dependent-441408_640Never under estimate the power of even the smallest acts of grace. A smile given to a lonely old woman, a five minute conversation with the cashier at the pharmacy, an unexpected compliment to your spouse. Many of you are probably familiar with TobyMac’s song, “Speak Life.” You can listen to it here:

Today’s guest, Joi Copeland, reminds us to use our words to sprinkle grace, no matter where we are, how busy we are, or how we’re feeling. Because people matter.

imgresAND… as a fun bonus, she’s giving away an e-copy of her novel Sheriff’s Bride, Rob’s Story to one lucky reader randomly selected from comments left on today’s post. (You can see the rest of her novels HERE.)

Words Matter by Joi Copeland

As I write this, my family and I are sitting at the All Star Music Resort at Walt Disney World. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon and began our Disney Adventure here in Orlando for the very first, and probably last, time.

While I am having a great time, I’m remembering how very important the spoken word is. I’ve watched people walk around these theme parks, tired, grumpy, and done after a long day. I get that. However, my life is more than just a theme park for a week. I want every person who I come in contact with to receive love and grace, and a smile for their work.

That’s been my goal over the last 3 days. I will smile at someone who is ringing up my order and speak to them by using their name. After all, they have a name tag for a reason, so why not use it? I ask them how people-431943_1280their day is going and once again, give them a smile as I thank them for helping me. Each time I do it, I find the cast members more willing to help because they are appreciated and someone has taken time to ask how they are doing.

This morning, I woke up wiped out. Orlando is doing something wicked to my allergies, and I’ve been having watery eyes, sneezing like never before, and just plumb tuckered out. When I went to the restaurant to get my breakfast, the last thing I wanted to do was talk to someone. But the lovely woman from Africa looked like she needed a smile, so I gave her one and asked her how she was doing. She told me she felt like crying for the last few days because her life is a mess. I told her I was so sorry, but I was glad she was here today so I could see her beautiful smile. She got teary eyed, thanked me, and sat a little straighter.

I don’t write this to toot my horn. I fail more often than not at caring for those who I come in contact with. But this week, I’ve noticed on more than one occasion how much people like it when I use their name, when I smile and say thank you, and when I tell them how much I appreciate them.

That may be my theme for this year. Or better yet, maybe that needs to be my theme for the rest of my life. Give encouragement when I can, put others above myself, smile, even when I don’t feel like it. Go on. Give it a try. You’ll find the reward is far greater than anything you’ve experienced yet.

***

CopelandphotoJoi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom and also enjoys spending time with friends over a good cup of coffee or tea. She’s been a Christian for over twenty years. She’s the author of two books, Hope for Tomorrow and Hope for the Journey, and three novellas, Christmas Rayne, Letters of Love, and Sheriff Bride, Rob’s Story. She and her family are hoping to be missionaries in Ireland in July of 2016 where Joi will continue to write novels of hope and redemption.

Let’s talk about this! I think we’d all agree, words have power–the livingbygracepic.jppower to encourage or discourage, to heal or to wound. When has someone said something to you that inspired you, comforted you, or made you feel valued and loved? Share your experiences in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace. (And while you’re on Facebook, make sure to connect with me, because I love making new friends! You can find me HERE.)

Sheriff’s Bride, Rob’s Story:

This is the fourth book in the series. Make sure to read about Rob’s other sisters in Sheriff Bride. Sheriff Bride Jo’s Story, Sheriff Bride Dan’s Story and our final book Sheriff Bride Christmas (The Inside Man)

Sheriff Rob Hardin has a tough job. With her three sisters no longer acting as sheriff along with her, her brother-in-law insists the town hire a deputy. Rob agrees, but reluctantly. Leslie should be a huge help, and it brings her some comfort to know another female will be sharing her living quarters.

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Leslie arrives in Waterhole, but is nothing like Rob expected. Nothing at all! What will happen between the two? Only God can take an unexpected situation and turn it into something neither Rob nor Leslie ever dreamed.

Marriage 101 and Dr. Who

Biblical marriage is meant to be a beautiful thing–a living demonstration of Christ’s love and intimacy for and with the church. But marriage, no matter how blissful, should ever steal our hearts from our true bride groom. Today Joi Copeland shares a truth God showed her through Dr. Who of all things.

Me and Dr. Who by Joi Copeland

DSC_0641“I will not watch Dr. Who.” I told my husband not too long ago. I really should be careful with the words I say. A few weeks later, I found myself totally engrossed with Dr. Who.

I agreed with David Tenant when he said, “I don’t want to go.” I even told him back, “I don’t want you to either.” I really liked him as the Doctor. And then came along Matt and Amelia Pond.

I learned a lot from Amelia, a.k.a. Amy. The way she treated her fiance, Rory, to spend time with the Doctor really bothered me. It’s something that I struggled with for a bit. And then it hit me. Oh, boy, did it hit me.

In my life, don’t I do the same thing to Jesus? Oh, but I do! When I got married, I still spent time with God every morning, went to church, etc. But something, or someone, started to replace my Savior. Chris, my husband. Not because he put himself there, but because I did.

I became infatuated with “all things Chris.” I slowly began to look to my husband to fulfill my deepest needs, desires, and wants. Just like Amy did to the Doctor.

Amelia, the Doctor, and Rory often found themselves in perilous situations. She’d place so much trust and hope in the Doctor that Rory didn’t see the need to help. It was sad, really. At one point, she was stuck in a dark room apart from the guys, talking into a receiver so they could hear her. Rory often wondered if she was referring to him or the Doctor. It was heartbreaking.

Yet, I did the same thing. I looked to Chris to “save” me. It wasn’t healthy, not at all. Jesus is the only one who can save, who can fulfill the deepest places in my heart. He’s the One I ought to look to and to cling to in trying times.

Yes, God wants me to love my husband, and believe me, I 396685_love,jpgdo. I cannot imagine my life without him. Chris is my best friend, my lover, my soul-mate. He’s my confidante, my encourager, my biggest supporter. But he isn’t Jesus, and never will be. He can’t take away my hurt, heal my pain, or save me from my sins. He isn’t my Daddy, my Lord, my King. That place is reserved for Christ and Christ alone.

It took me years to come to grips with this, to realize what a pedestal I placed Chris on. So now, Jesus is back where he belongs, and I’m thankful I not only learned to love Dr. Who, but I learned a valuable lesson from Amelia Pond.

How about you? Who or what have you placed above our Lord? What did it take for you to recognize that and change?

***

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom and also enjoys spending time with friends over a good cup of coffee or tea. She’s been a Christian for over twenty years. She’s the author of two books, Hope for Tomorrow and Hope for the Journey, and three novellas, Christmas Rayne, Letters of Love, and Sheriff Bride, Rob’s Story.

Let’s talk about this. How can putting your spouse above Christ actually harm your marriage? What does that look like, anyway? What does it look like to put Christ first and to rely on Him to fulfill our needs? Do you have any similar stories to share, perhaps of a time when you were looking to get your needs filled in some other way than turning to and drawing near to Christ? How did He bring you back to Himself?

Share your thoughts and stories in the comments before or on Facebook at Living by Grace.