Let us begin

Lately, there are a number of songs that talk about going back in time to tell yourself what you know now. A chance to tell yourself to walk away from a toxic relationship or to take the job you turned down. While this perspective seems appealing, I am not sure I would take it if given the opportunity.

Yes, there are decisions I made in my past that I regret. People I hurt because of my selfishness or insecurity. I made some pretty foolish decisions when I was eighteen, some that continue to impact me thirty years later. It has become part of who I am and who I am not.

I know as a believer, that God has had a plan for my life since before I was born. I know there were times in my life that the very prayers of someone kept me from danger. I also know that there were times when I chose to do something that was not God-honoring, sometimes I chose to do that deliberately. While I cannot go back and fix it, I know that I can learn from it.

Psalm 18:30-32 says, As for God, his way is perfect; The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (NIV).

Of the regrets that I can name, the ones that cause the most sadness to me are the ones I knew better than to do, but I did it anyway. In a way, I think that is the definition of regret, I knew better that to do it, but I did it anyway. My poor decisions, my failures, even the losses I experienced, were part of the path that led me to Christ.

When I came to see that all these choices I had made were never going to bring me the happiness, the contentment, the grace, mercy, or forgiveness I needed– that is when I cried out to God. And that is when He answered me. Not with fire, thunder, or lightning but with tenderness. With the very grace and love I needed.

Child, I have been waiting for you to call my name. I have wanted to pick you up, dust you off, mend your brokenness, and wipe your tears. But you never called out to me until now.

God is not a belligerent dictator, He is a gentleman. He will not come where He is not invited. But oh, Best Beloved, when God is invited into your life and heart. Wow. I learned that day, that He has the power to take my regrets and turn them into blessings. He did that day, He still does today.

Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” That was the lesson I learned from God the day He came into my life. I would not be able to go back and change the life I had lived before that day. I would not be able to tell the future, to know fully what would happen tomorrow. But while it was still called today, I could experience His grace. His mercy and learn the lesson that the past is in the past for a reason.

Now, the enemy is going to try and attack any way and any chance he can, to stop me from growing in Christ, to keep my story from being used to encourage others. It is what he does. He wants to bring up the regrets and the failures and tell me that I cannot possibly be used by God for God’s purposes and glory. But that is a lie.

God is in the business of taking people’s messes and turning them into messages. Scripture is full of story after story that show His redemptive power. Some of my favorite stories include the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Each time Jesus met the woman, their story was anything but a fairytale. But instead of taking them to task and in one case stoning her for her sins, Jesus turned the story on its head. He told the woman at the well that there was a way to get Living Water, to never thirst again. She had made a mess of thirsting for love from men who would never satisfy her thirst for eternal healing,

The woman in John 8 was seeking love in the wrong places and had made a complete mess of things. Jesus, who by all authority had the right to cast the first stone, as the only person there who was without sin, did nothing. He gave the woman another chance. A chance to change her mess into a message of grace. Of mercy and forgiveness.

Best Beloved, let us leave the past where it belongs- behind us. The future is somewhere on the horizon. Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:4).

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Wind and water

Today at church the service was kid friendly. There were beach balls, squirt guns, popcorn, competitions, and lots of joy.

The message was on James 3 and the power of the tongue.

The bit in a horse’s mouth and the rudder of a ship small items on their own which control large things.

James goes on to talk of a spark and how such a small item can cause such destruction when not controlled.

This week words were spoken and texted to someone which were unkind, hurtful, and even cruel.

Words that could have been controlled, but sadly, they were not controlled. The words were said and they were damaging, it took hours to restore the relationship. Hours that could have been spent growing the relationship.

As the kids competed in a race to put out candles with squirt guns, we all watched and laughed at the silliness. Yes, there was success, but it took minutes to extinguish the flame.

The streams of water were scattered, it was as if the idea was to overwhelm the candle with water in the hopes that something would put it out. As I took in the scene, I saw more unfolding.

Mankind will always try to force something to happen. More is better than less in our minds.

God will always have exactly what is needed.

When the competition was completed, a candle remained lit. One of the adults picked up the candle and lightly blew it out. Just a whisper of breath and the flame was gone.

The Holy Spirit is a whisper. Something we cannot see or hear, but the effect of it in our lives can have a profound effect in our faith, our prayers, our hearts.

It isn’t over saturating, like the water from the water pistols. It is quiet, gentle, and powerful. We just need to recognize when it is ready to move and respond.

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there’s a sweetness

I sat in a different place in church yesterday.

There was nothing special about the seat, how I acted during the service, nothing out of the ordinary. Yet it became a place of sweet communion between myself and the couple behind me at the end of the service.

After the benediction, I turned to gather my things and smiled at the couple. The wife introduced herself and her husband, I did the same.

She asked how long I had been attending the church and I gave a little of my story. The three of us spoke for a few moments, then she asked, “When did you accept Christ?”

I smiled, “July 16, 1990.” As I gave the birth date of my faith journey, I became suddenly weepy. I chuckled, a bit embarrassed by my emotions.

It has been almost thirty-two years since that summer day, but the tenderness of how God has loved me, cared for, protected, corrected, and encouraged me washed over me.

I told the couple that as I looked back over those years I could see the places where God showed up and carried me in difficult times.

Like the stones of remembrance throughout the Old Testament, I saw the places in my mind and heart and it held a sweetness I had forgotten.

Walking out to my truck, I smiled again to myself. God gave me a moment to reflect that I might not have taken in different circumstances.

When I focus on my faith, Who God is, who I am in Him, the rest of the world can be put back in its proper place. Nothing may be changed in my life, but how I see it does.

I am a believer, not because of how good it makes me look, but because of how good God is.

Best Beloved, the sweetness of our walk with God is not due to anything we do, don’t do, or are going to do. It’s sweet because of God Himself. He moves in our lives and in the lives of others to draw us closer to Him.

Nothing else will do. No Bible study, small group, volunteer position, donation, or anything else, will take the place of walking with Jesus.

Blessings, oxoxo

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Tarnished gold

I have been stumbling. Not fully falling down, yet losing my balance, a case of vertigo for my faith. I know the foundation is there, yet I cannot seem to place my feet on the solid base.

Ever since my divorce and subsequent relationship, I have felt like I cannot pray, I cannot call on the Faith that carried me through the process.

Yes, I still attend church, yes, I still believe. I just don’t feel the intensity I once did. I don’t seem to know how to pray, what to pray, and most challenging— that I am allowed to pray.

There is a sense that I have blown it, that this time I have gone too far. I wasn’t able to keep my marriage together, I started a friendship which turned into a relationship, as the marriage ended. I am not “allowed” to stand with the “good” believers anymore.

I am tarnished.

During the separation, I had four or five amazing friends who were standing in the gap for me, praying for me, my husband, our kids, our healing, our restoration. As time went on, I went radio silent and for the most part so did they. I felt like I had been dropped, even discarded.

I am not sure they meant anything by it, yet, I felt like I was being shamed. I don’t bear them ill will, in some cases I believe I deserve it. I blew it. I didn’t do something the way I was supposed to do it.

It’s a bit like wearing a scarlet letter that you accept because you might deserve to wear it.

I know what the Bible tells us about seeking forgiveness, about Christ’s death and His resurrection allowing us immediate access to God and His redeeming love. I know all that, but how does a person reconcile what they know with what they are feeling?

There are no podcasts, messages, verses, or books that I can think of to wipe away this feeling of not good enough.

I ache for the sense in my gut I used to have, when my world seemed to check all the boxes. Husband of 20+ years, two children, a home, a job, and church on Sunday.

Then the facade crumbled and eighteen+ months later here I am; 4 a.m., sitting at my dining room table, in the dark, writing. What a mess.

I have allowed the enemy a lot of real estate in my heart and mind. He has been whispering that maybe now that I’ve fallen, I don’t deserve my prayers to be heard. I am not worthy of the place I once stood in as a married woman.

The thing is, tarnished gold still has value. It still shines, maybe not as brightly, but it still shines.

Best Beloved, I wish I had the magic formula or the magic words even to make my situation, your situation, look as wonderful as it did before things got messy.

Being honest, though, it was messy even before the facade fell. Maybe this is where authenticity really begins.

I am a saved by Grace alone, through Christ alone, Christian. I am a mother, friend, daughter, sister, and yes, girlfriend. My Faith is still grounded in God, my steps are not straight all the time, but they continue to go forward.

This tarnished gold life of mine will continue to rub against other believers, continue to attend church, celebrate communion, and grow in the grace of Christ.

In time, I believe I will be able to shine again. Just like a broken mirror still shows a reflection I am still able to reflect Christ. Still a believer, still redeemed.

May it be so with you as well, my fellow believers.

Always,

Oxoxo

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On Mute

It’s been over six months since I wrote with any consistency.

I wanted to write something to inspire and encourage, maybe challenge someone as they were on their own faith journey. I just never expected to lose sight of my own walk.

My husband and I are officially divorced. We are still in contact, friends who check in on each other and get together for lunch or coffee to catch up. Being friends isn’t how most people view ex-spouses, but I am grateful for him and for his unique perspective, as both my best friend and my former spouse.

I started dating someone, a man who has helped me remember to laugh, who has reminded me that I am beautiful, someone who I love and cherish dearly.

As to my faith, I have felt like a hypocrite or a liar.

Did I deserve to have God in my life, to call myself a believer, if I couldn’t pick up a devotional or seem to pray as fervently as I had during the months leading up to my divorce?

This very faith that has carried me through losses and immeasurable sorrow, it seemed to just faded away. Like a lost pair of sunglasses, I remembered where I last had them/it, but I couldn’t remember where I had put them/it down.

I have felt like someone had pushed the mute button and I no longer made any sound, any noise. I was only pantomiming.

In the past week a new movie has been advertised, Redeeming Love which is based on the amazing novel by Francine Rivers. I heard a soft sound watching the trailer. Like a small crack, I was starting to thaw.

I have doubted myself over the past months . Even my friendships with girlfriends I have known for over 40 years. I have felt like my shot at serving God or even knowing Him, was lost, since I was no longer married.

Hearing the strains of Lauren Daigle’s song , Rescue, has cracked the surface.

“ You are not hidden… you’re not forgotten…I hear your SOS, your SOS…”

Then the chorus:

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching to reach you
In the middle of the hardest fight
It’s true, I will rescue you

My shame and failure because of my divorce is starting to loosen its grip. I am not released, but I can feel myself wriggling free.

It has been a dark night. I have been paralyzed, silent, unable to speak and be heard, to cry out in my pain and sorrow, my grief over what has been lost.

Now there is Hope.

God did not forget me. He has been with me every step of the way. Through my tears. My anger. My heart-rending grief.

Even now, He is listening. He is calling to my heart that He is still here. He still loves me, He still wants me as His daughter.

My divorce did not take me away from His plans, His knowing what is coming next in my life. God wasn’t caught off guard when my husband said he was leaving.

There is a story of redemption here. Just like my original story of redemption thirty-one years ago, God is still in the business of taking ashes and making them beautiful (Isaiah 61:3).

I can hear God’s voice calling me to join Him on this next adventure. This next adventure will not be like the last one, it may have familiar elements, but it will be a new adventure.

Just like His mercies. Every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23).

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Redeemable

I have watched the Redeeming Love movie trailer every time it comes up on my news feed.

I have clung to the words of Rescue by Lauren Daigle every time I have heard it playing.

Beloved, you are worth being rescued. You are precious and prized and valued and loved and treasured above all things.

You aren’t a THING – you were created by God, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm139:14).


Never, Never, NEVER– allow your priceless value to be dismissed or devalued by another person.


If your past contains this pain of devaluation, remember God is the Redeemer.


He will fight for you, is fighting for you, loves you and longs for you to know HIS kind of love. ♥️♥️♥️

With love –always

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Stuffing and Speaking

I have been quiet for a while now. Life has been busy, I keep telling myself. Truth is, I haven’t been sure I would be able to start writing and then I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stop.

In the last eleven months my husband and I have separated. We are in the early stages of filing and before summer is over, I will be divorced. It is a word that cuts me to the quick.

While I have had nearly a year to adjust to this loss and to adjust to living alone, I also have had to adjust my heart. When he first told me he was leaving and filing for divorce last May, I felt my spirit torn into pieces .

My reaction was to fight the words I had heard. To scream and cry, to rant and get angry. I laid on the bare ground and cried until I could hardly breath from sobbing.

I did that for two days.

Then I got up, went to my church, and met with some of the pastors and pastoral staff. We prayed and they listened. I went to one on one meetings with a member of the Spiritual Care team for twelve weeks as we worked through the emotional highs and lows of my new life.

Whoever coined the phrase “new normal” should be smacked. There is nothing normal about newness.

Since the initial announcement my husband has moved into his own house. We have been healing our tender hearts and restoring our friendship. I go to his house on Sundays after church, picking up coffee for us on the way.

We sit and talk, sharing how our lives are going. What happened at our jobs in the last week, what might be happening in the next week for us. It is like a balm for my soul.

I didn’t want divorce. I didn’t want to continue in the broken cycle we had been in for years. Precious friends prayed fervently for God to come in and restore the marriage. We shared Bible verses, prayed in agreement as I went through the house and anointed the doorways to each room. Praying for healing, a miracle.

All this time I have been stuffing the rawness of it all.

I didn’t want to subject either of us to someone’s snarky comments about how they knew it would never last. I didn’t want anyone to think they had to pick sides.

I didn’t want someone to come to our sons and ask questions that were not theirs to answer.

I believed I had to show everyone that I was a bad a** chick and I could do everything I needed to do on my own. Without a man. This may be true in many ways, but I also learned how much I do want a partner in life to lean on as life continues.

I have learned that I am more capable than I realized. I have replaced faucets, repaired faucets, bought my own chain saw. I process my own birds for the freezer, I have bought furniture, built a chicken coop, and ordered propane for the house.

I forgot what I really could do. The last year has been a renaissance for me and I have embraced it.

I have embraced my faith in ways I never knew I would and I have also embraced myself in ways I never imagined.

My heart is learning what it means to forgive, to ask forgiveness, and to let go while still holding on. It has been an adventure and a challenge to experience.

Best Beloved, hear me, please. Do not stuff the pain, the tenderness, or the joy because it may not be understood. Share it. Share it with your inner circle, share it with the person you see at church.

If nothing else has been learned during this last year of quarantine and uncertainty, I have learned the need to speak the truth. Speak it with love, not judgment. Speak it.

Stuffing is only good for plush animals and turkeys at holiday dinners.

Blessings,

oxoxoxo

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Hidden things

I used to drive a cute, little, compact car in college. It was the perfect size to take back and forth as I commuted to school, went out with friends, and went on trips.

As I drove to school, I was often rushing to class after staying up late to complete an assignment. Even though I knew I was supposed to check the oil when I filled the tank, I would often put it off.

The damage wasn’t something that happened right away. In fact, I couldn’t tell you when it happened, but somewhere along the line, the oil level went down further and further.

I continued to drive the car, even after the exhaust from the car started to change.

I finally admitted there was a problem, when a police officer stopped me because the exhaust was now a danger for those who were in traffic with me.

When my dad and brother took the engine apart, they replaced and repaired multiple parts that were damaged because I had not done the simplest task- checking the oil level.

After nearly 100 hours of labor and over $200 spent on parts, they had repaired the engine. It was quite a feat; they were proud of what they had done and so were my mom and I.

When they started the car, they learned that there was a crack in the head. No amount of work, parts, money, or time would repair that crack. It was broken for good.

It was a very costly lesson.

*Sarah’s marriage (see It was the underwear) was just like the engine.

The simple task of taking the time to sit down as a husband and wife to discuss things in their relationship, was not being done. The lack of communication allowed the issues to fester.

When there are underlying issues that are not acknowledged, the relationship pressure is going to build. Tempers will flare and hot words are spoken that will inflict pain and push away the other person.

No amount of repair, time, money, etc. would replace the simple task of adding oil as it was needed. Just like no amount of time, energy, submission, etc. could repair the damage in Sarah’s marriage.

It would take a complete replacement of the broken foundation that was under their marriage. Unless both Sarah and her husband were willing to work on it it was not going to change.

There comes a time when it is necessary to speak plainly. Even when it is painful. Cars are declared totaled, marriages are declared broken.

God is the only One- the ONLY ONE- with the power to change hearts. To mend relationships. To heal marriages.

Only God. There is no mechanic, no doctor, no medication, that can restore and redeem and heal. Only God can do that.

Only God.

Best Beloved, there are no easy words. No platitudes.

Only prayer. Only God.

Precious One, pray for your marriage. If you are single, pray for the marriages in your life. Pray for your future spouse.

If you have issues in your past get help, counseling, seek a mentor, a support group.

The enemy has claimed too many marriages, too many relationships.

It’s time to do the most important thing- bring God into your life, your heart, your marriage, your healing.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain, (Psalm 127:1 ESV).

Sending love,

oxoxoxo

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It was the underwear

“Get it together or I’m gone,” he said with I dare you to defy me hidden in his voice. Sarah* knew she couldn’t give a retort, that would only feed the fire, she just stood there as he walked away.

After years of hearing that she didn’t do as he told her, didn’t show respect for him, she was tired. Worn down. Gray. Like an old barn, neglected through the years, losing the luster and gleam of the fresh red paint it once had.

Sarah wasn’t always this way, her friends remember when she was excited about life and where it might take her. The adventures she would have and the people she might meet.

She had been married long enough now that she was a faded image of herself. Over the years, as her husband’s emotional and mental health began to fall apart, she found his explosive temperament would appear in verbal, emotional, and occasionally physical abuse whenever demands of the moment were not met.

She would meet him toe-to-toe and fight back if it became physical, but this was not the for better or worse she had been promised in her wedding vows.

She found herself living with less and less emotional commitment from her husband. As if he had been a pool of water that slowly dried up, unable to be refilled.

She did everything she knew how to help fill him up again. She read books on being a good wife, went to counseling with the directive to “figure out why you aren’t listening to me.”

No matter what she did, it never seemed to fill the pool of his heart. Sarah’s sense of self began to shrink more and more- until almost nothing was left.

As she was washing her hair one morning, she realized just how far she had gone to submit to the ever changing emotions of her husband.

She generally would not ask for new clothes. She wasn’t a shopping-kind-of-girl. She wouldn’t even ask for new undergarments, because she didn’t want to spend money that might be earmarked for something else.

So when it was absolutely necessary to get new underwear, she would get white cotton pairs. The simplest, most inexpensive pairs, thereby spending as little as possible from the budget.

She sat up straight in the tub, where she was bathing. Had it really come down to underwear?

When her husband announced he was filing for divorce not long afterward, she knew she wouldn’t fight him about it.

She loved him deeply. Even with his brokenness, she had seen and experienced the wonderful blessing of his heart and joy. But he had allowed his brokenness to take over everything.

She knew he was better than how he had been acting. She never would have accepted his proposal if he wasn’t.

Sarah spent time in prayer, fasting, and seeking wise counsel for the best way to move forward and still keep a tender heart toward her husband. In the words and prayers of dear sisters-in-Christ she found strength and healing for her heart.

As she began her life apart from her husband, one of the first things she purchased was colorful undergarments. Nothing from a boutique shop, but still something special for her, to remind herself of her worth. To remind herself that she did not have to fade away.

The glossy red paint has found its luster again.

*not her real name

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Soul worth

When I was in high school I struggled with my personal value. My self-worth was so jumbled between what my family poured into me and what my crush said about me.

My folks spoke hundreds, probably thousands, of words of affirmation and encouragement over me. But I couldn’t accept them. I dismissed what they said as something they were required to say as my mom and dad.

By the time I started my senior year I was
starving for validation. I was so hungry for someone to say I was worthwhile, that I ended up in situations that were dangerous. Situations that led to my being sexual assaulted and sexually abused.

I began to believe that my value could only be measured by what my body could do.

What I could not see in those dark seasons of my life was that I was confusing my body’s worth with my soul’s worth.

I believed the enemy who whispered in my ear through magazines, movies, and television that I could not measure up. I was too short, too aggressive, too fat.

The enemy was well on his way to destroying the very life God had protected since my conception.

Thankfully, the enemy did not win.

When I was first engaged, my husband wrote Proverbs 31:10 under a framed picture of me that he had on his desk. The verse says, A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

My husband knew my worth and value. He made a point to tell me and show me how much I meant to him. It changed how I saw myself.

Not all spouses or families understand the need we have to be valued.

When we are not given the love we need from those who are supposed to love us- we are more vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. We can be so starved for love, affection, affirmation, or validation that we fall into the trap set by the enemy.

It’s how the attention of someone who isn’t your spouse becomes intoxicating and soon you begin to seek that person out so that you can experience the sensation again and again.
Then what seems like all of a sudden, you’re having an affair.

But it wasn’t all of a sudden- it was the continual steps toward that person, instead of toward your spouse.

While the affair may last for a while, it will never fully satisfy the longing your heart has to be known and valued by your husband or your wife.

By the time most people realize they are not going to be satisfied by the affair, their marriage is over and the damage they have caused is severe.

I have been on both sides of this- as the person being betrayed and the person being tempted.

The betrayal is painful and devastating. It makes you doubt anything that is said by the other person. Even if they say the sky is blue and the grass is green, you will still look outside to check.

As the one being tempted, you scold yourself for being so foolish. You begin to mistrust your ability to make decisions. You wonder how you can get back to the real love you once knew.

It is why my heart clings to what God says about me. Why I cherish the song Priceless by For King and Country so much.

Over and over I have heard these words sung over me by my Heavenly Father.

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless
No matter what you’ve heard
This is what you’re worth
More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh, this is who you are
Yeah, this is who you are

(Songwriters: Ben Backus / Joel Smallbone / Luke Smallbone / Seth Mosley / Tedd Tjornhom)

My prayer is for each of us to know and fully believe the words God speaks over us. We are precious and prized and valued and loved and treasured above all things.

May we never grow deaf to those words.

Blessings,
oxoxo

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Choosing joy

I spoke with a precious friend about some of the difficult things I have been facing recently. She commented that my decision to choose joy in this season, when she would be deep in the pit, touched her heart deeply.

I hadn’t really thought about the choice I had made. I said that joy was like a tightrope stretched over the pit and it was something I balanced on every day.

The image stuck with me after our conversation. What was it about joy anyway, that drew me to it?

I have often joked about being a Pollyanna. Positive, finding the best in the middle of difficult situations, choosing happiness over hardness and bitterness.

In my lifetime I have faced some heart-wrenching difficulties and I could have grown very angry and allowed my anger to harden my heart. I am sure many people would say I was justified in my anger and bitterness.

But bitterness is a cancer that eats away from the inside and in the end leaves only the shell of the heart and soul.

I have met too many people who are empty shells and I feel both a deep sorrow for them and disappointment too, that they didn’t fight to keep their joy.

Keeping my heart and soul intact is a conscious decision that I make daily. Sometimes by the hour.

It’s the very first thing that the enemy comes to steal from us. It’s the very first thing I am determined to keep. If he steals our joy then he can get access to our faith. He can replace them with dissatisfaction and doubt.

That’s what he did to Eve. That’s what he continues to try with us as believers. He cannot steal our souls from the Lord, once we are His, but he can steal our contentment. He can challenge our trust that God desires the best for you and me.

I am not devoid of sorrow or anger or grief. I experience those emotions and I will cry, rant, and rave. But I do not remain in those areas.

Earlier this year, I received news from a loved one which threatened to decimate all that I treasure. I spent two days in anguish. Unable to eat or sleep, I cried, screamed, prayed, and begged God to tell me it was just a nightmare.

It wasn’t. I am still hip deep in the middle of it.

I could sit down in my sorrow and allow it to seep into my bones. Some would even say I was supposed to do that. Many who know what I am walking through would expect it.

But who is bigger? My sorrow or my God?

Scripture tells us over and over again that there are times and seasons for all things. I firmly agree.

I grieved the news then and I am still grieving the news. I am still able to celebrate with my friends and family when blessings come in their lives.

My sorrow has a place. It will be living there for some time. But I will not allow it to cross the boundaries I have put around it.

There are still reasons to celebrate. Reasons to laugh, clap, and cheer in life. It is here that I find the courage to keep choosing joy.

Joy does still come in the morning.

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