Grace and Focus, two words with a great deal of meaning for me. Two words necessary to accomplish any great feat in life. Two words necessary to sail the ship of my life.

At the beginning of each year, God gives me a word. I usually write it in my journal and don’t think much of it for the rest of the year.

Liberty Clipper, Boston.

Liberty Clipper, Boston.

I always know the word is meant to define the year in some manner, but I’m never sure how.

In 2013, there is no doubt that Grace defined the year in more ways than one. Most predominantly, of course, in the name of my memoir, Sweet Grace.

This year, though, I learned Grace is so much more than I ever dreamed. It’s a little like I was carrying around a little baby named Grace for most of my life. Last year, Grace grew into an accomplished adult with power and movement to impact my life.

Even though my concept was much the same as when I accepted the Grace of God into my life at age 7, the power of Grace was there all along. I just didn’t recognize it.

One monumental aspect of Grace is that it covers all our failures, past, present and future. I was a good Christian, though. So it’s nice that I had Grace, but I didn’t really think I needed it. And that was pride, pure and simple.

Most of my life I put the types of foods I craved over God. My god was indeed my stomach. Many times God told me the way to conquer my super morbid obesity was to stop eating sugar, eat more lean meats, fruits and vegetables and eat less bread.

I had asked Him what to do, He told me and I ignored Him. That is the simplest explanation of sin: disregarding a direct answer from God.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but God’s Grace was at work all those years. By His Grace I am alive today, have lost weight and am following His suggestions.

I discovered a brand new aspect of Grace I wasn’t even aware existed. I call it the wind at my back.

It became aware of it when I surrendered my will and laid down the thing I craved. I repented by turning around and going towards life and away from death. I continued the journey walking step by step, choice by choice.

When I was walking slowly, but surely towards death, I felt as if I was slogging through mud. When I turned around and began walking towards life, I felt the powerful breath of God’s Grace like wind billowing out the sails on a ship. And I knew I was headed in the right direction.

It wasn’t easy because sailing never is, but it so much more graceful with Him propelling me forward. This says it much more eloquently. “We have forgiveness for our failures based on His overflowing Grace which He poured over us with wisdom and understanding,” Ephesians 1:7-8, CEB. Ah, Grace.

That’s why I’m so excited about Focus, my word for this year. Focus begins in God. I’m 100 percent committed to getting to know Him in a deeper more profound way.

It’s interesting when I Focus, really Focus on God, time stands still and a closeness descends blanketing out everything else around me. I can sail through stormy seas and across calm waters, when I focus on Him.

That’s why I’m accepting a challenge to blog every day this month. Even as I write these words I look at my January schedule and I know I must be crazy.  However in my quiet time when I asked God how I could get closer to Him, He gave me a plan. And since I ignored the other major plan He gave me, I paid close attention to this one.

He said read His Word, pray and journal 500 words a day. I sensed they did not have to be published words, but I should make that a goal. Then today, I opened up Jeff Goins’ email challenging writers to blog 500 words a day for the month of January. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think it’s a challenge I am going to try to keep.

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Here’s the direction my Focus will be taking this month. “Focus your eyes straight ahead; keep your gaze on what’s in front of you,” Proverbs 4:25 MSG.

Onward to whatever 2014 brings. I will Focus with the sweet breath of God’s Grace moving me forward.


Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying To Earn God’s Favor is available on Amazon by going HERE. The companion book, Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Food Addiction are available HERE.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.