HOW TO OVERCOME A SHATTERED PAST

HOW TO OVERCOME A SHATTERED PAST

Broken Eye GlassWe tend to see God through our shattered perspective, and that’s a big problem. With a severely damaged self-image, we generally have a broken God-image too. In fact, let’s be honest; some of us believe God is great and all-powerful, but we can’t imagine Him doing anything astonishing through our lives. We sing worship songs about His awesomeness, but we believe God is limited in what He can do with screw-ups like us.

A huge part of the dilemma is that we like to create gods in our own image. We make gods out of the rich and famous. We elevate leaders (including politicians and pastors) to god-like status. We put them on a pedestal somewhere prominent in our lives, but in the end it’s a puny little god we’ve made to worship rather than Almighty God. Here’s the problem: If our God is too tiny or too human (like us), then our faith and confidence in Him will be too small.

Success Leap HQ

Deep down we want to believe that God can do anything, but we’re pretty sure He has limits when it comes to us. Time or space might not constrain God, but a craftsman is only as good as the material he has to work with, right? And we know what we are.

            More mud than marble.

            More sandstone than diamond.

            More broken than whole.

I’m not a big fan of self-confidence. Despite what the positive thinking gurus have to say, I’m not okay (and neither are you). I can sit in a lotus position for hours chanting, “I am good. I am awesome. My life force in the universe matters.” But in my gut I know I’m not that good. In fact, I’m pretty messed up at times.

So what’s the alternative to emotional self-flogging? The substitute for self-confidence is God-confidence. (Stop and read that line again.) In other words, it’s not about me. So I put my confidence and hope in God and His ability to accomplish anything through a cracked pot like me.

Sin Dent

            The god I’ve created in my mind has limits.

            The God of the universe does not.

            I am broken.

            He is not.

In fact, working with people who typically are relegated to the scratch-and-dent pile of life is God’s specialty.

Many of us feel we’ve gone too far and failed too miserably to ever get back on track. Even if God once had a great plan for our lives, we believe it’s too late now. But avoiding epic failure is not a prerequisite to experiencing an epic life.

Sin Epic Failure

Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Rahab was a prostitute. Peter was a betrayer. Saul (aka: Paul) persecuted and imprisoned Christians. Yet each of them lived amazingly epic lives when they followed God.

We’re all in trouble if the path to adventure in Christ requires perfection. We must learn to get past what we’ve done and get beyond our glaring inadequacies. God is bigger than our foolishness.

Perhaps you often drift in your mind to some horrendous past sin you’ve committed. Possibly you’re devoured by your failure and overwhelmed by your foolishness. Maybe the misery of yesterday and the emptiness of today have stolen from you any joy or hope for a better tomorrow.

Sin God Bigger

If that’s you, please listen to these words: God knows where you’ve been, where you are, and where He will take you. He knows your past, present and future better than you do, but He sees a sunrise of hope on your horizon.

How do you overcome a shattered and sinful past?

You simply confess your sin and rest in God’s goodness and grace. You truly can be free and forgiven because of Jesus. Let go of the things you can’t change about your past, and trust God with your present and your future. He is able to redeem, restore, and renew any life that is fully surrendered to Him.

There’s a reason why they call it amazing grace.

Sin Grace

 

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4 Responses to HOW TO OVERCOME A SHATTERED PAST

  1. Dear Kurt,
    I am sure, this is a message we all need to hear over and over again. We have trust issues with God and ourselves. Submission to God means we have to give Him control. We need to learn that is how we become totally free, as He created us to be. Keep preaching this great truth. We all need to know and experience this great Truth.
    Love,
    Aunt Dee

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HOW TO “FEAR NOT” RATHER THAN GET BOUND BY FEAR KNOTS  (Four ways to overcome terror!)

HOW TO “FEAR NOT” RATHER THAN GET BOUND BY FEAR KNOTS (Four ways to overcome terror!)

Fear DarknessMost of us can easily think of the moments we’ve lived in absolute terror. Fear is like a tattoo on our souls, except it’s a permanent mark that we don’t want to show others. In reality, everyone experiences the emotion of fear; however, that doesn’t help us feel any better about our own.

I hate the dentist. Actually, I don’t hate the person; I hate the experience. I have more fillings and root canals than most people have teeth. I’m pretty sure I’ve put a few of my dentist’s kids through college.

The entire experience is a nightmare for me. Of course, the minions who serve Dr. Toothenstein try to pull the wool over my eyes. The room is clean and the music is soothing. Everybody smiles and treats me like I’m about to go for a quiet walk on a beautiful beach. I’m placed in a recliner, of sorts, but just out of sight is a tray of neatly organized torture devices waiting to rip into my mouth. The doc enters with a sadistic grin. He asks how I’m doing while washing the evidence of his previous victim from his hands. I’m thinking, If this is so safe, then why are they covering my eyes with safety glasses?

Fear of Dentist 1

Being a manly man (meaning proud and stubborn), I’ve typically said no to using any happy gas (nitrous oxide) during my visits to the dentist. But that all changed after spending three hours in an endodontist’s chair in the summer of 2012. As she carved deeper and deeper into my jaw, trying to remove an obstinate root, I went deeper and deeper into the dark hole of terror. Frankly, I had my first panic attack, and I felt foolish, embarrassed, and angry with myself.

Can you remember the last time you were afraid? Maybe it was during a near-death experience in your car. Maybe it was at 30,000 feet when your plane hit an air pocket and you hadn’t paid attention to the “keep your seat belt fastened at all times” warning, and suddenly your head was jammed into an air vent. Maybe it was during a movie like World War Z, and you still wake up in the middle of the night screaming. [1]

Fear World War Z

Whatever your last fear experience was, I’m sure it still makes your pulse race and your heart skip a beat when you think about it.

Fear is like a Vice Grip on our minds. Fear puts our gut into a knot of anguish. It squeezes our hearts. It hurts our faith. It wounds our souls. It’s like getting punched in the solar plexus because it literally takes our breath away.

Fear sucks. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and experientially it robs us of so much.

Unfounded fears produce unnecessary reactions that cripple us and cause us to withdraw from living the epic life God has planned for us. Too often we say no to God-given opportunities because we’re afraid. Too often we miss the chance to develop and grow because we’ve chosen to play it safe and avoid any risks.

The problem with fear is its costs to us when we are bound by it. It steals precious time. It wastes our energy. And it often robs us of our destiny.

Fear 1 Problem

I’m the last guy on the planet to give you a hard time about being afraid. I get it. If you struggle with fear, we are brothers/sisters from a different mother. You’ll get no finger-wagging or shaming looks from me. But we don’t have to stay stuck in the grip of terror. We can live free. We can grow. We can choose to “fear not” rather than live bound by “fear knots.”

To live free, we need to consider a few things:

First, we need a change in our perspective. This life is temporary. Our bodies are “but dust,”[2] and we’re scheduled for an upgrade in eternity. When we remember that Jesus defeated death [3], it can change the way we view those things we fear.

Second, we need a change in our minds. Fear is often the result of faulty thinking. We develop destructive mental habits that become the emotional ruts that we run into. I heard someone say once, “You fight bad thoughts with good thoughts.” I couldn’t agree more. We must teach our minds to dwell on whatever is excellent and admirable and to focus our thoughts on all that is true, holy, just, pure, lovely and worthy of praise.[4] The Bible also says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” [5]

In other words, a God-fixed mind is a peace-filled mind.

Fear 2 Fight Fear

We also need to train ourselves to seek and trust God when terror strikes. I love these words of David, found in the Psalms: “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” [6] When the unexpected happens (and it will), to whom do you turn first? Does your heart run toward God in prayer, or do you run to the medicine cabinet for a Valium?

Finally, we must learn to lose our fears in the sea of God’s love. In many ways, the root of all fear is spiritual. We doubt the goodness of God. We question the love of Jesus. We wonder if God is really mindful of us and our situation. But “perfect love casts out fear.” [7] Knowing we are deeply loved by a Father who always has our best interest at heart is critical to living an epic life.

Fear 3 Lose Fear Sea

I imagine I will wrestle with some fears for the rest of my life, but I cannot afford to let them control me or my destiny in Christ. The key for you and me is to press beyond them and to walk through the fear threshold before us. Why? Because a life beyond our wildest imagination is waiting for us on the other side of the fear barrier.

Why would we settle for anything less?

Fear 4 Life Beyond

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[1] A 2013 apocalyptic zombie film starring Brad Pitt.

[2] Psalm 103:14

[3] I Corinthians 15

[4] Philippians 4:8

[5] Isaiah 26:3, NLT

[6] Psalms 34:4

[7] I John 4:18

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3 Responses to HOW TO “FEAR NOT” RATHER THAN GET BOUND BY FEAR KNOTS (Four ways to overcome terror!)

  1. Kurt,
    Love this post. Fear can be such a big tool used by Satan to destroy the fellowship of a believer with God, like a wolf he desires to isolate a believer from the rest of the flock.
    I love the verse you used “perfect love casts out fear”. That verse seems to imply fear (along with doubt, depression, etc) is going to happen while we are here on earth, even in the lives of earnest Christ followers. That passage later goes on to make the point that “if we don’t love our brothers (and sisters) how can we say we love God”. And “whoever loves God must love his brother also”. So it seems to me that he is making a good case that there is a relationship between the love we show to one another and the defeat of the power of fear. Showing love and encouragement to someone is a weapon to defeat the isolation of fear.
    Anyway in a nut shell (too late) as believers, it seems we can use our God given ability of showing love and encouragement as a tool to defeat another’s fear. There can be nothing more self perpetuating than fear and isolation (wether real or perceived). But the grace and encouragement of a brother or sister can drain the tank of isolation very quickly.
    Sorry about that, kinda got on a roll.
    Love ya man.

  2. “Today is a good day to die”, Low Dog, Lakota War Chief, Little Big Horn. As a departure from Biblical Quotes, I thought about this one for a moment. If it is a good day to die, then LIVING becomes even sweeter. Do we not see every moment as one to be cherished, and lived, and to see it in awe and wonderment? And, “God is with us, of whom should we be afraid” (can’t find the passage, but it is in there!!!) also comes to mind. So, we have been Redeemed by God’s Grace in Jesus, The King. He abolished our sins, and the sins of MANKIND, with His sacrifice. Since that is the case, and we are then justified before the Creator of the Universe, does it not stand to reason that we should be living this life without ANY fear? I have been VERY close to death on many occasions, and been fearful in some other circumstances, but that was then, and this is now, and since Jesus came into my life through the Holy Spirit, there are few circumstances that even give me pause. I will die sometime, and at close to 70, the time could be close, or far away, but not as far as it used to be!!!! So, I will enjoy the ultimate HEALING, and be with Him Who Has Called Me Friend, and Child. Just a thought Kurt, from my convoluted mind!!! Love what you write!!!

  3. Excellent piece on the effects of fear. Sometimes fear can be hidden, buried so deep that we don’t realize that fear is our motivation when we side-step a challenging situation that God placed before us for our good and the good of those around us.

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FRIEND WITH DOWN SYNDROME

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FRIEND WITH DOWN SYNDROME

DS Title PIN

There is a middle-aged guy in our church who consistently surprises me. His name is Jesse, and he happens to have Down syndrome. I have no idea what Jesse’s IQ is, but it’s not very high. He’s functional but childlike, and he always has and always will live with his mom.

Anybody who knows Jesse knows he is passionate about four things: karate, country music, drums, and Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a cowboy hat or a t-shirt displaying his favorite country western musician, and he often has been seen playing air drums during worship time in church.

Week after week, Jesse shows up early to get a front-row seat in our church auditorium. (He doesn’t understand that most people come early to get the back seats.) He sits up front near me because he enjoys being close to the action and the drums in the worship band. More than many others in our community of faith, Jesse engages with all of his heart in worship. His love for Jesus is both obvious and humbling.

Me and Jesse this morning at church

One Sunday morning during a worship song that deeply touched me, I ended up on my knees singing, crying, and quietly praying. I’m sure several of those around me noticed, but I didn’t care. I was lost in the presence of Jesus. My eyes were closed, and my arms were lifted up when a small hand on my shoulder startled me. I opened my eyes to see who’d had the nerve to interrupt me. It was Jesse; his eyelids were squeezed shut, and he was praying for me.

To say I became a blubbering, sobbing mess at that point would be an understatement. In no time, I was sucking carpet. What I saw first as an interruption became one of the most powerful spiritual moments of my life. Somehow I knew Jesus was touching and blessing me through my friend Jesse.

DS Man in Prayer

So what? What can you and I learn from Jesse? A lot, but this particular lesson is simple and clear: Maybe we worry too much about the way we look or the way we sound rather than the condition of our hearts in praise.

Few of us suffer from any debilitating handicap. Most of us are quite capable of doing whatever we want to do whenever we want to do it. But too often we hold back in fear or check out in apathy rather than jumping into worship with heartfelt enthusiasm. I’m not suggesting we all need to play the air drums in worship, but we should engage God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

DS Engage PIN

We need to be more like Jesse. We need to function with the clear and simple focus of whole-hearted devotion for God. We need to pursue the Father with passionate abandonment. We must learn to live with a determined and deliberate desire to discover all that our Creator has fashioned for us to experience in Him.

If Jesse can do it, so can we.

DS Pursue PIN

 

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14 Responses to WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY FRIEND WITH DOWN SYNDROME

  1. Kurt, a couple nights ago, I attended a stage production called PACE Has Got Talent, directed by friend and SFCC professor, Judy Mandeville (also retired Sacred Dance instructor at Whitworth for many years). The performers were all the developmentally challenged students from her SFCC classes. The 2 hr. show brought me to tears, filled me with joy, and made me realize why God blesses our world with those with Down Syndrome and other conditions out of the normal. They are our teachers. They remind us to be what Jesus said, “like little children,” and they inspire me, as you emphasized in your article, to be less conscious of how I look, sound, and act when I know I’m obeying God.

  2. I would have checked out tonight had I not read this article. If it only keeps me alive one more day, so be it, but at least I have that one more day to go before God and ask Him to help me understand events of the past 12 horrific years. My special needs daughter, whom I adopted out of the horror of abuse and neglect in 1980, and I were victims of facility abuse over the past dozen years in a nursing home/assisted living facility we were only supposed to be in a month. My health was stolen from me. I suffered severe traumatic brain injury, and my precious child was hurt beyond belief, as I lay unconscious for 27 months. Now I am special needs. I love God no less. I have never thought to ask Him, “Why?” I’ve never asked Him, “Why me,” or “why Crisi Dee.” I awake every morning and go to sleep every night merely asking, “What do I do?” I was born deaf, and my daughter is deaf. She also has cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy and autism. I can’t explain to her the horrors that were visited upon either of us. I can’t tell her I’ll always be here to love, protect and care for her. I can only look into my precious daughter’s eyes and see her broken soul. I weep for her, and I weep for me. I cannot fix what our abusers broke. I will bow my heart before God for the rest of my life if it takes that long and plead with Him, on behalf of both of us, to finally show me what to do. I know He must love her enough to tell this broken Mama what to do to set this right. Otherwise why did He leave me here!?!

    • Dear Coral, my heart weeps with yours. Stories like this remind me of how dark and broken our world is…and yet…how Jesus came to give us hope. I wish I could tell you He came to make life easy. I wish I could give you answers. Frankly, the old part of me wants to hurt the people who hurt you and your precious daughter. However, what I can tell you is this…you are loved by Him and by me. Somehow, out of our brokenness, God uses us to help others, and often in ways we don’t even see. You matter to Him. You matter to me. You may never “understand the events” of your past, but please do not give up. Not today. Not ever.
      May I pray for you?
      Jesus, I don’t know Coral or her daughter, but You do. You know them and love them more than Your own life. Please wrap your arms around both of them right now. Whisper into their ears and hearts how much you love them beyond words. Let them know your peace and presence. Show Coral what You have planned for her future. Into this situation that seems so hopeless, breathe hope as only You can do. In Your name I pray…
      Thank you Coral for sharing a bit of your story with me. I will continue to pray…

    • Pastor Kurt Bubna’s words are only just beginning to soak in. I will continue to ponder them in my heart. They triggered memories of Scriptural references I want to search out in my Bible. Nearly everything I searched, learned and understood that led to my decision to accept Christ as my Savior 57 years ago, was wiped from my memory in the violent abuse to my head and body that caused the horrific brain injury. My faith alone stayed strong, but the foundation upon which it was built did not survive with it. I yearn for things I cannot even remember. But I will find them again. I sought and found decades ago. I asked and I was gifted. I knocked and God opened His rich store of knowledge of His Holiness, grace, mercy and salvation for me decades ago. He will do it again.

  3. thank you for your blog…AS ALWAYS…it comes to me when I really DO need it the most…I am forever grateful that i stumbled across your blog..bought my first book of yours…Epic Grace and have since bought the other two. Thank you for your words…and may you PLEASE continue for a VERY LONG TIME.
    In Jesus name and Love
    Kelly

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THREE THINGS I LEARNED AS A CANCER SURVIVOR

THREE THINGS I LEARNED AS A CANCER SURVIVOR

Cancer 3 Things PIN

            It seems odd to me to read those words, cancer survivor. Even though my dad died of cancer, as well as too many other family members and friends, it wasn’t until I heard from my doctor, “I’m afraid we’re dealing with cancer,” that I ever thought about it happening to me. Denial and I are tight.

            Sadly, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide with a projected 13 million deaths per year by 2030. [1] That’s a boring statistic until it’s personal, and it is very personal for some. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t had someone they know and love die of cancer.

            At fifty-four, and relatively healthy, I went for my annual physical. Every year, the worst part of the exam came when the doctor checked my prostate. Typically, and thankfully, this was a quick part of my examination. Normally, as he pulled his rubber glove off, I’d hear something from the doc like, “Looks good. All is well.” Of course, I never felt very well after that experience, but I was always relieved to get a good report.

            This year was different. He wasn’t that quick, and what my doctor said was more than a little disturbing. “Hmmm, I’m going to wait to see what your PSA levels are, but I might need to send you to a urologist,”[2] was not at all what I wanted to hear. Not even close. Have you ever been to see a urologist? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m thankful for all doctors and realize that each has a vital medical role to play. But seriously, why would anyone want to practice urology or proctology?

Cancer Waiting

            Sure enough, about a week or so later, I got a postcard in the mail from my general practitioner asking me to make a follow-up visit to discuss my PSA levels. Dang it! I had a sick feeling in my gut that this was not going to be fun, and it wasn’t.

            My doc is a great guy. Except for the fact that he’s a vegetarian, I think he’s awesome, but when he referred me to the dreaded urology specialist, I wasn’t too happy. Of course I asked him a few questions about prostate cancer, and he simply said, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s best we take this one step at a time. The guy who messes with prostates for a living and charges twice as much as me is better able to answer all your questions.” (He might not have said exactly that last part.)

            Not jumping to fearful conclusions is wise counsel unless you’re freaking out and wondering if there’s cancer in your body. That night, while I was trying to go to sleep, my self-talk was relentless . . .

            What if this is it . . . the end of the line . . . the last dance . . . the grand finale?

            If I do have cancer, how is this going to change my life?

            Why is this happening? I knew all that pizza was going to kill me!

Cancer Night Sky Stars

            I tossed and turned for over an hour until I finally decided that if I was awake, I might as well pray. And pray I did. I got out of bed, and in the darkness of my living room I knelt at the couch and cried out, “God, I know asking why is not as important as asking what. So what do you want me to do? What are you trying to show me through all of this? What the heck is going on?” (Yes, I know, the last question is pretty much a disguised why question.)

            Unless you’ve experienced God during a great trial, and I hope you have, it’s difficult to explain how His peace can invade our panic. I didn’t have any visions. The heavens didn’t part. There was no handwriting on the wall or any audible voice. However, I did hear God speak, and He said precisely what I needed to hear: “Kurt, you ain’t dead yet!”

            I will admit to you that I was tempted to explore exactly what God meant by “yet,” but I understood God’s challenge. It was an encouragement to stop worrying about the inevitable (i.e. we all eventually die of something) and to make sure that I lived each day I had left with intentionality and purpose.

Cancer Perspective PIN

PERSPECTIVE MATTERS

            Let me suggest a few simple ways you can have your own moment of revelation without facing a life-threatening disease like I did.

            First, step back and get a different perspective. Embrace the view that includes life long after you are gone, but live like you can make a difference now—because you can. If you think that old automatically means outdated and useless, then change your point of view. Someone once said, “It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old that matters.” [3]

Cancer OLD CAR Pin

            Second, create a spiritual bucket list. [4] An important part of living with intentionality and on purpose is having some bold spiritual goals and a plan to accomplish them. Too many people wander through life without any idea of what they might accomplish if they simply put their mind to it.

            My late uncle, pastor and author Don Bubna, was a stellar example of living on purpose. He stayed active well into his eighties. He once asked me, “Nephew, what would you attempt for God if you knew you could not fail?” Of course, I thought what you’re thinking right now, “But we do fail, and sometimes miserably!” However, my uncle’s point was profound: Live big because we have a great big God, and if you don’t aim high it’s probably because your God is too small.

Live BIG Pin

            A spiritual bucket list is a list of things you’d love to do for God before you die. It might include something as simple as finally reading through the entire Bible. It might involve telling your best friend about Jesus before it’s too late. It might be writing a book for your children and your children’s children of precious memories and lessons learned. (Who cares if it gets published? Write it for your family.) It could be serving as a volunteer chaplain in a hospital or using some of your nest egg to go on a mission trip to China. My spiritual mentor Noel Campbell learned to play the violin in his seventies, and it became an instrument of worship for him.

            Take a moment right now and pray, “God, what would you like me to do with the rest of my life?”

            The final thing you must do, and this is critical, is pick something and pull the trigger. Get in the game. Don’t be like so many others who think life has passed them by. It’s time to stop making excuses and go for it. God is not done with you yet.

{Note: I just had my four-year cancer checkup this past week and continue to be cancer-free.}

Cancer NOT DONE Pin

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[1] http://www.who.int, (January, 2013).

[2] Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level testing is a blood test used to detect prostate cancer.

[3] Ownership of this quote is disputed. It is often attributed to a French author Jules Renard, but no sound source is yet found for this attribution. There is a possibility that it may have been said or written in French by Renard. The earliest source found for this quote in English is in the mid 1900’s, and all the sources attributed this quote to Marie Dressler.

[4] The idea of a “bucket list” became well known through a movie of the same title starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Essentially, it is a list of things you wish to do before you die.

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9 Responses to THREE THINGS I LEARNED AS A CANCER SURVIVOR

  1. Wonderful retelling, Kurt. Enjoyed the images you selected as well. And I love the idea of the spiritual bucket list. That’s going on the Get-To-Do List today!

  2. Perfect timing…love the spiritual bucket list . As always you sharing your heart has blessed & encouraged me!
    Love you son

  3. We have heard all our lives “there is no time like the present”. So, “offering up our lives as a living sacrifice” seems to go along with that too. We are so busy with EVERYTHING that lots of things get put on the back burner. Kurt, what you went through certainly stopped you in your tracks, and all of us will experience that at some time. Matthew 6 gives us some really good advice about a lot of things, but verse 34 says it all for me. “34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. Does that mean we are to live our lives willy-nilly? I don’t think so. It means to me that we can live our lives with purpose, trust God to hold our hands and get through the tough times, and also trust Him be with us “even unto the end of the age” (our end is sometime). God speaks to us in so many ways. All we should do each day is listen. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

  4. LUV this!! I had started doing some things I felt God wanted me to do several years ago…read the bible every am before I get ready for my day..It IS something I have been making sure is a habit…I think I might need to add something MORE but not sure what that is…My oldest kid graduated high school this year and I did put together a book of prayers…spirital messages and encouraging words scrapbook for hard times at college…or just hard times in life.

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