Unfailing Love

heart-cross“What a [woman] desires is unfailing love …” Proverbs 19:22 (NIV)

 “Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6 (NIV)

God designed all of us for relationship, but women uniquely so. From girlhood to adulthood, we tend to be drawn into relationships, looking for our “best friend” – or our BFF. I thought I had BFF figured out, but the vernacular has changed once again. Now my girls have BAE’s—or Best Awesome Ever (pronounced like bay—but you probably already knew that).

The truth is, human love fails—sometimes tragically.

On one side of the relationship, human love fails us; so we walk away broken, devastated, and untrusting. On the other side, we are the ones who were unfaithful, often unintentionally inflicting pain on others. We leave feeling defeated and helpless.

When human love fails, God is the mender of broken hearts. Psalm 147:3 (NIV)He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

The truth is—God’s love never fails.

The Lord’s unfailing love is a strong theme throughout the Book of Psalms, as noted by just these few verses.

Psalms 13:5 (NIV)But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

Psalm 33:18, 22 (NIV)But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him on those whose hope is in his unfailing love … May your unfailing love be with us, Lordeven as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 36:7 (NIV)How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 90:14 (NIV) Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Psalm 130:7 (NIV) Israel, put your hope in the Lordfor with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”

In the New International Version, every time you read the words “unfailing love,” they have a very specific meaning. The Hebrew word is checed, and it refers to God’s covenant love for Israel—which has everything to do with His faithfulness to His promises.

Vine’s describes it this way:

In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: “strength,” “steadfastness,” and “love.” Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. “Love” by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet “strength” or “steadfastness” suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

… It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. … The association of checed with “covenant” keeps it from being misunderstood as mere providence or love for all creatures; it applies primarily to God’s particular love for His chosen and covenanted people … since God’s checed is ultimately beyond the covenant, it will not ultimately be abandoned, even when the human partner is unfaithful.1

Isaiah 54:10 (NIV) “‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

My mom often prays, Lord, cover my imperfect love with your perfect love.

How I need God’s love over my love. I dearly love my husband and my children. But I am an impatient (and sometimes selfish) person; and my temper often gets the best of me. It is then that I am acutely aware of the frailty of my love. I do love my family, but love is not what is coming through. I’m thankful that God is forgiving and gives me second and third chances. I’m even more thankful that my family knows the Lord and experiences His perfect love when my human love fails.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV) “Love never fails.”

 

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1Vine, W. E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996.

Image from http://www.christart.com/clipart/image/heart-cross

Who Are You, Today?

IdentityI substitute teach in our school district. Teachers ask me all the time, Who are you, today? Some days I get the question once or twice. Other days, I get it a bunch! A few weeks ago, I felt like I had an identity crisis! It got me to thinking … Who am I, really?

So I thought about how I introduce myself.

Hello, I’m Dianne Thornton, Tim’s wife.
Hi, I’m Mrs. Thornton, Rachel’s mom.
Good Afternoon, I’m Dianne, Dr. Strangmeier’s daughter.
Good Morning, I’m Mrs. Thornton, your sub for the next couple of days.

These phrases define me in relation to other people. Sometimes I define myself in terms of what I do—even assigning my value based on how well I’m performing in my activities, my work, or my ministry.

When I am exhausted or have had an exceptionally bad day, it’s easy to feel like I’m not making a difference. In fact, some days I feel like I have messed things up so badly, that the difference I am making is not a positive one—especially when it comes to parenting.

It’s then that I hear these voices in my head …

My kids are going to turn out horribly because of what I just said—and how I said it.
I can’t do anything right.
I’ll never lose that weight.
Ugh, it’s time to have my roots touched up.
I didn’t have a quiet time today, so I’m sure I’ll mess up even more.

These phrases are not who I am. How well (or how poorly) I did something does not determine my value. But it’s easy to believe that these things do, especially in a culture that puts a high priority on physical beauty and success.

The truth about who we are and what our value is worth,  

is clearly stated in God’s Word.

 

Personally, I need to review these verses regularly. With teenage daughters at home, it is essential.

 

I am (You are) God’s child through faith in Christ Jesus and I (You) belong to Him.

Galatians 3:26 (NLT) “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 4:7 (NLT) “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

Ephesians 2:19 (NLT) “ So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.”

1 John 4:4 (NLT) “But you belong to God, my dear children …”

 

I am (You are) a new creation, God’s masterpiece!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 

Jesus told His disciples …

Matthew 5:13-14 (NLT) “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.”

Matthew 10:30-31 (NLT) “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

 

You have a high calling!

1 Corinthians 3:16 (NLT) “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?”

2 Corinthians 5:20 (NLT) “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

1 Peter 2:9 (NLT) “… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

 

You don’t need to look at our culture, which is shallow and constantly changing, to discover your value. In Christ, you have it all! 

<3 You are deeply loved by Him. He gave His Son so you could live with Him forever! 

<3 He chose you … He adopted you into His family … and you belong to Him!

<3 He created you beautifully–you are a masterpiece!

<3 He gave you important work to do!

 

Today I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee For Your Heart.  For more  encouragement, hop on over!

You’re Doing It All Wrong!

Matt 5-44 YDIAW

You’ve seen the many YouTube videos and read the Facebook articles showing us how we are doing everyday, household activities wrong. You know the ones I’m talking about.

  • Slicing grapes and grape tomatoes effortlessly with one swipe of a long blade.
  • Peeling hot potatoes with your bare hands quickly—without making a mess.
  • Peeling eggs without ruining them.
  • Slicing the contents of a watermelon in less than five minutes. (This one hit home with me. I dearly love me some sweet, cool watermelon; but I typically make a mess of the floor and counters in the process of getting it ready to eat.) 
  • Even how to eat a cupcake! For Pete’s sake … as long as that sweet thing gets in my tummy, I’m a happy gal!
  • The grand champion of all: Folding a fitted sheet. I have to give credit to a friend of mine for that one, however. She taught me how to ditch the windmill method and fold a fitted sheet so that it rests flat on my linen closet shelf.  Thanks, Pam.  ;)  

Whatever would we do without Facebook and YouTube?

My ladies small group is studying The Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus explains how the Pharisees, some of the religious-political leaders during New Testament times, were doing it wrong. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary describes the Pharisees as “ultra-orthodox.” They insisted that the Old Testament Law, including oral tradition (much of which they misinterpreted), be followed to the letter. As a result, they required their fellow Jews to obey unbearably detailed rules, all the while ignoring the condition of their hearts.

This post is the beginning of a series on how we often do the same.

Before He begins His discourse, Jesus clarifies, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose,” (Matthew 5:17 NLT)Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the One the Prophets spoke of. He then goes on to show them that they were doing it all wrong. 

Conflict: The Wrong Way

Matthew 5:21-22 (NLT) “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

These are strong words!

But our own strong words can get us into a lot of trouble. I like the way The Message translates the last sentence: “The simple moral fact is that words kill.”

Reconciliation: The Right Way

Matthew 5:23-24 (MSG) “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”

When I was a teenager, my mother demonstrated this to me vividly. One morning at church, as we were preparing for Communion, our pastor shared 1 Corinthians11:28During that prayer time, I saw my mother leave her seat to speak with someone. When I asked her about it, she told me (without going into details) that she needed to reconcile herself with a friend. I don’t know that have ever approached Communion without remembering this–that my heart needs to be right before Him.  But this is about more than condition of my heart during Communion. Absolutely, I should use that opportunity to confess my sin to the Lord. But when I worship the Lord at any time, I should come before Him with clean hands and a clean heart. If that means making it right with my husband, my  children, or a friend, I need to do that before I raise my hands in worship.

Matthew 5:25-26 (MSG) “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.”

Growing up, my dad taught us to take responsibility for our actions and their consequences. When there is conflict, even if I don’t feel like I’m the one to blame, at the minimum I am guilty of not communicating well. If I am honest, though, I recognize that in conflict, there is fault on both sides–that means me. Having been on both sides of conflict (haven’t we all?), it is easier to initiate reconciliation from a place of humility, than it is to be the one approached.

The Bottom Line …

When in conflict with someone, regardless of who is right and who is wrong, 

Don’t verbally attack anyone
Be the first to initiate reconciliation 

 

Ephesians 4:26 (NLT) Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

 Luke 6:45 (NLT) “… What you say flows from what is in your heart.”

 

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The story about my mom is told with her permission.  :)

Prayer and Trials–Quote from Octavius Winslow

iStock_000001262149Medium

Psalm 130:1-2 (NLT) “From the depths of despair, O LordI call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer.”

I read this quote on prayer during my quiet time this morning, and I wanted to share it with you. In her book, Passionate Prayer, Catherine Martin quotes Octavius Winslow … (Emphasis and formatting added)

Trial quickens us in prayer, and so effectually helps us heavenward. The life of God in the soul on earth is a life of communion of the soul with God in heaven. Prayer is nothing less than the divine nature in fellowship with the divine, the renewed creature in communion with God. And it would be as impossible for a regenerate soul to live without prayer, as for the natural life to exist without breathing. Oh, what a sacred and precious privilege is this! Is there none compared with it?

When we have closed the door–for we speak now of that most solemn and holy habit of prayer, private communion–and have shut out the world, and the creature, and even the saints, and are closeted in personal, solemn, and confiding audience with God, what words can portray the preciousness and solemnity of that hour!

Then is guilt confessed … and backslidings deplored … and care unburdened … and sorrow unveiled … and pardon sought … and grace implored … and blessings invoked.

There is no ladder … the rungs of which will bring you so near to God.
There are no wings, the plumage of which will carry you so close to heaven as prayer.

The moment you have unpinioned your soul for communion with God, let your pressure, your sorrow, your sin be what it may… that moment your heart has departed earth and is on its way heavenward.

You are soaring above the region of sorrow and battle and sin, and your spirit is expatiating beneath a purer, happier, sunnier sky. Oh the soothing, the strengthening, the uplifting found in prayer beneath the cross!

Thus trial helps us heavenward by quickening us to devotion, stirring us up to closeness of walk.

A Musical Monday–Sovereign Over Us

This weekend we heard a new song–well, new to us! Wanted to share it with you this morning. Be encouraged knowing that you are not alone. God is over all that concerns you.

His love for you is beyond measure.

Genesis 50:20 (NLT) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Jeremiah 29:11(NLT) “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Psalm 117 (NLT) “Praise the Lord, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; thLord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!

1 John 4:18 (NLT) “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

 

“Sovereign Over Us” — by Michael W. Smith

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
[x2]

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory
[x2]

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
[x2]

You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

 

Something New

Flower Abstract BackgroundThis week I pulled out my Experiencing God workbook. As I read through it, I remembered how much I loved that study and how significantly God used it in my life. Some studies are like that. They are game changers. I thought to myself, I need to so this one again! I need God to do stuff again! So I started looking around to see of there was an updated version. Not.

Then, on the way to Bible study yesterday morning (we are studying The Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7), God spoke to my heart, you are studying one of the most convicting passages of ScriptureIf you let Me, I will use it to accomplish my work in your heart and life; it can be a game changer!

It’s not a particular Bible study that I am in, although I believe He directs me to the one He wants me to study.  It’s my pliability in the Master’s hands.

 

My heart should be humble before Him.

My will should be yielded to His.

 

I realized that I was looking to recapture a moment in time.  But that’s not the way God works.

 

He doesn’t repeat the past. He creates newness!

 

Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Psalm 51:10 (NLT)Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”

Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

The attitude of my heart and my will in response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction determines how effective a Bible study is in my life. When I am pliable in the Lord’s hands, He speaks truth to my heart through His Word. I will hear it and respond in obedience.  You know what, that is a game changer!

 


Today I’m linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Heart! Want more encouragement? Check out other bloggers who are participating, too!

Celebrating 50! (Part 2)

50Today is my 50th birthday. We celebrated at 6:00 this morning! In our busy household, everyone is going in different directions today, starting at 6:30, so this is the time that everyone could be together. Now–everyone has gone on their way, and I feel like my heart has left with them! I love my family. <3

Psalm 100:5 (NLT) For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” 

Psalm 136:1 (NLT)Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

The celebration continues as I remember God’s work in my life. I began yesterday and have anticipated writing the rest of the list!

  1. I love God’s Word. Truly, its taste is sweet to my soul. Matthew 4:4 (NIV) “… Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
  2. My mom and my dad. Both of my parents love the Lord. They made sure our family had every opportunity to be in church to learn about the Lord and to be around people who loved Him. They provided the foundation for my spiritual life (Matthew 7:24-27).
    • My mother taught me the importance–even more so, the JOYof a personal quiet time with the Lord. See A Legacy: The Chair & The Basket. 
    • My dad taught me the importance of Scripture memory. A white board was perpetually propped up next to the dinner table so we could review regularly. He also lead our family in devotions on a regular basis. He was an eagle scout, so he instilled those pillar qualities in his children: integrity, commitment, determination, and following through with a task.
  3. My sisters and my brother. Like most siblings, we didn’t start out as best of friends. But time and trial have proven otherwise. My sisters are my best friends. We speak truth to one another–albeit sometimes on delicate ground. Our love for each other is strong. My brother is the epitome of faithful love. <3
    • Suzanna is a strong woman. She is one of my biggest writing fans–always ready with encouragement and an editorial eye when needed.
    • Claudia is also incredibly strong. She is perceptive and discerning–seeing  truth that is often hidden.
    • James. My brother is an incredibly tender man–with a fierce love for his family. He treats his nieces and nephews like they are his own. He is definitely the very cool uncle.
  4. My grandparents. Treasures! Treasures in heaven. Nothing was special as spending the night with them. They are the reason Daddy moved us from Arizona back to Texas.
    • Mimi and Papa. Peanut brittle, fried shrimp, and kumquats; the front porch and marble-topped furniture; “Snigglefritz” to Papa; Mimi’s pointy-rimmed glasses.
    • MammaGanny and GrandDaddy. Hotcakes on Saturday morning and General Foods Suisse Mocha coffee; swinging on the front porch, watching the neighbors go by; the candy drawer behind the kitchen table (!!); MammaGanny’s flourish-filled handwriting.
  5. Baptism celebrations! We had one in church on Sunday, and I don’t think I’ve seen one with as much joy before! In HIM is LIFE! That’s a lot to be excited about! The baptism of my own children in June of 2009 was a precious time. Each of them gave their hearts to Christ when they were quite young. When they matured more in their faith, they made their public commitment to the Lord through baptism.
  6. Ministry leaders who have poured their lives into my children. So many in AWANA and our youth ministry. My kids love each one of you and I thank God that you are there. Your place in their lives is another treasure to me. Caleb, Jonathan, Mike, Christy, and Nolin.
  7. Tammy. She has come in and out of my life through different seasons. Early on, I saw bracelet on her wrist–the kind I had wanted for a long time.  It was a “mommy bracelet.” After looking at hers, I knew I could make my own! Thus began a brief stint in the jewelry making business. She also introduced me to Weight Watchers, which made a huge impact in my eating. There I learned tools for managing portions sizes and the balance of eating fun foods and exercise. She was an encourager for me to run the Houston Marathon (see #37). Now our girls are in high-school activities together. We have similar ministry passions, so we encourage one another along this path. You may want to check out her blog, at Shifted Vision.
  8. Traditions. They are the glue that holds a family together. I enjoyed many traditions growing up. Tim and I carried that forward—adding our own to create the uniqueness of our family. My favorite tradition is decorating for Christmas the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  9. IMG_2460CampoutCamping. I grew up camping and was just fine not camping anymore as an adult. Until my husband wanted to camp with our kids. When he first brought it up, our youngest was potty training. The idea of dealing with that at a campsite was almost more than I could handle. But my mother wisely pointed out that camping is good for kids. It teaches them that life is “sticky”  and filled with challenges. Yet you can still find joy in the middle of all that. And we have! Some of our best memories are from camping. Waiting out a downpour, having to pack up quickly in the middle of a surprise snow storm (yes, even in Texas!), the weird bugs we found at each place, the Texas State Railroad, the best family discussions around the campfire.
  10. The gal on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Minnesota who helped me write out my testimony. I attended a Bible college in Minnesota for a year and the Crusade group at the U of M sent staffers to my college.
  11. Peggi–my mentor and friend. She is truly a “soul sister.” Our ministry passions are similar and she helps me see things outside of my emotions. She is always ready and willing to help me in whatever ministry conundrum I find myself in, and to point me in the right direction with my writing. She challenges me to take things a step further, which is sometimes frustrating. I remember working very hard to get something right. It was fine, even good. But she knew that if I dove a little deeper, tried a new technique (making a chart!), that new truth would emerge and bring clarity to my thought process. That resulted in better material that God could use.  (I love you!!)
  12. Pearland Fit–they trained me for my 2003 marathon! I was studying Experiencing God at the time. One key truth I learned was that God wants to do in you something that the watching world would see and say, “Only God could have done that.” At that time in my life, I desperately needed to lose weight. I was not honoring God with my body. Two friends (Tammy and Kirsten), within two days, encouraged me to train for and run the Houston Marathon. The Lord was already convicting me about this, so I knew this was God’s leading. He provided a wonderful support system for me. Before this, I hated exercise of all kinds. But I fell in love with running. My coaches: Paulette, Alexis, and Laura. Friends I trained with: Tyra and Rosa. Friends who ran along side me during the race: Darlene and Kristen.
  13. This remains a challenge for me. I went through a period of injury and self-absorption, and I got my focus off of fitness. I still struggle. I want to run again, but my knees are not in the shape for it. So I am frustrated. It’s a struggle I’m thankful for. God shows me His love for me as He continues to convict and show me my need. He’s a great parent!
  14. The day I realized that God did not make one and only one bff for me. It was a painful day, but a freeing one.
  15. A heart that hurts easily. When I love, I love with my whole heart, but life changes us. Sometimes friends follow us through changes; sometimes we leave friends behind; sometimes we are left behind in the wake of their change. And it’s OK. Through those times, I lean hard on the Lord, and am thankful for His sustaining presence in my life. “Friends with skin on” are a blessing, but God is the most faithful of all. Sometimes we don’t learn that until we have to.
  16. Being alone. Yes, sometimes being alone is painful. But solitude has taught me much about who I am and whose I am.
  17. But I have friends–many friends! The Lord has blessed each phase of my life with dear friends to love and dear friends who love me and challenge me. Friends I grew up with remain dearly loved treasures–Karen, Dee, and Belinda. College roommates who walked with me through some faith-proving times–Becky, Toni, and Lavonne; Missy, Toni, Becky, Angela, Linda, Diane, and Gwen. I am especially blessed by my Heart to Heart ladies who love to study God’s Word together.
  18. Susie–my sweet neighbor.  She is a blessing in my life. We walk together and talk together–working out the nitty-gritty of raising our kids. <3 She also challenges me in my writing. She has owned/published three local magazines and encouraged me to write for her–not just faith-based articles, but business highlights and even a feature. I was scared of all of it, but she walked me through every step of the way. I appreciate her so much.  (Love you!!)
  19. Our time in Amway. Yes, we are “some of those” who “did that.” ;) We built an Amway business for ten years. During that time we grew in many ways–some very painful.
  20. Gardening. This is one more thing that I despised growing up, but that I now love. When it’s not 90+ degrees and 80+% humidity, I even enjoy pulling weeds. I find that when I am focused on cleaning out my flower beds, the Lord uses that time to “clean out the weeds” in my own life.
  21. In the kitchen with Tim. He loves to cook! Some of our best times are fixing a Saturday night meal together.
  22. My “family-in-love.” Tim’s parents and sisters. Forrest & Gerry, Diane, Lois, and Marilyn. From the time Tim and I were engaged, they loved me like I was their own daughter or sister. I’m blessed that they, too, love the Lord and have served Him for many years.
  23. Kisha. Although I have a strong sanguine personality, I tend to choose alone time over social time–much of it writing. But Kisha does her best to get me out of my cave. She takes me to Bunco, Book club, and even Scrapbook retreats–although sometimes she is dragging me kicking and screaming. (I probably need some more dragging. I’ve been in my cave a little too long!) Other than my family, Kisha has known me and been a part of my day-to-day life longer than anyone else. She is loyal and always there.  (I love you!!)
  24. Kelly. She invited me to teach a MotherWise Bible study with her. I had led many Bible studies prior to that, but had never taught. During those years, I fell in love with watching women fall in love with Jesus. That love continues to grow.
  25. Precepts Bible Study. I learned to study the Bible for myself while learning to lead Precept Upon Precept courses. My life changed as a result of my training with them. In fact, it is the springboard for the Bible studies I have written. I teach (and re-teach) these study skills at every opportunity.
  26. New Hope Church. They provided this excellent training for me and the opportunity to use it. I am very grateful for this.
  27. Fellowship Bible Church–my current church home. The pastoral staff loves and honors the Lord, and I appreciate their leadership. Every teacher and leader who impacts my kids. I am honored that FBC trusts me with the women of our church and allows me to teach material I have written. It is a privilege to serve with them.
  28. Writing! This is the serendipity of my life. I never expected it, but it has brought me much joy and fulfillment.

While I was writing these two posts, memories filled my heart and my mind. I noted some significant “places” and “things.” But the majority of those that impacted my life are “people.” I am a woman who loves and thrives in healthy relationships. Honestly, I think we all do. God made us that way.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT) A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

John 15:15 (NLT) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”

Thank you for joining me on my journey of recalling God’s goodness!  :)