Monday, January 30, 2012

Do I Make God a Stepford Wife?

“Have you put a microchip in your god? Do you have a real God? A God Who can cross your will? Contradict you? Or do you have an appliance god? A god who is happy in the kitchen whipping up whatever you want?”

~ Tim Keller, February 6, 2005, Christ : The Final Word

Provocative? Indeed.  True?  How can it be?  I KNOW so much better than to even put one little toe a millimeter in the direction of thinking of this God who spoke everything into existence in such a teeny, tiny way.

But, I must confess that I do.  I do imagine Him into something altogether subservient to my whim and wish.  I do it with every little puny fist shake when I don’t get my way.  I live it with every aching worrying fear that weighs upon my back and in my heart and leaves me crippled in a life I am meant to stand straight, tall and rock solid in the reality of this Infinite God.

In this same sermon where Keller’s text was Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:1-4 he reiterated a teaching he had heard from a female Bible teacher 25 years earlier that he said forever changed him.

It went {something} like this:

“If the distance between the earth and the sun {93 million miles} is the depth of a sheet of paper and the distance between the earth and the closest star is a stack of papers 70 feet high and the diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy is a stack of papers 300 miles high and the Milky Way is just one galaxy in the estimated 100’s of billions in the Universe and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, holds ALL of that together by the word of His Power {his pinky finger, essentially}, AM I GOING TO INVITE HIM INTO MY LIFE AS MY PERSONAL ASSISSTANT?!?!?!?!”

I definitely crave the ‘punches in the gut’.  That truth that jolts my perspective beyond the gray, colorless and small.  And this, this, does just that.

I step outside of myself and start to shake me silly with the wonder and the glory and the infinite compelling Nature of this One who IS WORTHY OF ALL OF ME.

In a million and more subtle ways my view of the One who is…

“the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

~Hebrews 1: 3a

becomes domesticized and I allow my own worldly penchant towards narcissism to drain Him of His mind-blowing Power through my grotesquely warped eyesight.

And so I scream from the mental, the heart and the soul mountaintops, ‘NO!!!!!’ ‘NO MORE!!!!!’ I am done with the dull and the dismal and the shadowlands of the half-truths, the half-dreams, the half-hope, the half-faith, the half-life…It is TIME to live like He is All that He claims to be and that He lives in me and that I live every breath for Him!

By His Grace, May You and I begin to make MUCH of Him with our lives.

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SoliDeoGloria


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Five Minute Friday :: Tender

Tender is the arms that hold tightGossamer Sunset, & Life! 003

Tender is the lips that kiss

Tender is the eyes that shine up

Tender is the hearts that are ready to mold

Tender is the reverence of a little soul

Tender is the deep knowing

Tender is the embrace of the unbelievably special

Tender is never pretending it’s yours

Tender is holding so gingerly that which breaks so easily

Tender is hallowing the Giver of it all

Tender is the Heart of the Abba Father

Gossamer Sunset, & Life! 010Tender is the source of that Love

Tender is the heart that receives

Tender is the one who remembers this

Tender is the place to stay, to live, to remain

Tender is never wanting to let go

Tender is strong because

Tender is never alone

Tender is full

Tender is where all the strength comes

Tender is the armor of love

Tender is resilient to a thousand blows

Tender is the overcomerGossamer Sunset, & Life! 008

Tender is the eye of the beholder

Tender is the one who truly lives

Tender is the one who never regrets

Tender is the humble

Tender is the great

Tender is the willing to sacrifice

Tender remains in the arms of surrender

Tender is the only way

awa 1/27/12

 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

On JoePa, Final Chapters & Scandalous Grace

For the second week in a row I am posting about an iconic sports figure who is close to my heart. {In case you didn’t know, I come from a sports-lovin’ family and married into one as well:}

But, today, I write very little about the game that JoePa so dearly loved and made his life work.

I write rather about the Final Chapter I hope and pray will be written over his life and the one that I cling to with all of the weary, the weighed down, the wanting-to-do-right-in-a-world-gone-wrong and who will undoubtedly find themselves powerless to cure, understand or even protect others from the depravity and evil that yet remain.

From a human standpoint, or perhaps because I am from a state where many are loyal to Penn State, where JoePa lived most of his life, I believe that his legacy will shine even though his last days as head coach were terribly marred.

But it is not the last chapter that any human admirer would write that I want to lift up here.

It is rather, the one that the God who sees and redeems and has the final say over ALL THINGS writes for JoePa and for every person who has ever lived.

It is one of Scandalous Grace, so outlandish to lavish on but one of the poor and defiled who bear His image let alone the millions even billions throughout time.

It is the Same One who authors the life of Abraham. A man who put his wife in grave danger of abuse by denying that she was his wife to protect himself TWICE and thus handing her over to heathen kings. Yet he is hallowed forever as the forefather of faith to the blessing of myriad of nations and people.

It is the Same One who authors the life of David.  A man whose victory over the great giant Goliath set him on the path to rule as a righteous king over Israel.  But also one who slept with another man’s wife and murdered her husband so that he could have her all to himself.  Yet his legacy is one of a ‘man after God’s own heart.’

It is the Same One who authors the life of Peter.  A man who enjoyed an intimate inner circle relationship with the Savior of the World. Who boldly proclaimed that he would die for this Savior even before His Savior had died for him!  Then in an hour of weakness he denies the One he’s sworn to die for, not once, or twice, but THREE TIMES.  Yet it is his restoration and the renewed calling from Jesus that he be a shepherd to fledgling lambs, Christ’s first followers, that has the final say.

It is the Same One who authors the final chapters not only of the thief on the cross but of many death row inmates who in truly repenting have an Eternal Chapter grander than the ones written in time and space over the lives of the most heroic men and women.

It is outrageous to believe that the Grace of the Author of All Time extends to such as these. 

And yet, it is no more outrageous to believe that that Grace extends to you and me. 

We are each one made in His image bearing the Truth of His character in the deep places and yet we are born to the race of Adam. The race which has committed heinous acts in massacres and rapes and holocausts and gulags and all that mars every relationship where love is withheld and hatred flourishes in a lack of forgiveness, a resentment and a bitterness that shuts out the light.

And so in this light it is an easy yet full hope to trust in that Same One to write the last Eternal Chapter of JoePa’s life.  A man who sought to lead and guide young men into maturity and faithfulness in all of life through the avenue of football and the commitment to the Institution it represented.  A man who garnered 409 wins in the battlefield of the gridiron. Yet, a man who either through trusting too much, possessing a naivety to the depths of depravity one close to him could sink, maintaining a fierce full-out commitment to the nuts and bolts of the game he loved, maybe too much, or perhaps a combination of these underscored by the simple reality of being human, was unable to stop the evil that lurked.

But that evil can never have final say for the receivers of this Scandalous Grace.  Its power triumphs, sees deepest trust where it lies and embraces all who stand upon THAT truth for ALL TIME with a ‘well done thou good and faithful servant’ as they enter their Forever Rest and so live in the Glories of this One Great Love :: The Eternally Perfect Final Chapter.

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SoliDeoGloria

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five Minute Friday :: Vivid

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There’s one thing I’ve been on the hunt for…the lens of a vivid faith.

I’ve been walking the motions and doing the things to surrender this one life for His kingdom…along with my partner & beloved and our two little kids.

But I’ve been wandering a bit in this field of calling, in this journey of faith and it’s been a pretty vivid oxymoron.

The living defining faith and yet faith not defining the living?

He showed me this when I was just reading Hebrews 11 and the hall of fame of faith.

How we wander as Abraham.

How we look to that CITY like Moses ‘whose builder and maker is God.’

How we do not cling to what is but all that is promised…

How we may one day be called to suffer greatly for that faith we cling to with everything, that to lose would be to lose everything.

And yet, I’m crying for the VIVID.  I’m crying for the colors of Him.  That azure of peace that flows rivers and oceans and bleeds in skies.  And that crimson of love that falls from the skies and fills all of the things and people so that they are dripping.  That brilliant sunshine yellow that shines over this happy journey where there is a Lamb and a Father who is all the Glory Forever…the Eternal Son and Sun.

And though vivid does not yet fill this journey shaped by faith, I cling to the promise that One Day it will, until then, I hunt and refuse to be satisfied…

Stop.

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I’m loving, loving LOVING this song…the tears were just brimming a tiny bit for what I felt was in me when we sang it last Sunday…trusting and praying, you sing with me for the truth and often more the desire for this truth:

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Tim Tebow, Hits & Followers and Living in the Light

 

Dad & Marie, Fall Retreat, etc 280

 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.

Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
   and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

~Ephesians 5:14-16

I had a pretty tough week last week.  And the hardest thing about it is that my vision was and is murky, dull, clouded, even dark.

When I look at how I am living, I see this woman who is great fathoms less than the fullness of grace upon grace that comes with having the light of the world at home IN ME…that fullest life that makes ‘best use of the time’.

I have felt chained and bound and yearn to be free.

You may be thinking I am being too hard on myself.  I know all of the reasons why this season of great transition is hard, but I have also been blessed with the light, a clear vision, of the ways in which He wants to live in and through me.  So, I speak the truth of where I’m struggling to Praise God for how He’s made me unsatisfied with lesser things. a lesser life.

Through My EyesAnd Tim Tebow is not randomly in the title to draw more hits on this blog.Winking smileI read his book, Through My Eyes, last week.  And I thank God for him and his testimony.

As I read through his life story, so many inspiring things surfaced.  His birth was a medical miracle and through an amazing network of family support and coming to know Christ at an early age he has sought to thank God with his life.  Seizing the days and each opportunity to make the most, not of himself, but, of God, His Love, Grace and Salvation.

A major factor in his not entering the NFL draft after his junior year in college was the huge platform that college football had given him.  After the 2009 BCS Championship Game when he led the Florida Gators to victory, there were 94 million hits on Google for John 3:16 which he had worn on his eye black during that game.

By seeking to live fully for God in the midst of the strongest vortex of temptation to live for the world, he brings to light why God is pleased to lift up his life & testimony so that 94 million hits would be drawn to a verse that so clearly shares the Good News and has given him 1,029,292 twitter followers {as of 10:35 PM 11-16-12}.  A gigantic amount of Google hits and followers for one great purpose of leading them to Jesus.

Our pastor summed it up well when he talked about the chains of living like our performance somehow stokes the fire of God’s love.  We live bound to the darkness, the murky gray of a world that rises and falls on the praise or criticism of others.  And if you are in this blogging and social media world, how often do we ride the waves of followers, comments, hits?

And Tim Tebow faces more media criticism than just about anyone and each word goes viral by the millions in seconds.  Yet, by choosing the lens of God’s Great Love for him, he focuses on what really matters and is eternal and incorruptible and he lives FREE.

I don’t write about Tim Tebow to praise him, but to thank God for how he and so many through the halls of history bear witness to that One True Light. 

And I pluck out these words on this blog home to mostly remind myself of that light.  The dark and the haze are for the sleepy and in these days I know that the fight is a real. so real and so close.  And I hear these words from Paul to the Ephesians. to the would-be faithful throughout time. to me.  And by His Grace I will arise and awake into the days ahead and plans prepared before time for that one great purpose of glorifying HIM with my life!

{p.s. I guest posted yesterday at a great blog {and facebook} community for wives in ministry.  January’s theme is ‘Beginnings’ and for me ‘The Beginning is Simply…Grace.’ It is an inter-cultural community and was an honor to post there on MLK Jr. Day:} Hop over and especially join the community or site if you are a wife navigating ministry and/or invite others too!}

This song stirs a quiet sure hope.

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SoliDeoGloria

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Five Minute Friday :: Awake

26 (2 of 7)26 (5 of 7)

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On days and weeks and moments like this AWAKE is but a yearning.

I know I have lived little awake these days but I KNOW that I want to live so much more so.

AWAKE to them, those little wonders all full of everything beautiful

And yes, the funny, messy, not-so-beautiful too.

Their wonder and joy and their innocence and all that wants to harness their world and plunge full-force and awake into each day.

With smiles and jumps and cries for more and better…this is really our naked humanity laid bare, isn’t it?

Awake is what we are when there is nothing that can yet put us to sleep.  When all is full of wonder and newness and the ‘no’s’ and ‘can’t’s’ and ‘shouldn’t’s’ haven’t quite been understood.

Awake to how fun is around the stairs and the hall and mommy plays crocodile and we laugh and run.

Awake to tender touch and holding and loving because I am there, their only mama, awake and present.

Awake to tears I cry today when I find out months later that a beloved supporter is in Heaven. Awake enough for little two year-old sympathy to wield tears and cry with a hurting mama and ask me about my sadness multiple other times.

Awake to the reality of the image-bearers that they meet each day and to the possibility always of community, relationship and JOY.

Awake as them, to be born again into the innocence and wonder, that is my yearning.

{Alarm sounding…in more ways than one;}

26 (6 of 7)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

a faith to move mountains :: ‘oh God, I believe, help my unbelief!’

 

261586_10150305569371141_751706140_9488391_6819306_nIt is a year where I have chosen to dwell upon secure~ness {and make up words, apparently;}. And yet this year also meets me at the cusp of a wanting, a needing of a faith that would break the final places of that rock foundation to that mountain that we need to see moved so that we can step fully into our calling.

And He used a precious friend who, through her own journey, reveals glaringly that I live with far too little faith.  It is dull at best and I have most definitely been settling for less.

I don’t know if I have said it here before, but regardless, it must be said again.  Just because we are uprooting our lives, have left a life we love while putting an ocean between us and home to bear witness to the Light in a dark place, it DOES NOT MEAN that inside we live radically full of faith or are brimming with the Life that escapes unbounded for the adventure.

It does, however, mean that we can see when all is lackluster and ho-hum because this journey is designed to be anything but that.

I have no prescription to fill to miraculously provide me {or you} with what is lacking.  There is no step-by-step plan to stoke the fire within.

But for each of us it is but that teeny tiny mustard seed of faith. 

Waiting to be planted anew today. 

A Listening and yearning for the stirring to rise above the din of what is and in the desperation a gasping prayer for a glimpse of Glory.  His Beauty to touch and compel our faint spirits beyond the innumerable voices that speak the lies and the inertia of a cynical world bound to keep us where we are.

If you are like me, many times, this itsy bitsy seed is a spark of vision, of light, that seems to flicker off and on.  But I remember with you that we are made for the light, for eternity, for a Great Plan beyond imagining that has been prepared for us.  And I believe with you and we hunt for that pearl of Great Price, that smallest seed of faith and together we plant it with trembling hands and soul deep cries lifted to the One who brings all to pass and creates every particle of life—physical, emotional, spiritual—LIFE.

And we wait expectantly for mighty trees to grow that reach limbs high and bear witness to His Glory and yes, for mountains to move and plain places to be revealed as the impossible becomes fully possible.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

~Mark 9:24

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

~Matthew 17:19-20

imperfect prose

Thought Provoking Thursday

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Monday, January 9, 2012

{dwell} secure in 2012

dwell

   [dwel]
verb (used without object)
1. to live or stay as a permanent resident; reside.
2. to live or continue in a given condition or state: to dwell in happiness.
3. to linger over, emphasize, or ponder in thought, speech, or writing (often followed by on or upon ): to dwell on a particular point in an argument.
se·cure (s-kyr)
adj. se·cur·er, se·cur·est
1. Free from danger or attack: a secure fortress.
2. Free from risk of loss; safe:
3. Free from the risk of being intercepted or listened to by unauthorized persons: Smile
4. Free from fear, anxiety, or doubt.
5. a. Not likely to fail or give way; stable: a secure stepladder.
b. Firmly fastened: a secure lock.
6. Reliable; dependable: secure investments.
7. Assured; certain:
____________________________________________________________________________________________
sunset, souderton parade, around the house 014
My word(s) for 2012 is {dwell} secure.  At first, it was simply secure.  But as I was walking the other day, and praying about how to live in these days, the word ‘dwell’ so clearly came to mind.
Last year, my word was Home. And it was an amazing year of learning and clinging to the vision of Home that He gives.  Home is all about knowing whose I am and looking to all that is eternal with His eyes to see it the whole journey through. 
And so this year, with the biggest displacement yet to come in the form of an overseas move and adjustment of our whole family to this, secure is how I will dwell in the Home he has for me.
I love that ‘dwell’ is like living, but there is more of a centered understanding of what that living is.  It can even be defined as ‘living or continuing in a given condition or state.’  It is not a living that is jumbled or hurried or BUSY, but whole and full and blessedly simple. 
And secure, well, in this worry-racked world of all that teeters and totters and the fickle nature of opinion and mood, there is nothing quite so shocking as claiming an unshakable security.  But we know that in Christ this IS what we possess and out of this we are called to live. 
We have an incorruptible inheritance that is ours forever with Him.  And the best that we can know in this life is to dwell deeply in the reality of that promise and depth of commitment that comes unwavering and sure from Him.
For my part, I know what the huge displacement that is coming will do to any false security or pretension of who I really am.  Every confidence in myself, my abilities, my understanding is going to be stripped away and I will be left naked and raw and wondering who I am or if I have anything to offer the world.
So, to dwell secure in the midst of that will ONLY be possible through a vision of myself that is wholly His yet freely given as I claim every truth of who He says I am:
“The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety. {dwells secure}
The High God surrounds him all day long,
   and dwells between his shoulders.”
~Deuteronomy 33:12
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
   and gently lead those that are with young.”
~Isaiah 40:11
A beloved lamb tended by a Great Shepherd who holds me close to His heart ALWAYS…come what may this is where I dwell always and forever.  There is NO WHERE that could be more secure than here.
By His Grace, this year, may I {and you} learn to dwell all the more securely in Him and His abiding, sustaining truth that we might be healed and changed and overflow that sweetness and goodness to everyone we meet.
Thank you Lord:
  • That in You I am secure far beyond what ANYTHING ELSE can offer
  • That You call always for me to dwell in this security
  • That You promise to work this in me as I cling to You, Your truth
  • You are enough to rid me of all anxiety, worry, doubt, fear
  • For family
    • These days of precious time before we move
    • Great talks and time with my mother-in-love
    • Sons and buddies and brothers who are amazing daddies
    • Experiencing a great win together!
    • Son who asks a zillion questions
    • Daughter who wears bright pink happy shoes even over footy sleepers
  • For a friend who loves You so much and who is hurting so
  • For all that it is to love others in the good and bad
  • For a twin sister who now reads and loves Ann too & I think will start counting gifts too!
  • For how my beloved loves me in the good, bad and especially ugly
  • For always new friends made in this journey we are on
  • For chances to hear stories from so many as we enter homes and listen
  • For all that You continually remind of
  • and how You are ALWAYS working
  • For every promise Yes and Amen in Christ!
  • For all that is beautiful now, if I have but eyes to see and the Indestructible Beauty that is to forever come!
#1706-1727
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Five Minute Friday : Roar

Niagara Falls USA

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All your breakers, they wash over me.

Deep is calling unto deep

and the deep is a roar

and it is in me.

it rages and pounds the air

and flails the arms

and screams the cries

and longs for another world.

and the roar of my

puny self

is met with the roar of YOU.

it is a loving way to

come to me for

in YOUR ROAR

is a deafening power that

is made full only

by the great Reality YOU ARE.

And in Your Roar

are all of history’s questions

and the millennia's doubts

and the striving races of

the masses

they are silenced for

You, when you ROAR

there is but one thing to know

and that is that there

is NONE like you. And

to take you for the fullness of

Your Voice or not to take

you at all and so YOUR

ROAR is a thousand and more

choruses and they are in

harmony and on key

and they absorb all of the

off notes of time and

all of the chaos of a

billion voices claiming

their own eternity

only to finally all of us

be stilled by what can only

be Your Roar. Your Waters.

Your Voice in all of this

raging, spinning, wobbling

yet permeated by Your ROAR

world.

AWA 1-6-12

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Pilgrim’s Progress, Fanning Flames and Eyes Fixed

First editionPilgrim’s Progress, the classic work printed in 200 languages, written by John Bunyan and published in 1678 is probably the favorite book, next to the Bible, of my father.  We had the children’s version when I was a little girl and it was read to me before I could read it myself.  My Dad and my husband went through it together soon after we got together and my Dad has used it in numerous Sunday School classes of all ages.

Tried and true.  A place to go when you need perspective, grounding and a great place to be at the start of a new year.

So, I was delighted when the visiting minister, named Jared, like my husband {I have never met a Jared I didn’t like:} referred to the classic allegory in his sermon on New Year’s Day.  My husband and I turned to each other and smiled.

Jared, the pastor, had been reading the book to his children and referenced a part that I didn’t immediately remember.  Leading me to mention right then to my Jared that I NEEDED to get it into my new Christmas-present Kindle.  And as I re-focused, capturing me all the more as the reference was all about fanning flames.

It is in the house of ‘the Interpreter’ which occurs early in the story. It is the scene of a fire burning against a wall and one continually throwing water on it.  BUT the fire still blazes higher and hotter.  Here is the interpretation:

“The fire is the work of God’s grace in the heart.  The person throwing water on it is the devil.  Still, you see, the fire burns brighter.  Come around the wall here and you will see why. (On the other side of the wall was a person secretly pouring oil in the fire.) This shows why it is hard for the tempted to understand how God’s grace is maintained in the soul.  This is the way Christ continues to supply grace in the soul of the believer through all of the cold showers of the world and temptations of the devil.”

And Jared {the pastor} emphasized Christ IS THE ONE pouring oil onto the fire of our hearts.  And as the sermon concluded our Pastor, Jeremy, spoke further into the heart of Christ quoting a favorite of mine:

“Consequently, {Jesus, the Great High Priest} is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

~Hebrews 7:25 {emphasis added}

The whole focus of this wonderful sermon was the sure promise of He who calls.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

~I Thessalonians 5:23-24 {emphasis added}

Our entire destiny rests on His work and that is sure.  Surer than sun rising and setting and planets orbiting and stars shining and ALL of the galaxies’ orchestrated motions.  And that commands our vision and propels our gaze at the beginning of a year and at every righting step.

The Risen One who LIVES on High to make intercession fanning the flame of my heart and yours.  Such glory and freedom and though I could name a million character deficiencies and specific improvements I’d like to enact as resolutions, this one will do:

To fan the flame right here with you this year as we purpose to see more and more that it is all Him. His surety bound in His full nature and work, promising He knows who we are becoming and will forever be.

{p.s. my word for the year is…SECURE.  I’ll be posting more on it soon!}

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Praise You God who holds all surety, security:

  • For a new year promising to have You continually fanning the flame
  • For a new day 366 {1 extra} times to pick up the truth again—that it ALL rests on YOU
  • For chances to be reminded of classics and images that stick
  • For all that is coming together in Your Perfect Timing
  • For the little ones:
    • Baby Girl constantly reminding that she is indeed ‘two’;}
    • Buddy Boy still jumping up and down whenever excited about something
    • For sensitive hearts in both to reprimands and correction
    • For shining eyes that brim wonder and ever engage
    • For new Bibles and playing ‘bible study’ and ‘church’
    • For delight held deep within and brimming over in the moments
    • For the lavish grace of being their mama
  • For {finally} finishing 400 hand-written Christmas cardsWinking smile
  • For so close to the end and knowing we WILL move soon
  • For window shopping flats in Budapest on-line
  • For Grace as close and constant as I have ever known it and a peace that is pure gold
  • For His surety & promise in all : THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

#1689-1705

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