Saturday, December 31, 2011

A moment between an old time and a new one!

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I spent a lot of my day in solitude and quietness... pondering, and wondering, and revisiting, and reflecting. I've been thinking and remembering back on my last year, the 365 days that have passed. And as I was flipping through the cyber pages of the thoughts that I'd posted... I realized how much that I didn't write opposed to what I did. There's so much more that I didn't pen. That I didn't say. In the midst of so much hardness and sorrow, I failed to be able to mention or elaborate much in the midst of its hurt. I kept its horror covered and protected, like with a hand over a wound; I couldn't expose it, nor fully open myself up to its bleed. In my suffering, I stayed hidden under the cover and couldn't completely reveal my naked self and its feelings. As I said a couple of times throughout, there was still some things of which I couldn't speak!


I may have hinted at it. Touched at it maybe? But in my beaten-upness, I dared not expose the raw-ness and total real. I noticed my silence in March and April and most of May. And my barely being audible still in June and July and August. If truth be told, it's still hard to write.... it's as if my feelings want to shut down or hide... or simply they want to turn down the volume. They're afraid to be seen. They'd rather attempt to numb themselves than to expose the awfulness of what they really feel. Even the super highs were hard to tell. 


It's a wild wonder that I now hold in my mind in this moment. As we close this door to our 2011.... I'm almost afraid to open the door to our year of 2012. For I know that once opened, we can't stop what we've opened it up to. And as our Lord knows, we can't peek inside it to see what in advance that our new year holds. It doesn't give us a choice to chose.


Had I known all of my 2011 prior to it happening... had I known it as I held my hand on the door to open it....... I couldn't have! I wouldn't have! I'd have held it tight! I would have kept it closed! I would have locked myself on the other side of it, if there had been any way, if it had been possible. And yet, look at all that I would have missed! In this midst of some much hard, God provided and gave so much GOoD! Reading back over all that I've written, I was blown away again by His all-over-it-ness! His impossiblenesses! His wonderfulnesses! His so often blowing my mind up! His constant sweet and unexpected surprises! I have to say to Him, Lord, I bow...and in humbleness, I cannot thank You enough!


Truth be told, even though wondering, I'm excited to put an end to this year. I'm super excited about starting a new one! Every now and then, we just need new! I'm ready for it! I've been anticipating it! I hope it holds all sorts of surprises! The good kind! HaPpY ones!  Ones full of joy! Ones that are held forever in memories! And awed about long after they've occurred! He "knows the plans" He has for us.... plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future!


Well.. ready or not, here it comes! On with it then! Cheers to the old... and cheers to the new... Now let's let the new year begin..... And may I see You this year, Lord, more vividly than I have ever in my life seen You before!
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Friday, December 30, 2011

There's a snake in the pond... but wings of protection there too! (05/06/07)

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I have been time-traveling! I spent last weekend in the year 2007... and 2008. It's been a wild and interesting walk down Memory Lane! Already I had forgotten so much of it. But looking back, boy, I was messed up! A basket-case! Goodness, at the whine I wailed because of the sorrow and sadness inside! I was in a spiritual battle of the worst kind! It knocked me crazy, left me wounded, and hurt like hel... well, you know where!

My! I didn't realize how pitiful I was. How ferocious the battle was. How far it took me down. How I didn't think I'd ever get back up again.

It's amazing at what the enemy will use to hit you. It's amazing the scheme of his plan, his methodical thinking, and how very clever and good he is at wounding you with the fiery darts that he carefully aims and shoots you with in hopes to shoot you down.

I didn't expect it. I didn't see it coming. I had never been more enamored and in love with my Savior. There is no way you could have told me that what hit me would have hit me and knocked me as hard as it did and would leave me wounded and writhing. I felt sorry for myself just while reading all of the old things about it that I'd written in the midst of it. Bless my heart! That was true anguish I suffered! I am truly a picture today of the binding up of the broken-hearted that Jesus came to bind!

It simply started with a phone call...... and from there it took me years to recoup and heal from that call! Talk about being "sifted as wheat"! My goodness, that was a true straining and sifting! After that, it's a wonder that there's anything left of me at all!

Without my seeing the true significance, God warned me of it coming. And, too, without me totally grasping the meaning of the picture, He showed me that He would protect me, as well. It wasn't easy. And it was LONG! But, wow, looking back on this side of it.... woe, my Savior is GOoD!

Before the battle had truly begun... when I was just barely on the tip of the iceburg of what was about to happen... when I only thought that the battle was fierce (having no clue of how fierce it'd get), God gave me a visual to hang on to. Wow! What kind of God is He that He would do that! 

Here is a copy of an email that I sent to a friend sharing my wonder of what God had just done. This is in the earliest throes of the war... when the battle had actually only barely just begun.


05/06/07

Shew. Huge day! Guess what?

A lot of my day happened before I saw the picture at all. But then when done, wow, for it seems to hold such meaning.

I went to the pond to feed all my critters. My feelings were hurt. I cried a whole lot. Basically because of the "snake in the pond" that slithered into the midst of my fun in the past two days that I had been there. Both a physical snake... and a spiritual one.

I don't like calling and labeling my "friend" a "snake." I was thinking of that while I sat there. I don't like him pictured that way. And then I thought, "our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against......." And it made me feel somewhat better. Because I know that my battle is not against him. Surely he hasn't meant to come in as something evil. I surely don't think that was his intention at all. Honestly, I think he felt a bit lost... and somehow and for some reason I felt safe to him in some weird sort of way. Perhaps he is getting caught by the evils of this dark world and the power under its deceit innocently enough, as well?..... if you can call it that. For lack of a better way to know how to say it, that's the best way that I know how to at the moment.

Anyway, I was irritated as I went to do what I so enjoy doing (feeding my creatures), because I constantly had to look around to see if I saw the enemy slithering back up close to me again. What was he doing in my garden? It was so eerie. And it made me mad. With every head that popped up (which normally I so enjoy seeing), I looked to see if it had a hard back attached to it, or if it trailed a long tail. Ugh, I hate snakes. And this one seems especially evil and mean. I hate the visual, the picture, it seems to portray! I hate the symbolism it seems to bear. 

I even woke up thinking of it this morning. And I woke to this Scripture rolling in my mind over and over again, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." I'm sure you'll believe it when I tell you that the very first email that I opened this morning was this very same verse!!!!

There were a ton of geese at the pond today opposed to my normal mom and pop and six duckling family, plus two ducks on the side. A flock of them had evidently flown in from somewhere last night. They are not my most favorite to feed. I know you already know that it's the turtles that I favor so much. But because of the 6 babies and all of the envaders of the land, mom and pop were mad too! Fit to be tied would be more like it. They sqawked and honked and kept flying at the other geese to run them away. Then they would come flying back to their babes with heads held really low to the water as they did their slide on the surface leaving a great wake. I'd say that they had their ears back,  because it surely appeared that they did, only they don't have the ears to hold back.... Even so, it still looked like it, because it was so evident that they were ferociously mad at the enemies that had come into their territory.

After a few minutes it dawned on me of how preciously sweet it was that mom and pop were so furious in their protection of their children. They weren't tolerant of the enemy at all! They had no patience! Gave them no lee-way. They were not in the mood to be messed with when it came to their babes. That's so like God. I so feel His protection over me. I so feel His Fatherly fury at the enemy that dares to come close to threaten. I thoroughly enjoyed the geese after that and tried to feed them extra because of the hard work that they were doing in keeping their babies protected and safe (because they kept having to do it over and over again... running the enemy off each time the enemy flew back). I think God wanted me to see the picture. I think He wanted me to know how much He cared and to what extent He'd go to in order to protect me from the enemies that lurk and desire to have me.

I was almost finished feeding... when guess who came from out of his hiding? I saw him slither out from that same place and swim to the midst of my world, then back to the rocks on the land on my opposite side. Ugh! What is that? What is he doing???? It's like he's doing it on purpose! And so trying to say something and make his point loud. And oh my! Cause I soooo feel there's a deeper greater uglier meaning. UGH! But then after the picture of the mom and pop in their protection of their babes, I felt so much safer somehow.

I almost missed it though! I almost didn't see it! But the mom and pop continued to run off the other geese over and over and over again each time they came. They flap and fly and squawk them off, then come landing back on the water with a force that had them sliding deep and going far with a mad-look on their faces at anybody getting close to threaten their kids. Finally, I so saw what God was trying to show me! I had almost missed it. I wasn't even looking. You know why? Because I had my eye so focused on watching out for the enemy, looking around to see if and when he'd come, that I had forgotten to see my Savior watching me and trying to protect me from what the enemy's come for in his hope to "devour" me.

How's that for a Savior speaking to His saved one? How's that for a Father speaking love to His child!
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Trusting still.. when we can't make things make sense.

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Faith...


It's impossible to please God without it (Heb 11:6).

Faith is still trusting God even when we don't understand Him.
Faith is more consumed in our wonder of Him, more than our wonder of whatever is bugging us.

Sometimes I think we think that we might be a better God. Because on some things (like healing those that I love, etc), I'd do things differently if I were God and God wasn't Him.

So... am I thinking that I know better than He does? Do I think I love  more? That I'm more compassionate? That my heart is more tendered than His is?

We'll never understand everything. This world isn't Heaven, it'll never be perfect here. Tears will still fall. People will still hurt. People will still die. We'll never be able to prevent it.

John the Baptist didn't understand it himself. He'd been telling people ("calling out in the desert") that Jesus had come to set the captives free.... and then he was thrown into prison. Surprisingly to John, Jesus didn't come to save him, to free him, to release him, to break his shackles, to open his gate. So he send some of his followers to Jesus asking Jesus if He really was the One he'd been telling people that He was? Or, he wondered, should I be looking for somebody else?

Hmmm.... we're quick to want to find another 'savior' when ours fails to save us, aren't we? When we don't understand His not saving? When He doesn't save us in the way we want. When we feel He's failed His job and His reason. When we feel He's not doing what He ought to. What we think makes sense to. But even more, when we think it doesn't make sense at all for Him not to!

Jesus said in response to John the Baptist's wonder, "Blessed are those who aren't offended by Me."

I guess we'll all be tempted to be offended.

Will we let it offend? Or simply still believe... still trust... still know that He knows even when we don't? And know that He'll always care (regardless!) way more than we ever, ever, ever could!


The question remains: Can we trust Him? Will we trust Him? Do we trust Him? No matter. Always. Even if ___. Even when ___. He created us. He made us. He provides for us. He sent His Son to die to save us. He loves us. He knows us. He pursues us. Over and over again He forgives us. He accepts us, chose us, defends us, fights for us, shields us, delivers us, restores, renews, and redeems us, He heals us, He helps us, He _________ us............... He's well worthy of our trust.
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Where's your look looking?

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looking
It started out as a promising thing. A fun thing. Exciting! A bit of an adventure. 


That was on the way to....


But!


On the way from? It was totally different. The excitement gone! The fun depleted. The promising of it, no longer promising. The thrill sucked out. My bubble popped. Cruelly so. Hope was lost. It was doomy and gloomy and depressing. I wanted only to go home and go to bed, pulling all of the covers over my head.


And so. I did.


That's when God kept saying to me (saying all through the night), "Sharon, look at Me! Where are you looking? Why are you looking at that? Look at Me! See Me, and quit glaring at that. Quit scrutinizing your problem. Keep your face focused on Mine." And then every time my face would turn again to that other thing or something else, He'd say, "You're looking at what you can see, Sharon! I'm GOD! LOOK at Me!"


He had been teaching me different scriptures that I had been enamored with. And yet, enamored for all the wrong reasons. I loved what it/He said. I loved the emphasis of them. I couldn't wait to share it. And yet, I didn't realize the distance I'd put between me and Him saying it specifically to me. That is, UNTIL I heard Him echoing it inside my mind all during the night as I tried sleeping and kept loosing my look. 


He spent the night saying, "Pay attention! Listen to Me! Change your look! Where in the world is your look looking? I AM GOD! Be still! And KNOW, Sharon! I'm GOD!"


"I'm God...!"


"I'M GOD!"


Over and over again He'd remind me to fix my face (Heb 12:2-3)! I didn't hear Him audibly, but in my spirit I could hear Him say clearly, "I told you not to look there," because I'd focus on Him for a second, but quickly turn my head to what my thoughts kept thinking. And wildly, because He kept reminding me of it, I realized what I was doing while I was doing it. It was weird! And the battle was fierce. I wanted to analyze what had happened. I wanted to feel sorry for myself. I wanted to scrutinize it. I wanted to build my case. I looked for every wrong I could find to magnify my feeling. All the while conscience of Him fighting for my face!


He kept reminding me of Scripture. He kept giving me the answers. He kept telling me the solutions. He kept telling me what to do!


It was so ridiculous! It could have been so simple. He was right! He was so right! He is so right! Of course, we know, He's always right. He so knows what He's telling us. He so knows what He's talking about. He knows what works. He's for us and not against! He knows what will heal, what will help, what will quit, what will stop, what will trump and overcome our battles inside. If only we always would "listen"... "pay attention"... and follow (do!) what He's saying to us! It was true, my countenance was happier, my attitude healthier, my mood better when it was His face that I had my look fixed upon. All the while though, the enemy kept fighting, too, for my look!


"If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, you heals you." (Exo 15:26).


"but I gave them this command: Obey Me, and I will be your God and you will be My people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward... day after day, again and again I sent you My servants the prophets. But they did not listen to Me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers." (Jer 7:23-26)


"From the time I brought your forefathers up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, "Obey Me." But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts..." (Jer 11:7,8).


"Hear and pay attention, do not be arrogant, for the LORD has spoken." (Jer 13:15).


"Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.' But they would not listen or pay attention to Me, declares the Lord." "... they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped their ears." (Zec 1:4; 7:11)


If you think about it, weigh it, consider it... you'll discover that the reality is that so much of our mood or our trouble or our problem is caused (and kept there) by a mere look. Even with our eyes closed, we'll find ourselves "looking" / watching / seeing / thinking about / scrutinizing something. We're rarely truly stayed "still"! Our body's may be, but our minds can be complete and utter turmoil! In total chaos and running wildy! Yet if we truly fix our faces upon our Savior's it'd uplift our countenances and keep us equipped and encouraged. It'd "still" us, as He wants and He's told us to be! "Be still, and know," He says, "I am God." But too often we call ourselves "still" and we don't "know" Him, but we "No" Him instead because we're refusing all that He's saying! 


Be careful with your "look"... and don't let every little nit-picky thing have such control and turn your sweet head!


P.S. God has recently been working with me on this before (See here), but I evidently don't learn lessons quickly, because He's been trying to teach me this lesson for years!


It's simple: fix your face! And keep it fixed there. Let nothing tear your face away from His!
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

A scrambled up head?

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I evidently write a lot, regardless if I have the time to finish the thoughts for an actual posting or not. Looking back over them now I saw that I have 187 drafts in the works!!! Let me say that once again, I have one-hundred-and-eighty-seven drafts in the works! :) Things that I started and for some reason stopped before I completed them, or simply failed to "publish" them... drafts with titles like:

  • It's not worth the hurry!
  • I couldn't shut my mind up!
  • Tenjooberrmuds???
  • My dog missed me too!
  • Why Sarah? And not Abraham?
  • He pursued his brother!
  • working... rats...
  • What do you do in the Mean-time?
  • Are you helping? Or are you enabling?
  • Your letter!
  • For girls only! Graphic details.
  • The wild thing about it.
  • Are you suffering from....
  • The first thing he did.
  • Do you need to get rid of a lot?
  • A fork in the road
  • Being in~visible
  • lQQk!
  • I'm a security threat? Seriously?
  • Seeking a high!
  • Who would have "thunk" it?!
  • Fear... FULL!
  • The Jelly-Belly Battle!
  • Be angry and...
  • Called into work on vacation. It happens.
  • I'm a different dresser than I used to be
  • Often easier said than done
  • The obstacle might not be him. Yikes! It just might be ME...
  • We lost a lot, but not one drop of blood.
  • 20 plus years with Prince Charming
  • My "im"possible is His "Him" possible!
  • What if Faith dies?
  • The call of an "all but"
  • The difference between hope and faith.
  • I'm moving on...
  • Time traveling... again?... without knowing I was headed in that direction
  • Just a lot of stuff, not big stuff, just crazy stuff..
  • Abraham in class tonight
  • There's a snake in the pond... but wings of protection
  • He's chosen me!
  • Dis-tracted! It doesn't take much to turn our heads.
  • Scared.... but believing!
  • Don't take another step!
  • A stayed mind?
  • Wow, I'm not Jesus!
  • Sulking in sorrow... and enjoying the stay there!
  • A mixed up world!
  • A will is not a might!
  • Where will you take them?
  • A teeny tiny glimpse (after He's chosen me)
  • Sometimes our sayer shouldn't be saying
  • Can I honor that?
  • Please forgive me... I'm just having a 'how did I get there' moment!
  • You throwed up!
  • Who's for lunch?
  • A "culture of sorrow" (as Melissa called it)
  • A task too big!
  • Yep! Big things! Small things! In-between things!
  • Do you really read the same book everyday?
  • Be still and know!
  • I see beautiful different than I used to
  • As I began my day...
  • I'm trying to live beyond myself!
  • Fired-Up!
  • Trapped!
  • Again?
  • Evil... used for His Glory
  • See the tool as a tool
  • I wouldn't trade 'em for the world!
  • It's not the time we thought... it's a different time
  • I don't know my 'nother name
  • Thinking about running away... do you want to come?
  • Kyle Lake's last Sermon
  • Dear Egg-Head
  • Lessons from a Lego
  • We create our own boxes
  • Which button would you press?
  • I don't care who you are.
  • Shooshy...
  • "I'm waiting on You." "No. I'm waiting on you."
  • "Mom, the joy of the Lord is your strength!"
  • Love. Period. Love. We're called to love. Love. Period!
  • The battle rages....
  • Are you sure?
  • Woman, why are you crying?
  • What's your "this"?
  • If He can?
  • What's the "lying" saying to you?
  • He's always saving me from something
  • I don't know that there's a greater gift than prayer
  • Drinking... and how the enemy wants to use it
  • For Heaven's sake DON'T WATER IT!
  • Jars of clay
  • Will you really?
  • Do you see what I see?
  • Thank FULL!
  • It's just another day
  • Call me!
  • Being "found out"
  • Don't they know I cry too?
  • Bells! One word can open a whole box of wonder!
  • When words won't say
  • The power of a mood!
  • When people you know become people you knew
  • Ow! Ow! Ow! That hurt!
  • Wait for it... Wait for it...
  • I do...
  • So sweet... and sudden scares!
  • They're not going to believe me
  • My morning was wild.
  • Is it right?
  • Oh... this is funny!
  • Questions!
  • A closed door
  • Crying....
  • I've been a mad woman...
  • He couldn't let it go.
  • You're to HELP your brother!
  • The whoa of God's Word!
  • Quit biting! You'll devour each other!
  • Our battle is not against flesh and blood
  • Just KNOW!
  • HaPpY BIRTH day!
  • I MISS seeing this car in my drive!
  • I wanted to cry...
  • Do you think the guise of pretension  excuses us?
  • E.O.S.ing... next Sunday! Going home after 15 years!
  • Oh how sweet! How precious to me!
  • A traveler of time (pt 1) Where am I? Which time am I in?
  • A traveler of time (pt 2) It's harder than you think
  • A traveler of time (pt 3) One minute I'm fine, the next, I'm somewhere else.
  • A traveler of time (pt 4) Dead things aren't always continuously dead.
  • "Oh? So there is hope?"
  • I don't want to be friends with it!
  • I can't wait! I WANT TO SEE HER!
  • When love grows cold
  • Anticipating a: Miqreh Qarah!
  • A puppet for evil
  • Oh no! I've locked my keys in my vehicle!
  • Was it worth it?
  • Oops! NOT a good idea! DON'T TURN there!
  • "He may be bad, but he's mine!"
  • Week on...
  • The Signature of the Spirit
  • Seems like the world would stop a minute.
  • Don't look down!
  • I don't know the how.. but I know the Who!
  • Imagination... a made-up mind!
  • Lying in bed thinkin....
  • What would who say about you?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Arrgh... it's all I can think of!
  • They're everywhere!... when you open your eyes to see them
  • Ow! That hurt!
  • You just rang a bell you can't unring.
  • "Hey baby!"
  • Woe! The plunge was DEEEEP!
  • What a fascinating day it's been!
  • Big girl panties
  • I need a dress!
  • I need food!
  • What died... and what direction did you go with it?
  • How embarrassing! But. apology excepted!
  • God defend New Zealand!
  • Where's you look looking?
  • Six days????
  • Trusting still... when we can't make things make sense
  • This is for you.
  • Only this much.
  • Woe.. I wish I hadn't started that!


Bless my heart, it sounds like I've got such a crooked head! :) And just maybe, perhaps before more writing, I need to go through some old drafts, and either post some... or weed some of them out instead?? But you know, as much as I had written, there's so much more that I wish I had! So many recent things too precious not to pen! Though I didn't have the time to, nor the words perfect enough to tell of it. My heart's been so full! Its feelings have felt so big! As huge as it's been and as much as it's tendered and as deep as it's touched, I've not been able to tell of the sweetness of the inmates in the prisons this season! I so often get in my car to leave their caged places and either grin all the way home... or cry at the pure awe of God's great goodness! What an honor I'm given there! What a privilege! I cannot thank my God enough for blessing me so with those precious people! They make my heart soar! Oh Lord, I thank you so much!


And now... I think I'll go "weed"!

Whoa! What's it's hurry!

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Wow. Christmas comes. And it goes!!! Very rapidly. Hurriedly... as if it's running from or to something. Or, as if it's running a race. It whisks in... in what seems like a minute... and it whisks out even faster. Before you're able to catch it, or hold it, or enjoy it too long, it's been here, and it's gone............ It was good. And I miss it already.


The tinsel, the tree, the twinkling, the lights, the ornaments, the shopping, the wrapping, the packages, the food, the feast!, the bellies left stuffed full and jingling, the carols being sung, the bells being rung, the chestnuts roasting by open fires...................


Okay. So truth be told, we didn't have any roasting chestnuts on our fire. And in all honesty, we've never had such. BUT, the song sings it and it seemed fitting to print it here. Basically, because for some strange reason, of all the Christmas songs this season, that one stuck in my mind this year. I bet I've sung those lines in my mind a thousand times ("Chestnuts roasting by the open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Yule tide carols being sung by the choir. And folks dressed up like Eskimos. Everybody knows.........."). Strange how one song will stick... even when, if you had thought about it, if asked, it wouldn't be the song that you'd pick.....


We had a sweet Christmas this year. Simple. Different. We broke all tradition, except going to my mom's.... and that almost didn't happen. It was a last minute change of plans. Daddy wasn't there. We noticed his absence. It was huge! Loud! Very evident! Very felt! Extremely noticed! And yet, even in our missing of him, I think we were more thankful this year (because of him) for those we still had. (God definitely has a way of working things out like that.)


We had that "lots and lots and lots of the Presence" that I'd hoped and asked for! God showed up and made it happen in the surprising (last minute) ways that He does! Yes, I already said it was sweet... but truly, I can't tell you how sweet it really was.


It's been a challenging year. A painful one. And in that, there's more beauty found in the simple, the little things, the things that are at other times often left for granted. I think it's that "joy cometh in the morning" (Ps 30:5) kind of a thing.... And yet, every time I hear or think of that verse I see it as, 'joy cometh in the mourning'...... because wildly, somehow, most times, it does. There's a tendered sweetness that often come out in the suffering. Perhaps that's God's "very present help in times of trouble" (Ps 46:1) showing out?! :) And too, another verse that seems evident is, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matt 5:4).


One observation that was new to me this year from all the years past was this: With every next Christmas you have every one of the old ones come back to visit. They "present" themselves all over again, as if wrapped up again for you to reopen it. I realized that I had only had 48. Not so many. This year's made my 49th! And my kids.... they've only had 17, and 18, and 21. I wanted to know what they remembered of their Christmas' past??? (They've been such fun! We've been so blessed!) And it's made me want to remember forever to make each Christmas wonderfully memorial! An exciting memory to be reunwrapped and remembered each year upon the next new Christmas morn. (Matter of fact, now that I think about it, I think I recently posted about this thinking before. Funny! Ummm... if so, forgive me, I obviously found myself sitting here unwrapping the already unwrapped already again!)


I'm not sure what your Christmas was like. But even if not a gift was received or was given, we've already been given the Ultimate Gift! Our Christ came! Our Messiah! Our Lord! Our Jesus! Our Savior! Our Deliverer! Our Redeemer! What more do we need? Dare we ever forget the real reason for the season and all that we've already been and continue to be given!


Remember... and sing with me: "Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing.......................... " "O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie, Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the stars go passing by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above. While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love. O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the King and peace to men on earth.........." "The first Noel the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep, on a cold winter's night that was so deep. Noel Noel Noel Noel, Born is the King of Israel......"


BIG SMILE!!!!!!!!!!!! Because now THAT'S a memory!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

I want presents!!! Lots! And loTS! And LOTS of presents.!

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I told the girls in prison last night that when asked, my normal response to "What do you want for Christmas?" is "Oh please, I don't want you to get me anything." I'm normally so into the season of giving, that that's where the thrill  comes from.... it's much more exciting than getting.


But this year it's different. I told them that I told God the other day (and I've told Him several times since) that, "I want lots! I wants lots and lots and lots and LOTs of presents! I want so many presents! I want LOTS and LOTS and LOTS!" They laughed. I'm sure, if they could, they'd like lots of presents too!


And yet, it's not the "presents" (as in gifts) kind of a thing that I'm asking for. I've been asking Him for lots and lots and loads of loads of... not "presents"... but "Presence"! Lord, I want Your Presence! I want lots and lots of Presence this year! Simply put, I want Him! I want to feel Him! I want the thrill and knowing and filling and feeling of His Presence! There's nothing that compares! There's nothing like it! It's the ultimate gift! The ultimate "Present"! Him! Him being The Present by being Present!


I reminded them of the verse in Psalm 46:1, that He is "a very Present Help in times of trouble." And I reminded them, too, of Psalm 139:16 that tells us that "every day ordained for us was written in His Book before any one of them came to be." The New Living Translation words it, "Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." I love those verses... I write of them often.


And with the memory, I often ask God, "every one of them, Lord? Every day? This one too?"


I told the girls that. And then I said that December 25, 2011 of this year (if we live til then) was also written in His Book. He knew where they'd be and why. He knew how they'd feel and what they'd do. And He wrote what He had "ordained" for them, whether they choose to do such or not. And in what He'd fashioned to happen and written, I told them that I doubt it was for them to have a pity party for themselves in prison. I doubt He'd want them moping and sad and feeling sorry for themselves. I imagine, instead, that He'd like to give them lots and lots and lots and lots of Presence! I imagine that He'd like to not only give His Presence to them in abundance, but for Him to give His Presence through them to others that also were "troubled" and in need of His gift! 


I told them to receive lots of Presence.... because He's living inside them if they are His. And not only to receive His Presence.... but to BE His Presence to every inmate around them. They can have a sweeter Christmas this year than they've ever had before, by focusing on Him and the real reason for the season, instead of obsessed and focusing on self and what we can get. Can you imagine the look on our Father's face while He watches them from the Heavens showing His glory through His Presence this year if they'll let Him?!


Immanuel... "God with us"..... And because of the victory on the cross, now Him IN us! Present! Very Present! Presence! How gifted we are this year!


May we feel His Presence... and be His Presence..... and because of that, may the world shine brighter around us this year!
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

He LOVES us! He'll NEVER let go!!!

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Wooo!... I LOVE this!!!!!! It's one of my VERY FAVORITESTs FAVORITE songs EVER!!! And then the message that is added to it... WOW! It leaves me speechless at the faithfulness of God despite our unfaithfulness! I love HIS determined and persistent pursuit of us!!!!!!!!!!!! Who could ever imagine the God that loves us like He does???!!!!!!!!!!!


Can you hear God say (as John Piper said) and see Him pointing to you? "I want that man in My family! I'll do anything to get him in My family! I will pay for him to be in My family with My Son's life!" That's love folks! That is mega, off the charts, love!


And then Matt Chandler reminds us when we think God surely doesn't mean me and all my stuff, "God knew you were going to be messy. God knows that you're going to screw up often. He knows that you're going to be drawn to things that are wicked. He knows. That's what the cross is all about. That's the whole point of the cross... is that you're going to fail, and you're going to stumble... and you're going to feel dirty... and you're going to feel awkward. The whole point of Christ's cross is that there be this mighty picture of His love and pursuit of you... despite you."


Bottom line: He loves us! He loves us! Oh, how He loves us!!!! No matter what, and who, and how, and why, and when.... He loves us even then. He loves us before and during and after! He loves us still! And He keeps fighting to win and to free us. Again, He's faithful... even when we're not. He's fighting, even when we don't. He's pursuing, even when we're running from His pursuit. He doesn't give up. He never lets go. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us......So, what in the world will you do with a God that loves you like that??????????? 
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's all in a lQQk!

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Life is so confusing, Lord. So complicated at times. So crazy. A lot of dance. A lot of sidesteps. A lot of one step forward and two steps back. A lot of twirl, stayed still in the same spot. A lot of progression. And lot of backward. A lot of fast forward. Pause. Rewind. Replay. Sometimes slo mo. A lot of emotion. A lot of feeling. Sometimes all those feelings felt in the very same day. Sometimes, perhaps, all those same feelings felt all at the very same time.


Anything can prompt it. Anything can push you forward or knock you back. Anything can send you time traveling. Anything can spin you to spiraling. Anything can hit... hard... and unexpected... and knock you out of place. It doesn't take more than a mere second for something to knock you down. Or even another thing, to quickly (in a lickety split minute) to pick you back up. A mood can swing to polar opposites faster than liquid can spill from a cup.... and even without being forewarned that the mood's about to be changed to radically DIFFERENT!


Like gears on a stick shift, glad can be popped into sad... or mad if you gear it just right. And then the next several (who knows how many actually?) miles will be driven by the gear that it's been shifted into. So. Sometimes we get really tired of the Yo-Yo.... and we decide to quit letting the mood steer and drive us. We do just as Jesus has said, we accept the His Word that's been implanted in us that can save us!! We "take every thought captive" and make it obedient to what He's commanded. We renew the mind. And we remind ourselves that the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control... and that we have our God's same Spirit, that Spirit lives inside us, and with His "in" He enables and empowers us! We don't have to be swayed by every blow of the wind. We don't have to be tossed back and forth by the gusts that attempt to cause such turmoil. We let Jesus peace our storm... even while it still rages. And we have the joy of the Lord living inside us, strengthening us despite our flesh nature's weakness.


Goodness! Looking at the icon-ed faces that I pictured above to depict a visual of our faces in our moods. the one thing I noticed about each one... is where the eyes lQQk! Woo... it's a great reminder to keep our faces focused and fixed only on our Savior's (Don't let any other thing TURN YOUR HEAD!), and in our doing so, it'll totally change our lQQks (meaning what our faces lQQk like because of where our faces are lQQking)!!!! :)


What are we thinking by letting every lQQk of the moment control our mood? No wonder we're so tired by the end of the day. No wonder we're so exhausted and worn out. No wonder we're so short tempered. The constant swinging of our heads have mingled our minds to mush!


No more! Let's FIX our lQQks!
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The answer's in the "DO"!

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It's a huge scripture. One that comes to mind a lot. One that I've taught on often. One that is profound and makes perfect sense. One whose equation equals perfection... fulfillment.. satiation... satisfaction.

So why today did I grow so much bigger? More profound? More wow?

Why was I so much more woe-ed in it's wonder?

I don't know. But it did. And I am. I am totally blown away by it's simplicity and it's solution!

It's said in two different places. It starts the verse in both Psalm 34:14 and Psalm 37:27 and says:

 "Turn from evil and do good."


Turn.... depart from.... remove.... put away..... put aside.... leave undone.... retract..... reject.... avoid...... get away.... withdraw..... escape!

It's not hard to grasp. When you see evil, hear evil, taste evil, sense evil, feel evil, do evil, are tempted by evil, know evil is near... STOP! Turn from the way that you're heading. Get out of the way. Run. Think fast. Be quick on your feet. And escape from that trap.

But wait!

Turning from it or avoiding it or leaving it undone isn't enough.

We often "turn" from the evil that lurks... but we fail to complete the rest of the work. We forget the second part's solution. We forget the "and do good." And we're often found falling because of our failure "to do" the "do" and the "good" that we're told to!


Turn from evil and DO g-o-o-d. DO something for someone else. Say a kind word. Take some soup to a sick neighbor. Share your sandwich with one that doesn't have one..........


It doesn't matter what the "good" that you do is... just DO something rather than leaving the second half of the verse undone! I promise you'll feel better. Your turning from evil will bring some feel good, but the DOing good will fill your feeling even fuller!
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I saw God today

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In a world that pretty much always doubts. A world where it seems everything fails and nothing works out. In a world that mostly refuses to hope, because hope "never happens," so it's too painful to. In a world where you feel worthless and nobody much really ever cares for you. God happened! And it was priceless seeing Him and watching Him work.

My goodness at the forces that were working against us. But I saw God today! He came! And we visited Him in prison. And the even sweeter part of that is, is that HE visited us!


It was a somber day. A down-casted one (and I'm talking their faces, not the outside weather). It was sad. Serious. Tender. Painful. Wretching. Raw. Real. The mood was as serious as a heart-attack. Hearts were being laid open. Bleeding. Pounding. Convulsing. Not a dry eye in the room. A room bulging with feeling.


That's when she stood. She's old. Black. Grey. Been there for too many years for her fingers to count the years on. She stood. Opened her mouth. And sang (in the sweetest old black woman's voice): "Oh Lord prepare me... To be a sanctuary... Pure and holy... Tried and true... And with thanksgiving... I'll be a living... Sanctuary... For you....."


Woe... just sit back and ponder those words (each word!) for a second! Prepare me, Lord! Doing whatever it takes to! To be pure and holy. Try me til true!!! And no matter the pain, no matter the fire, no matter the process, I'll thank You until Your success. Make ME a SANCTUARY, Lord, that houses only YOU! (Woo... and sang from the lips and the heart of an old quivering black woman's voice housed inside a Maximum Security Prison. Try that on for size and try to contain yourself while not only hearing it, but feeling it while watching its feeling!)


I saw Jesus in her. And I saw her in Him. And hearts were healed today because of the powerful way and in the humbleness in which our God showed Himself! And in His reminder that in everything He does and is doing, He's still very much at His work!
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seasoned... just right!

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Seasons and their cycles.... I was thinking: one season brings death, in order for another to bring life to another (there's been a LOT of dying in my life this year!). 


Summer / Fall / Winter / Spring........ It's a cycle put into orbit by our very Creator for a very created purpose! SUMMER's heat often brings about the needed FALL of what must fall to the ground, WINTER's cold brings death to that fallen thing.... then the rains come... and with it comes the SPRINGing to life of something more beautiful than our minds could even fathom. We fight our deaths in our not wanting to die over something that needs to...... not realizing that there's Life that's held inside that very thing that needs to die and that we can't get to it without it's dying. Even our Savior first died to save, so that He could bring Life through His death.

I've decided that I truly want to be seasoned as I need to be. Seasoned just right... Seasoned to perfection.... Seasoned til finished..... to be used powerfully by my Lord... in whatever way He sees fit to! 


Lord, season me..... to make me beautifully fruit-full!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

There's more... My God likes to say and so sometimes keeps on saying!

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Woe, at the blessing of God's Word! I love how He talks. I love hearing Him say something, without knowing He's fixing to say! (If you'll look back (click here), I just talked upon this subject yesterday.... but evidently God had more saying...)

And so He continues to say to me this morning...  when I wasn't even looking.

Okay. I was looking. But that's not what I was looking for. I was studying about one thing... but then, my Savior pointed and showed me another! :) How's that for The Word Who came in flesh... and still comes in whatever form He decides to send His Word in!

My assignment was to read Matthew 14:22-33. I was studying about "peace." It just "happened" to be where I was in my homework. (Don't you just love how God does this?)

But!

Though I was thrilled with what I was reading because of a gaboodle of other things in my thinking.... God then chooses to reel it on in and speak to my immediate moment of where I am and where I've been... and to get on to me (as in reprimand!) a bit in the process.

:)

The passage mentioned above talks about Peter walking on the water. I'm sure the homework's purpose (which I've been sidetracked and so as of yet have not yet gotten to) was to talk about Jesus "peacing".. or Him stilling the storm.

I was enthralled (again!) by the scriptures that specify that it was when Peter "saw the wind" against him that he began to sink....

Woe! The lesson there is: watch where you're looking! Never take your eyes off your Savior's!

Jesus then asked him, "You of little faith," Peter, "why did you doubt" me? Hmm... indeed! When knowing all that we do of our Savior, why do we doubt Him?

We've been weathering a storm with some brutal beatings from the winds for some time now, so the message fit perfectly with our season. "Oh ye of little faith, why do you doubt?" And too, as God would so perfectly have it, it fits with my yesterday's word... reminding me not to doubt Him! Reminding me that He's able to do what He's said! Reminding me to believe the thing that He's told me! I won't say that He's being a smart-aleck, because that might be too irreverent.... but it seems it comes close. I know that He's making a point to address my doubting the promising word that He gave to me, when surely I have no reason to doubt Him and should always continue (no matter how long it takes) to believe the things that He tells me!


Now, if He continues to bring all of this up for a 3rd day in a row tomorrow, you'll know (I'LL KNOW!!!) that He is incredibly serious and not in the least bit playing!


I do believe You, Lord! And I am thrilled beyond measure that sometimes You spend Your time overly exaggerating and encouraging me to!!!
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Friday, December 9, 2011

Nostalgic!

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Tis the season for nostalgia.... and the mood that (without warning!) I found myself in on my long drive home alone in the dark tonight. Christmas carolers singing their Christmas songs on the radio..... "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... just like the one you used to know....." "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.........."I'll have a blue Christmas without you............."  


Nostalgia.... what is it exactly? I found it defined as:
  1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.
  2. The state of being homesick.
  3. A wistful or EXCESSIVELY sentimental YEARNING for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.
  4. The elusive word "nostagia" is formed from two Greek roots: nostos ("return home") and algia ("pain").
  5. It's akin to the Greek word neisthai that means to return.
Like it said, tis the season often for a return of pain.... a season for longing for something or someone from the past.... a season of yearning for the return of some past period or irrecoverable condition. Tis often the nostalgic season that those jingling bells ring right on up in all of us.

What is it about holidays, birthdays, special days that brings nostagia out to envade? It can be previously dealth with, buried, dead, done, a closed chapter, healed, seemingly totally gotten over, forgotten......... when a mean day on the calendar raises that thing back out from its grave?

Auld Lang Syne - means "old time since," or more precisely, "long long ago." "In the days of auld lang syne" is the equivalent of our modern day's way of saying it as: "Once upon a time."


Old Long Syne
by James Watson

Should Old Acquaintance ["Once upon a time"] be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet heart now grown so cold,
that loving breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne ["once upon a time"].....


One of my favorite songs forever for this season was Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne. Last year was the first Christmas season in all the years past that I don't recall hearing it. The song sings like this:

Met my old lover in the grocery store
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
I stole behind her in the frozen foods
And I touched her on the sleeve.

She didn't reconize the face at first
But then her eyes flew open wide
She went to hug me and she spilled her purse
And we laughed until we cried.

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged
We stood there lost in our embarrassment
As the conversation dragged.

We went to have ourselves a drink or two
But couldn't find an open bar
We bought a six-pack at the liquor store
And we drank it in her car.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

She said she'd married her an architect
Who kept her warm and safe and dry
She would have liked to say she loved the man
But she didn't like to lie.

I said the years had been a friend to her
And that her eyes were still as blue
But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw
Doubt or gratitude.

She said she saw me in the record stores
And that I must be doing well
I said the audience was heavenly
But the travelling was hell.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to now
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
But neither one knew how.

We drank a toast to innocence
We drank a toast to time
Reliving in our eloquence
Another 'auld lang syne'...

The beer was empty and our tongues were tired
And running out of things to say
She gave a kiss to me as I got out
And I watched her drive away.

Just for a moment I was back at school
and felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned into rain.....

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind......


For years it rated as my favorite song. The one that brought the tears the most, because it traveled me back in time. An old 'flame' once told me when we were breaking up that we'd meet again somewhere. He reminded me of this song and said it would be us and I'd see him in a grocery store. I never did see him there, though it wasn't from lack of trying. But now instead of that song bringing tears, it brings a smile from the memory.

I remember telling him once that the snow always turns into rain. I was sad when I said it. I felt defeated in my happiness. It seemed that happiness was overrated, because happiness was most often stolen.

Living in the south we rarely have snow. It's too early to imagine it at all here this year, but I didn't hope for it last year at all; it's so rare it never crossed my mind. But snow it did. My youngest daughter had gone to my mom's and tweeted on her way back, "Is that rain I see? Or has the rain turned into snow?" Woe! That gave me the greatest grin! I can't even begin to tell you of the feeling it sent. I thought, "Wow! I thought the snow always turned into rain. But sometimes the rain turns into snow!" I don't know.... for some craZy reason, I just felt the need to say so today. What's even crazier is how quick something can send the brain back in time before it even knew that it'd soon be traveling.................. In all honesty, I think I traveled all 48 Christmas' in my years past and rolled them all up to visit them all at the very same time... as if sitting down in front of the tree at one Christmas and visiting them all as they danced and performed before me while I sat. And it dawned on me, I've only had 48 Christmas'. That's really not so many! I wondered how many Christmas' I'd have left? And I thought of the few that my children have had already. Then, too, realizing how a Christmas' memory always comes up every year for a new visit.... it made me want to start making sure that I made them the best memories ever made! I want them to be happy, thrilled,... I want them to be always able to smile at the memory. Because, as I've already said, no matter how great or how bad or how small or how many, they'll all be back! They'll all be wrapped up again and presented like a present to be unwrapped in the head with every new next year after it!


Nostalgia.............. it can be a very nice present. Tonight I enjoyed it's visit.  :)


Okay... so I'm at my "weird" again! I told my son just now as he was calling me 'weird' about something else I'd just said, that he's surely gonna miss all my weirdnesses after I'm not here to be weird anymore. Forgive me for the times that my weird's "too much." :)
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"Did God really say?"... Yes, indeed, it looks like He did!

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Interesting! Oh my, and superbly so!


I don't know what prompted my thought to even go there. It went to a thing that I have been believing God to do for years! I mean, it's been a very long time! And with each day that passes, the possibility looks even more improbable and impossible. It was something that I was once so sure about! Something that I knew that I knew! Something that I felt told to me precisely from God Himself in His Word over and over and over and over and over again! And it seemed that every time that He'd tell me, I wasn't even looking for it. I wasn't even asking. And a zillion times throughout all those years, He'd do something to confirm it at every turn!


But for some odd reason, the reminder of it popped into my brain as I was painting this face of mine this morning. And that's when I said to Him, "I don't know anymore, Lord. I just don't know. I'm just not as sure about it as I used to be." And I quit talking. But my mind still wondered....... I remember thinking, "It's okay, God, if it's not as I thought it was."


And within seconds.... (and I mean, just a couple of them!)... without me having a clue that God was planning on addressing my wonder! Having no inkling of an idea of all that God was fixing to answer it! He said to me (in the voice of the one teaching a lesson that I had just plugged in to listen to, not having any idea what would be on it for me to hear). Here's what I heard (mind you, the subject I had been listening to was about when storms overtake our lives. I'm currently living in a storm, I sure could relate to the subject! That's what I thought He'd be addressing, NOT the thing that I just said and nonchalantly put before Him.)


Okay.... now don't forget what I'd just said to God.... and immediately the teacher points our what God has said in Acts 27:25, "So keep your courageous, dear brothers, for I have faith in God that it will happen to me just as he told me." Wooo! Powerful enough! But then she says, "Now I'm about to say something that to some that is new, this is going to lose you for just a second. But let me talk to the others that have been around for a long time for a minute. Some of us have gotten a clear word from that God that we have given up on. It may have been five years ago. It may have been ten years ago. What did He say to you? I've come to ask you today, what did God tell you? Did you know at the.... I mean, did you know that you knew? Did you get a confirmation? My guess is that for many of you in this room that got a clear word from God, that every time you turned around God used something else to confirm it. Am I speaking to anybody here? Then, I'm going to ask you a question, do you still believe Him for that word? Or have you given up on it? Because He's said, you take Me at My word and you believe that what I have said to you will come to pass! Luke 1:45 (MY SCRIPTURE!!! One of the ones that He gave me eons again about this very matter!), "Blessed is SHE [Not he! I love that it is she!]... Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished"!!! Someone has come this very night just to hear from God, that He is still going to do what He told you He was going to do. Do not give up! It is a matter of timing........................"


Well................. do I feel spoken to or what? Do I feel I just heard a fresh word from God about an old one or what? I'm not sure, Lord???? Well, evidently, the Lord is sure! And He is wanting to make a very loud and vivid point to remind me of it!


"Did the Lord really say?" (Big smile!) Yes! I can truly say that He's said! He still speaks. And after He's said, He's really, really, really good at often saying again after He's said it!


Thank You, Lord, today for re-saying to me! I believe!!! How could I not continue to after the so many times that You've said it? I love how You're Faithful even in my sometimes weeble-woobling-unfaithfulness. Oh, how I love Your Word..... and Your Word that keeps on saying! Your Word that accomplishes what You sent it forth to do. I so love that You speak! And I love, that despite our doubt, You keep right on speaking it!
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