{ This Valley }

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This valley does not go on forever.

Just keep walking.

One step at a time. 

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While you are walking

While you are praying

While you are looking up

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The ground will rise to meet you,

The wind will suddenly be at your back

And sunlight will fall tenderly upon you.

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You will know that God

Has been

Holding you gently

  In His loving grip.

~~~

“May the road rise to meet you, and the wind always be at your back. May the rains fall softly on your fields. May God hold you gently in the palm of his hand. — Traditional Irish Blessing

~~~

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. — Numbers 6:24-26

~~~

Photos:

K

Jeremy Bishop

Wolfgang Lutz

 Marc-Olivier Jodoin

This is one of my all-time favorite devotional books: Streams in the Desert.

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{ Better Than }

God’s steadfast love is better than life. ~ Psalm 63:3

A good name is better than great riches. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. ~  Ecclesiastes 7:8

To obey is better than sacrifice. ~ I Samuel 15:22

But God treats us much better than we deserve… ~ Romans 3:24

Consider others better than yourself. ~ Philippians 2:3

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Photos:

 Annie Spratt

 Michal Janek

 Tim Marshall

{War Declared on Sin Today }

War declared on

SIN

today.

Zero tolerance.

No exceptions.

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No questions asked.

No holds barred.

No ifs, ands or buts.

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The enemy–

Including but not limited to–

Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth,

Will be apprehended and arrested

Without a phone call,

A trial,

Or a last meal.

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Offenders will first be

Drowned in light,

Then beheaded with a double-edged sword

Followed by hanging from the highest gallows.

–The Management

~~~~

For when you live controlled by the flesh, you are about to die. But if the life of the Spirit puts to death the corrupt ways of the flesh, we then taste his abundant life. — Romans 8:13 TPT

~~~

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I am reading this book,thanks to Brenda, who recommended it. 

Photos:

Museums Victoria

Henry Hustava

Aaron Burden

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{ Who Was Norma McCorvey? }

When the lawyers found her in 1969,  she was, “ill at ease, incapable of small talk, pale and unkempt besides. She looked like she got out of bed and forgot to comb her hair.” [x]

The pregnant plaintiff, Norma Leah Nelson McCorvey adopted the legal pseudonym Jane Roe in the 1973 Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade. 

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Norma speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1998.

180 Degree Journey

Years later, Norma was working at an abortion clinic. An aggressive pro-life organization called Operation Rescue (OR) moved to the office next door. Amazingly, the two polarized groups coexisted on the site for more than a year. One of the OR staff members routinely brought her daughter in to work and she’d give Norma consistent hugs and invitations to church. This touched Norma McCorvey, and she finally accepted a request to join the girl’s family at their church.

What happened next could only be explained by a miracle; Norma’s life made a 180 degree turn.

Here are her words:

“I was sitting in OR’s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. ‘Norma’, I said to myself, ‘They’re right’. I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth—that’s a baby!

I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception’. It wasn’t about ‘missed periods’. It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion—at any point—was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.” [x] 

New Norma

In 1995, Norma embraced God’s love and forgiveness and her life completely changed. [x]

Norma McCorvey passed away February 18, 2017 at the age of 69. 

Her life has been discussed in books,  films, and many articles.  She tells her own story in the books:  I Am Roe and Won By Love. 

~~~~

Today is Sanctity of Human Life Day.

~~~~~

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Baby feet photo:  Eric Froehling

~~~~

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{ A Full Cart }

You’ve probably never encountered this embarrassing situation, but have you ever seen anyone come up short of cash at the grocery checkout?

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It could happen to you. You enter the store, hoping only to get a few necessities. You add prices as you go:

Romaine….almond milk….unsalted butter…shredded cheddar — we’re at $12.50 now…

But when you arrive at the checkout tribunal, the cashier pronounces the total and you know immediately that you are convicted. Although you frantically rummage around in the bottom of your purse and find a warped and forgotten checkbook, the cashier shakes her head. “We don’t take checks anymore.”

Moments before, your fellow customers were on your team. You eyed the long checkout lines together, rolled your eyes and waited as one.
Now, you are the criminal, holding up the line, found financially wanting. Although you definitely don’t make eye contact with them, you know they are judgmentally and impatiently tapping their toes.

How have you come to this place?

Somewhere between the frozen broccoli florets and the applesauce squeezies, things started to break down. Perhaps you mindlessly tossed a quart of spumoni into your cart, followed by a bag of artisan coffee beans instead of the generic variety. And maybe your ten-year-old slipped a discounted Lego set in there at the last minute. Either way, your budget has gone unheeded.

Thus begins the humiliating process of deciding what to put back — starting with the Lego figures, followed quickly by the spumoni.

This is highly humbling, which is actually the silver lining to all this. Like a dentist’s drill, it’s something you resist, but it’s good for you in the long run. The flesh cringes at the thought of being humbled, but the God-seeking soul craves it.

This is the point: I woke up at 3:00 a.m. last night, with dozens of thoughts, which tumbled out in rapid succession as prayers to the God who never sleeps.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could keep adding requests to my prayer cart and it would never be too much for Jesus. He is like a welcoming cashier that would be saying:
“Get some more! There’s a BOGO on requests today! Go grab another — right there! Fill up your cart and put ‘em all down! Don’t worry, you have all the time in the world — there’s no one behind you!

A full cart. An unlimited supply. A generous God who has already paid for everything. I never have to decide if it’s too big or small to bring something up to the Throne of Grace…and I never have to put anything back.

~~~
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. — John 14:13-14

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. — Philippians 4:6

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! — Luke 11:13

{ Like an Eye-Opening Ride Through An Undiscovered Village}

alexander-sinn-DX5r6BNoWVE-unsplashWe are studying similes and we are trying to avoid the trite cliches that are “as old as the hills”, so we are making up our own. Everyone chose five abstract nouns and wrote two similes for each one. I thought these were some of the best:

 

  • He felt freedom like a feather in the open air.
  • Hatred melted away like a stream in the spring.
  • Reality is like a punch in the face. 
  • Forgiveness is like a safety net.
  • The crime was as big as a bonfire.
  • His anger was like a house-eating wildfire.
  • He was as dishonest as a killdeer.
  • Their romance was like a budding flower — ever changing.
  • His anger bubbled up like a volcano.
  • Accepting defeat is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met.
  • His adventure was as fun as a ride at ValleyFair.
  • The moonlit snow sparkled like a thousand tiny jewels.
  • Jealousy is like hair loss; it might take someone else to point it out.
  • He was as calm as a painting.
  • His hatred was as hot as a burning furnace.
  • Music is like a therapy session.
  • He was as fast as a full-grown cheetah in the desert.
  • The lion’s power was like a legion of angry dragons.

 

“Reading these similes was like an eye-opening ride through  an undiscovered village.” — Me

Feather photo by Alexander Sinn

Crazy Like a Fox

Crazy Like A Fox Simile Story

Similes Dictionary    |        Figures of Speech Poster   You’re Toast  – Metaphors

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{ Word of the Year: Stretch }

 

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This is how I chose the word STRETCH for my 2020 Word of the Year: 

I’d like to withstand and even embrace the changes that come my way.  I’d like to learn to stay joyful in the middle of a changing family, life and world. 

 

So I Googled:  “What’s a word that means can withstand changes?

That led me to the online publication: An Introduction to the Study of Physics, Volume 1 By A. F. Walden, J. J. Manley. (Recommended reading for those who struggle with insomnia.)

The word I found there was elasticity.

I looked up synonyms for elasticity and found: words like stretchy, flexible and pliable.

The word stretch can also mean: reach, develop, extend. 

Philippians 4:12-14

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To find your Word of the Year, try following these simple steps, courtesy of The Dolly Mama.

Photo by Unsplash:Michael Walter

 

{ True Theater: The First Christmas }

 

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Curtain opens / Scene appears peaceful

Middle-Eastern baby in dimmed spotlight

(a real baby, wrapped in livestock rags) 

Nestled in rough wooden feeding trough

Country setting. Clear night with stars. 

Mother exhausted. Sleeping.

Father watching. Thinking.

After miles of sweating and praying

After the end of the journey

After the labor

Just sitting

Just gazing

Now cue the angels.

The shepherds.

The wonder.

The starlight.

Behind the stage and unseen by the audience:

A fierce and ugly dragon – yes, an actual beast – has been trying to walk out on center stage.

He’s been trying to ruin the show.

He grabbed the script and stuffed it into his flaming mouth.

(It didn’t matter, because everyone already knew their lines.)

He tried to tear down the curtain with his talons (that’s supposed to happen anyway — scene three)

His demonic buddies brought an assassin to kill the baby. They stormed and burst down the side stage door. (He wasn’t a good shot after all, and the baby was whisked away.)

The director just sat there. Directing. 

He knew this was going to happen.

It was all actually in the script. 

***Spoiler alert: It has an ending that’s out-of-this-world***

Curtain.

~~~~~

Inspiration from Revelation 12 and Luke 2.

Manger photo:Greyson Joralemon

{ Clean }

 

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I don’t dress like this when I clean the house.

 

I like a clean living space, but, cleaning is not a cherished hobby of mine. I generally value clutter-free over dust-free.

Years ago, my Spanish friend Ana invited me into her small apartment. I was amazed at how shiny-sparkly-clean it was and I commented on it.

“Yes, I like to do this!” Ana bubbled enthusiastically. I’ve never forgotten her radiant response; scrubbing the home spotless was a happy thing for her.

My Norwex-selling friend recently educated me on the stunning benefits of micro-fiber cleaning.

I’m totally not going to have a Norwex party, but I appreciated her zeal and knowledge; I really learned something.

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For a recent birthday, my daughter gave me a cleaning tote, stuffed with Mrs. Meyer’s sprays and other goodies. Was this gift a not-so-subtle hint, because she knows my housecleaning flaws? Hmmm….

Anyway, cleaning is more fun, now that I have Mrs. Meyer’s help.

I will now awkwardly transition to some brief thoughts about spiritual cleaning.

I was reading my Bible the other day and I cannot remember exactly what I was reading. I didn’t feel spiritually dirty and didn’t set out be to be purposefully “washed” that day, but suddenly I truly felt God’s words cascading over me, cleansing me.

As I have chewed on this the last few days, I have felt that reading God’s word is a powerful spiritual cleaning agent because:

  • It reminds me whose I am
  • It purifies my life perspective
  • It shines a loving light onto my heart
  • It pours hope down on me
  • It showers comfort over my soul
  • It cleanses festering wounds
  • It removes destructive thoughts and damaging lies.

~~~~~~~

“…wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

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“The Gospel is a cleansing agent, for it is the good news of Christ’s atoning death at Calvary. The Word is a cleansing agent also for sanctification. That’s why it’s important for us to read and study the Scriptures; they are a cleansing agent in our lives. It’s amazing what the Word of God will do with people when they read and study it. — John MacArthur

 

Bible photo:  Aaron Burden

{ God’s Math: 1 + 1 ≠ 2 }

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  —Isaiah 55:8-9 

I am not a math whiz.  Of all my extended family members, I am probably the least gifted with numbers.

My brain lives in the realm of pictures and approximations. Math is too exact; too detailed.

Yet, other family members seem to be fearless of numbers. My math-major sister-in-law said once in a casual setting, “I love abstract math.”  

What is that? Math with no visible symbols? Who would want to make math harder than it already is?

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So, the other day, I was visiting a church, watching a group of missionaries assemble at the front.

This caused me to think of my daughter, who is working at a refugee camp far away, going beyond her comfort zone, doing brave things in a company of global strangers.

Which caused me to consider all my children and who they are becoming.

I wondered: 

Lord, how did this happen? How can it be that you take children from a humble home, raised by imperfect parents, and grow them into amazing, beautiful souls?”

It doesn’t add up.

So, I was thinking about God’s kind of math, right there in the church service. 

God’s equations go beyond 1+1=2. God’s math goes beyond what seems logical or rational.  God’s math even seems to work backwards sometimes.

God’s kind of math says:

  • 2 small coins can sometimes mean more than a large sum of money.  (Mark 12:42)
  • Weak can be more powerful than strong. (Isaiah 40:29)
  • A few resources in God’s hands can multiply at a miraculous rate. (John 6:13)
  • Those who are last shall be first.  (Matt 20:16)
  • When you give to God, you get back way more than you gave. (Luke 6:38)

Things put into God’s hands seem to explode exponentially.

Finally, the omnipotent God is not only a master multiplier, he is a caring Creator. Which earthly number cruncher would not only count stars in the sky, but also lovingly name them?

He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

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Photos:

John Moeses Bauan

Alexander Andrews