Archive for the ‘Offenses’ Category

A friend was telling me a story today that brought me to my knees, in tears and I want to share it here with you (with her permission of course).  Her little girl is 8, we’ll call her Lil Laney here.  Last night Lil Laney confided in Mama – through huge crocodile tears, about a heartbreaking thing that had happened at school.  Apparently for weeks they’ve been preparing and decoration eggs.  They all got to decorate their own basket. The thought was that the children could put an egg in the basket of someone they admired.

Suddenly I am 8 again and the schoolyard bully, Trina, who has pushed me down at least once a week since kindergarten comes to mind…and Danny, the boy with one artificial eye who the kids tease and I stand up for…the day Trina took after Christine and I stood between them on the corner by Cocoa’s house! I stood. The Mama Bear in me is rising up. I wonder what this teacher was thinking when she thought up this plan. If she’s sensitive at all to the dynamics of her classroom, she would know that some children would get more eggs than others and wouldn’t this set someone up for terrible disappointment?  Doesn’t this sort of thing feed into our culture of the prettiest, funniest and the best getting all the eggs in life?!

Lil Laney is a daughter of the King and she set her heart to making every student in the class an egg, even the ones that were mean to her.  A week went by and with anticipation, everyday Lil Laney would go to her basket to see how many eggs she had.  She would walk by the other children’s baskets, noticing they all had eggs, no less than three, some as many as 7.  Lil Laney did not despair, she somehow managed to gain the

incredible courage

it took to speak to her teacher about the fact that she had no eggs in her basket. Said teacher had her stand up in front of the entire class and tell them that she had no eggs in her basket and this made her sad, the teacher asked the students to please put some eggs in Lil Laney’s basket.  More time passed. No eggs. Not even the teacher made an egg for Lil Laney.  Friday it was time to take the baskets home, with pride.

Lil Laney lefts hers at school with not an egg in her basket, what was the point?

All day she must have quietly pondered why no one had given her an egg.  Rejection. All day she must have thought about the message those children sent to her with their deafening silence.  Unworthiness. All day the enemy must have laughed with glee at her plight…and poured out the lies that he so favors upon the heart of this precious child.

Lies. All LIES.

That little girl is the gem of the Father’s heart.  She is talented. She is lovely; Psalm 45:11 says that the King is enthralled by her beauty! She has a heart that runs after the God she loves!  He hears her song, and it entices Him, invites Him and fills Him with Joy. One little girl fills the heart of the Father with so much joy that it overflows onto others! Her light shines so bright because His light is within. She wears a crown of beauty and God hand painted her, painstakingly he thought about every intricate detail!  She is accepted. She is worthy. She is loved beyond measure.  Her heavenly basket if full of eggs! God holds your basket; it is safe with Him Lil Laney.  Life isn’t always fair. I’m so sorry you had to feel this disappointment and hurt.  I wish I could give you a great big hug!  Here is my basket for you…and on each egg, these words (and so many more);
Love. Grace. Heart. Beauty. Gentleness. Song. Crown of Peace. Joy. Compassion.

Laneys Basket

With this basket, I can’t take away your heartache,
but maybe I can help you to see the truth!

God loves you.

You are special, unique and He created you with a purpose!

Don’t let the unkindness of others change who you are inside.

From my heart to yours, with love Lil Laney…


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I’ve been really digging into the Word and a theme keeps emerging. Does God do this to you too?  When He is trying to get my attention, reveal a truth to me and get it thru my thick skull, my tough flesh – He just comes at me from all angles to show me His heart for me.

He never leaves me where I am.

That is a promise I can proclaim on high!

I’ve read Matthew 22:35-40 many, many times.  But this week God kept bringing it to my heart and I knew He wanted me to see it with fresh eyes.  When the expert of the law ask which commandment was greater, Jesus responded with v37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

What does that really mean?  In order to love God with all of my heart, I have to be diligent and guard my heart.  Proverbs 4:23 says to guard your heart and in 2010 I wrote a post about it (I love how God has continued to work a better understanding of this in my heart over the years).  I said this to a friend the other day and she said, “OH, I have got that one down!  If I’ve learned anything it is to protect my heart from others!”  Sigh.  That isn’t what this scripture is referring to – God doesn’t want us to put up walls and block relationship. In fact, that is the opposite of what God wants for us.  He wants us to keep our eyes on Him and to guard our hearts from anything that separates our heart from His. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, resentment – they all block relationship with others and with God!

v 38 says “This is the first and greatest commandment. v39 “A second is equally important, Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NLT)   Did you catch that? EQUALLY important.  It is equally important for me to love and have relationship with my neighbor as it is to have relationship with God.  My neighbor is ANYONE who comes into contact with me; my husband, my children, my parents and family, the friend who hurt me, the grumpy bank teller.  The book Sacred Marriage says that marriage is to make us HOLY, not happy.  God uses relationships to refine us, grow in us and draw us into holiness…deeper relationship with HIM!

Proverbs 18:1 says that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and he rages against all wise judgement.  Proverbs 14:10 says the heart knows its own bitterness – nothing is hidden from God.  All He wants is our hearts. He doesn’t want us to withdraw from others, from Him.  He wants us to walk in relationship and strengthen and encourage one another in our faith (Romans 1:2).   When Jesus is talking to Simon Peter in John 21:15 he asks “Do you love me? …then feed my sheep, tend to my sheep, feed my lambs.”  His heart is for us to care for one another in relationship.

So here is the nugget! v 39 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   The question is not who is my neighbor, but rather

How much do you love yourself?

**note join me here as we talk about loving ourselves and what that means…

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Joy Cometh?

Luke 6:20-26 is where we’ll be studying today. Here Jesus contrasts the difference between a blessed life and happiness as the world sees is.  What is the difference really?  The religious saying “Choose Joy” comes to mind for me and the sting of how many times a well meaning Christian has said that  to me in the depth of a trail. 

This is rather timely for me.  Right now I am consumed with the heart ache of a situation I’m trying to walk through under godly wisdom.  For some reason, a relationship between myself and two others is shrouded in tension and unrest.  I don’t know why. I don’t know when it began to change. But I know it is there.  It is on my mind (prayerfully) so that I can scarcely think of anything else.  Mr. H says that most people don’t fret over such things this way. 
Maybe it is a weakness? 
I dont’ know if it is or if it is not. What I do know is that God made me and He doesn’t make junk.  I wonder what would be different about me if I could stand being at odds with people whom I care about?  I don’t know that I would be as compassionate or able to feel for others with the depth that I do now.  I’m not asking God to remove me from the situation or even the real physical pain of the heart ache that it brings me – but rather that He uses it to turn my heart, and the hearts of the two I care for, towards Him so that we can grow in Him.

However, I don’t think that I am, as v 23 says, leaping with joy in this trial.  Do we really claim the joy that is ours, in Him?  I’m human. It is hard for me to feel joy in the midst of heart ache.  I do feel a sense of joy in knowing that God intends to use this trial for good. I love to think about how my example through this might be part of Mr. H’s salvation journey.  I especially rejoice in knowing that I serve a God that moves which means He will not leave me where I am today, saturated in the pain of unrest.  So while I am not dancing and leaping for JOY, I am content to know that joy is there.  I AM praising Him, I AM worshipping Him and singing – it is through tears but I believe that is okay with God.

There IS a difference between happiness and JOY in the Lord.

It does us no good to put on a smile and fake happiness when we need to mourn.  I’d go so far as to say that it is a treasonous refusal to cry out to, and trust God with our hurts and grief.  I think it is IN our cry, in our tears, that hope oddly dawns.  Hope deferred, or disregarded by not acknowledging it, makes the heart sick (Prov. 13:12). He is close to the broken hearted (Ps. 34:18).  He is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20).  I believe that He longs to hear our deepest cry, to hold us when our bodies shake with the weight of the tears. (Sometimes he sends an angel in a friend who will hold you while you cry. Thank you Thara!)  He wants our hearts.  Jesus came to heal the broken hearted.  His desire is for us to have relationship with one another.  He hasn’t brought me all this way, heard my prayers for this situation, held my tears, listened to my cries…just to leave me here.  

I love it when I read the words in the Bible that say “And the Lord was with him…”  It brings tears to my eyes every single time I read those words.  So my prayer today as I walk through Luke 6:20-26 is that it will be said of me, said of the two whom I am praying for; “And the Lord was with him/her…”


It is not happiness, my tears are real and it really hurts…Knowing that the Lord IS with me. He is with the two that I am praying for restoration of relationship with.

He is with you.


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What is TRUE ENCOURAGEMENT? Why is it so hard to find it and to give it?

I’m not really sure where this is going but I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  I was having lunch with a bunch of girlfriends last month and I ask about another mutual friend whom I haven’t seen in a long time. We do have 3 services at our church so it is always possible that I’ve missed someone coming or going, but I hadn’t seen this friend in a long while.  The other girls told me that she hasnt’ been coming to church because some people at church had a nice chat with her about her life, how wrong she is in dealing with some of the things she is facing. So in a time when she needs the most support and encouragement, she’s felt she had to leave the church. She is on her own.  This happens all too often.

Last week I had a friend out to visit.  We hadn’t seen one another in a while and I was sharing vulnerably with her. I know her, I love her; so I know she wouldn’t deliberately try to hurt me but her response to what I was going through was terribly, deeply hurtful.  Rather than just walk along side me and then prayerfully petition to the King, she reminded me of past situations and things I’ve very vulnerably shared with her. 

This was not at all encouraging. 

These two situations made me wonder why we, especially as Christians, feel it’s important to point out the wrongs in other people’s lives?  This my friends, is why so many consider Christians to be hypocrites!  Sometimes we say we’re doing this ‘in love’ as the Bible teaches but how can we point our fingers in judgement and call it love? 

God is perfect love.

So if we claim to have Christ in us, shouldn’t this topic be right at the top of our list of things to work towards?! 

The course that I recently facilitated for my INcourage team at church address’ this topic so well. It is called Counselling by Encouragement, a DVD series done by Dr. Larry Crabb. I think every Christian on the planet should study this series. 

So often when our loved ones need someone to listen, to truly hear their hearts – we offer advice.  Having never walked through something, what gives us the right to offer advice on it?  In my Biblical Counselling Course, our instructors teach that it is when we’ve walked through something and have come out on the other side, this gives us the authority to speak into someone else’s life who is struggling in this area.  Now here is the key…

With authority comes responsibility.

If we are to encourage someone, we have to be invested in their lives, committed to walking with them – not over them!  When you are truly walking along side someone, you see their hurts, their struggles, and you can prayerfully consider them.  When invited, you can share your heart and experience – from a place of knowing, not guessing in judgement.

You don’t walk in and advise, then walk out again. This does not encourage.

Friends, I am speaking out of hurt now – which may not be wise…but please hear the heart of my message.  Use your words wisely, with care.  True love has only the motivation to minister to someone’s brokenness. I can assure you that if someone is struggling, they are well aware of their failures. Reminding someone of their past failures or struggles is not motivated by love…no matter how you say it or which scripture you use to back it up.

Galatians 6:1-5 says: Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.

We often stop there don’t we?  Yes, it’s our job to restore…but remember that with authority comes responsibility. If we read on it says “But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
What if we were to carry one another’s burdens with the motivation to minister God’s love to them?  Would it change the way we go about trying to encourage one another?

I sure hope so… 

I’m not perfect. I’ve failed. I’ve certainly used words as a weapon, rather than a healing balm.  I can pretty well guarantee that I’ll fail again because I’m human.  But when I do…I pray that I have the wisdom to apologize and to seek to encourage with a true heart of love. I think this might be what the scripture is talking about when it says that God will use trials to establish our faith…so that we grow spiritually.

Because Christ IS in me. That puts a whole new perspective on my heart to encourage.

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Heart Rocks


 I have a guest today.  This is a friend I’ve been walking along side as she’s journeyed through a very tough time in her marriage.  She discovered that her husband was engaging in porn. This is an issue that we don’t often discuss in church but it’s real. Many women are walking through this RIGHT NOW.  She wants to tell you that you are not alone. Please help me welcome my guest as she shares her journey. 

I can still remember the feeling. My heart ripped out of my chest. I couldn’t breathe.


I was shaking and panicking and in shock, all at the same time— I’m not sure how I got through that day. There were days that followed when it was moment by moment. There were times when the crushing weight of what I was going through threatened to drag me under. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I felt restless and angry and cheated and hurt.

Fast forward a few months. It’s time.  Time to take my list of my emotions and grieve over them. Allow myself to feel. After the initial shock of what happened, I lived for months repressing all that I went through.  I’d been waiting to process, to feel. It took a bit of digging to even figure out what I really felt, to find the raw hurt and anger that I had pushed down so deeply. I knew at the outset of this exercise that the best place to do this would be at a ladies retreat that I sometimes attend in the fall.

On the Saturday, after our morning chapel, I gathered up a few items: my journal, camera, and a water bottle. I headed west along the beach. 

There it was, along the tree line, a ways back from the water.   A tree, blown down years ago, lies across the beach. The roots have been washed clean of any clinging dirt, and they reach out in a spider web of grayed fingers. The weathered trunk is rotting out in places, yet new growth of bushes surrounds the fallen soldier. It was a perfect spot.

I sit and think. I read through my list I had made months before; my emotions, my pain. It comes back, and I weep.  Taking my journal and pen, I begin to write:

“He is my Shepherd; he is leading me. I the dark valley, he is there with me.
He restores my strength.  He leads me down the right paths (staying in a relationship when the world says: get out) He prepares a feast for me in plain sight of my enemies.” {Psalm 23}

Essentially there is loss. Loss of believing that the man who said he would honour and cherish me has done exactly the opposite.  There has been a breaking of covenant.  All that I dreamed or wanted to believe about him is shattered.


My emotions have worth.

There is an innocence that is lost; gone and cannot be retrieved.  It is the ending of such a thing, the last chapter of the book.  Rereading that book will bring me back to the same place: lost innocence, lost belief. 

I glanced at my clock and realized lunch would be served soon.  I collected my things and slowly walked back to the camp, deep in thought. 

I finished my lunch and told my friends I needed some more time to think. I grab a few things from my cabin, including an umbrella,   and headed back to my spot on the beach. Rain fell steadily and the wind picked up. Choppy waves with white bits of foam atop each crest testify to the change in weather.  I arrived at my spot, spread out my blanket on the log, and huddled under my umbrella for protection. I wrote a couple of sentences, then mulled over my ‘list’. 

God whispered to me, “Go  –  find a stone for every emotion you have written there.” 

 I remember the story of the Israelites, when they finally crossed the Jordan River after spending 40 years in the desert.  Joshua commanded them to each take a stone and pile it on the opposite bank of the river. A few hundred thousand stones later… Can you imagine? But it was a marker for these people, that God was leading them into the Promised Land.

I find myself looking at my list, noting 4 or 5 emotions, then going onto the beach and quickly picking stones that I thought fit the emotion. I had about 6 or 8 stones on this log, and when I went back to look at them I couldn’t remember what they were for exactly. I realized that I was rushing through this, and there really was no hurry. God whispered to me, “Take your time. This isn’t a race. Go through one by one, and place your rock in the roots once you’ve dealt with it.

So I stopped then, gathered my small pile of stones, and went to my sitting place.  I sat at the end of the log; its roots bleached and dry like driftwood. To me, they represented my life, and how each root is like one of the facets of who I am. I start to lay my stones there, and name them out loud, telling God which emotion each one represents.  When I finished with my pile, I checked my list. Then I got one or two stones and went back up to the log and placed them on the pile. Sometimes I sat on the log, looking at the particular stone and remembering my emotion for that moment. My stone for anger was huge, and it made me smile.  How fitting of this rock to be as big as my anger, I think aloud.   I found a rock that had a small indent in it, a pocket, almost. Then I found a small round red rock (red being my favourite colour) that sat nicely in the hole.  For me, that represented how belittled I felt.  Towards the end of my list, I searched the beach for a couple of rocks that represented what my husband’s choices had done to me, to my family.  I found one rock that had lines of quartz running through it, and then another.  I walked up to my log and sat, placing the first rock on the pile.  The second rock was a dark grey, with thin lines of quartz running in various directions.  It reminded me of the type of rocks I find in my daughters’ pockets.  “This represents what this event has done to our lives,” I said to God. “The lines of quartz represent how it has touched every aspect…”  I turned the rock over, and was totally surprised to see two very distinct lines of quartz, significantly thicker than the rest, forming the shape of a cross. 

 It was at this point I felt God say to me,
“I died for this sin.
I paid for this.
It’s forgiven” 

I wept. It really changed how I view this event.  If God has paid for all this, if he took care of it, then it is no longer mine to have. I don’t need to be concerned or carry this weight any longer. This rock was the last rock on my pile. And really, of the thousands of rocks on that very long stretch of beach, what are the odds that I would find that particular rock; one that would carry such significance?

I found 4 or 5 heart shaped rocks, which in rock hunting, is not that easy.  I considered that fact after I sat and contemplated my pile of stones. Again, I am reminded of how big and huge God is. He cares for me. He considers the little details, down to each heart shaped rock, Each one a little different, each one representing how my heart has been affected by this event that threatened to change my life forever. For a moment, I think that I should keep these heart shaped rocks; take them home with me. But I can’t, because I feel like I’m not fully leaving my emotional baggage there, under the cross, if I do.  God whispers to me again, telling me to take the smallest heart rock. “Behold, I make all things new. This represents your new heart. Take it home.” In the end, my pile of rocks filled the spaces between the roots.  I left my spot on the beach with a sense of closure, and a peace that I cannot describe.

You’ll also find this story on our marriage blog – Loving Our Husbands ~ Wholly Surrendered,
along with many other great stories from our members.

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Remember when I posted here, asking what God is up to?!  Well, I’ve been walking through some things and when I came up just as stumped as ever – I decided it was time to call on Tina and her husband for some guidance.  Friendship…Romans 1:12 that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one an other’s faith  Again, how blessed I am, not only to have a Tina of my own, but that our love and friendship extends to her husband – who is such an encouragement to me.  For more than 2 hours I poured out my heart to them and they listened to me, poured over scripture with me, cried with me and prayed with me.

I’ve written about guarding your heart but I’ve been struggling with guarding my own. More than that, I’ve been struggling with what it means to show godly love.  See, because Mr. H isn’t saved (yet), I feel such a heavy burden to always be a good and godly example to him – and to others.  But in doing so, I’ve over looked some basic scriptural truths; and some important truths in the instruction of guarding your heart, and mine.   It’s time I explore what godly love looks like. I love how Kevin and Tina put it to me;

 “If it is love it is godly because God is love. Christ showed us love in many different ways.”

I’ve been thinking that I have to turn to other cheek, always show love.  We are instructed to do this. But I’ve said before ‘that does NOT mean being a doormat’ – but then what does it mean?  Even I was confused on this one, in regards to some things I’ve been walking through. One of the first things Kevin ask me was “What is love?”  Hmmmm, I really had to think about that. Finally I replied, “Christ.” He led me through as we looked at how Christ behaved. In  John 2:12-16 when Jesus enters the temple and there within the temple, doves are being sold!  He yells and upturns tables…he is furious!  Is this loving behavior?  It doesn’t seem loving, I think to myself.  Then I think of John 17:6-19 where Jesus prays to the Father for His disciples.  I reread that this morning through tears. I almost feel like I’m intruding on an deeply intimate moment when I read that passage.  He cries out to the Father on behalf of His disciples – with all of his heart; not as for all believers – the masses that will come; but for the ones who have walked with Him.  That is love.  We moved on to the persecution and crucifixion of Christ – where He says nothing.  He doesn’t defend Himself.  Do we turn the other cheek when we’re being persecuted? Yes – Jesus says that we will be hated because of His name. Yet that does not mean that we are doormats. Back to John 2:12-16;

 sometimes love is tough. But that doesn’t mean it’s not godly.

As I read through Romans (before my meeting with Kevin and Tina), seeking His wisdom on judgements and offenses; I began to feel so guilty for my reactions to things that have happened, that I’m trying to work through.

Hey, wait a minute, God isn’t the God of guilt. Something is not right here! 

 I am reminded that we feel angry and frustrated as a result of allowing something to go by where we shouldn’t have.  When we do that, it causes a pause in our spirit, it eats at us.  I thought I was a Woman of God!  Shouldn’t I be able to get past offenses?  What is worse than letting it go by, is replaying it over and over in my mind and heart.  When I do that, I empower the enemy.  Right around this time, the enemy starts throwing things at me, like mud. “Humph!  You aren’t all that, are you? Claiming to be a Christian and yet you can’t get over a silly offense! What is wrong with you?”  

 A thought comes to me,

Do you think offenses actually have more to do with us, than with the ones who’ve offended us?

I mean, isn’t it my own insecurities and fears that let it go by in the first place?  So yes, I do have a place in all of this – though  it’s not guilt.  Perhaps it is conviction and nudging. At any rate, now how do I fix it?  Well I will have to start with prayer, as always.

I am human. I am flawed. I make mistakes everyday.  My own inclination would be to tell all, saved and unsaved, allll about how they’ve hurt my feelers…but that wouldn’t be right either?  Like I said, it starts with prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for Tina and Kevin and their love and willingness to walk along side me.  Lord, what I’m asking is this: please fill me with the supernatural spiritual discernment to know when to be bold and when to be quiet; when to let go and when to stand and fight.  So importantly Father – give me a heart that is extra sensitive to when I hurt or offend others so that I can  handle it with grace and love. 

 Align my heart with yours, O God. 

Where ever it is not, perform a transplant and replace my wretched heart with Yours.

Search me, O God and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
And lead me in the way of everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

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I’ve spoken on the importance of guarding your heart before. Recently I got an email from a friend who had heard me share about that. This got me to thinking (thank you for the email Amber).

Do you guard your heart?  What does that even mean?  The Bible tells us that we’re to guard our hearts…so you have to know it is possible.

Proverbs 4:23 (New International Version) – emphasis mine

 23 Above all else, guard your heart,
       for it is the wellspring of life.

Years ago, I wrote a post about trust and forgiveness. I will try not to double what I said there so feel free to check it out.  It is important to guard our hearts from potential hurts or utter heartbreak.  We do this by, one – valuing ourselves as precious in the sight of God.  “um, hey – did you notice who I came in with?  That’s God over there! I’m with Him!”  Two – by giving all things to Him and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His convictions and nugdings. If you feel that a friendship isn’t going in a godly direction or you just feel like you weigh a thousand pounds when with a friend – then know that it isn’t a healthy relationship.  Perhaps you’ll have to step away from that friendship. I’ve talked a lot about friendships, and I’m so deeply blessed to have a few that are more precious than gold. They didn’t just fall into my lap though, I have spent a great deal of time investing in them, praying over these friendships and seeking Him.

Being as tender hearted as I am, and I’ll admit that I’m pretty naive in areas of the heart too, I’ve been hurt a time or two. I’ve learned how to guard my heart  –  I’ve learned to be spiritually discerning over friendships and to trust my husband’s leadership by watching how he feels about my friends too.

But Amber lead me to a site that spoke in another way about guarding the heart. It’s Life Today and it’s all Beth Moore’s teaching. If you go to this site and scroll down, you’ll come to The Guarded Heart.  There are audio as well as video, I encourage you to take some time to listen to them. She talks about how God guards His heart for us – meaning that He is careful not to allow His love for us to diminish. I’m not doing it justice, please do go and listen. 

It’s lead me to question, do I guard my love from diminishing?  When I allow myself to get grumpy and snap at my husband, am I guarding my heart?  When I feel overwhelmed as a mom and I growl at my little gems (yes, it’s true, I do that sometimes), am I guarding my heart from diminishing love?

The way to guard your heart, whether it be from disaster and heartache, or from diminishing love – is to stay in the Word. Etch the word upon your heart and know that YOU are etched on the palm of HIS hand. Isaiah 49:15,16.  When I allow my busyness to steal away from my time with God – my time to seek Him, to soak in Him, to rest in Him…I can count on risking diminishing love.

So don’t let the enemy gain a foothold in your heart…take the time to seek Him; to pray over your friendships, your marriage relationship, the relationship you have with your children.  Guard your heart, by earnestly seeking His.

Your heart should be as close to the Living Water as possible.

From My Heart To Yours, with love


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