Palm Tree Lovin’

I love palm trees! They’re so pretty and they give me a sense of peace. I look at them and automatically think of tropical paradise. I think of rest and relaxation. I think of laying on the beach under a palm tree, sipping on a cold piña colada. Ahhh… if only I could be on vacation 24/7.

But I’m reminded of the Psalm that says, “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Psalm‬ ‭92‬:‭12-14).

There’s a reason why we long for r&r. We weren’t meant to live crazy, chaotic, out of control lives. But we don’t have to live in paradise or be on vacation 24/7 to find rest and renewal. Like the verse explains, if we stay connected to our source, which is God, we will flourish and grow beautifully. The image this verse paints for me is of a person whose life, body and mind looks bright, lively and strong. It doesn’t look withered or hanging by a thread.

Now, how can we attain that?! Our days are filled with demands and crazy schedules and deadlines! Some days it seems like I just woke up and I’m already hopping into bed for the night. The key is to not allow the demands of life become more important than our relationship with God and others. What do you need to do today to find rest and renewal in God?  Maybe it means managing your time better so you can spend time with your family. Maybe it means saying no to an invitation so you can read God’s word. Perhaps it means going for a walk instead of binge watching a show on Netflix. Or maybe it means leaving some of that to-do list undone. (It’s ok if we don’t get it all done today).

Be encouraged today to find rest and relaxation, even after vacation, in your daily walk with God.

Fun fact: My last name means palm tree in Spanish… (Theresa Palma) 😉

Friendship: It’s not Always Hearts and Kisses

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I was getting ready to go to bed after a much-needed Facetime date with my sister, who recently moved away. My husband noticed that I wasn’t being myself and had been crying. Of course, he asked the inevitable questions, “Have you been crying?”. Now, you know what happens when someone asks that, right? You start crying again. And it’s not your normal crying face. No. It’s your really ugly crying face. Anyway, I went on a rant, trying to explain why I was crying, “I miss my sister. I miss my best friend. My sisters are my best friends. I need them close to me. I can’t make friends that are as close as a sister.”

The great thing about having best friends that are my family is that we don’t expect perfection from each other. We know our faults, our hurts, our attitudes, and we take each other as we are. Having that connection outside of a family circle, can be difficult. It dawned on me that it’s not easy to have close friends when you expect them to be perfect. Why couldn’t I take my friends just as they are like I did with my sister?

It would be ideal, and we would be living in a perfect world if everything was hearts and kisses. You know, like those cute emojis you send your friends? The reality is that, heartbreak and disappointments will happen in our relationships. If we expect for that to never happen, we are setting up our friends for failure.

Loving others sometimes will cause us emotional pain. We will get hurt and we will be disappointed. I am reminded of the love and dedication Jesus had for his disciples. He knew their thoughts, their intentions, their hearts. And still, he taught them and guided them with love. Jesus was betrayed and denied by his closest friends, yet He chose to love.

I believe Jesus shows us in God’s word that we should love unconditionally. He also shows us that we should forgive and move forward. Holding on to bitterness and resentment is poison to our souls and even to our bodies. The best choice we can make is to accept people’s flaws. If we can’t accept people’s flaws, how can we expect them to accept ours?

Honestly, it doesn’t really feel good to love my friends when they hurt me. My first response is to push them away or go into hiding for a bit. Sometimes I rehearse in my mind what I would say to them. Really mean things that would hurt them back. My mind tells me, “She’s not a good friend”. While my heart says, “Give her another chance. Show her God’s grace”. I’ve isolated friends and family from my life because of things that I could’ve resolved and decided to forgive. Only trial and error can teach you when it’s time to let go of a friendship and when not to. I have a feeling though, that God would have us forgive and forget rather than letting go of a friendship.

This crazy love that God calls us to demonstrate, takes so much dedication, commitment, and courage. It takes courage to confront an issue and forgive.

So how do we mend or prevent broken friendships?
We choose love over staying disappointed. We choose mercy when we feel hurt. We choose grace when we feel betrayed. And we choose peace when we feel heartbroken.

Is there anyone you need to make amends with today? Is there a friend you should take out to coffee and resolve an issue with? Is God asking you to forgive a friend or loved one today?

Be encouraged to be honest with your friends and loved ones when you’re hurt. And be encouraged to forgive them and embrace their frailties.

Good Friday Prayer & Reflection

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“Lord Jesus I thank you for your love, your sacrifice, and your example. Where would I be without you? Thank you for doing the will of Your Father and dying on the cross for my sins. You took my place, you conquered death so I could live. The gap between us and God is gone thanks to You. Thank you for your blood that washed my sin and cleansed me from all sickness and disease. Today I can claim victory and declare myself victorious because you overcame. I love you Lord! I will never take for granted, I will never take lightly what you did on the cross for me. I praise you and will continue to praise you forever. Amen!”


The great thing about Good Friday and Easter Sunday is that it reminds me that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for all the world. Not for perfect individuals that have it all together. He came to save those who were sick. Meaning, all of us. If you haven’t decided to follow Jesus yet, please consider this an invitation from Him. He loves you no matter what happened yesterday, a few minutes ago, or what will happen tomorrow.

At some point in our lives, we must decide to follow or not follow God. We stand at a crossroads. Do we walk with Him or do we go our own way?

If you feel a tugging in your heart to follow Jesus, pray this prayer with me:
“Dear God, I come to you acknowledging that I need you. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. Cleanse me and make me new. I confess that Jesus in my Lord and Savior. And from this day forward I will do my best to live a life that’s pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Was that your first time saying that prayer? I would love to hear from you at info@styldbygrace.com!

If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, be encouraged to share His love with others. Extend an invitation to your church, pray for your friends and family, and share God’s word.

Hoping you all have a great Easter weekend! Let’s celebrate the King!

-Theresa Palma

The Secret Place

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The secret place is a dangerous place to be in, whether it’s a good secret place or a bad secret place. And yes, both do exist.

We see the secret place in movies, TV shows, and books. Movies like Mean Girls and TV shows like Pretty Little Liars, show us the bad and corrupt secret places people can find themselves in. There are burn books, lies, gossip, and shame.

On the other hand, there is a secret place, a place of intimacy, that our culture and our society don’t know about and it’s just as dangerous as the corrupted secret places we do see and know about. It’s not dangerous because it hurts us, it’s dangerous because it transforms us.

The Bible speaks of the secret place many times. In Exodus, God hides Moses in a secret place so that he could see God’s glory. (Exodus 33:22). In the Psalms, we can read about being hidden or abiding in the secret place (Psalm 32:7, Psalm 27:5, Psalm 91:1). In Matthew, Jesus instructs us to find a secret place to pray in (Matthew 6:6).

I can’t imagine Moses was not terrified and excited, all at once, to see God’s glory. Moses saw God, and after that he was never same. The Bible says that after leaving the secret place, his face shone. Not only that, but when people saw Moses, they were afraid of his light.

Will we go to God’s secret place, where we can be honest, transparent, and be changed? Being changed in the secret place may result in people distancing themselves from us, like it happened to Moses. It can be scary and dangerous to let go of the place where people accept us and include us, but, the result of being in God’s secret place outweighs any reward we may receive from people.

Jesus’ instruction to go into a secret place to pray, shows us that God is interested in meeting with us and having a real connection with us. He’s not a superficial or anonymous God.

In the book “The Secret Place” by Tana French, there is a noticeboard where the girls of a school can pin up secrets anonymously to let off steam. It’s kind of similar to the burn book in the movie Mean Girls. The purpose of this secret place isn’t to be known, it’s to be unseen, which makes sense, by definition, since secret means to hide or conceal. There are some areas in our lives that we want to keep unseen. They may be too painful to reveal or perhaps, our bitterness and pride, keep us hidden in the negative secret place.

However, God’s secret place is an oasis to all who find it and seek it. It’s a place where we go to know Him, be known by Him, and find ourselves in Him. It’s a place we go to, where we can reveal our deepest needs and wants, our hurts, and let go of our bitterness and pride.

Hiding in the negative and dark secret places we are used to, won’t make a difference in people’s lives and it surely won’t exalt and magnify God. Going to God’s secret place allows us to be changed so that in turn, He can be glorified, and our story can lead others to Him.

So, will you decide today to leave the dark and go into the light of God’s secret place? I pray that you will, because if you do, you will find healing, freedom, and purpose.


To learn more about God’s secret place, you can read Bob Sorge’s Secrets of the Secret Place

Unearthing Easter

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The hearts, the red, the pinks and all that makes Valentine’s day wonderful, has been invaded and overturned by Easter eggs and pastels. Forget St. Patty’s day… Easter everything has taken over!

Year after year, I can’t believe how quickly department stores change their merchandise from one holiday to another, in what seems like a blink of an eye.

As a child, I looked forward to Easter because of all the fun traditions and candy. My mom never went without buying me some Peeps (you know, those sugary, marshmallowy, yellow chicks), and dressing me up in a cute summer dress. Even if church wasn’t always in the picture, it was during Easter. And Easter egg hunting, was a must.

Today, I continue to enjoy the Easter traditions we practiced growing up. However, as time has passed I’ve realized that Easter is much more than eggs, bunnies, and pretty dresses. It’s about remembering and recognizing the work of Jesus Christ in this world.

This year, I’m unearthing Easter by digging into God’s word, in order to rediscover the meaning of Easter. I want to rediscover why we celebrate it, dress up for it, and go to church for it?

How will I do this? By being part of  Good Morning Girls’ study on the book of Matthew. Every day, in March and April, I’ll be reading a chapter from the book of Matthew in the Bible. What’s most exciting about this, is that I get to do it with a group of women from all over the world! We will share, pray, and uncover Easter together.

Please come back to hear what we have learned!

Love,
Theresa


What are you looking forward to this Easter season? How will you rediscover the meaning of Easter?