to [the Ethiopian] and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”  Acts 8:30, 31,and 35

“Do you understand what you are reading?” No, I do not always understand. I’m thankful for the wisdom of others to teach me and guide me with understanding of timeless truths.  For years, my husband and I have been “joined at the hip” with a group of friends in a Life Group…where we live life together, work through our messes together, and explore the Word of God together. We take turns meeting in each other’s home. We laugh a lot, we eat a lot, and sometimes we need to cry on each other’s shoulder.  It’s a beautiful thing to have friends share good news, the gospel grace, each time we meet. The good news they share flows from them quite naturally and refreshingly so.

I recently read an interesting comment by Trevin Wax about the distinction between “sink Christians” and “faucet Christians.” Sink Christians, he says, view salvation as something to soak up. It fills the sink and they soak in the benefits (heaven, peace, Jesus, etc.). Faucet Christians see salvation as something that comes to them in order to flow out through them to the rest of the world as a blessing to others, as a pipe carries water from its source to a parched land. I like that!

I like to think of the ones investing in my life as “faucet Christians”…pouring on the grace with patience, having a casual conversation to explain the scriptures, much like Philip did with the new friend he met on a dusty desert road.

…Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
Acts 8: 32 – 35

Good things happen when God is involved in our casual conversations…

“And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the [Ethiopian] said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the [Ethiopian], and he baptized him. Acts 8: 36 – 38 

We have much to talk about. Much to rejoice about! The season of Lent is not all sweetness and light, and the story we will remember in a couple of weeks is full of violence and cruelty. But in the midst of it all, there is the undercurrent of beauty and the triumph of Hope in the distance. And this is what we celebrate! [1]

Share good news!

“…and [the Ethiopian] went on his way rejoicing.” Acts 8:39

[1] A quote from my friend, Amy Frank | The Celebration Project | Beauty and Ashes 

Good News to Share 1

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent


The Rough Edges of a Smooth Life: New Year’s Eve


It’s New Year’s Eve! It’s that time of year again to focus on the events of the past…those good and bad things that naturally happen to all of us and so we begin to plan new year resolutions to not repeat the bad things that we made a mess of and to aim for more of the good things. But not the same good things, definitely better and much greater! We want to forget the messes we stirred up and the mistakes that we made.

Frankly, I’m done with planning New Year resolutions. In the past, I’ve written grand lists of self-centered improvement tactics that only infuriated me when I continued to do the things that I wanted to stop doing. I kept getting in my way of being successful. I need to continue to plan today to be productive tomorrow. 

Secondly, bad things and messes and mistakes will always occur. There will always be rough edges of a smooth life. While I don’t wish for anything awful to happen or to experience difficult situations, I know for a fact that I will, because every smooth life is designed with rough edges.

It is the rough edges that add the character development for self-improvement.

What I enjoy most about New Year’s Eve is reflecting on the year that is coming to its end. I like to think about the year in reverse. Instead of beginning in the winter of January 2013, I begin with September and the first beginnings of autumn. A family birthday celebration at the beach and early morning walks along the shore before the sun announced the new day.

A Better Story

Andy Layla

Remembering the season of red and orange leaves and the glorious days of family outings at a pumpkin patch, watching our little one march happily from pumpkin to pumpkin and climbing over hay bales. With each little foot step our little one takes or the squeeze of a tiny hand in mine, I am reminded that God has gone before us on the path our family has journeyed and he is holding us firmly in his strong right hand.

Layla at the Pumpkin Patch

Isla and Pumpkins

I remember a chaotic and exhausted feeling from fighting the never-ending bout of nerve pain. Those peaceful walks along a wooded path under the beams of sunshine cascading through golden leaves reminds me of God’s presence then and to celebrate that he knows the pain of those rough edges I felt and he did enable me to be vibrant through the rough.

Rough Edges of a Smooth Life Rough Edges of a Smooth Life

After autumn, I have a flashback to the hot days of summer and those oscillating fans blowing on my legs and face. I ventured on a missions trip that stirred my heart to move out of my comfort zone…to search for rough edges in the deep of another’s person life–to help them experience a smooth life, in some kind of way.

I am thankful that God has placed this longing in my heart to venture into the rough of an unknown community. It was good (and still is) to feel the sharpening of the Holy Spirit on those rough edges in my heart, melting them away, smoothing the edges with more mercy and grace.

View from the flag pole

When I think about spring, I remember having a new appreciation for the handiwork of God, the creator. I learned to have a consistent time of personal worship. I remember wanting more of Jesus and praying for God to change my heart. It’s good to look back through the year, as now I can understand that those rough edges in my life were being formed and shaped by the one who loved me the most, God. I was running four miles almost daily and felt like my space in this world could not get any better than running with worship tunes streaming through ear buds. My smooth life as I once knew it was soon going to change.

New Growth 2

Bird Song

Through daily personal worship, I began to see God in the smallest of insects or in the buds of a tree about to burst in color. I think back to those lonely days of adjusting to being alone yet being completely filled with joy and peace in the Creator, thankful that he sprinkled a bit of his creativity onto me through watercolor painting. God was beginning to show me more of the rough edges in my life that only he could smooth out.

Watercolor by Donna

Watercolor by Donna

And now, here we are at the winter and the close of a new year. A year of surrendering to the handiwork of God, creating and shaping my soul to want more of him, to want to be changed because of his grace alone.

It would take a year feeling the tenderness of more grace in the rough edges for me to surrender my strength and become even stronger through weakness and to know that a smooth life can still be smooth through the trials when it is God who is giving the strength to keep going. There is a void from a loss of a family member and we celebrate that God is making all things new.


I did something completely different this Christmas while celebrating Advent. While wanting to take the time to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming, I also wanted to focus on the freedom I have in Christ to overcome an obstacle…a very rough edge. So, I began a “Lent in Advent” with the purpose of giving up something for the 25 days of celebrating Advent….a self-inflicted rough edge that controlled me. While focusing on the one…God’s Son, the one God promised to send to rescue me, I struggled through the Lenten process of giving up, running away from it and running into the fulfilled expectation of Jesus first coming and all that he accomplished for me (for us) on that cross. It is day 31 in “Lent for Advent”.

Looking back through the year shows me how God has kept his promise to love us no matter what. He has given us a gospel-centered community to intercede for us in prayer, encouragement and friendship. He is constantly rescuing us. Revealing his story to us when we need him the most. The storms and trials are rough yet Jesus is in the boat too. The storm knows his voice and life becomes smooth.  Without the rough edges, those hard trials, I would not have been able to celebrate real joy and victory through Christ. I would not want a smooth life any other way.

I am eager and excited to welcome 2014! I can’t wait to live the better story God has for us!

Happy New Year!

Don and Donna

The links on this page will take you to posts that I’ve written this year. Move the curser over the link for the title of the post. I hope you will be encouraged by reading. -Donna