{ Am I the Only One?}

Am I the only one who….

…adds more butter to the empty butter dish?

…picks up tiny dropped things (both wet and dry) all over the house?

…sees those two stray (dirty) socks that have occupied the corner in the front hall for the past three days?

I wonder if anyone else in the world…

…praises God when she sees a sunrise or a full moon or a rainbow or when watching bees do their thing?

…feels like taking the next day off after finishing the final book in a series, or after having company over? 

And am I the only one who…

…avoids looking at old photos of her children because it makes her feel sad?

…wishes life could always stay the same?

… cries (or laughs) when she reads her own blog posts?

~~~

Photo: Aaron Burden on Unsplash

{ God’s Valentine }

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Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name,

You  Are  Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
  And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43: 1-3 ESV

~~~

Although this love message was written to God’s chosen people, Israel, it can speak comfort to all believers. In the New Testament, God’s never-changing love is affirmed in verses like Romans 8:38-39:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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~~~

Photos:

Hush Naidoo

Chandan Chaurasia

 Ryan Stone

{ Meet Esther Goetz ~ The Dolly Mama }

It’s funny how people float in and out of your life. Your best high school buddy has disappeared, but the girl you didn’t know, who sat in the back row of homeroom, is now your dear friend and neighbor. 

Esther Picture for Dolly Mama

In a way, Esther Goetz is that kind of person. She was the friend-of-a-friend at our college on the outskirts of Chicago. I knew she was outgoing and friendly, and had grown up in Ethiopia as a missionary kid, but I didn’t know much more about her while we shared the same campus,

We went on with our separate studies and friends and lives. Graduation scattered everyone to build their own careers and families all over the map.

Fast forward three decades, when I stumbled upon a blog called The Dolly Mama.

Here I found someone with a kindred world view, words of truth, and a winsome sense of spunk. Esther’s photo and name looked familiar, and later I discovered that she was the Esther from college years, molded and sharpened by a life yielded to God and His Word. 

After college, she married Allen; they have four adult children, one son-in-law and a feisty toddler grandson. Esther and her husband lead the marriage mentoring ministry at their church (they have met with over 120 couples over the past 15 years!) Esther also leads a women’s group.

Her blog reflects what she does in real life, as she discusses faith, family and friendship.

Besides family, church, blogging, leadership and more, Esther likes to read! Right now, she is enjoying The Next Right Thing by Emily Freeman, and her three favorite books of all time are:

Whenever I visit Esther’s blog, The Dolly Mama,  I often end up crying or laughing. She inspired me to choose a Word of the Year– her 2020 word is HYGGE.

Some of her recent posts have titles like these:  

So visit Esther Goetz at the Dolly Mama.  Say hello, and be encouraged and inspired!

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{ The Romans Farewell }

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This is all for Him, who can strengthen you, because of Jesus

Because of the gospel

That mystery that was hidden for thousands of years

That secluded secret that has now been whispered

And joyfully shouted

To you — to us —  to the world

 

This is all for Him, whose words can inspire faith and enable obedience

This is for Him, the only God

The wise God

Who deserves glory forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

From Romans 16:25-27

~~The Apostle Paul wrote 13 letters to the churches. The closing of each of these letters often read like a blessing or a doxology — a short passage of praise to God. I was reading over one of these the other day, noticing how Paul’s personality, passion for God and love for beloved, struggling pilgrims showed up in the letter closings. It made me want to try to understand each one. In future posts, I’m going to try to put each one of these in my own inarticulate words.

~~Photo:Aaron Burden

{ 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

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

{ 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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As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. 

{ 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

{ 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