Praying James 5 – Suffering Patiently

Praying James 5 – Suffering Patiently

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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 Suffering

Suffering patiently is not a characteristic we look forward to building. How fast will this trial end? Lord, save us from these times!  These are our cries. Cries that fall on ears of one who is very familiar with suffering.

From heaven he suffered heartache as He watched Adam and Eve choose to disobey and eat of the only tree they were forbidden to them. From heaven, he watched as the prophets he sent to proclaim his love and justice were ridiculed and killed. From the cross, his physical life slowly faded breath by suffering breath as people hurled insults upon him. He was the ultimate suffering servant proclaimed in Isaiah 53. Jesus knows what suffering is.

Jesus us calls us to be willing to suffer patiently too.

James 5:7

Lord, how we long to be with you! To be away from the troubles of this world, the pain, the suffering, and grief. We praise you for the joy we get to have in us constantly while seeing the chaos of this world.

We pray we will take you at your word. May we wholeheartedly believe that you will come back soon! We pray for patience as we continue to serve you and others while we are waiting. Help us to focus on you so that we will continue to tend to what you have planted in our hearts and in the hearts of others. Let us grow our faith and share this faith with others until the day of your return.

In the One who is coming back soon – Amen!

James 5:8

Lord, help us not to just stand firm, but to stand firm on the Rock, our Salvation! The devil is twisting your words and creating division. Lord, let us search your word and make sure what is being taught it true. Let us act in ways that bring people together instead of tear them apart. We pray that we would stand firmly and patiently in a way that will bring you honor and glory.

In the One, who through his death, brought about the opportunity to be united with you once again – Amen!

James 5:10

Lord, we praise you for how you take care of us physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually.

You know that we will have highs and lows and there will be times of loneliness, heartache, and suffering.

Thank you for prophets and their patience in the face of suffering. When we pour over your words written through them, it fans our hope and reminds our hearts that putting our trust in you will never fail.

In the One who inspires us daily with the past to live in the present and have hope for the future – Amen!

James 5:11

In the midst of the trials that overwhelm us completely, its verses like this that give us hope. Hope for how you will use the trial to bring us closer to you and encourage others going through the same thing.

Lord, help us to cling to you in the midst of our trials. Helps us to trust you even when it doesn’t make sense and the devil is trying to make us think that you’ve left us.

Help us to stand firm in your truth and continue to build our faith through the struggles.

In the One who is full of love and mercy – Amen!

James 5:12

We praise you, Lord, because you are a God who keeps his word! as we read your promises for us in the Bible, we can’t help but rejoice knowing that they will happen.

Lord, we pray we will honor you by being people of our word too.

When we fail at this, we pray we will make it right. We don’t want our own words to condemn us.

In Jesus’ holy name – Amen!

Control Issues

Control Issues

Sara

Sara

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara

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Oh man, seventh grade strikes again. It was torture enough the first time around and this go-round with my soon-to-be thirteen-year-old is no more enjoyable. However, he has a couple of things going for him that I didn’t at this painfully awkward age–good looks and confidence. And he has such a huge heart! Seriously folks, I could gush about him forever, but I digress. Grades. The struggle is real. I know there are plenty of parents who feel me on this.

Parenting isn’t for the Faint of Heart

September 29, 2015, was a day that I could not have felt more inept at the game of parenting. During the short drive to school my son again informed me he didn’t know what he needed to follow up on with his teachers. At this point I’d done everything in my power to help him be successful (or so I thought). I’d bought all the necessary tools, sat with him for hours to help with homework, and made lists for him. You name it, I addressed it to no avail. He hadn’t changed a single approach to any of his classes or assignments.

I lost it. I yelled, he cried, it was ugly. He got out of the car and just like that I’d ruined any hope he had at a successful day. He likely wouldn’t operate well under that kind of stress. I was at a total and complete loss and in that moment begged God to step in, saying,  “I’ve got nothing left here, please help us! I can’t watch him fail and I don’t know what else to do!” I’m not sure I prayed too much about it before this point. Yet somehow I thought I’d already done everything I could do. The very second I finished praying I got a text message from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in some time. It read:

“Good morning, friend. Prayed for the Lord’s help in the decisions that you have to make. I saw you open-handed toward God, as though saying ‘I have nothing, I need your help.’ He sees you, and loves both you and Andrew so much.”

Overwhelmed by God’s Response

Commence the uncontrollable sob fest that lasted the whole way to work, a good thirty minutes. I’m not talking sad cries–I really don’t know the appropriate descriptor for it–but I was overwhelmed by God’s amazing response to my plea. She had no idea what was going on at that particular moment! I hadn’t spoken to her about this struggle, and we hadn’t even kept in touch like we used to. So for her to reach out with that timing and those words was the perfect way for God make 100% clear that He heard, He cared, and He was already in it. But I could not quite make sense of the part of her text that mentioned decisions I needed to make.

Since that day his grades have improved. Great news, right? Kinda, but not really. I’m coming to learn that this is only half the battle. Maybe more like a quarter of the battle. The problem is that his habits have not changed, and neither have mine. I’ve become a drill sergeant and I’ve tried taking control by micromanaging the status of all his assignments and scores in each class. Thanks to technology and online gradebooks, this is possible.

Learning to Let Go of My Control Issues

Maaaybe not such a good thing. I’ve effectively conditioned my son to take direction from me rather than take initiative for himself. It is like I’m taking seventh grade all over again and there is this nagging voice in my head asking, “Shouldn’t your approach have changed after God’s message back in September?”

Enter the part about the decisions I have to make. More than one person has suggested I let him fail, because “maybe it’s the best way for him to learn.” I sit there and nod my head in agreement but cringe on the inside. What kind of parent would I look like if he had bad grades? I’m a single mom and he comes from a broken home. I loathe these stereotypes and what people expect from these circumstances.

So I’m fighting it to the death and it is my selfish pride that is interfering with the very work I’m pleading with God to do in my son! Will I get out of the way and give control over to God? Or do I care too much about what people will think of me to allow God to teach my son how to succeed in his own timing without me interfering? Without me forcing results?

I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the “let go and let God” part, but I’m a work in progress. We’ll be taking this one day at a time, the kid, God and I. The part of my friend’s prayer that made the least sense to me at the time is now the focal point of my dilemma. God help me in the decisions I have to make!

He Cares for You

Several months ago God gave me this verse for a struggle I was not going to overcome without His help.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

1 Peter 5:7

(It seems I’m a slow learner.)

While we should be obedient and trust God, this verse reminds us that He doesn’t ask us to give our struggles to him because he has control issues. It is a love-driven invitation to watch God do beautiful works in and around us. What reason is there not to accept?

Is God asking you to release control over something you are trying to manage on your own? If the answer is yes, then like me you have a decision to make.

How have you seen God show up in your life when you stop trying to take control? Encourage us with your story in the comments below!

 

 

 

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Walk Worthy: When Christian Unity Requires It

Melissa W

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W

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Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

I love these words Paul wrote while he was a prisoner. I picture Paul as the Spirit overcomes him and he writes exhaled words of God as a letter to the Ephesian church. The words found in this letter, though written to people from another time and another place, still strike such heavy meaning thousands of years later in a world seemingly gone mad.  Isn’t that the beauty of God’s Word? His words are not bound by space or time. The words He breathed out then are still what we are inhaling today.

Walk worthy.

I read those words and my mind races just as my heart beats quick. I feel Him. His presence is near. It is not a question or a suggestion, it is eyes locking with mine and He says, “Walk worthy.” Maybe I should feel angst at such a command…but I back up a little and I read through the first three chapters of Ephesians.

This scripture reminds me of my righteousness attained through Christ. I remember his gift of grace and of my new identity in Christ. So I can quickly remove the fear that He is calling me to walk a life of self-sanctification. He is, rather, calling me to walk a life that reflects all that I have received in Him. I can revel in the hope and truth that the first three chapters of Ephesians give. Because He is worthy and my life reflects Him living in me, I can walk worthy. Not a perfect life, but a life that is full of grace and one which strives to bring Him glory. But, what is worthy?

Called to Unity

My eyes travel and these words stand out: humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love. Then this: diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. A call to unity. I cringe.

The struggle is there. A unified body is a great idea and can be found…until you mention your political opinion or until you mention who you voted for last election. Then the beautiful rope of unity begins to unravel and tangle, leaving a mess with knots so tight it has become a useless blob on the floor.

Walk worthy. So there it is again. However, I also see something else: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Did you catch that? Who [God] is above all and through all and through all in all. Does that cause anyone else to catch a breath of relief? There is no fine print, no ifs, ands, or buts, no political figure, no political party. There is nothing but God. HE IS ALL.

So where does that leave us?

As the political comments, remarks, jabs, and opinions become more prevalent each year, let us not forget what we know to be true.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and above all, He is where our identity is found. We can rejoice with our friends, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that our hope and joy is in Him. Our desire is to walk worthy as children called by His name. By this, we will show the world that His Spirit unites us as the body of Christ. Our unity is not through political opinion, party, or affiliation. Don’t hang your hopes on anyone other than the One whose purpose was to come to earth and rescue us through His death and resurrection.

This year, let us seek unity as believers no matter which political box we check. I pray that we will embrace a Christ-like humility, radiate His gentleness, and dwell in His patience. My prayer is that we will accept one another through His love and that we will be diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

What to Do when Someone Bad-Mouths You

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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Hopefully, you have never been in this situation and will never find yourself there.  But sadly, many of us have.  So what should you do when someone bad-mouths you?

The answer is the easiest, yet most difficult thing you will ever do. You only need to do the following things.  Are you ready?

1. Pray.

This is the best thing to do in every situation.  Pray as if your life depends on it, because in reality, most of the time, it does.  Your relationship with the Lord will determine how you handle the rest of this situation.  At times, you will want to lash out at the person bad-mouthing you.  Resist that temptation.  Instead, pray for that person(s).

Yes, praying for the person bad-mouthing you can be difficult. But it is definitely something that must be done.  If nothing else, it will soften your heart for that person, and you will be able to face them with grace instead of venom.

2. Let God fight your battle.

I say it’s easy, but it is the hardest thing you will do.  You will be tempted to correct the gossip you hear about yourself.  Don’t be tempted to defend yourself.  God will send others to do that (even without you inciting them.)

Some years ago, I was going through a major ordeal.  I heard all this incorrect information about myself, some of which even made me laugh out loud because it was so outlandish. After months of trying to resolve it personally, I sat through a meeting designed to talk through the issues. Instead, it turned into something completely different.  Two of the people spreading untruths used the meeting to attack me with these untruths rather than trying to resolve the issues at hand.  At this time, I fully understood the following verse…

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

In that moment, I understood more than ever before that there was nothing I could have said to change their minds about me.  So if I could not change their minds, why engage them?

the-lord-will-fight-for-you-you-need-only-to-be-still-exodus-14-14

Why not let God work in ways that I cannot?

For two hours I sat there, listening and praying that I would keep my big mouth shut.  (Because let’s just be honest here, I do not shy away from conflict.)  Thankfully, a friend was praying over me at the exact same time.  God was able to keep my mouth shut just like he did the lions’ mouths when Daniel was in their den.

On a side note: I am not saying that you should not try to work out misunderstandings and wrongs.  Of course, we should always try to reconcile our differences.  Matthew 18 instructs us to do so, but sometimes we must deal with people who do not want to resolve issues. They just want to stir up problems, manipulate the situation, and cause divisions.  This is what I faced, and I realized this after trying to resolve the issues one-on-one several times.

3. Follow Christ’s example.

This goes back to #2 and is the perfect illustration of how to accept malicious words.  When Christ was falsely accused and put on trial, he was humble and strong.  Some believe He was solely keeping quiet so that he would be sent to the cross, but I believe it was more than that.  I believe He was setting an example for us, knowing that his followers would face slander and similar situations as well.

There is a time to speak out and be bold.  But, unless I overlooked some verses–which is possible so feel free to correct me–what I read about Christ, his disciples and apostles speaking out boldly is that it was for God and others…rarely for themselves. We are commanded to speak out for others and defend the faith.

Paul “boasted about” himself in a way in 2 Corinthians 11, but goes on to say this is utter foolishness.

We are commanded to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

Proverbs 31:8

4. Realize it’s a blessing.

What?  How can we even contemplate that being bad-mouthed is a blessing?  We can! And we should believe this to be true because the Bible tells us so. When we are holding steadfast to God and His truth, letting Him guide us through crazy situations, we may very well find ourselves in the slander spotlight. When this happens, trust these verses…

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. – Matthew 5:11

 

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. – 1 Peter 3:13-17

Our faith grows when we watch God work it all out and see Him get all the glory for all He has done! What a blessing!

5. Believe the truth will come to light.

Again, if you are going through this I am very sorry.  It is not a fun situation and can be distressing.  Just lean into Jesus.  He above all completely understands.  In the end, whether on Earth or in heaven, the truth will all come to light.

In the situation I mentioned above, a few years after that horrific two-hour ordeal, I received a letter from one of the two people involved. That person expressed complete sorrow for having said what was said and asked for forgiveness.  It was one of the most memorable experiences I have had and I was very thankful, that even though it took years, the truth became evident because God was working it all out.  Because of all this, relationships began to be mended where division had once resided.

He will fight for you! You can trust that!

My prayer for you:

Lord, you are beyond amazing.  You work in our lives in ways we could never dream.  You use what we feel are the worst of situations to bring about good and resolve situations that might have otherwise gone unresolved.  We thank you for always working behind the scenes, calming our hearts, and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us through such difficult circumstances.  We specifically lift up all those who are being bad-mouthed and slandered right now.  Give them your peace, which surpasses understanding, and the courage to let you fight for them.  In the One who let you fight for Him so that we could be redeemed to you – Amen!

your-relationship-with-the-lord-will-determine-how-you-handle-the-rest-of-this-situation

 

what-to-do-when-someone-bad-mouths-you-pinterest
Staying Still: Learning the Spiritual Discipline of Meditation

Staying Still: Learning the Spiritual Discipline of Meditation

Lori S

Lori S

I'm Lori! My husband and I have been married since 2008. We adopted our son in July and live in Memphis, TN. One of the things I love about Creating a Great Day is that it is focused on inspiring women to the woman that God wants them to be. Every woman is different, and we all have talents to honor God and walk alongside each other in this spiritual journey called life. Have a blessed day!
Lori S

I never thought I’d ever be typing a blog about meditation. For the majority of my life, I’ve been on “high definition,” unable to quiet my mind. Silence was uncomfortable. Being still gave me shame and made me feel like I was wasting time. I naturally would run through my to-do list whenever I tried to calm my body. So, I stumbled through life always feeling the need to be busy and productive.

Then my son came. Noise, busyness, and constantly being on the go put me on edge. I began to enjoy quiet and solitude. Being by myself didn’t bother me. Not in a “withdrawn” sort of way, but more of a “I need to recharge” sort of way. I craved time for myself, when I wasn’t attempting to simultaneously accomplish five things on my to-do list!

Our family is in the process of a second adoption, so I’ve been more reflective lately (how do we need to prepare, how can our family be better, what should we prepare for, etc). I’ve been feeling a “pull” of sorts, telling me to engage in silence and listen to the whispers of God. Also, our church is going through a commitment to Christ experience. My preacher sent me some information about the rule of life (also known as the covenant of life) where people can recommit to spiritual disciplines or general attitudes/behaviors that help one engage with God and His people.

I didn’t know what to do. In 2017, I studied spiritual disciplines and knew I wanted to dig deeper. The “pull” that I referenced told me that. I needed to engage in a discipline that would give me multiple opportunities to listen to God. While I knew that I enjoyed quiet and had gotten better about quieting my mind, I had always said I’d never engage in meditation. That was for those really important spiritual people. One of my faith mentors, Eric Wilson, spoke about meditation in some of our church training sessions, and I laughed at the thought of ever engaging in that discipline.

Never say never, right?! Meditation is way out of my comfort zone, but it’s REALLY hard to grow from a place of comfort. Over the past year, I’ve read more about meditation and silence. In Eric’s book Faith: The First Seven Lessons, he states,

“Silence requires us to see ourselves as we are. Doing without, whatever it might be, is uncomfortable, whether sitting in silence or denying our creature comforts.”

Scary, right? No one wants to REALLY see themselves as they are. That would mean we would have to realize how imperfect we are and how we need to change!

Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Disciplines, references four types of meditation: meditation on scripture, “centering down” in silence, meditation on creation, and meditation on current events. I never knew  meditation could serve so many functions. Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect talks about her journey in embracing silence, solitude, and the lectio divina (a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures). In her book, she talks about how her commitment to a busy life stripped her of the beauty in silence, simplicity, and reflection with God. As her spiritual journey shifted, she felt more present with God and her family.

In my covenant of life, I committed to practicing meditation for a minimum of one hour a month. So far, I love it! I’ve been incorporating scripture, breath prayers, and yoga into my meditation time. My sister has been helpful in getting me started with yoga, and I have been searching out additional resources to enhance my meditation experience. I’ve already seen some spiritual growth in my sessions, and now I look forward to them!

Trying to figure out how you can get started?

  • First, spend time with God to discern if meditation is what you need in this moment during your current life stage. I wasn’t ready for a long time!
  • There is no “wrong way” to do it (in my opinion) as long as you are spending time focusing on God. Some people rest in his presence in quiet, while others listen to scripture or music and meditate on the words/message.
  • Reach out to your faith community! Share your goals and ask for some accountability.
  • If you want to practice yoga, either attend a class or read up on yoga. There’s lots of information out there, and the seasoned yogis could guide you into what is best for your yoga experience.
  • Read literature about meditation and other “inward” disciplines. I didn’t realize there were so many disciplines to consider!

Blessings on your journey as you explore how to engage God better this year!

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