Friday, December 31, 2010

An Accomplished Goal In 2010!!!!!!!

"LORD, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. LORD our God...Your name alone do we honor."
Isaiah 26:12,13

December 31st!!!  We did it!!!  God gets the glory.  Truly, as the verses from Isaiah 26 above say, anything and everything we have accomplished, HE HAS DONE FOR US!!  HIS NAME ALONE DO WE HONOR!!

In 2009, I read the Bible through in a year using the NIV One-Year Chronological Bible.  In the beginning of this year, my dear friend, Cheryl, lovingly suggested that Jim and I read the Bible in a year with our cherubs.  I LOVED that idea!!!  Thank you, Cheryl! 

Each night after bath time, we would gather to read the day's scripture in the daily Kid's Bible.  There were some nights we would miss, and we'd make it up the following night by reading two days.  There were a couple times during the year we got several nights behind, but we diligently got caught up each time.  Our Kid's Bible even traveled with us this summer to Turks & Caicos, Camp of The Woods (where Jim read it around the nightly camp fire for devotion time with our wonderful friends' families who were with us) and North Carolina.  Throughout the year, meaningful and memorable family conversations from the heart started by reading God's Word together as a family.  We are very thankful. 

So, what was our real goal in reading the Bible in its entirety in a year?  Our heart's desire is to KNOW HIM.  John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.

Our true goal is to KNOW HIM.  By soaking His Word into our hearts each day, we know Him more intimately.  Our prayer for our children is that they love and hunger for God's Word, that His Word is the joy of their hearts, that His Word is their unshakable heritage and that it is passed on through them for generations to come.  Psalm 119:111 - Your statutes are my heritage forever; are the joy of my heart.    

So, this evening as we try to stay awake until midnight to see the fireworks in the sky above our little town welcoming in 2011, we will read together the final entry (from Revelation) in our Day by Day Kid's Bible.  We acknowledge God's goodness and grace in allowing us to accomplish this heart's desire together as a family.  We are again hushed and humbled by His great love.

We are excited to see God's work in the hearts of our children and in our own hearts as parents as we continue steep ourselves in His Word in the new year.  May it encourage us, challenge us, convict us, guide us, bring forth a harvest of righteousness in our lives and bring us His life and light.   

I delight in Your decrees;
I will not neglect Your word. Psalm 119:16

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Womb With A View - Christmas 2010

“And now the LORD says—He who formed me in the womb to be His servant…for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD
and my God has been my strength.”
Isaiah 49:5 

"...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28

A womb is a sacred place held in the hands of God. As God knits together His precious handiwork, the Creator ordains the days and knows His purpose for His creation. ”For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

Consider the miraculous first offspring of Mary’s womb. "The first offspring of every womb belongs to me…” Exodus 34:19 The One who was with God in the beginning, the One through whom all things were made (John 4:1-4), was now being knit together by our Heavenly Father’s hands as a babe. Why? Because Mary’s womb was a womb with a view. He formed Jesus in Mary’s womb to be His servant, our Savior and Redeemer. Jesus loves the people of the world perfectly and completely. We need a Redeemer because of our sin, rebellion and independence from God.

Jesus’ view from Mary’s womb was both glorious and heart-wrenching. His creation and His people spread out before Him, He viewed the necessity of the cross. With His death and resurrection on the horizon, He viewed the new life that only His saving grace could bring. “…how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” Romans 5:15 (NIV)

His view from the womb embodied His ultimate view from the cross. Psalm 22 is “A View From The Cross”:

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; You made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon You; from my mother's womb You have been my God.” (vv. 9-10)

The Heart-wrenching View:

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” (vv. 14-19)

The Glorious View:

“The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise Him— may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before Him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and He rules over the nations.” (vv. 26-28)

The View For Those Still Wombed:

“They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for He has done it.” (v. 31)

He has done it. His view from the womb: the redemption and salvation of a people whom He loves. His purpose: our new, made-holy life in Him, to know Him. “‘Here I am. I have come to do Your will.’ And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:9, 10

"Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."  John 17:3

He did it once for all. As we celebrate our Savior’s birth this Christmas season, let’s consider the sacred “Womb With A View”. With humility, reverence and awe, let’s completely yield and surrender our hearts and life to His view for our lives. Just as Christ was our servant, may we serve Him with surrendered hearts in obedience. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 (NIV)

Our Savior, thank You that we were and are in Your view since the beginning. Thank you for Your obedience in coming to earth as a babe and then redeeming us by Your death on the cross and Your resurrection. By Your grace and strength, may our lives be marked by humility and obedience, just like You. This is not a prayer we pray lightly, but one we pray with great reverence and trust.  We are humbled that You came to save and serve us. Fill us so that we may be surrendered servants for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Blessed, Merry Christmas
from our family to yours!

Gabrielle & Joshua (Christmas 2006)
Jesus, thank you for having us in Your view
and in Your heart.  We love you!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The "Seaquel": More On Our Scuba Angel!

"When we cried out to the LORD, He heard our cry and sent an angel..."
Numbers 20:16

Previously, I shared about how God answered my prayer for Jim during a stressful vacation moment by sending an angel.  (To read that post, click here:  "An Angel Dressed in Scuba-Diving Gear".)  I promised a sequel to that story, so here it is! 

God's amazing provision and perfect faithfulness during our tangled-up mess left us in jaw-dropping awe.  Yet, as only God can do, He not only blessed our fins off, He blessed the scuba diving angel, too!

The Scuba Diver Angel and Jim

After the scuba diver spent almost an hour cutting and pulling water ski ropes from the boat's engine, my husband and I spent some time talking to him and his wife.  God's glory in the warm afterglow of this rescue made us speechless.  You see, as we told the scuba diver and his wife what an answer to prayer he was to us that day on the lake, his wife told us this:  "Oh no, please understand, this was an answer to prayer for me and my husband.  Him being able to help you with your disabled boat was a blessing to him!  You made his whole summer by him being able to help you!  For years he has been bringing his scuba gear to Camp of The Woods hoping he would be able to use it somehow to help someone.  Every year he packs his gear hoping he will be able to serve the Lord by using it.  Up until today, he has never been able to do that.  Being able to help you today made his entire summer!"  Wow!  Isn't that just like God!?!?  His personal, intimate blessings go all the way around.  And He makes our little messes in life into blessings.  He used our MESS to BLESS!  Redemption!

God is so good.  He not only blessed us by His provision and faithfulness, He blessed the scuba diver angel and his wife, too!  Truly, He so beautifully orchestrates all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  That day on Lake Pleasant, this scuba diver angel was fulfilling his purpose for those amazing moments.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Thank you, Lord, for your perfect provision and faithfulness!  Thank you for working all things together for good in the most amazing ways!  Thank you for blessing our scuba diver angel and his wife!  That was the best way we could say "thank you" to them was by knowing YOU touched their hearts so lovingly!  Only You could write such a Seaquel.

"LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago."
Isaiah 25:1

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ushered In By Giving Thanks

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.”
Psalm 100:4
Happy Thanksgiving!

A heart of genuine thanksgiving and praise ushers us across His threshold so we can dwell in the Lord’s presence throughout the day. As we seek to abide in Him, our thankful hearts prepare the way for us. With a grateful and reverent posture before the Lord, we can expect to hear His still, small voice and sense His presence. “The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His unfailing love.” Psalm 33:18 (NIV)

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:7 (KJV
) Genuine thankfulness flows from a humble and reverent heart before the Lord. As we go to Him with gratitude and acknowledging Him in all things, our hearts are postured to receive direction from Him. Then, as we commune with Him from the depths of our hearts throughout the day, we can bring Him our petitions, our fears and our struggles. With the humility of thankfulness as a backdrop, our hearts are poised reverently before Him. He will guide us and lead us. “I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.” Ecc. 8:12

When my children approach me with a humble and thankful heart, it is much easier for me to talk with them, rejoice with them, pray with them and guide them. Their hearts are ready. But when they are being selfish, stubborn, prideful and entitled, they don’t hear and are not ready for my instruction and help. The condition of their heart is key to our communication.

It is the same with us and our Heavenly Father, who loves His children perfectly. When our hearts are right before Him, He can minister His Truth to us and reason with us. He can encourage and equip us. He can commune with us. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

Let’s make it routine not just to count our blessings, but to continually give thanks to God for them. To acknowledge Him in all our ways. To bow before Him with sincerity, thankfulness and reverence. We will dwell in His presence, commune with Him and receive His encouragement and love. Then we'll have “sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” Col. 3:22 (NIV)

Gracious Father, You are the giver of all good things. By Your grace, keep my heart poised humbly before You in sincerity, reverence and thankfulness. I want to enter your courts with praise in my heart. Usher me in with a thankful heart. Remind me to acknowledge You in all of my ways. Thank you for loving me perfectly and for Your redemption. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

What are YOU thanking Him for this Thanksgiving season?
I am thankful for my Redeemer, my family and my friends. I am thankful for His truth and faithfulness. I am also thankful for my friend, Rachel Olsen, who is sharing this post on her blog. :)

(This post was originally posted on 11/24/08.)
“Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
Isaiah 51:3 (NIV)

“I will praise God’s name in song and
glorify Him with thanksgiving.”
Psalm 69:30

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.”
Psalm 29:2

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful to Him For Our Blessings

In 2010, I have been reading Blackaby's "Experiencing God Day By Day" devotional.  This devotion from November 20th struck such a chord in my heart that I wanted to share it here.  I am so thankful for to God for His unexpected and bountiful blessings! 

Overtaken by Blessings

"And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God." (Deuteronomy 28:2)

"When you walk in fellowship with God, you do not have to ask Him to bless you. He wants to bless you! Just as you enjoy surprising someone you love with unexpected gifts, God delights in giving you His gifts in times and ways that you might never expect. God’s blessings often come in the midst of your everyday life—an encouraging telephone call in the middle of a busy morning or a letter you receive at the end of a hard day. A friend may drop by to help when you are overwhelmed, or you may receive unexpected financial help at a time of need. Often, God’s blessings do not come in spectacular ways but in the ordinary busyness of your life. They come just when you most need an expression of God’s love.

Blessings come as a result of obedience. When you walk closely with the Lord, blessings will come, regardless of whether you seek them. Blessings from your obedience will also come to those around you—to your children and to your grandchildren. Solomon enjoyed vast wealth during his reign, but God’s blessing upon him came largely as a result of his father David’s obedience in the previous generation. God promised Abraham that his obedience would bring blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:2–3).

Do not take God’s gifts for granted. When you receive an unexpected blessing, thank God for His continuing love and be alert to recognize the next time His blessing overtakes you!" - Blackaby

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Lead Me" - For Husbands

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior." Ephesians 5:23

My husband, Jim, called me on my cell phone recently and told me he had driven to work in tears listening to the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real. He told me he made it a prayer to God for himself and that he wants to be the kind of husband and dad that is reflected in this moving song. That touched my heart and brought me to tears. As I drove the children to school, I put my cell phone on speaker as Jim played the song for us over the phone. It was a tender moment for our family. We are thankful to have a husband and daddy who are devoted to God and our family.

To read this post in its entirety, and to listen to the song "Lead Me" by Sanctus Real, click HERE.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Perfect Faithfulness

 "LORD, You are my God;
   I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
   You have done wonderful things,
   things planned long ago."
Isaiah 25:1

I am thankful for His perfect faithfulness.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Live! With Regis and Kelly! (and Harrison Ford and Cher!)

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Once or twice a year, I take an early-morning train ride to New York City to be in the live studio audience of Regis & Kelly!  (When I first started going, it was Regis & Kathie Lee.)   This past Tuesday, my friends Heather and Tricia and Tricia's daughter, Alex, enthusiastically joined me for the unique day trip!  We all woke about 3 AM, gathered for the train ride to The Big Apple, arrived at the studio by 7 AM, enjoyed a show with Harrison Ford, stayed afterwards for a segment they were taping with Cher, window shopped, ate lunch, hopped back on the train and we we home shortly after 3 PM...just in time for the cherubs to arrive home from school!  

The Smilebox captures our day.  Many of these shots were taken by Heather on her terrific camera.  (Thank you, Heather!) 

And just click HERE to order free tickets to "Live! With Regis & Kelly!"

Happy Saturday!     

Monday, November 8, 2010

When Our Children Minister To Us

"My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to Me." 
Psalm 101:6

There is nothing more sweetly humbling nor more meaningful than when the Lord speaks to us through our children.  I have found in motherhood that often the children teach me more than I teach them.  They are used to sanctify me and keep me accountable.  Indeed, motherhood is frequently an unexpected role reversal with the children, usually unknowingly, being used as a precious tool in the Potter's hands as He shapes the parent's heart.   

On a rare occasion recently as I was traveling for a few days away from the family, one of my heart's prayers was that they would grow in the Lord in ways that can only happen with me away.  I remember Beth Moore saying once when she was commenting on being away from home some weekends to teach at women's Bible conferences, "The Holy Spirit has more room to work in my family and home when I am out of the way." That was my prayer.  I asked the Holy Spirit to sweetly work in their hearts so the children grow in confidence, trust and maturity in the Lord.  I asked the Lord to do beautiful things in their hearts that made it so worth this wife and mommy going away.  I also asked the Lord to bless Jim in very personal ways and to minister to his heart.

When I was away for those few days, Jim took over the daily school-day routines with the cherubs for two days.  He chauffeured them to and from school and kept the sweet drive-time traditions the children and I have created together.  He prayed with them first and then sang worship songs together the rest of the way in to school.

I was SO amazed by God's goodness when Jim shared with me how Joshua ministered to him one of those mornings.  Here is a snippet of an e-mail Jim subsequently sent to his Wednesday Morning Guys Prayer/Bible Study group to share with them what God had done.

"As I prayed with the kids on the car-ride into school on Friday morning, I told the Lord that I was feeling anxious about all I had to do that day. My son, Joshua, picked up on this and said to me afterwards: 'Dad, I have a really good verse for you. It's Philippians 4:6-7. God doesn't want you to be anxious about anything, Dad. Maybe you should look it up in your Bible. Here, I'll find it for you…' And then he proceeded to look it up in my King James and recite it to me. 'Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.'  Wow! I don’t know if I was more blessed by the verse, or by the fact that my 10-year-old son was ministering to me. I was so pleased that my son knew this verse and was in tune enough with my prayer that I stopped thinking about all I had to get done that day. Praise you, Father, for blessing me through my son… and through your Son…"

God answered my prayers in the most beautiful and serendipitous way.  God ministered to Jim's heart in a very personal way...through his son.  Amazing.  Truly there is no greater joy.  "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."  3 John 1:4  Just as God ministers His grace to us through His Son, He also uses our children to minister to us.  Simply beautiful.

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward."
Psalm 127:3

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mirror Messages

"I write this greeting in my own hand...
Grace be with you."
Colossians 4:18

I was recently inspired by my girlfriend's daughter when we were invited to their home for a family dinner. She used dry erase markers to write scripture on all the mirrors in her bedroom (and being a teenager...there were lots of mirrors!). Each time she looks in her mirror, God's love letter is kissing her cheeks and piercing her heart with His truth.

To read this post in its entirety, click here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Election Day

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14 

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Angel Dressed in Scuba-Diving Gear

 "...but when we cried out to the LORD,
He heard our cry and sent an angel..."
Numbers 20:16

For the last several summers, we have made it a tradition to vacation for a week at Camp Of The Woods Christian Family Camp in the Adirondacks of New York.  Some years other families and friends are with us, such as this past summer.  This year, one of the dads even borrowed a boat from a friend for the week so all the cherubs could enjoy water sports on picturesque Lake Pleasant, which is softly pillowed in the beautiful mountains surrounding camp.   

One particular afternoon, Jim was deemed the sole "captain of the ship" as the two other dads were going off-site for an excursion away from camp.  Jim was excited to be appointed captain and to take the kids out on the lake for an fun-filled afternoon of water tubing.  He was delighted to be the dad in charge and see the joy on the kids faces as they glided across the water and were bounced high into the air when they hit a wave.   
While Jim and the kids were out on the lake in the boat, the moms settled into our beach chairs with our toes blanketed by the sand.  We had books in hand to read and conversations cued up for some sweet fellowship. 

Pausing frequently to look for the boat so we could wave as the children whizzed by us on their tubes, we could not locate the boat.  Surely, they were out in the center of the lake and we would see them soon.  We tried to resume beach-relaxation mode, but my friend and I were quietly concerned after a chunk of time had gone by without spotting the boat.

Looking at our watches from time to time and scanning the lake for the familiar boat holding my husband and our children, our mommy hearts, though yet unspoken, were in united concern about the possibility of a danger and a boating mishap.  

After a time of a quiet waiting-and-scanning vigil, I turned to my friend and said, "Do you think this is too long of a time for them to be out on the lake in the boat without us seeing them?"  Her quick reply signaled the concern we had both quietly been feeling, "Yes!"  We began a calm but intense visual search of the waters for the boat.  Hearts racing, silent prayers were being lifted to the Lord for safety.

Finally, we saw the boat and our loved ones being pulled in by a would-be rescue boat.  Counting heads, we knew everyone was accounted for.  Thank you, Lord!  

As they got closer to shore, however, I could see the deeply-troubled countenance of my husband's face.  My heart sank.  Something obviously had gone wrong.  I felt the Lord impress on my heart immediately, "Just be quiet and pray."  

After everyone disembarked from the disabled boat, my husband walked slowly to the edge of the lake up onto the beach where I was waiting.  Making his way to our cabin just a few steps up from the beach, he said to me in a hushed voice, "I could use as much grace as you can possibly give me right now."

Quietness.  Prayer.  Grace.  And more grace.  That's what Jim needed from me at that moment.

Emerging from the cabin a few minutes later, Jim briefly told me that, while a few of the kids were getting in the water tubes, the ski ropes had gotten pulled into the engine of the boat and tangled so severely that the engine seized, rendering the boat lifeless.  My heart broke for him.  An afternoon of fun turned into an afternoon of a seemingly damaged boat that belonged to a friend of a friend.  Jim felt terrible.

He made his way back into the shallow water near the lake's edge to the debilitated boat to try to carefully get the ropes out of the engine.  Jim was by himself as the other dads were still off-site.  Jim worked and worked underwater, coming up frequently for breaths of air.  Cutting, pulling, cutting, pulling.  He struggled for what seemed like an eternity, while I kept a quiet, prayerful vigil nearby. 

Quietness.  Prayer.  Grace.  More grace.  

Seeing my husband wrestle to fix this situation, my heart cried out to the Lord in prayer.  "Lord, Jim can't stay under water for long enough periods of time to persist and get the ropes out of the engine.  He needs help.  Lord, would you please send an angel to help Jim?  He needs an angel, Lord."

I lifted my head, opened my eyes and turned toward the direction of the boat.  Immediately, God had sent an angel.  It was as if heaven had opened up and I could hear a choir of angels singing!  Out from the beach on the lake walked AN ANGEL DRESSED IN SCUBA-DIVING GEAR!!!  Scuba-diving gear!!!  Oxygen tank, mask, the whole nine yards!  God had sent an angel!  An angel sporting the appropriate wardrobe!!

My jaw dropped as I watched God's answer to prayer walk steadily out to my husband and the boat.  A scuba diver???  We were on a LAKE!!!!  We were not at the ocean!  There were no pretty fish or coral reeves to see in this lake.  In fact, the water was clouded, gray and peppered with debris.  Campers who have been going to COTW for decades said they have never seen a scuba diver at camp!  What is a scuba diver doing at Camp of The Woods on Lake Pleasant in the Adirondack Mountains of New York???  He was sent by God to help my husband. 
Rejoicing, I shouted in my heart, "Lord, you are amazing!!  Thank you for helping Jim and for sending an angel...a scuba-diving help him in his time of trouble!"

Jim was also in awe of God's goodness.  He touched the scuba diver and said, "Are you for real?  You're an angel, aren't you?"   

Only God.  Only God could send an angel in scuba diving gear to a lake that had never seen a scuba diver!  And, of course, the scuba-diving angel was successful!  He was able to stay under water for over 45 minutes until all of the rope was cut out safely from the boat's engine.

Beach-side cheers burst from we moms and kids when the final ropes were pulled from the engine and we heard it running again!!!  Woo Hoo!  The boat was fixed and would be returned to its owner in good condition!  Jim and all of the kids were safe.  My husband was relieved and grateful.  Our hearts were wowed by God's amazing faithfulness.
Our scuba diver angel and Jim.

My dear friend, Tricia, carrying out some remnants of the rope.
Tricia was also a beautiful part of the "Table For Two" miracle in Summer 2009.

Quietness.  Prayers.  Grace.  And more grace.  That's what my husband needed.  And that is what he received....and more!  God had sent an angel.  The same Lord who walked on water sent us an angel dressed in scuba gear finery.  Just the kind of angel we needed!

We have seen His glory.  Grace.  And more grace.  

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

more about our scuba-diving angel in an upcoming post....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Our Daddy Tells

(Jim and the cherubs during our recent weekend in Lancaster to see "Joseph".)

"...fathers tell their children about Your faithfulness."

Isaiah 38:19 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Our Irish Lassie Is Dancing

"...go out to dance with the joyful."
Jeremiah 31:4

Since just about the moment Gabrielle was born, my mom ("Nan Nan"), who is 100% Irish, enthusiastically and generously offered to treat Gabrielle to Irish Step-Dancing Lessons.  Well, after years of talking about it, the lessons have begun! 

Honestly, I was the one dragging my Irish feet.  An Irish lass myself, even born on St. Patrick's Day, I should be ashamed.  But, I am just not the type of mom who does well shuttling her cherubs here and there on school nights.  When they get home from school, I like them to play, eat dinner, do homework, play a bit more and then begin our bed-time rituals.  We have mostly kept extra-curricular sports and activities to weekends and at times that don't conflict with school nights. 

My mom and Gabrielle gently and patiently nudged me.  The nudgings became more frequent this past year.  The Lord knows my heart and I asked Him to lead me in His perfect plan.  I wanted to be obedient and honor my mom's and Gabrielle's desires.  A few items on my mommy wish list as I researched dance schools: 
1.  I hoped for a "real" Irish Dance school -- you know, the name should be IRISH -- beginning with "Mc" or "Fitz". 
2.  A school close by would be lovely, preferably our home town. 
3.  The lesson time had to fit well into our school-night routines.  

As He always does, He led me perfectly.  We found an Irish dance school -- with a real Irish name!!!  The Irish dance school is in our home town...just a few miles away!!!  And the lessons are on Wednesday afternoons -- the only "no homework" night for the kids school during the week!!!!  Woo Hoo!  I am so thankful to the Lord!  He led us perfectly.   

Gabrielle has only had a few lessons so far but she is having a great time!  I am so proud of her for quietly yet confidently joining the beginner class that had already formed and where most of the students have taken lessons for at least one year already.  Her teacher, the owner of the school, is a sweetheart -- straight from Ireland!  She holds Gabrielle's hand as she teaches her one-on-one.  Gabrielle also receives instructions from older students who have been taking lessons for several years.  

Nan Nan came with us for the first lesson a few Wednesdays ago.  The smiles and twinkling eyes that lit up my mom's face and Gabrielle's face as Gabrielle began to dance to Irish music made my heart burst with joy!   I am so thankful that my sweet Irish mom has the delight of seeing her youngest granddaughter dance to those familiar, nostalgic Irish tunes (just like one of her older granddaugthers did years ago)!  

Gabrielle took various dance lessons as a pre-schooler, has been taking liturgical dance lessons at school for several years and is now adding Irish step-dancing to her repertoire. 

We are excited to watch her as she steps out and honors her Irish heritage!!!!   
Dance, Gabrielle, Dance!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rekindled Love and Devotion

"I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown." Jeremiah 2:2

Remember when you were newly married? Loving your bridegroom so much that you would follow him through a desert into uncharted territory? Just being with your spouse was satisfying enough because the love was so fresh and so sweet!

My mom has told me numerous times, "I loved your dad so much when we were first married that I would have been happy if our home was a tent. I was willing to follow him anywhere." Her young, hopeful love filled her heart. Her devotion as a young bride seemed unshakable.

Yet, as the years went on, the harshness of life chipped away at my parents' marriage. Unchecked and unrepented sin ravaged both of their hearts. The desert that once represented hopeful adventure was now a harsh reality of intense heat and dehydration. Devotion waned. Love was suffocated. Though my parents never officially divorced, they were separated for twenty years when my father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1998. 

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Exodus 33:13, 21

"If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You. Remember that this nation is your people."
Exodus 33:13

So I may know You, Lord. I want to dwell in a place near You where I may stand on a Rock.

"Then the LORD said, 'There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock.'" Exodus 33:21

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Psalm 37:3-6

"Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." Psalm 37:3-6

What do I have to do? Trust. Do. Dwell. Enjoy. Delight. Commit. Trust.

What will He do? He will make my righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of my cause like the noonday sun. Wow!!!

I LOVE that He makes our righteousness shine like the dawn! And HE is our righteousness! "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:22

Shine, Jesus, Shine!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Letting Summer Linger...

" that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other."
Isaiah 45:6

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Let me linger in summer just a while longer. I sense autumn on the horizon. I love the colors of autumn. But just a while longer, I want to linger in blues. We were blessed with a wonderful summer. From the beautiful Atlantic Ocean that softly pillows the Caribbean to the Atlantic Ocean on the splashing up on Jersey Shore, what made our vacations so special are the friendships with which we shared them. This slideshow is from our once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Turks & Caicos.

Hushed and humbled by His goodness.

"And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else." Acts 17:25

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't One-Up Your Husband

"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." Proverbs 31:10-11

Sweet wives, I am sharing for us today because I think we are more guilty of doing the "one-up" on our husbands than they are of doing it on us. This post could really be titled "Don't One-Up Your Spouse". However, I want to encourage and challenge we wives.

This suggestion of not one-upping your husband may seem silly and inconsequential, but the root of "one-upping" is usually pride, disrespect or jealousy. So, as we yield our hearts to the Lord in our marriages, not one-upping our husbands can bear bountiful, beautiful fruit because it springs forth from humility. Let's talk about it today.

What is doing the "one-up"?

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - First Day of School

Joshua - 5th Grade; Gabrielle - 3rd Grade

"Teach me, O LORD, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your word. Fulfill Your promise to Your servant, so that You may be feared." Psalm 119:33-38

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Psalm 119:57-64

"You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey Your words. I have sought Your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to Your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey Your commands. Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget Your law. At midnight I rise to give You thanks for Your righteous laws. I am a friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts. The earth is filled with Your love, O LORD; teach me Your decrees."
Psalm 119:57-64

Preparing to begin a new school year for the cherubs and getting back into a "routine", I am hoping to be more consistent again with my writing on Joy In The Truth, especially with "Treasure Verse Tuesday". I love God's Word. His Word satisfies.

Psalm 119 is one of my favorite Psalms. It is said to be a devotion about God's Word. The eight verses above just drip with His goodness, truth and satisfacation.

What is He showing you in His word today?

"I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word."
Psalm 119:16

Saturday, August 28, 2010


"[They] fell down and worshiped God, Who was seated on the throne. And they cried: 'Amen, Hallelujah!'"

Revelation 19:4

(The title of this post "Holly-loo-ya!" came from Joshua's dear friend, Wade. Wade and his sister, Amanda, love Holly, too. One day when Wade was over to play, he overheard me sharing about God's faithfulness through the adoption our dog and Wade spontaneously said "Holly-loo-ya!" Thank you, Wade. You inspire us in more ways than you know!)

My very sweet friend, Carol, gave me these adorable towels that she had personalized for Holly.

You may remember me sharing about our family adding its newest member, Holly, a West Highland Terrier. Those of you who know me well know that me writing a blog post about a dog is a miracle in and of itself!! I was not a dog person. Didn't want a dog for many reasons. I did the very ugly cry when I knew we were adding a dog to our family. I groaned and I sobbed. It was a death to self. I was mourning a death to self. Obedience to God often requires death to self. But I'd much rather die to self than be walking in disobedience and out of His will. "He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30

My heart, though grieving, was anchored in Him knowing that I was obeying God, honoring my husband and delighting my children. Any lingered heartache of my own was kept quiet between me and the Lord as I did not want to overshadow their joy.

We adopted our dog, Holly, from a single mom at our church who could no longer care for Holly. After my husband asked me to pray about bringing a dog into our family and I surrendered, God efficiently and clearly led us to Holly. God was gracious and faithful. So, one Friday afternoon in March, I loaded up into my car a dog, her crate, a forty pound bag of dog food and various other dog accessories. It was like holding my nose and jumping into a cold pool of water. I couldn't think about it too much; I just had to do it. And so, we brought Holly home.

Fast forward six months to current day. This woman who grieved death to self, who didn't want a dog, who didn't want to clean up dog waste, who didn't want her morning quiet time interrupted by a doggy needing her, who didn't want the smell of a dog in her house, who wasn't looking forward to increased laundry room floor scrubbings on my hands and knees because that is Holly's dining area, who didn't want to coordinate doggy care if we were going to be away for a day or on vacation, who didn't want life interrupted by a dog....

A woman who couldn't possibly imagine the love she'd have for this precious little doggy, who didn't realize how Holly would truly complete our family, who couldn't fathom how our cherubs would beautifully love and care for Holly, who didn't know the joy Holly would bring her entire family, who hadn't thought about how a little white fluffy creature could get to excited when daddy came home, who cried and cried the first night of a family vacation out of the country because she missed her so much while Holly was home being cared for...this transformed-heart woman who now:

--Has given Holly her favorite purple blanket as her own to put on the floor for naps and sleeping at night time

--Rushes home to see Holly after being away from the house for a few hours

--Moistens her dry dog food with juice from a roasted chicken the family is having for dinner so Holly gets to enjoy a special treat

--Who looks forward to taking Holly for early morning walks while the neighborhood is still and quiet

--Who loves having Holly at her feet while she has her morning quiet time with the Lord

--Who finds herself talking to others about Holly

--Who takes Holly on car rides whenever possible so she has a change of scenery

--Who makes sure Holly is eating, drinking, "plumbing" and exercising enough

--Who delights in seeing other children pet and play with Holly

--Who shares continually about how God brought the family a wonderful dog

--Who could go on and on here, but is realizing she may be becoming one of those dog owners who are a little nutty about their dog...

Obedience School. Not for our sweet (but strong-willed) Holly. I am the student. God is the gracious Master. He spoke. Jim asked me to pray. I surrendered and obeyed in reverence. God blessed beyond measure and changed my heart in miraculous ways. He is in the heart-changing business. We just have to yield.

So we sing "HOLLY-LOO-YA" and give God the glory for His faithfulness even in the adoption of a dog!! Amen, Holly-loo-ya!

"Yield your hearts to the LORD."

Joshua 24:23

Friday, August 27, 2010

Always Near The Cross

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
Matthew 5:7

"Lord God Almighty,
Thou hast taught me the necessity of a Mediator, a Messiah, to be embraced in love with all my heart, as King to rule me, as Prophet to guide me, as Priest to take away my sin and death, and this by faith in Thy beloved Son, Who teaches me not to guide myself, not to obey myself, not to try to rule and conquer sin, but to cleave to the One who will do all for me.

Thou hast made known to me that to save me is Christ's work, but to cleave to Him by faith is my work, and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.

Continue, O God, to teach me that faith apprehends Christ's righteousness not only for the satisfaction of justice, but as unspotted evidence of Thy love to me.
Help me to make use of His work of salvation as the ground of peace, and of Thy favour to, and acceptance of me the sinner, so that I may live always near the cross."

(The Valley of Vision - Puritan Prayers and Devotions)

So that I may live always near the cross. There is a beautiful simplicity rooted in that desire. Living near the cross, abiding in His Word, honoring Him. As our hearts are postured in this humility, we extend the same grace, mercy and forgiveness He lavishes on us.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Decade-Sized Blessing

"I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence." Exodus 33:19

Renee Swope was sharing with the women gathered at She Speaks 2010 about the different seasons of ministry for women who are wives and/or moms: The No Season. The Slow Season. The Go Season. She thought, after the Lord blessed her family through adoption with a beautiful baby girl, that she'd be in a "No Season" for ministry. Much to her surprise, the Lord had her in a "Slow Season".

Me, Aster, Renee

Honoring God in our families and homes begins with serving our husbands and children. As Beth Moore shared Saturday morning (via a special video message for She Speaks): "Never neglect your family for ministry. God esteems the office of husbandry. Be careful not to go in ministry beyond where your husband is blessing. No amount of success in ministry makes up for failure with your family."

God confirms the season of ministry in our lives through our husbands, whether it is No, Slow or Go. When Jim's decision came that I was to go to She Speaks 2010...and my family was coming with me...I was humbly thankful. Joshua's tenth birthday was the Saturday of the conference, and I did not want to be apart from him when he turned to the big double digits! What a treasure for my family to travel with me in love and support as I attended the conference.

I was particularly excited because I knew Cheri Keaggy was leading worship for the conference. Cheri's song "Little Boy On My Knees" was Joshua's baby dedication song in 2000. I still sing that song to him sometimes at bedtime. I was THRILLED that my family, especially Joshua, would be able to meet Cheri in person. On Joshua's tenth birthday weekend! Wow! God is so good.

Renee Swope encouraged the women, "Pray for your family that, as you walk in obedience to the Lord in ministry, He would bless your family in ways that they could not otherwise be blessed if you were not walking in obedience in ministry." As we walk in obedience, God does bless us in unimaginable ways. When Renee said that, my jaw dropped and tears trickled down my cheeks. God had done that for me and my family....He had blessed us in ways that weekend that we would not have been blessed if we were not walking in obedience.

I had the opportunity to chat with Cheri for a few minutes, introduce her to my family, tell her that her song "Little Boy On His Knees" was Joshua's baby dedication song and that we were celebrating his tenth birthday that weekend. Cheri said to me, "Did you know that I wrote another song for my son when he turned ten that starts out, 'Here I am again, now my son is ten. I am still praying for you, my boy.' I am going to sing it Saturday."

Joshua, Gabrielle, Me, Cheri

Imagine my jaw dropping!! I did not know she had written a song for her song when he turned ten. And she was going to sing it on Saturday....Joshua's tenth birthday!!!! Now, really...only God could orchestrate that decade-sized blessing for this mamma's heart!!! Only God.

On Saturday, July 31st, as Joshua turned ten, I sat just a few feet away from Cheri Keaggy as she sang her song "You'll Always Be My Son". Here I am my son is ten.....I am still praying for you, my boy. God's love was shining in my heart so intimately in those moments. He knows the cries of my heart for our children. Those all around me may have been completely unaware of God's sweet embrace on this mamma as Cheri sang so beautifully. Yet for me, it was a miraculous moment. A sweet blessing orchestrated by God because God was honored, my husband's leading was honored and obedience ushered the way. To love is to obey. "This is love for God: to obey His commands." 1 John 5:3 And when we obey, He lavishes His love on us in beautiful, serendipitous ways. "See, I am setting before you today a blessing...blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today." Deut. 11:26-27

Only God could orchestrate me being at the conference on that weekend, when Cheri Keaggy was leading worship, with my family with me at the conference for the first time, as Joshua turned ten, and as Cheri Keaggy sang her song about her son turning ten...on Joshua's tenth birthday. "Little Boy On His Knees" serenaded Joshua at his baby dedication. "You'll Always Be My Son" ushered Joshua into a new decade of life. From dedicating Joshua to the Lord when he was a baby to now fervently and unceasingly praying for him as a young boy turned ten, Cheri's sweet voice and poignant lyrics have bridged this mommy's heart to the next season of life for Joshua. "O Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of this Your servant and to the prayer of Your servants who delight in revering Your name." Nehemiah 1:11

Thank you, God, for blessings that can only come from Your gracious hand. Thank you for meeting us in such personal ways. Thank you for the blessings of obedience. Only You deserve the glory. We are humbled.

"...let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."
Hebrews 12:28

Friday, August 13, 2010

Forgive Quickly

"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving..."
Daniel 9:9

"Forgive Quickly." It's been almost two decades since one of our pastors admonished us with those words in our pre-marital class. During those weeks of preparation for marriage with other engaged couples, we received much wise instruction from our pastor through God's Word. Yet those words "Forgive Quickly" have continually reverberated in my heart and mind. This truth has been a healing balm to my heart and in my marriage. And I am thankful my husband forgives me quickly, too.

Withholding forgiveness can be destructive. Our hurt, self-righteousness and pride can build dangerous walls. God's love, mercy and forgiveness flowing through us will protect and strengthen our marriage union and our "cleaving" together. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24

When I feel an unwillingness to forgive quickly welling up in my heart, I am humbly reminded of the abundant mercy God has shown me in my life. My heart is humbled and I race to show mercy.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

A Beautiful Reflection and A Big Heart

"As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man."
Proverbs 27:19

Zoe Elmore's radiant countenance was the first face that greeted me at the threshold to my first She Speaks Conference in 2007. She welcomed me with enthusiasm and warm hugs and made me feel right at home. In that first brief but meaningful encounter with Zoe, God's love through her and our love for Him connected us in our hearts. And our immediate connection of our enjoyment and appreciation of fashion finery was an extra stitch in our knitting together. (Don't you love her pink jacket above??)

In 2008, Zoe and I had another momentary encounter between sessions at She Speaks. Zoe was going in to teach a session as I was passing by. She commented on a bracelet I was wearing (a frugal fashion finery from The Trading Post in the Adirondacks costing only $9.99!) and I adored her shirt. She (and the gorgeous Wendy Blight, who was standing nearby) shared with me where she purchased her fabulous shirt and I was able to get one in my size in the weeks that followed. During my visit to the Adirondacks later that summer, I picked Zoe up a similar bracelet to the one I was wearing and sent it to her as a surprise.

Last month, my family lovingly journeyed with me to She Speaks 2010. The Lord blessed me again with brief but lovely encounters with Zoe. On Sunday morning as everyone was saying their farewells, I saw Zoe once again. Admiring again her flare for fashion, I complimented her on the silver bracelet she was wearing that was adorned with big hearts. What happened next, took my breath away. Spontaneously and with great enthusiasm, Zoe effortlessly took the bracelet off of her wrist and placed it on mine. Within seconds, she had given me her bracelet...simply because I said I liked it. Her kindness made me speechless. My mouth dropped open and I wanted to say "No, I can't take your bracelet". Zoe, sensing my hesitation, said, "You receive that bracelet. It's yours now. And every time you wear it, please pray for me." My heart was hushed and humbled. "Thank you, Zoe. Yes, I will do that. I will pray for you every time I wear it."

"Cheerful giver" was personified through Zoe that Sunday morning. God sure loves her. "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly...for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7) Loving and giving go hand in hand all throughout God's Word, culminating in the most beautiful giving ever. "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) God loved. God gave. Zoe's effortless and enthusiastic giving reflects His love and His heart. And it's no wonder there are BIG HEARTS on my new prayer bracelet. They are a beautiful reflection of His giving heart reflected through her. A little bling and a lot of love!

The colorful threads of Zoe's love and kindness, which reflect our master Weaver, are woven preciously now in the fabric of my heart and life. Though our face-to-face encounters have been fleeting and few, her loving and giving heart has strengthened and encouraged my heart each time our paths cross. Strands of kindness and love through beautiful friends in my life stretch out to the fringe. And the fringe is my favorite part of any woven creation.

"I put bracelets on your arms..."
Ezekial 16:11

" have shown great kindness to me..."
Genesis 19:19

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hushed and Humbled

"He will quiet you with His love..."
Zephaniah 3:17

Going to She Speaks 2010 for me was a desire and prayer in my heart before the Lord. He knew my heart. He also knew that I did not want to go because I would miss Joshua's 10th birthday, which was not an option for me. Maybe when our cherubs are older I won't mind not being with them on their actual birthday, but right now it is not negotiable....they are stuck with me!

For a few years before my first She Speaks in 2007, Jim had encouraged me to attend the conference. "You need to go to that conference" he would say. Each year, he would mention it and I would hush his sincere and sweet suggestion and encouragement away. However, in 2007, I knew God was beckoning me to go. His confirmations were everywhere. In 2008, I was led to go again with a few friends. In 2009, the conference conflicted with Joshua's 9th birthday and with a pre-planned family vacation to Camp of The Woods where James MacDonald was speaking for the week (one of Jim's favorite Bible teachers!!!). I did not attend in 2009.

This year, both Jim and I felt again that I should be there. So, in obedience to God's will, my sweet husband packed us all up and we made a wonderful family road trip to North Carolina!!!

Before and during (and now after) She Speaks 2010, I prayed and sought the Lord in His Word. He gave me such a generous portion of His Word for my heart from Him. I am so thankful. I'd like to share a few of those scriptures with you.

Psalm 37:30 - "The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom and his tongue speaks what is just."

Malachi 2:5-7 - "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered Me and stood in awe of My name. True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty."

Ecc. 12:10-12 - "The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."
[goad - 1. a stick for driving cattle, oxen, ...etc.; prod. 2. something that encourages, urges, or drives; a stimulus.]

My personal prayer for me - "So I May Know You": Exodus 33:13
"If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways, so I may know You and continue to find favor with You."

My prayer for everyone in attendance: Exodus 33:18-19 -
"Then Moses said, 'Now show me your glory.'
And the LORD said, 'I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence.'"

Hushed and humbled. My heart has again been quieted with His love and humbled by His grace, mercy, goodness and blessings. He met me so bountifully in His Word. He blessed me in unimaginable ways. (Blog post for another day.)

There were so many personal blessings from She Speaks 2010 that I could really go on and on and on. One of the biggest blessings: I met lots of bloggy friends that I have never met in person!!!!! BLOGGY FRIENDS -- I am doing a special Smilebox Slideshow just for all of you (or shall I say "for y'all")!!! Check back in a few days for your special slideshow!! I have so many pictures!! So excited!

Here is a Smilebox I did for my P31 sister-friends. Enjoy!

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"Let the one who has My word speak it faithfully...."

Jeremiah 23:28