Sunday, August 30, 2009

Facing the Storm

This is a piece I posted some months back - September of 2008 to be exact; long before most of you moved next door. I pulled it out last week to share with Elaine at Peace for the Journey, and have since pondered it myself with fresh eyes. Afterall, how many of us have not been bent beneath one (if not many) of life's storms?
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I'm not a huge fan of lengthy posts so I apologize about the number of words to this post. I hope you'll wade through them, arriving safely on the shore they lead to.
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It is a true story ...
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126 years ago an incredible natural disaster occurred. For many days the volcano Krakatoa rumbled and spewed steam throughout the Indonesian islands. Sumatra and Java looked on in perplexed wonder. Fear was mixed with a kind of curious awe. No one was too disturbed, nor did they imagine what was to come, including Captain Lindemann of the voyage vessel Loudon.
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The story of Krakatoa and it’s Vesuvius-like eruption in 1883 is an amazing story. I watched a Discovery Channel program about it only recently, but it was the portion involving Captain Lindemann that captured my utmost attention.
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The Loudon was traveling with crew and passengers destined for harbor when the eruption occurred - - the result of Krakatoa's caldera having imploded. While the vessel made it’s way across the Sundra straits, Krakatoa’s cataclysmic eruption made one of the largest & loudest noises on earth in recorded history. The blast sent the mountain into the sea, generating a tsunami so fierce it eventually destroyed 165 coastal villages and killed more than 36,000 people.
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The Loudon’s position was directly in the line of volcanic fire, literally. Hot searing winds and tephra – the solid material forced into the air during such an eruption - roared across the seas with hurricane force. Had it not been for the heroic actions of Captain Lindemann, I would not be sharing this story with you today - - at least not in the form and context you'll read here.
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Captain Lindemann was a seasoned Dutch sea captain. He’d seen his share of storms, but nothing to equal what he encountered in August of 1883. When the ship began being battered by pyroclastic fall-out, and when electro-magnetic air & ash threatened to burn the lungs of all aboard, he realized at once the immense peril of their predicament.

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Perhaps it was a wizened sea-sense, or perhaps something more intuitive - even spiritual - that caused him to take the swift action he did that day.
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Without hestiation he had the ship turned out to sea, further from the shore line. As the gales worsened, he instructed his crew to turn the ship to face the storm. He then had them drop anchor.
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Once the ship was positioned he sent everyone below. Remaining alone at the wheel he actually lashed himself to it to wait out, and ride out nature’s fury. He knew what was coming.
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Listen to the testimony of one passenger: "Suddenly we saw a gigantic wave of prodigious height advancing toward the seashore with considerable speed. Immediately, the crew . . .managed to set sail in face of the imminent danger; the ship had just enough time to meet with the wave from the front. The ship met the wave head on and the Loudon was lifted up with a dizzying rapidity and made a formidable leap... The ship rode at a high angle over the crest of the wave and down the other side. The wave continued on its journey toward land, and the benumbed crew watched as the sea in a single sweeping motion consumed the town. There, where an instant before had lain the town of Telok Betong, nothing remained but the open sea."
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The Loudon withstood Kratatoa’s blast and the Tsunami it produced because Captain Lindemann knew not to turn his back on it. He also knew to drop anchor lest the ship be battered or moved from it’s safe position. He, the crew and the passengers of the Loudon survived because of one man’s courage.
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I am captivated by this story on many levels. Two things come to mind at once ...

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The power of God's word: If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. (Isaiah 7:9). and ...
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The power of His grip as recorded in this stirring, and altogether appropriate song ...

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The Anchor Holds
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I have journeyed through the long, dark night - out on the open sea.
By faith alone - sight unknown - and yet His eyes were watching me
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CHORUS
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The anchor holds though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds though the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees as I faced the raging seas.
The anchor holds in spite of the storm.
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I said I have fallen, fallen down on my knees
As I faced the raging seas, but the anchor holds
Oh, in spite of the storm.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Living on the Verge


What a peculiar word is etymology. It strikes me that it ought to pertain to bugs or worms; or to some sophisticated form of agriculture. It doesn't. Simply put, it means language has a history and origins.

So when I stumbled across the word verge again, I decided I needed to know it's history and fuller meaning. Off to Merriam's I went.

It's a 15th century word rooted in Anglo-Saxon & Latin dialect:


  • a rod or staff carried as an emblem of authority or symbol of office
  • something that borders, limits, or bounds: as an outer margin of an object, the edge of roof covering (tiling) projecting over the gable of a roof; a paved or planted strip of land at the edge of a road (shoulder, threshold, brink).
By itself, verge is rather lackluster. But marry it to something and it becomes a rather fascinating domain. With both positive and not-so positive connotations, we put it into context - for example: We're on the verge of ...

  • a breakthrough
  • bankruptcy
  • falling in love
  • catastrophe
  • understanding
As I ponder the scriptures, I am struck by the number of instances wherein believers lived on the verge. It was an actual place for them. Their verges represented contentment and anticipation, but they also represented fierce danger and pitched opposition.

Yet thre they lived - on the brink - knowingly and willingly. Verge-living was highly intentional. It was their home. No city, town or nation would do. While they might reside someplace literal, they never established roots anywhere but on the verge.

Think of it: how many of the godly biblical characters - Old Testament and New - lived in the here-and-now? I dare say none of them; at least not for long. They all eventually set up housekeeping just this side of the verge. There they found meaning in the art of living, even as their hearts yearned for something just the other side of the threshold; just the other side of the verge.

Ever have that feeling?

It's not about death, nor is it even about heaven. It's certainly not morbid. It's something greater, grander. And since it's on the other side of the verge I don't even know that I can ascribe a scene or a meaning to it.

At the very least it's the heart-stopping certainty that all God's promises are true, and that something incredible is about to happen. You taste it; smell it.

In an instant a threshold's crossed; a verge is breached.

I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ... that I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on ...
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me ...
Philippians 3:8-14
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Fickleness of the god-Makers

I'm not exactly sure how to pen this one, but I'm going to give it my best shot. There's a rich nugget of wisdom in here somewhere; no doubt many of them. If nothing else, one such nugget for me will be to remember to keep my eyes off people!
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It's amazing to me how ready are so many to name and claim their gods - - among them people who don't even believe in God. It's nothing new or radical, but it still baffles me when this or that person - or thing - is enthroned. I've done it myself, and I'm as baffled by my own buffoonery as theirs.
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So I'm reading along in the Book of Acts. I arrive at Chapter 14 and, Batman style, whammo!, I'm struck anew by the saga of how Paul and Barnabas were deified one day, vilified the next. And this by a crowd of both believers and non-believers! Why? Because they demonstrated supernatural power, and the people simply had to exalt them above the garden variety mortal.

When the crowd saw what Paul had done (healed a man that had been crippled since birth), they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Now this didn't settle well with the aforementioned apostles. They certainly didn't see themselves as worthy of such acclaim. In fact, they were shocked (and hurt) to be singled out in this way, not to mention swift in setting the record straight!

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

Men ... mere mortals, like us! Really? Who knew? Who knows? And doesn't it have a familiar ring to it? Yes!
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In the Book of Revelation we hear an angel tellng the apostle John the very same thing during the exchange we read about in Chapter 22 (8-9): ... I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel ... but he said to me,"Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers ... and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"
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Seems angels want to set the record straight as well.
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The god-makers are thriving still. Today they continue to install the latest edition of super-mortal (or super-thing) to exalted status. Not much has changed, and it appears no amount of reasoning is going to disuade the practice. Seems people need their gods.
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Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.
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Oh dear. When the masses tire of their self-proclaimed gods, danger is afoot. Watch out!

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.
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From the pinnacles of acclaim to the open maw of death, how the gods do come and go. I suppose it's due largely to the fickleness of the god-makers themselves. Afterall, if their god doesn't behave in the prescribed manner (in this case, accepting worship), then they deserve dethroning, even death.
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The line between deification and vilification is paper thin, and oh-so dangerous.
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No matter how suave, or powerful - or even miraculous - are the evidences, may I never be inclined to bow at their/it's feet. Every man is but a mortal, like Paul and Barnabus; like me.
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As the mortal decreases, may He increase. To God alone be the glory!
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recipe from the Flipside

There's a dynamic in the threefold (aka trio, triune, triplicate) that is largely positive, and altogether powerful. We've read about it is the scriptures.
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"... a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:12
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We also learn from scripture and elsewhere that the number three stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire.
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God's own attributes are three: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.
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Three great divisions separate/complete time - past, present, and future.

Thought, word, and deed complete the sum of human capability.
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Three aspects of mortal existence speak of the body, mind and spirit.
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Three degrees of comparison complete our knowledge of qualities.
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Three kingdoms embrace our ideas of matter - mineral, vegetable, and animal.
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Three elements accentuate nature's power - earth, wind and fire.
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But it's not these positive, specially-complete realms I'm thinking of today. It's the deadly domain of their dysfunctional counterpart that has me muling over the danger that lurks near the surface of the well-intended.
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Why? Because it came up in a discussion this week, and again I had to search my own heart to see if I'd fallen prey to an enemy I know only too well.
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It's been my pleasure and privilege to be on the receiving end of much counsel over the course of my life. Most of it came in my late 20s, mid-30s and early 40s, derived from both the professional and pastoral communities. There's much wisdom, as we know, to be gained in the multitude of counsel (Proverbs 11:14) - - judiciously-selected counsel, I might add.
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I learned a good deal during those times of wisdom-gathering, some (if not most) of which profits me still ... and often.
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The one thing that has served me very well and saved me untold grief is the formula - the recipe - for avoiding dysfunctional relationships. It's a recipe I keep close at hand when the dynamics of family, or church, or friendships, or work get to feeling a bit complicated.
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Guess what? Every dysfunctional relationship is a threefold cord!
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In them, there are always three key players.
  • Victim - the sick (i.e., addicted, lost, obsessed) one; often in denial and, in their view (and the view of their enablers), quite misunderstood
  • Persecutor - the self-righteous judge who's gonna control it all with sheer force of will (and sometimes cruelty)
  • Enabler - the rescuer that is often quite effective in helping the poor victim remain a victim, though they'd be quick to tell you they're just trying to help

By the way ... these three roles can shape-shift at any time. Sometimes the Victim rises up to become the Persecutor, or the Enabler gets caught as the Victim. Sometimes the roles are even played out by groups that represent one or the other.

I was advised to envision the dysfunctional dynamic as a triangle. Each point on the triangle then representing the referenced roles that sustain the dysfunction. In so doing, the concept goes from the nebulous to the concrete. They might look something like these ...

The Victim might report: I was minding my own business, doing absolutely nothing that warranted it (not THEN anyway) when he/she/it/they did thus and so. How could they? Oh my, what am I to do??? ... Usually followed by a hang-dog, dejected tone of voice or countenance.

The Persecutor might respond: You had it coming, if only you'd done this or that, or what I TOLD you to do then ... Noted with a particular air of arrogance or additional berating, followed by many additional beratings (or beatings emotional; even physical).

The Enabler might swoop down: Oh dear, that's awful. You poor thing. I'll be glad to fix that for you. They will then go about defending or protecting the victim.

All three vehemently cling to their denials, and sometimes agree (covertly) to switch roles.

Merriam gives us some additional insight, telling us that dysfunction means impaired or abnormal functioning or, specifically, abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group (connoting three or more).

The bottom line, then, is to avoid dysfunction's triangle. Any time I feel myself slipping into any of the three roles I have this discussion with myself: Are you on that triangle again, Kathleen? If so, you'd best retreat and leave the other two to rise or fall on their own.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The alternate to dysfunctional living is stark. It doesn't mean that I cannot have or express feelings and opinions; nor does it mean that I have to suffer, alone, in silence. It doesn't mean I cannot confront (carefully, and with wisdom) something's that's downright wrong or hurtful.

To be living in the fully functional is to have a healthy freedom of spirit that allows (permits) God to be God, an honest squaring with the fact that life is not fair (it just isn't), and with the true certainty that I am not in control (never was; never will be).

In fact, it's the functional within us that desires the wisdom of counsel, beginning with the counsel of God and extending to the multitude of counselors warranted in any given situation - - from pastors, doctors, counselors, teachers, attorneys, godly friends.

To live in the functional is to be part of the solution. To live in the dysfunctional is to be part of the problem.

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Footnote: I'm certainly not from among the professional counseling community. I share here only what was (and continues to be) a great help to me. In no way do I mean to denigrate or discount truly tough situations. They are built into the equation of life. Having them isn't dysfunctional, nor is talking about them, or having feelings about them. It's what we DO (or how we react/respond) from there that could lead down the slippery slope of playing roles; roles that ultimately end up hurting (and binding) all concerned.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh Let's Do Dance

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"Come said the wind to the leaves one day,
Come o're the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
A Children's Song of the 1880's
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Oh the difficulties I have with chosing my favorite season. I dare say it's not much of a contest because, in all truth, Fall has my heart.
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Unlike the other seasons, I am always hurrying Fall along - - as if it were a petulant child insisting upon dragging it's feet. I peak through the tardy morning to see if a mist is forming. I breath deeply as if to quiet my Summer soul. I muse below the surface of my aging thoughts where memories of yesterFalls reside. A few such ...
  • Adding another blanket to the bed
  • Tucking sandals away in favor of socks & shoes
  • Leaving wide open the window at night
  • Relishing a carmel apple
  • Taking in the annual Fair with all it's delights
  • Smelling the loamy earth as it gives up it's harvest
  • Pressing nose against a rain-spattered pane
  • Delighting in new Crayolas and #2 pencils

These are simple, yet utterly profound items. They're the reds and golds of my Autumn thoughts, and they render me giddy with girlishness.

Fall is the glorious.

I think it not odd ... not odd at all, that such splendor is found just this side of Winter's devastating blight. Perhaps I've lived all my life in the Springs and Summers, knowing that one day I'd be living the Autumns that arrive just ahead of the Winters. Perhaps that is why I have so favored the browns, crimsons, yellows and greens of life. My heart is colored with every shade of them!

No matter ... As long as there's Fall, there is dancing.
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"October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band."
~George Cooper, "October's Party"

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Give Careful Thought

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Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:
"Give careful thought to your ways."
Haggai 1:5
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The entirety of the Book of Haggai in the Old Testament is worth a read; many reads.
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At first glance it appears to be more of a historical work than anything remotely relative. That is, until you look again ... and again.
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I have often been struck by those words, "Give careful thought to your ways." They were written for a people long ago with a distinct purpose in mind. But they were penned for me too - - as if Haggai knew I needed to be included in his audience that day (and this one).
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On the front end of this directive to give careful thought we have the sense that something is lacking ... and so it is. But with a right response, we see how powerfully that lacking is remedied:
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"I am with you," declares the LORD.
1:13
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In these passages I am reminded of how easy it is to give careful thought to THEIR ways, or to THESE things. It's not so easy to conduct a personal inventory amidst a day's doings, or a nation's upheaval, or a season of projects, or on-the-run when life presses (with both the good and not-so-good).
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I'm not sure what giving careful thought ought to look like. But I do know it's not haphazard, or even easy.
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Too, it's probably most needed when least desired.
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Perhaps that needs to be my first step in the process of giving careful thought. Do I even care to give it at all? Do I long to know His thoughts about my ways? Am I willing to relinquish my grip and obey when I discover a disconnect?
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If so, I can be certain that He is with me. If not, then something far less, something incredibly deficient is mine to cherish.
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I wonder how often I've chosen, like the heroine Scarlet O'Hara from "Gone With the Wind", to think about it tomorrow?
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Wormery


When it came to fly-fishing, Dad knew just about everything there was to know.
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From his earliest recollections, there just wasn't a stream on the face of the earth that didn't beckon him. Each, he reported, was filled with trout just waiting for him to cast his fly. Mother had learned early on that our car automatically pulled up alongside any moving body of water so Dad could test his theories. She often joined him.
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So it came as no surprise to my husband that I might know something about fly-fishing, if for no other reason than my vicarious affiliation with it. I counted on it that day in the summer of 1971 when time came to get even with the blarney culprit my husband.
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I know ... it's not nice for a Christan to get even. But in my defense, I was a nominal Christian at the time ... just barely a new babe. I didn't know any better (and that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!).
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Besides, hubby deserved it. I could hardly keep track of, let alone recount the number of times he'd loaded me in the boat, so-to-speak. (I'm sure he could, though.)
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Terry's birth position is smack-dab in the middle of seven siblings, who sat smack-dab in the middle of a bazillion cousins (in the pic, that's him front & center with the blond buzz-cut). He jokingly tells people that he was raised by the wolves, and surely those zany kiddos moved as a pack on occasion. Their wit and humor was well-honed from young ages, and all manner of teasing and torments were the norm at their house.
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Not so at mine. While Mom and Dad had great senses of humor, they weren't given to teasing or tall tales. With four girls to raise (and all the associated drama), it hardly seemed prudent to add more energy. Humor stayed well-confined, so the blarney-scale at our house rarely registered so much as a tick.
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Thus I came to my marriage with a blind spot.
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Not for long.
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My get even tale is the first of many self-defense maneuvers that helped me span the teasing chasm.
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It was that summer of '71 when the joy of the gotcha was mine to claim. It was my first, but it was certainly not my last!
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He'd taken up fly-fishing. My turf!
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A neighbor, Jim, and Terry spent untold hours planning which streams or lakes to assault with their newfound fishing prowess. They prepared as one might when launching a moon-mission. They debriefed as if fly-fishing were an Olympic sport. More-and-more fishing gear was showing up at the house.
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And then one day Terry began digging earthworms in the rich Puyallup Valley soil behind our home. He asked me: "Your Dad used earthworms for bait. Do you know how he took care of them?"
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Did I know? You betcha!
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"Well, I remember he had a large, empty paint container into which he'd work a compost-like dirt bed that included cracked eggshells and coffee grounds. On the top he'd place a Kerr jar lid with water, sometimes with a little sugar added, so the worms could surface and get a drink. He kept it in a cool, dark corner in the garage and would, periodically, work in more egg shells and replenish the sugar water."
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With a nod he was off to fix his own earthwormery.
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In a matter of days his buddy Jim dropped by to plan their next foray. It was then that hubby described the process of harvesting bait, as well as his keeping initiative.
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Jim was good with it right up to the Kerr jar lid's addition, and then he broke out laughing.
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Terry (a very smart Terry) knew at once he'd been had. He shot me a knowing glance - - one I swear contained just a wee bit of admiration.
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Me ... well, it was all I could do to contain my glee. I had thus far stifled laughter, but now I unleashed the hilarity gates and joined Jim in a hoot so visceral it still hurts to think about it.
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Oh the joy of the gotcha!
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sound Familiar?

At the macro level, ahead of when a nation slips into extinction, we see a number of common trends.
  • The decline of the family.
  • The decline of values.
  • The decline of spirituality.
This is not exactly revolutionary information, nor is it terribly revealing. The cycle of nations has been the subject of numerous arduous studies over the course of many years. It is well-documented.
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Those same studies allow us a peak at what's happening on the micro level as well. This gives me goosebumps, and is probablly all I need to share with this particular post.
  • The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith.
  • The second from spiritual faith to great courage.
  • The third stage moves from great courage to liberty.
  • The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance.
  • The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness.
  • The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency.
  • The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy.
  • The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay.
  • The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence.
  • And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage. 1]

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

. "The true test of civilization is not the census ... nor the size of the cities ... nor the crops ... but the kind of man that the country turns out." Ralph Waldo Emerson

."Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation." James Madison

."Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command." Unknown

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All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before Him,
for dominion belongs to the LORD
and He rules over the nations.
Psalm 22:27-28

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1] Probe Ministries: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/decline.html
2]
Famous Quotes: http://en.thinkexist.com/

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saints Alive

There was a day when, had anyone called me a saint, I would have cringed - as if insulted. The connotation in my mind was one of pinched-piety - - a contrived holier-than-thou associated with all manner of impractical (if not downright fanatical) and undesirable behaviors.
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Not so today.
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Likely it's because my understanding has been tutored. God's word has much to say about His saints, and I must confess I no longer have the aberrant view I once gripped. Too, I'm grateful to be among them, the saints. I've come to appreciate the fact that it is a position ascribed to the believer by God Himself, and not something we attain for ourselves, or that is bestowed upon us by others.
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What is a saint, anyway?
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The word saint comes from the Greek word hagios which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious." It is almost always used in the plural. There is only one instance of the singular use and that is "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus…" Philippians 4:21 (The plural versus singular usage could well support a dialogue it's own!)
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The idea behind the word saint is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom.
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That I can subscribe to! It is anything BUT a pinched-piety. In fact, it is one more affirmation of the believer's value in God's eyes. Wow.
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Scripturally speaking, the saints are the body of Christ ... Christians ... the church. All Christians are saints, and at the same time are called to be saints. Christians are saints by virtue of their connection with Jesus Christ - summoned to increasingly allow their daily life to more closely match their position in Christ.
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... you also are among those who are called to belong
to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by
God and called to be saints ...
Romans 1:6-7
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I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19
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... we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:10-14
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The fact that God views me a someone worthy of being set apart just blows me away - not because of who I am, but because of Whose I am. I am first & foremost His to shape and mold, fitted perfectly (though not perfect) for living in His kingdom.
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Amazing.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Safest Place

Meandering along in my car, I was oblivious to most of what the radio produced when the gift of wisdom landed squarely in my consciousness. It wasn't wrapped in pretty song, or even in pretty words. It was a plain gift, but a gift none-the-less.
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Worship moves us securely to a place of refuge.
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Huh? Did I hear that correctly? Worship = refuge?
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On second thought, it really isn't such a new or novel concept. Yet for some reason my thoughts lingered long there. Refuge.
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Here's what our friend Merriam has to say on the subject. The word itself, refuge, is a noun. It means:
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1 : shelter or protection from danger or distress
2 : a place that provides shelter or protection
3 : something to which one has recourse in difficulty
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I envision a fortress.
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... let all who take refuge in You be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O LORD, You bless the righteous;
You surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:11-12
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I began to dig deeper, and as I did I was again reminded that worship is rarely what we make it out to be.
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It's not where we worship. It's not how or when we worship. It's probably not even the miniscule elements we collect under the subject of worship.
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True worship is God-centered, reserved exclusively for Him. It is not limited to this discipline or that; nor is it exclusively the domain of song.
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Paul tells us: “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable, or well pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
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So what motivates our worship? For certain it is centered on “the mercies of God.” These encompass everything He has given us - - blessings we don't deserve: eternal love, eternal grace, the Holy Spirit, everlasting peace, eternal joy, saving faith, comfort, strength, wisdom, hope, patience, kindness, honor, glory, righteousness, security, eternal life, forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, freedom, intercession and much more. The knowledge and understanding of these incredible gifts motivate us to pour forth praise and thanksgiving—in other words, worship!
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We give up control in authentic worship. It's a process by which we renew our minds daily by cleansing them of the world’s “wisdom” and replacing it with true wisdom that comes from God. We worship Him with our renewed and cleansed minds, not with our emotions. Emotions are wonderful things, but unless they are shaped by a mind saturated in Truth, they can be destructive, out-of-control forces. They may also lead us into all manner of aberrant religiosity, including the need to control.
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True worship is the acknowledgment of God and all His power and glory in everything we do. The highest form of praise and worship is obedience to Him and His Word. To do this, we must know God; we cannot be ignorant of Him.
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Worship is to glorify and exalt God—to show our loyalty and admiration and gratitude. It is to place ourselves decidedly in the strong tower of His Presence.
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Even the simplest, most humble acts of obedience will lead us there.
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Even the harshest cruelties of man cannot reach us there.
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For You have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in Your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of
Your wings.
Psalm 61:3-4
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Outraged x Ten!

As I pondered content for a post, this article was the furthest from my mind. That is, until I read it. It's a terribly disturbing piece, highlighting evil we can scarce imagine.
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I decided it was worth sharing, and well-worth revealing my gut-level reaction. I'm rather sure you'll have one of your own!
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While I am livid (and greatly grieved) after reading this piece, I am even more livid at our illustrious, make-nice, talk-even-nicer (or prettier), never-use-the-word-terrorism politicians and their patty-cake diplomacy with America's enemies!

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I may risk being labeled a rabid mobster if I speak out, but speak out I will! I can still vote. I can still write copious letters to my Congressman and Senators. I can still pray. I can still stand!
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You can decide for yourself about the piece (posted on CNN's website), but I think you'll agree. We are totally clueless about the rules of engagement imposed by an enemy wired as these are ...
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Terrorists kidnap, torture boy to bully Iraqi policeman
By Arwa Damon - CNN
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FALLUJA, Iraq (CNN) -- Like many young boys, Khidir loves playing with toy cars and wants to be a policeman like his father when he grows up. But it was his father's very job that caused the tiny child to suffer the unimaginable. Khidir was just 6 years old when he was savagely ripped away from his family, kidnapped by al Qaeda operatives in Iraq.
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"They beat me with a shovel, they pulled my teeth out with pliers, they would go like this and pull it," said Khidir, now 8, demonstrating with his hands. "And they would make me work on the farm gathering carrots."
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What followed was even more horrific, an ordeal that would last for two years in captivity. Khidir and his father spoke to CNN recently, more than half a year after his rescue by Iraqi
police.

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(On video, the young boy describes his torment): "This is where they hammered a nail into my leg and then they pulled it out," he says, lifting up his pant leg to show a tiny wound. He says his captors also pulled out each of his tiny fingernails, broke both his arms, and beat him repeatedly on the side of the head with a shovel. He still suffers chronic headaches. He remembers them laughing as they inflicted the pain. "I would think about my mommy and daddy," he replies, when asked how he managed to get through the agony.
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His father, Abdul Qader, struggles for words. "When he tells me about how they would torture him, I can't tolerate it. I start crying," he says. "What hurts me the most is when they hammered a nail into his leg."
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The father, a police officer, was sleeping at the police station in Falluja when his son was kidnapped. It was too dangerous to go home regularly. Although Falluja was no longer controlled by insurgents, assassinations against police were common.
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"I woke up to the sound of a huge explosion ... and then I heard my name on the radio. I ran outside and they came to me saying your house was blown up," he says.
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"When the police patrol came back, they all started kissing and comforting me," he continues. "I was asking, 'What's going on? Where is my family?' They told me that they took my son. This was a disaster. I went mad that day, I wasn't normal, I was hysterical."
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Khidir's grandmother was at home with the family at the time. "The kidnappers climbed the fence and kicked in the door," she says."They were screaming for Abdul Qader. I told them he's not here. They called me a liar and said we want his son. His son was hiding behind me, clutching my clothes. I said this is not his son. They hit me on the back with a rifle and ripped him out of my arms."
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The last thing she remembers were his screams of "Granny, Granny!"
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The attackers rigged the house with explosives and demolished it before taking off with the 6-year-old. The boy's grandmother and seven other family members rushed out of the home before it exploded.
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"The kidnappers called me on the phone and demanded that some prisoners that we had be released or they would slit his throat," Khidir's father says. "But I said no to the release. I would not put killers back out on the street that would hurt other Muslims. So I thought to myself, 'Let my son be a martyr.' "
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He even held a secret funeral for his little boy. He didn't want to tell the rest of the family that he had refused the kidnappers' ultimatum, allowing them to hope that he was still alive.
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Last December, nearly two years later, police in Taji, about 45 (70 kilometers) away, received a tip that terrorists
were holding kidnapped children.

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"We thought that it was just a tip to ambush us, but we considered the mission as a sacrifice," said Iraqi police Capt. Khalib Ali. "Either we find the children and free them or face the danger and take the risk.
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The tip led the Iraqi police to a rundown farm and a series of mud huts. Khidir's tiny body was twisted abnormally. And in another hut, they found another child. Two children are still believed to be with the kidnappers.
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Al Qaeda in Iraq has historically kidnapped children for money, to pressure officials, and even to use in terrorist attacks.

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For Khidir's father, it was as if his son had come back from the dead.
"He didn't recognize his mother or his grandmother," Abdul Qader says. "But then he saw me in uniform and ran to me. I went flying toward him to hug him. People said be careful; both his arms are broken. So I held him from his waist, and he hugged me, kissed me, smelled me, and then broke into a smile."
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The father flips through old family photos -- all they were able to salvage from their destroyed home -- and notes some of the kidnappers are still at large. He still fears for his son's safety, but says he won't quit the police force.
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"Never, never," he says. "If I leave the police force, if others leave the force, who will protect us from the terrorists? We are the only ones."
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Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
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Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
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Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
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Ephesians 6:10-13

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Little Sass

We are not here to prove
that God answers prayer,
but to be living trophies
of God's grace.
Oswald Chambers
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What inspiring, witty or reflective things might I write as I return after a six day hiatus? Surely my never-ending repertoire is more never-ending than ever? Oh that it were so!
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Actually, I've spent the better part of the past week in bed. Yep, bed.
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No sass.
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No memory-making with the visiting princesses. No fancy home-cooking, No marathon Uno-Spin matches. No picnics in the park. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
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But I'm walking and talking simultaneously again. And I'm laughing - - the stuff of which delights the 11 year old Allie and 12 year old Rylie. Grandpa too. The sass is back!
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You know what else? Saturday's my 2nd year Blogger Anniversary (and something over 454 posts). Amazing.
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So, as my sass-quotient rises I'll be
Making Rounds, visiting all of you who've dropped in to leave thoughts and well-wishes (I love it that I get a double dose of so many on Facebook). Have I ever told you how much I value those comments, or how much I've grown to love each and every one of you? If not, then let me be clear: I love you.
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As I sign off for today, I cannot do less than close with the incredible fact of God's goodness and grace. Whether side-lined with the flu, or pondering the day's darker side, His face continues to shine upon us. We dwell in safety. What love! .
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Many are asking,
"Who can show us any good?"
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Let the light of your face shine
upon us, O LORD.
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You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.
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I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
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Psalm 4:6-8
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