Flash Flood of the Spirit

Flash Flood of the Spirit

Jayne M

Jayne Michener has been married for over twenty years to a "son of thunder" and is mother to two adolescent daughters, one delightfully immersed in nature and another humorous, artistic girl who is devoted to cats.The better days are spent developing Christian culture and character with the educational principles of Charlotte Mason in mind.The worse days are spent with lightly held sanity, tightly gripped coffee, and semi-vocalized prayer.She is on a journey depending on the Holy Spirit to guide her into all truth, whether unseen spiritual realms or earthly ventures, such as education, healing arts, nutrition, neuroscience, and art.Oh, and her children would be horrified if she did not mention that they live with two cats, Blacksmith and Beauty.
Jayne M

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Flash Flood of the Spirit

Like the rising flood waters of Noah’s time, water rises again and again as a prominent character in the epic biblical tale. 

The Role of Water

In the beginning, the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, the water teemed with living creatures, streams came and watered the ground and the garden.  Later, water swallows the Egyptians as liquid walls rush into a torrent of destruction, saving the Hebrew people.  Then, water gushes from a rock when Moses strikes it in anger.  Elijah’s jars of water, poured out in the legendary contest between the Lord and Baal, prepared the way for the Spirit’s fire, a prophetic act.  Naaman’s leprosy was cleansed by the wet hand of the Jordan. 

In these instances, we see water involved in creation, destruction, preparation, and restoration.

Flood Waters in the New Testament

The New Testament opens with a Hebrew hippie bursting onto the scene, eating organic bugs with a side of honey and sporting leather-belted camelhair.  This second Elijah baptizes with water and prepares the way for the Lord. Then Jesus opens his ministry with a little water to wine transformation. In the background of these scenes we see the Jordan river, the Sea of Galilee, the Pool of Bethesda, and more. 

The action comes to a climax when Jesus offers access to the highest water feature of all—living water that wells up to eternal life, vanquishing death like a haughty Egyptian and quenching thirst forevermore:

On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out,

“If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!  The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit.  Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:37-39)

Intimate Acquaintance with Water

While some have experiences with more exotic bodies of water such as the Amazon or the Nile, my most intimate acquaintance with water is a charming neighborhood pond within sight of our home.  This unobtrusive little pond is framed by tall families of cottonwood trees hung with oriole nests, while gossiping cattails fuss over bullfrog tadpoles and adorable turtle hatchlings. Baby ducks paddle close to their mothers, peeping their tender dependence, while turtles crawl onto floating tree branches to fully stretch legs and necks in the buttery warmth of the sun.  This is living water. 

Holy Power of Water

Earlier this year, Oklahoma’s spring storms highlighted the trinitarian nature of water, from the moody clouds and torrential rain, to the misshapen globes of hail. 

A shallow creek flows into our duck pond, but when heavy rains come, we witness the vigorous power and intense energy of water. What is benign in a drop, and refreshing in a shower, suddenly has the power to completely reconstruct a landscape when it grows to violent rapids.  We witnessed a heavy railroad tie that had been grounded for several seasons in a muddy marsh be lifted with ease by the deluge and go sailing off to distant lands unknown.* 

And this is what water does when it moves.  It transforms with ease what is arduous or impossible with human strength.

A Cleansing Flash Flood of the Spirit

Without the cleansing rains, however, pools of water can become stagnant, rank and putrid, emitting noxious odors and growing harmful microorganisms. 

Similarly, without the cleansing of the Spirit, people can become toxic bogs, filled with such parasitic organisms as jealousy and resentment, or contaminants such as hidden sins, shame, fear, or even unrelenting sorrow.  Whether it is willful sins or innocent wounds, long-standing, death-filled pools cannot be flushed clean with a drop of water here or a touch on the tongue there. Water’s strength to transform is found in vigorous torrents.  We need a flash flood of the Spirit to lift dead material from the depths of our souls.

The Power of “Living Water”

Jesus said that those who believed in him would have, “streams of living water flow from deep within him.”  And deep within is just where we need these streams to flow, in order to reach those places that may be obscured even from our own eyes, but are dripping with pernicious poisons, nonetheless. 

Jesus also clarified his figurative language, explaining that the streams of living water were the Spirit, which Jesus later poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2:33). Peter then preached that those who repent and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins would receive the Holy Spirit.  Later, the apostle Paul said that we were redeemed through Jesus so we might receive by faith the promise of the Spirit (Galatians 3:14).  

Continual Cleansing

Although our repentant faith in Jesus results in immediate forgiveness of sin, the work of cleansing and transformation is an ongoing work of the Spirit. 

Unfortunately, many of us, even having received the Spirit through faith and baptism, still build dams and close the floodgates. We receive the Spirit, but we are still thirsty. 

Apparently, the Spirit’s flow is released like a spigot, and we are not supposed to turn off the faucet. As Paul admonished, “Do not quench the Spirit,” (1Thes. 5:19) and “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

The process that removes the sludge of the soul seems simple. 

The outpouring of the Spirit is a natural consequence of faith, repentance, and baptism, but the continued flowing of the Spirit is a matter of choosing to turn on the faucet, or if we really want to move some gunk out of our souls, then opening the floodgates. 

Ultimately, God honors our choices. We can choose either to quench the Spirit or to be filled with the Spirit.

This much is certain: no soil is richer than that deposited by floodwaters, and once the Spirit has flooded the soul, it leaves rich, fertile soil—ideal for planting the seed of the Spirit.  The resulting fruit of the Spirit is recognizable and sweet: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23.)

*This was written before we saw whole houses swept away on the Cimarron River.  That’s the power of water!

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Why Do I Keep “Thank You” Notes!

Why Do I Keep “Thank You” Notes!

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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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Once again as I am purging, I come across a pile. A pile that will eventually get tossed by someone else, but my hands and heart can’t seem to part with one single note in that pile. It’s a pile of “Thank You” notes and other cards I’ve received. Why do I keep “Thank You” notes and other cards that have come my way?

That is a great question and one I ponder every time I choose to keep them.

Why I Keep Thank You Notes!

1 – First and foremost, it reminds me of people I love.

God has put me in the path of so many amazing people that seeing their handwriting or reading a note that came from them lifts my heart and reminds me of the gift of friendship.

For someone who has been hurt or lost a good friendship, it’s nice to remind the heart what a blessed gift it is and to not give up on being a friend just because I’ve gotten hurt before.

2 – It gives me the opportunity to once again lift those people up in prayer.

Yes, I know I can pray for them anytime, any place, any where, but sometimes life happens. And a gentle reminder will rekindle my prayers for them.

3 – I’m encouraged to write more notes to others.

Writing notes is almost a dying art. We send text messages and instant messages all the time, but how often do we sit down and write a note?

Several years ago, I actually purchased a book to help me write notes better. That book has helped me to venture into the world of blank notes where I actually have to come up with the words. It encouraged me to write sincerely. And so I make more of an effort now to reach out in my own handwriting more often.

4 – Although this is last, it is definitely not least.

It’s probably the most important reason why I keep “Thank You” notes.

There are days that Satan attacks me hard and makes me feel alone. He makes me think I’m a total failure or reminds me of how selfish I can be. He will lead me to a dark place if I let him.

When I realize what is happening, I speak truth to his lies. I remind him my past is not my present and that my heart is to serve God and others and not myself.

Interestingly enough, those “Thank you” cards come in handy on those days. They remind me of all the times I listened to God calling me to serve someone else. They remind me of the power of loving people in simple ways. They call me to pray and ask who needs serving now.

In essence, those “Thank You” notes, lead me back to God and are an encouraging blessing to my heart.

So for all those who have ever written me a note of any kind, know it is in my pile and it still encourages me today.

Who might you encourage with a simple note today?

 

 

 

If I Were at the Alamo…

If I Were at the Alamo…

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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If I were at the Battle of the Alamo, I wonder what I would have done.

Have you ever pondered this? No? Let me explain why this is on my mind today.

In case you’re not from Texas or a history buff, allow me to give you the Cliff’s Notes version of the battle:

  • Texas declared independence from Mexico.
  • Mexico didn’t like this.
  • A pivotal battle occurred at the Alamo.
  • The Texans fought bravely but were greatly outnumbered by the Mexicans.
  • The Texans lost the battle, but the bravery galvanized the other Texans.
  • Texas won its independence.

Here is the part that is getting me thinking today:  

Legend has it that Texan General William Travis knew on the eve of the battle that the outlook was bleak.  He drew a line in the sand.  He asked those who were willing to stay and fight despite the certain doom to step across the line.  Anyone else was welcome to slip away.

Almost every single person stepped across that line and stayed to face battle.

If I were at the Battle of the Alamo, I wonder what I would have done.

Well, the Lord put me on the earth about 116 years too late to tell for sure, but He did give me four children.  And most moms know child-rearing is a battleground of sorts.

Today, that battleground found me whimpering face-first into a pile of laundry on the floor while my kiddos watched in shock and awe.  Yes, friends, it was a sight to behold.

So, as my eyes moistened with tears of exasperation, wetting my newly dried t-shirts, I thought about the choice I was making.  Not too long after, I “remember the Alamo” (pun intended). I thought about that line in the sand and the choice those men and some women had to make.  Who were they going to choose to serve?

“Choices…choices…”Add subtitle text (1)

That word resonated.  As “choices” echoed in my heart, while my children continued to stand over me in a stunned stupor, my mind shifted to Joshua’s entreaty to the Israelites,

“Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

The Bible says nothing of Joshua drawing a line in the sand, but I see this as a verbal line in the sand.

If I were an Israelite listening to Joshua, I wonder what I would have done.

I am a mom in Indiana with four little ones watching me in shock and awe. (Remember what am I going to do?)

I ran to the bathroom.  That’s what I do.  Ah, that line in the sand.  Rather than cross that line, I chose to slip away.

Not two minutes later, our middle son darted into the bathroom and placed a card with a Bible verse on the bathroom counter and darted back out.  I picked up the card and read the verse.  It occurs to me: Here is another line in the sand.

I have a son who believes that the power of God’s Word will pull Mommy out of this “adult temper tantrum.” What am I going to do?

This moment now, like the Alamo, is a pivotal battle.

Humbled, I make the choice.

I cross the line.

I wish I could tell you that upon being reminded that my strength comes from the Lord and His Word, Bible verses to back up this truth rushed from my memory, but they didn’t.  All I could pull up was Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside quiet waters.  He restores my soul.”I was making a deliberate choice to (2)

It still worked.  I began to calm.  I was making a deliberate choice to dwell on His Word and not on my exasperation.  A choice to serve Him and be led by His Spirit; to follow His commands to love. Love is patient and kind, not exasperated.

 

 

 

Friends, we are all in a pivotal battle every day.

 Each morning, as soon as our eyes open, we must choose that day whom we are going to serve.  Are we going to serve ourselves and give in to the unstable tossing to and fro of our own wills and emotions? Or are we going to cross that line and serve the Lord, being controlled by His Spirit?

Paul says it in Galatians 5 like this:

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

Then just below this he writes:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:22-25

Again, this is another verbal line in the sand.

Face first in the laundry, I was gratifying the desire of my flesh.  Our middle son reminded me with the Bible verse card that my strength to cross that line and serve the Lord comes from Him and His Word by His Spirit.

Tonight, convicted that I couldn’t from memory pull out God’s words to back up this truth, I found 1 Peter 4:11 to memorize:

“If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

So tomorrow before I open my eyes, I’m going to do a few things I read here. I will:

  • First, admit to God that I can’t serve Him without Him.
  • Ask Him to help me.
  • Then, trust that He will.
  • Make the conscious effort to choose to cross the line; to serve Him and not myself; and to dwell on His promises: His words I’ve memorized.
  • At the end of the day, I’m going to thank Him for His faithfulness.

Tell me, how do you choose to serve God each day?  

What steps do you take to cross that line into His service?

How will you choose to Create a Great Day? (Again, pun intended.)

Finding His Eyes of Grace

Finding His Eyes of Grace

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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When was the last time you felt yourself losing your patience with someone? Was it on the freeway when a stranger cut you off? Was it with your kids during the difficult hour before dinner? Was it with your husband when he irritated that last nerve you had in you? Oh, there are plenty of opportunities to practice patience in our lives! More than patience though, what we really need are eyes of grace.

Using Eyes of Grace Instead of Judgment

Do you ever find yourself judging others? Of course you might not want to admit this, but I’m willing to bet that all of us have. Maybe it was the single mom who walked into church halfway through the sermon with her two children, all of them looking sloppy and making noise. Maybe it was the teenager wearing a “dress” that should be a shirt. Perhaps it was the older woman who never has a kind word to say. Yes, there are often times when it’s tempting to be judgmental. What we really need are eyes of grace. 

Do you suffer from insecurity? Or wish that you looked different or had nicer clothes? Do you feel defeated before you even begin to try something new? Do your failures and shortcomings speak louder than any victory? If so, sweet friend, you are not alone, and you are desperately in need of eyes of grace.

Grace is life-changing. Of course, the best example of grace is from our Father in Heaven.

 

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies us intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:4-6

Undeserved Grace

The Lord envies for our hearts intensely, yet time and time again we give in to the world. At least I do–I can’t speak for you. What a comfort to know that God extends me more and more grace. Grace I do not deserve. But really, grace is never deserved, it’s a gift we are given because we are loved so greatly. God’s eyes are full of grace when he looks on his children. As a daughter trying to be more like her Father, I must also try to see myself and others through His eyes of grace. 

 

When we exchange our pride for eyes of grace, we see ourselves not just for who we really are or who we want to be, but for who we are in Christ. This is not a place of insecurity but a place of victorious security! 

As we interact with others if we exchange our judgmental thoughts with eyes of grace we will see others the way God sees them. We will look on their disposition with love and understanding. This does not mean that if we notice a sin in their life that we accept their sin, just as I don’t want to accept the sin in my own life. What it means is that we see their heart, and seek to lovingly nurture it.

When our patience runs thin, and we exchange our anger for eyes of grace, we will remember to let the Holy Spirit shine through us in those times. Mercy and forgiveness will be on our hearts because we know that we’ve received it often ourselves.

 

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Recite Before You Respond

In the book Toddlers on the Move by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller I’m learning lots of tips for staying patient, as that’s a needed skill with a toddler! They suggest when you find yourself turning angry to recite the fruit of the spirit before you respond.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

 

You see, we can’t offer this wondrous grace on our own. We are only human, and we most definitely fall short. But if the Holy Spirit is living in you then you’ve got His eyes of grace living in you. You must call upon the Spirit and beg that you see through HIS eyes of grace.

When we use His eyes of grace it reminds us that we want to treat others and ourselves the way Jesus would. The best way to do that is to let the Holy Spirit’s fruit pour out from us.

Eyes of grace–we all want to be seen through them–and the good news is that we all are.

But he gives us more grace. (James 4:6)

 

Dear God, Are You Sure You Know What You’re Doing?

Dear God, Are You Sure You Know What You’re Doing?

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

Dear God,

Lately I’ve been going through some challenges.  You know, growing older, raising children, constantly questioning my decisions, etc.  I understand that trials will be part of this life and that through those trials You teach us valuable lessons.  But sometimes I have small doubts about Your timing.  Sometimes, in my humble human brain I can’t piece together the exact reasoning You have about some of the things that happen in my life.

You’ve definitely proven to me over and over again that I am not in control of this life.  

I always thought that I would have a career that fulfilled me, and You brought me together with a man with very different ideas.  I always thought I’d stay home with my kids until they went to school and then I’d find a job.  Then You brought me into homeschooling.  I had decided that three children were plenty, and now You’ve gifted me a fourth.  It is quite obvious that You are in control.Dear God,

As I’ve grown older and grown in the word, I’ve slowly but surely been able to release my grasp on control; not for Your good but for my own.  As I’ve let go, I’ve gained such a feeling of contentment.  As I’ve let go, I’ve gained a freedom that I’ve never known before.  As I’ve let go, I’ve made time for other things that actually are my responsibility.

However, Lord, You still find ways to remind me to trust You.  

You find ways to send me messages like, “Your day will go smoother if you’d start it with Me,” or “Take care of your children, your husband, AND yourself.”  The latter seems like a long hard road that we’re now traveling down.  Years of neglecting myself has finally caught up with me and I have been physically forced to slow down.

However, Your goodness and love never fails me.  

You placed people in my life to support me during this time:  friends to bring meals and clean my kitchen, grandparents to watch the kids, and an amazingly compassionate husband to understand.  And through the rest, You revealed to me just how much I’d been neglecting myself.

I can’t help but wonder though, if You’re really sure You know what You’re doing?

I mean, through the pain and discussion of back surgery You brought into my womb a beautiful new life.  How wonderful!  But why now?  Why, when I was on a dangerous medication?  Why, when my baby was just barely 10 months old?  Why, when our house is already nearly stretched to its limit?

Please don’t misunderstand.  

I am incredibly grateful for this beautiful blessing.  I’ve seen the pain of a barren womb and I thank You for this miracle inside of me.  But Lord, was this really the best time?  Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Dear God,

Obviously, I haven’t given up as much control as I thought.  

If I had, I wouldn’t be questioning Your perfect timing.  I remember in those first days when I was in such pain that there was no sleep, no rest for my mind, body, or soul.  In those days I remember asking You fervently to reveal the lesson that You had for me in this trial.  As the pain lessened and I found my new normal, that plea slowly faded away.

I know that You aren’t done with me yet, and for that I’m grateful.

Perhaps You intend to teach me patience.  Perhaps it’s more about putting my faith in You and not in the hands of any surgeon.  Perhaps it’s about bringing glory to You in my time of weakness.  I have yet to discover Your perfect plan through all of this Lord, but I know that I can trust in You.  Through my struggles and my failures, You’ve always been by my side.  Please forgive me for questioning Your perfect plan and open my eyes to the many lessons I have yet to learn.  Thank you for Your goodness and Your love.

Sincerely,
Your humbled doubter

 

 

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
Kristin J

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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.

 

 

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