Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Retreating for Rebirth

by Sue Donaldson

I spent the weekend with a group of great ladies from the desert. They wanted some ocean breezes so we met at the Ventura Harbor. Great times were had by all!

I’m sure it’s biblical to get away from the usual schedule, spend time laughing and crying and praying (and eating and shopping –okay, maybe that part isn’t biblical per se . . .) So refreshing! When’s the last time you did that?

I know, I know. It takes effort –planning ahead -- money – child care, perhaps. But, I was reminded once again – IT’S WORTH IT!

Once when I went off with the Grace ladies to Mt. Hermon, my dear husband had forgotten to change his call schedule. When I returned, I found out he had taken Bonnie Sue to the hospital with him – and she “entertained” the nurses by pulling everything off the carts. . .no, it’s not always easy to go on retreats. But it’s worth it.

I’m reminded of an elderly British gentleman who remarked to his wife when she asked him about attending a retreat. He said, “Go, my dear, go. Your heart is about due for a spot of rebirth.” Sweet and true. We need each other, girls, and we need to soak in the Word and laugh til our sides ache. How about it? Let’s make it happen.

Here are pics of some of my new best friends from Lancaster and Rosamund. We were part of each others’ “spot of rebirth.”

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15,16)

What better place to dwell richly and sing heartily than at the coast with Christian sisters – thank you and bless you, Wayside Chapel ladies!

We might not get to a seaside retreat for awhile - in the meantime, give us “spots of rebirth” with others who love you. May we be an encouragement to each other. Amen.


By the way, the Grace Ladies Salad Supper tonight was a bit of a retreat – sweet fellowship of all ages, great salads and desserts, Betsy sharing about the Jewish New Year and Lorraine encouraging us to not be afraid to mentor another who is just a “few steps behind us.” Definitely a spot of rebirth! Join us for the next one which is November 17, 6:30pm at Grace Church SLO.

Monday, September 29, 2008

This Minute

by Peggy Brown

I was driving home from Von’s just now, and I was listening to a psychic on the radio. (Now there’s an opening line!) Just so you’ll feel better, the radio was on when I got in the car and there he was. I was about to change the station when his words caught my attention. He said, (this is not a direct quote, obviously): In this life, each minute that goes by is a minute that we will never have again. Each minute brings us that much closer to the end of our life and we must choose what we will do with it.

He went on to talk about being deliberate about our minutes, thinking “have I enriched other’s lives?” or “have I used my time well?” His point was, that at the end of our lives we can look back and be satisfied and content to die if we have used our minutes in positive (not negative or neutral) ways.

I’m guessing that you can see where my mind began to go, can’t you? When I reach the end of my life, I want to look back and know that I used my minutes serving my Lord faithfully. I want to look ahead and anticipate His words “well done, good and faithful servant”.

Hebrews 3:13

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Deut. 26:17

"You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.”

Each ‘today’ is just a collection of minutes to be used for encouraging one another, walking in God’s ways, listening to His voice and keeping His commandments. It seems so significant to use a day for the Lord, but how many minutes go by within each day that I don’t use for Him?

I am encouraged that at the end of my life my worthiness to enter Heaven isn’t determined by how I have used my minutes. Eternal life comes by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone! But how I’ve used them is the gift I have to offer God as I lay them at His feet when I enter His presence at the end of my life.

Father, You are the giver of all of my life’s minutes. Each one was ordained by You before I was born. I offer them to You now, so that I may be careful to use them to magnify You in this life and to give You praise and glory for all eternity. Give me Your eyes to see how I use my minutes and give me courage to choose to use them well. Amen

Friday, September 26, 2008

Psalm 145

Psalm 145

I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Instruction from the Psalm

by Missy Grant

"O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever"
Psalm 131

Instructions from the Psalm....

Beth Moore used this quote in a study I heard recently, "Don't run to the phone - run to the Throne!" Look at the opening line of the Psalm. 'O LORD...' the composer of this Psalm didn't run to the phone (maybe because they didn't have them back then....but, he could have walked over to the neighboring tent for a chit chat!). He went to the throne first. Don't miss that important instruction.

Step One - Go to the Throne

'My heart is not proud, my eyes are not haughty...', the psalmist checked his heart condition and assumed the appropriate posture in front of the throne....he bowed his heart (if not his body).

Step Two - check your heart condition and put it in a posture appropriate for an audience with the King.

'Like a weaned child rests....', the psalmist rested his heart in the lap of the only one who could soothe and comfort. The example is of a mother as she nurtures the child who no longer suckles from her. The comforting did not stop when the weaning took place. The child knew where to go to be comforted - he crawled up into the lap of the one who provided him with warmth, love and strong arms. Sounds like the Lord!

Step Three - crawl into His lap. You will not be turned away.

'Hope in the Lord....forever', it doesn't say when we remember, when we feel like it, when all is well. It says 'Hope in the Lord....forever.' Forever encompasses the past, the present and the future. Hope is putting forth praise language, trust language, obedience language with every ounce of strength we can muster. It is what true worship looks like.

Step Four - Worship the King. That is hope....forever.

O Mighty King, you are the great comforter. You provide a lap like no other - one which allows us to sit and rest in you. Lord, help us today (and forever) to go to the throne of grace, to come with hearts which show true humility in your presence. Let our heart condition before you be the work of the Holy Spirit in worship of you. We Praise You, O Lord.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Be Real

by Debbi Weeks

Several years ago I was at a women’s retreat with a wonderful speaker. I appreciated what she had to share and had an opportunity during the weekend to talk with her individually on a personal level. When I heard that all of her children’s families were each living in different states I questioned, “Is that difficult for you to have them all so far away?” Quickly (probably too quickly for me) she responded almost indifferently, “No, they’re exactly where God wants them to be!”

I had such a hard time listening to her after that comment. All of the sudden she was no longer a “real” person in my mind. She was some spiritual giant (an alien really) – so giant that she was completely unaffected by the normal emotions of a mom and grandma missing her family. She was way beyond anything I could or would ever hope to be. I could no longer relate to her.

Had she just said something like, “Yes it is hard, but I’ve learned to trust the Lord that they are exactly where He wants them. We call and write regularly and we try to see each other as often as we can. We usually all get together every few years.” Something, anything that was remotely human with human feeling and care. Don’t give me the pat, “spiritual” answer – I don’t want it. Tell me how you feel. If you struggle, I want to know and if you’ve had victory, I want to learn about that too, but don’t make yourself sound unaffected by life.

There used to be a banner in the high school room that read: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The best way to let people know we care is by being open and transparent with them. If we can share our life – and God’s amazing work in it, then we can share hope for them as well. But, we can only care for them if we are willing to share honestly and empathetically ourselves.

Romans 12:14-15 (The Message)

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.”

Father God I praise You that You are all-loving – that You love me, warts and all.
I confess that sometimes I want to look better than I am and so I put on a front, not being real. Thank You that You don’t expect us to be perfect and out of our imperfection You use us to minister to others. Lord, please help me to be honest and transparent, so people can relate to me and they know I understand.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

P.S. Sad thing about that retreat - do you know that now this personal conversation with the speaker is about all that I remember from that retreat? And this is in despite of the fact that I had so appreciated her teaching and had actually sought her out to engage in conversation because I had been so blessed by her words. Now I hardly remember them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy 100th Post

Happy 100th Post !!!!

Thank you for sojourning with us....May He be glorified by the words we share.

"Now that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100:3-5

"Martha, Martha..."

by Sue Donaldson

“Martha, Martha. . .” Luke 10:41

The Parable bookstore sold out of a plaque awhile back. It only had two words: “Martha, Martha.” I wish I had one – maybe Mary Grace can make one for me.

What do you think when you read those words? I usually think: “Oh, brother. I’m doing it again – serving, doing, cleaning, organizing, driving, talking (ad infinitum) – oh, even ministering – without the key element – sitting.”

Does that mean we have to always stop what we’re doing to sit at Jesus’ feet? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s an internal “sitting” even while at the sink or washer or counter. After all, Jesus is right there beside us. And mom’s chores can be acts of worship when offered to Him.

Even so, Jesus’ chiding always reminds me of this truth: good things can keep me from the best. How do we measure which is which? God only knows. When I sit still enough to listen, He’ll let me know.

Lord Jesus,
Thank you for Your patience. Help me choose best over good. And, help me listen up-- even while doing Martha-type things. Love, Sue

“Our first and foremost task is faithfully to care for the inward fire so that when it is really needed it can offer warmth and light to lost travelers.” – Henri Nouwen

Monday, September 22, 2008

Heart Renovation

by Peggy Brown

Wayne and I have been refurbishing a house over the last month. When it's done, our goal is to sell it. When we began, we had wonderful plans for what we wanted to do to update the place; laminate flooring throughout, Corian kitchen countertops, tile bathroom countertops, new light fixtures, new doorknobs on every door, new window coverings, and the list went on.

Then we began to price out each item! WOW! We were immediately at that place where reality met budget. Our plans obviously needed to be scaled back quite a lot in order to be able to pay for the project. Now, several weeks in, I can report that the house is shaping up nicely despite the scaling back. I think when it's all done it will be a perfect house for a small family. Maybe it will be their first home! I hope that they walk it and they just know this is the house for them! (Do you think I get too emotionally attached to these houses?)

This project got me thinking about a small tract that I read many years ago entitled My Heart Christ's Home. In it, the heart is likened to a home. When a visitor (Jesus) knocks on the door of the home, the owner invites Him in. The two wander through the home and the owner offers each room to Him for whatever use He might have for it. Jesus graciously accepts the offerings as they continue the tour. At the end they come to a back closet which is closed and locked. Jesus asks the man for the key to the closet, but His request is denied because of the closet's shameful condition...but Jesus, the man reminded Him, could have other square inch for His own. Christ was grieved with the man's choice. Of course the "moral" of the story was that if we give our heart to Jesus, it is not totally given to Him unless He has the key to every room, even though there may be some room that we are ashamed for Him to see.

I can really identify with that. I want Christ to have my whole life. All of it. But practically speaking, on a daily basis, there are "closets" that I keep the key to. Whether it's conscious, or just habit, I want to keep the clutter, it's comfortable. Maybe it's a sinful attitude I choose to harbor ("he/she really hurt my feelings, I deserve to be angry") or a sinful choice (I'd much rather watch that TV program than get up and work on my Bible Study). Maybe it's an area I'm ashamed for Him to see. (Like He doesn't know already?) I'm guessing if you are honest with yourself, you have one those "closets" your house too.

That would be like us leaving one bathroom in our fixer-upper as it was when the tenants moved out. The walls were spattered with unidentified stuff (did you know that gunk runs down the wall BEHIND the bathroom mirror?) there was pee on the floor (can I say that?), the door was all scratched up, the hinges were rusty and I could scratch soap scum off of the shower walls with my fingernail. Ick! Maybe I could just leave the door closed and locked and hope the prospective buyer wouldnt ask to see inside. That sure wouldn't be much of a selling point.

So, Christ has moved into my heart's "home". The thing is He wants to renovate the WHOLE thing, down to the last closet, cupboard, shelf and cubbyhole. Guess what? Christ is emotionally attached to my "home". He longs to make it the best, most attractive place possible, no criticism, just grace. The good news is He has no budget. He wants to put in top of the line everything! He can put in Corian...or even marble countertops in the kitchen AND the bathrooms! He is not offended or critical of the condition of my "home" when He moves in. He looks at each room and delights in the plans He has for it!

Some of the rooms may only need a coat of paint. Some rooms may need to be completely renovated, ceiling to floor. No matter what His plans, I know that He is the master renovator and that what He plans will be glorious! I know that I can rest in His hands and look forward to what He will accomplish in my "home". Not only that, when He is done, my heart home will be perfectly suited for the plans He has for it. It will be just the right place for Him to do His work in my world...my neighborhood, my church, my family. My home will draw people in and He will be there to meet them and minister to their needs!

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Lord, Your plans for my heart's "home" are way beyond what I can comprehend. My desire is to cooperate with them. Help me to freely offer the key to each room to You when you ask for it. Please show me rooms, closets, cupboards, even shelves and cubbyholes that I am holding back from you! Help me to recognize that this is a process, not an event, and not become discouraged that it is taking time. Please make my life a place that draws people in and points them to You. Amen

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Time With Him

by Kate Hasson

When in high school and college, I had to study. It didn’t just come to me. I had to go to the lectures, take copious notes, go to after class help sessions, read my textbooks, and study for exams. When working on my culinary skills in college I needed to practice and practice to get my pastries close to perfection. All of these things took time. While I was in college, I got married, carried various jobs, and was involved in church. Yes I was busy, but to attain my scholared degree I still had to study hard. Just because I had other things on my plate didn’t mean I tossed off study time, or going to class. I made it to class almost 100% of the time, and I stayed up late if I had to study, even pulled all-nighters. That’s how much I wanted my certificate of achievement.

Just the other day a thought came to me as I was driving down the highway.

Recently, well actually for a while, I’ve been told that even just 10 minutes in the Word is good enough. That phrase has always struck a chord in me; a wrong chord. What!? How can this be?

“Well, as long as you just get some time in ...”.

“You’re a wife and mother and you just don’t have the kind of time or energy to spend hours in the Word. Ten minutes will get you through the day with a heart that pleases the Lord.”

And while I do see some wisdom in this, for at least some time is surely better than none, I don’t really like to hear it. My futile mind will all to easily grasp on to this little thought and run with it... “I only need 10 minutes with God a day to grow?! Great. I can find a time for that...maybe...”

Here’s the thought I had:

If I had to spend hours upon hours, days upon days, weeks upon weeks, months upon months, and years upon years to gain the worldly knowledge I have now, how can I possibly think I’ll grow significantly in my walk with God in just 10 minutes a day? My teachers in school never, never, never told me to just spend 10 minutes on homework or studying; that would be foolish! In order to succeed in anything one must work hard at getting to know his subject. School is not always fun, at least not for me, but what is fun, is now being able to make beautiful cakes and pies and pastries from scratch because of my hard earned knowledge. I had to work hard in my mind and in my time to get there. To know God, in all His grandeur, logically must take just as much time and mindfulness, or maybe even more! It may not always be fun; I may be sick, tired, busy, emotional, etc... but, really, nothing compares to the greatness of knowing the LORD. That’s were I want to be. I want to fully know Him.

Honestly, it really isn’t about 10 minutes, 15 minutes or any specific amount of time. It is up to God Himself to, in his unconditional kindness, open our scaled eyes and reveal Himself to us in new and amazing ways. However, it seems extremely difficult to allow Him to reveal Himself to us if we don’t come to Him for very long. It will be hard to be filled with Him if we just take sips here and there and don’t honestly drink from Him and His Word deeply.

Just as with anything we do, whether school, sports, music, business, etc, knowing and loving and savoring and worshipping and being with God will, I think, only come from our minds being saturated with His Word. That is where He has primarily chosen to reveal Himself to us and that is where He will be found. 10 minutes just won’t cut it, I believe. But intense, rich time studying, not just reading and forgetting, but taking it apart, chewing it, questioning it, cross-referencing it, memorizing it, repeating it kind of studying will allow our hearts to be more open, moldable and teachable. We will know Him more because our minds will have been stayed on Him.

When I read/listen to great pastors/teachers, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Lewis, John Piper, John MacArthur (to name a small few), and hear what comes from their mouths, I think about how much time they spend with Him. They don’t just give 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. No! They give hours and hours and days of studying. I hear their messages and read their books and yearn to have their faith. Although this is their calling, to pastor and to teach, the principle is the same. The more time I spend with God, the better I know Him and the more I love Him. This is my conviction, this is my goal.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make you way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Waiting Like Watchmen

by Missy Grant

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:6

In Beth Moore’s Bible Study, Stepping Up, she says this about Psalm 130, “Perched on a city wall, the ancient watchman served the original nightshift. He watched for nothing more closely than morning itself. The fate of the entire village rested on his shoulders. If he dozed or became distracted, enemy forces could overtake him. His eyes constantly searched the horizon for hints of anything unusual. In some ways the watchman’s ears were more important to his task, enabling him to hear what he could not see. No more beautiful sight existed for the watchman than the sun raising its fiery head on the eastern horizon. The watchman could gather his robes, store his weapons, kiss his wife good morning, and fall in the bed with the relief of a job accomplished. Some called him brave. After he’d spent the black of night scared of his own shadow and jumping at the sound of a breaking twig, he knew when morning came safely that he wasn’t brave. He was blessed.”

Have you spent the black of night jumping at your shadow recently? Are life circumstances (fatigue, bitterness, disappointment, finances, loss of relationship, boredom, challenges with your children or spouse) causing you to lose sight of the ‘One who owns the morning’? Does satan have a stronghold in your life that has caused you to sleep through your watch?

Let’s go back to the Beth Moore paragraph and pull out a couple of thoughts. If he dozed or became distracted, enemy forces could overtake him. What is distracting you today? Have you spent time with the one who can’t be overtaken? In some ways the watchman’s ears were more important to his task, enabling him to hear what he could not see. Aaahhh….the definition of faith! Hearing what we can’t see. Believing what we can’t see. Trusting what we can’t see. Hearing is an active verb that requires a quiet spirit. If you are always talking – you won’t hear the one speaking!

Do not be discouraged today! Spend some time acknowledging your Lord right now. Ask Him to quiet your heart, showing you any strongholds which are causing you to lose sight of him. Ask Him to give you His peace and His strength in waiting on Him…. ‘more than a watchman for the morning…’

O Mighty God, we praise your name. We confess Lord, that we fall short of your glory. Lord, there might be strongholds which need to be taken away. Give us the courage in You to allow for those to be exposed and removed by your heavenly hand. Give us the strength to wait patiently for your timing in our lives. Give us listening ears and hearts like soft clay. We praise you today, Lord. Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Creating Islands

by Sue Donaldson

God is the Master Creator and we look and act a bit like Him when we create something.

My friend Kathy Vick writes about “creating islands” for our family in Lessons In Buoyancy –Letting Go of the Perfect Proverbs 31 Woman (I just accidentally typed: “. . .the Proverbs 32 Woman” – oh, brother – she must be really perfect!!)

Our kids and husbands need a soft place to land when their days deal them dirt and scrapes. Often it’s the mom who can create this cushion of unconditional love to comfort and kiss away the hurt. We can’t change the world they enter at the beginning of the day, but we can create the world they need at the end of their day. I wonder if we realize how valuable we are in making that place?

Proverbs 31:20 ~ “She opens her arms . . .she extends her hands. . . Sounds like a comforting place to be.

Where is the safe island for your family? What could you do to create that place they won’t forget when they move far from home? It’s a fun challenge – ask the Creator for some ideas (and pass them along when you get them.)

It may actually be your kitchen island. We don’t have one yet (but we will someday in this ongoing remodel!) and in the meantime, the drop-leaf mahogany table I was raised around is acting as the temporary island. I’ve placed a chair nearby, but I really need two so that I can sit alongside my youngest when she wants to show me in minute detail on paper exactly how her soccer coach placed her during her practice. (“Mom, are you looking?!”) Patience (and eye contact) is needed when these “island opportunities” come. She won’t remember if dinner finished on time; she will remember the comfort and solace of mom paying her much-needed attention.

Kathy writes: “The gathering places of our youth were shelters that shut out the world for brief moments that allowed us to refuel and reconnect with our families, reminding us that we were a part of something greater – and we are not alone.” That’s the best part – “we are not alone.” Have some fun making that island just what you and your family needs today.

Thank You for being my shelter, my island of refuge. Give me creativity and joy in creating that safe island for my family. Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

25 Things That Really Annoy Me

by Debbi Weeks

I have a request with today’s devo: if you read any portion of it, please read the whole thing. I could be quite misunderstood and misrepresented if only a portion of the devo is read. It is meant to be read in its entirety. Thanks, Debbi

There are a few things that REALLY bug me. These are things that “other people do” that really get under my skin and get me angry. I decided to list them here and I realized two things – 1) I got angry just thinking about them and 2) the list was a lot longer than I thought it was going to be. In fact, I should probably change the word in the first sentence from a few things to a bunch of things! Anyway, here are the 25 things I really hate, in no particular order (okay, so the last one is last for good reason):

1. When a person has an elitist attitude or is arrogant.

2. When a person feels they’re entitled.

3. When a person lies – little white lies, exaggerations and hiding the truth included.

4. When a person is ungrateful.

5. When a person isn’t willing to work to improve their situation.

6. When a person blames another for her mistakes or failures.

7. When a person brags (I especially don’t like it if she brags about her kid who is my kid’s age and even more if my kid is struggling).

8. When a person is opinionated, but won’t allow me (or others) to express my differing opinion.

9. When a person uses faulty logic.

10. When a person won’t listen to reason.

11. When a person only does the bare minimum.

12. When a person can’t keep a secret.

13. When a person has something against someone, but instead of going to that person she just talks behind their back.

14. When a person thinks she “knows it all.”

15. When a person thinks the world revolves around her.

16. When a person says one thing but does another.

17. When a person doesn’t do what she said she would do.

18. When a person calls herself a Christian but doesn’t live by biblical values.

19. When a person doesn’t fulfill her obligations or commitments.

20. When a person believes that being submissive is the same as being silent and not expressing an opinion or being a doormat.

21. When a person’s main reason for doing something is because others are doing it.

22. When a person judges before she knows the whole story.

23. When a person flippantly criticizes without any suggestion on how to make it better.

24. When a person’s actions cause me to pay the consequences.

25. When a person doesn’t give me grace through my sanctification process.

Perhaps you have your own list. Sorry, my devo equals my list!

I think I could have gone on and on – truth is they came to mind way too easy. That probably says a lot more about me than the things that bug me. So my list is done and I’m sitting at my computer seething, but I’ve learned something really important - that despite the fact that I hate these attitudes and behaviors, they are not just “what other people do.”

Some of these attitudes and behaviors I have even been “characterized by” in the past, but God has graciously worked on me and I am pleased to report that they are no longer consistently displayed in my life.

Then some of these areas God is presently working on in me. I am working towards them no longer being displayed in my life, but truthfully, I struggle with them. Maybe I’m not “characterized by” that attitude or behavior anymore, but it is definitely present in my life.

And, I confess, some of these behaviors are things that I am characterized by and, truth be known, I’m not doing anything about changing them. I may even be blind to their presence in my life. “A person” in my list is me! I’m comfortable in my sinful state – or at least comfortable enough to not make the effort to allow God to change me, even though it’s an attitude or behavior I loathe! My prayer is that the Holy Spirit makes me uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that I can’t help but submit to change!

I’m reminded of Philippians 3:13-14. I looked them up online to have the right punctuation and I read verses 15-17! Wow, they’re fabulous on this topic too:

Philippians 3:13-17

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.”

I’m so thankful that many years ago I committed verses 13 and 14 to memory because I need to be reminded of those words regularly - for myself and for others. This is the reminder that none of us have arrived. We are all still in process. God is not done. He’s not done with me when I harbor resentment towards people who have attitudes and behaviors that bug me. And, He’s not done with me when I display those same attitudes and behaviors. Oh, and yeah, He’s not done with those in whom I see those attitudes and behaviors (could it be they’re the mirror He’s using to point out my failures to me?). Praise God that He isn’t done with me, but that He has promised to complete the work He began!

Philippians 1:6

. . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

And 2 Corinthians 12:9 (see Peggy’s Monday post)

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

I’ll wait and be patient and give grace to you, if you’ll wait and be patient and give grace to me!

Father God I praise You that You are holy. I praise You for solely being worthy of praise.

I confess that I have more than 25 things that irritate me about other people and yet I am or have been guilty of those same attitudes and behaviors. Please forgive me and please have Your Spirit (gently, please) remove the blinders making me uncomfortable enough to be convicted.

Thank You that You have promised to carry us on to completion – that You continue to work in us.

Lord, please help me to extend grace to others and I humbly acknowledge that I walk in Your grace.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


by Cindy Frauenheim

Fall is just around the corner, and I find myself in a pleasant frame of mind. Okay, that is a general statement, since I did get a bit too annoyed this morning when the granola was spilled all over the kitchen floor, but there is something about autumn that I really love. It may have something to do with school, as I always couldn’t wait for school to start when I was young; or it may be that Mark & I were married in the fall (20 years next month!); or that my favorite colors are the colors of autumn (my house looks like fall even in spring); or maybe it’s because fall is the harbinger of warm, cozy, family times coming just around the corner – like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But then I realize that I have always loved the experience of anticipating something good coming up. This goes way back, and it really goes deep too. I remember looking forward to summer vacation, to relatives coming to visit, to a birthday celebration (anyone’s!), to a new pair of shoes (do we outgrow that?), to rain and maybe a fire in the fireplace, to the next basketball or volleyball game, to my brother’s visit home from the Navy. I can remember even telling my mom how much I love just looking forward.

Now I look forward to many of the same things, but many are more “daily” like seeing my kids each morning, time stolen away with my husband (even just lunch), the peaches, tomatoes, and apples that ripen in our tiny yard, seeing a good friend, beautiful or dramatic weather, a hike, quiet time with a good book, preparing and enjoying a good meal, and yes, carving out quiet time at the foot of my Savior. Looking forward causes me to be in a grateful state of mind as I understand the many blessings God has given me. And some days, when circumstances are not easy, and I am wondering what good can come of this particular situation, looking forward – and upward – is very comforting.

What can possibly cause us to look forward with greater anticipation than knowing that Christ has saved us from death and longs to live with us forever in a new heavens and earth that we can’t even get our minds around? Whatever brings us pleasure here, whatever good we see and experience; those are just tiny inklings of what he has prepared for us. At the same time, whatever heartache and despair we travel through here on this earth, though it may seem endless, will not be worth comparing to what lies ahead.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:18-25

I have become convinced that this forward-looking focus is a God-given, Spirit-led gift and journey. He has been pointing me towards himself all along, and continues to do so. He wants me to delight in what he has done for me, and what he has prepared for me! He wants me to inspire that delight in my children, my husband, and friends and strangers that cross my path.

Lord, thank you for the many blessings you have given me along this journey of life. Thank you for giving me faith, and for your spirit that points me forward to a day when I will see you face to face. Thank you for the comfort of your promise that you are working in all the things of my life – for my good! Help me to be content to be about the calling you have for me here and now, and yet to have my heart set on heaven. Enable me to be courageous to follow you in every area of my life, and to be encouraged by the knowledge that you will right every wrong, and you will liberate all creation.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Daily Faith

by Peggy Brown

This last week has been one of those weeks. You know, one where there is just not enough “you” to go around.

On some of those days, I was complaining outwardly. On some, I was whining inwardly, you know, “can’t someone else do this?” “Do you have to be sick today?” etc., etc. There were also times when I was kind, gracious and had a good attitude.

What makes the difference? Where my focus is!

This week is going to be another one of those weeks. I want to challenge myself, and you to. I want to remember this…

2 Cor. 12:9

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

I want Christ’s power to be perfected in me. I guess that means I will have to recognize my own weakness, hm?

Lord, help me to remember that it is Your grace that I want to show through my life, not my own sufficiency! Give me graceful thoughts, graceful attitudes and graceful words. Amen

Friday, September 12, 2008

He Moved

by Missy Grant

Have you ever had the experiences of studying, listening to music, being in a conversation with a friend, overhear someone, hear a pastor's message in which seemingly random thoughts by others are used by the Lord to bring a point home? I have had that experience recently. I love it when the Lord does that. It seems that everywhere I turn I am reading or hearing about how the Lord encircles, or encamps, or protects us. Some very recent examples are from scripture. Psalm 34:7 says, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and he rescues them." Psalm 139:5 says, "You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me." Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge before us."

Recently I was reading out of Exodus 14, specifically verse 13 and 14 which talks about not being fearful and knowing the Lord will fight for you. I was reading further, starting in verse 19 and came across something I never knew. This part of biblical history is when the Israelites were up against the red sea and the Egyptians were hot on their tails. Dread, discouragement, fear were the emotions of the day. Verse 19 talks specifically about how the pillar of cloud (who was the Lord) moved from before them and stood behind them. Is that amazing? The pillar of cloud moved from leading them and now stood behind them. The Lord moved in between the Egyptians and the Israelites. He now became their very present protector.

Those who know me know I don't like to be closed in (the Lord has a lot of fun with that!!). I am finding these scriptures very comforting. The thought that the Lord would enclose and surround us is amazing. For me, I need the reminder that He has surrounded me for my good. How about you?

O Mighty Lord, thank you for your leading and your protecting ways. Thank you for encouraging us in your word. Your word which stands as truth in all the generations. May we acknowledge your presence today, Lord. Help us to Trust in You when the enemy is closing in. Be our protector – spread your loving arms around us and encircle us today. Praising you Lord.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Looking Like a Christian

by Sue Donaldson

Jean had a bad morning. Her husband had been away on business – out of the country -- for over a week. She had 3 young boys to get ready for the day. One couldn’t find his sweatshirt. They were going to be late. She lost it. She raised her voice, more than once. She was tired. Her kids knew it.

Finally, Jean managed to get the eldest to school, and stopped at Peet’s with the two younger boys until the next school began. Sitting down with her coffee to take a breath, a homeless man approached her.

“Do you have any change?” She shook her head.

A few minutes later she told her boys, “Let’s get that man a muffin.” They went up to the counter, got the muffin and presented it to the man.

“Thank you. I was hungry.”

“You’re welcome,” Jean replied. She went on, “You know, Grace Church, on the corner of Osos and Pismo (she remembered that Tim always referred to her church with directions!) gives out muffins and coffee in between services on Sunday if you even want some more food.” (Way to go, Jean!)

The man smiled, “I’m a Christian. I know I don’t look much like one.”

Jean replied, “I don’t either!” She was thinking about the train wreck of her morning, and was so grateful that the Lord gave her an opportunity to reach out and feel thankful. She added, “You don’t need to worry about that. Come and visit Grace if you can.”

Later on, Jean thought over what that man had said. She remembered her morning. Had she “looked like a Christian” to her boys? She knew that following Christ has more to do with the fruit of the Spirit than outward appearance.

Anyone can have a bad morning. Not everyone will take the opportunity to give a cup of cold water to someone in need in the name of Christ (and invite them to church!) God is gracious. Here’s a Scriptural take on it: “Suppose a brother is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

Isn’t it great that Jean met a felt need before offering a soul need?

How was your morning today? Good or bad, God gives grace and strength and opportunities to live your faith for those in need. Take heart (and take Jean a meal!)

Thank you for helping me when I have a tough morning. It’s harder to “look like a Christian” in my own home. I pray for this homeless man – may he remember Jean’s boys and her invitation-with-food. May we all do what we need to do to look like Jesus, day in and day out. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


by Debbi Weeks

I was having a hard time deciding on a devotional topic for today. I usually just choose from what God is teaching me. It’s not that He’s not working on me right now, in fact maybe even the opposite is true – He’s working on me in so many areas! So many in fact that not one area in particular stands out!

So, since I was in a quandary, I decided instead to share with you one of my favorite verses of the Bible. I’d say it’s my favorite, but then in a few weeks I might refer to another verse as my favorite and I wouldn’t want to appear as a liar! It’s just that I have so many favorites!

Well, several years ago I was feeling a bit blue and discouraged. A wise man, Leon Maksoudian, (lay pastor and elder emeritus at Grace Church) asked me how I was doing. When I answered, “Discouraged!” he said (in a way only this godly man can do), “Well then, you need to memorize Deuteronomy 31:8!” I had no clue what the verse was about, but when Leon Maksoudian tells you to do something, you do it! I quickly looked it up and (not so quickly) committed it to memory. Soon my discouragement waned.

Deuteronomy 31:8 reads, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV)

I have this mental picture of God (in the form of an older, fatherly man) with a machete forging a path through an untrodden forest going before me and cutting a path. Then I see Him taking my hand and walking me along the path He has just made. Hand in hand - I am at peace, trusting in His care for me. There is no fear and I have a certainty that I am doing exactly what I should be doing and accomplishing all that God wants of me. I’m reminded of God’s sovereign control over all of my circumstances. What a comforting verse! And, what a deterrent to discouragement!

Are you afraid? Are you discouraged? Commit Deuteronomy 31:8 to memory and see God minister to you through His Word!

Father God I praise You that You are omnipresent. I praise You for Your sovereignty over all things.

I confess that sometimes I look at my circumstances and forget You are with me through them – then I become afraid and discouraged.

Thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me.

Lord, please help me to walk in the assurance of Your presence with me.

In Christ’s Name, Amen

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Process

by Sue Donaldson

I love the phrase: “spiritual journey.” It implies process – we haven’t yet arrived and we won’t until heaven.

Two good things about remembering that we are in process: discouragement and pride.

We don’t need to get discouraged when we fail; failure is part of the process.

My brother Hyatt said, “How we handle failure shows how successful we are.” I didn’t like hearing that at the time – failure is painful. But (as usual), he’s right. And, we can start again, like Anne of Green Gables--she seemed to make more mistakes than others (must be the red hair. . .) She said, “It’s a new day, fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.” Gotta love that attitude. And, David said, “We stumble but we don’t fall headlong.” (Psalms 37:24) Sounds like a process to me – walking, stumbling, and hopeful. Process includes failure – so we don’t need to be discouraged.

And, we don’t need to be proud in our process.

On earth, we never reach a plateau of spirituality on which we pause and say, “Well, I’ve made it!” If we are tempted to do so – it’s usually subconscious because if we say it out loud, we realize how ridiculous it is – but if we do, God will allow some experience to show us where we still need work. Or, He might give us a clearer picture of Who He is so we quickly realize the contrast – “Nope, I haven’t arrived quite yet . . .” Humility is good for the soul and for the journey.

We’re on a spiritual journey, and that’s a good thing. In fact, a great way to open up a conversation with someone is: “Where are you on your spiritual journey these days?” Be ready to share your up’s and down’s – God will use that to encourage a friend (or stranger) to get up and get moving. God is not only at the finish line, He’s with us all along the way.

Thank you for keeping me on this journey towards You. Encourage me when I fail. Show me how I can encourage another today in their journey. And, don’t let me use the “in process” idea for bad behavior! Amen.

Monday, September 8, 2008


by Peggy Brown

So, you noticed that I was absent last week? So sorry…both of my kids came home on short notice for the long weekend. One came with her boyfriend and the other came to announce the upcoming arrival of our first grandchildJ. Needless to say, I was quite distracted, and frankly I just forgot! But, I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaack and here are my wandering thoughts for today.

Psalm 95:6-7 in The Jerusalem Bible says:

“Come in, let us bow, prostrate ourselves, and kneel in front of Yahweh our maker,
for this is our God, and we are the people He pastures, the flock that He guides.”

You may recognize these verses as ones that have been written into a song that we sing:

“Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God, our maker.

For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, just the sheep of His hands, just the sheep of His hands.”

Today, I have been thinking about worshiping and praising God. He is worthy of our worship and our praise ALL THE TIME! I tend to want to worship Him when I am feeling particularly holy or spiritual, but He is my shepherd and He desires my worship continually.

Here’s today’s challenge. Find a reminder, a verse, a song, a picture, and put it up somewhere that you see it regularly. (I’m going to use the song above.) For a week, let your goal be to think about it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Let’s make this week a week of worship, OK?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It Was a Nugget

by Missy Grant

One of the gals in my small group for bible study shared that she and her husband would be traveling during the next week and asked for prayer. He has some health issues and they will be traveling by car to destinations with fairly high altitudes. Those altitudes could affect her husband's health. The doctors gave her this advice..."It is fine to travel. If he isn't doing well, go down to a lower altitude."

Now there is a nugget if I ever heard one!! If you aren't doing well, go down to a lower altitude...are you struggling today? Is life squeezing more oxygen out of you than you are taking in? Have you considered going down to a different altitude? Lets consider what that might look like.

First, change your posture. Are you standing up? Try bowing down (seriously....or at least sit down). It is the quickest way to a lower altitude. When we bow down, it forces us to look up. Looking up creates humility - one of Christ's amazing attributes.

Second, change your focus from you to Him (pray!!!). Go to Him in prayer. It is OK to rant and rave at the Lord a bit. It is ok to tell him exactly what you are experiencing.....just remember to follow David's example in the Psalms. David always ended his discussions with the Lord in praise of Him. His praise and worship of our mighty God was evidence of David changing his focus from himself and his circumstances to the Lord.

Third, put a higher octane fuel in the tank. Higher octane fuel functions better at high altitude. What are you using to fuel your engine? His Word, His Grace, His Strength...or friends, tv, chocolate. You choose which list to get your fuel from, but let me give you a suggestion. Phil 4 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That is some high octane fuel!

O Mighty God, thank you for the nuggets of wisdom that you send our way. I thank you Lord for the ladies of my small group. They blessed me already! Lord, may we be children that bow down to you so that our gaze is always up! May we go first to you when life squeezes us hard. May we be filled up with you and you alone. Praising you today, Lord.

Friday, September 5, 2008

by Kate Hasson

Proverbs 31

I memorized this chapter with a friend a while ago. The underlining is mine...those sections that really moved me and made me question my own womanhood.

“...10An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.

12She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.

13She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.

14She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.

15She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.

16She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.

18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She puts her hands to the distaff and her hands hold the spindle.

20She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22She makes be coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her;

29“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Isn’t it wonderful?! I so want to be like this, don’t you? I want to be a blessing to those around me, to my children, above all to my husband, and most of all to the LORD. I try to be like this, but I can’t. Not out of my own trying. But if He sees fit, I pray that he will break and mold me into this person. A person who is a fragrant offering to her King; mind, heart, soul, and body.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What Have You Seen?

by Missy Grant

"...I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple...Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory...Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' then I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"
(excerpts from Isaiah 6)

What have you seen lately?

"The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises up those who are bowed down..."
psalm 146:8

Lord, we praise your glorious name. You are sitting on the Throne! Amen and Amen. May we be people who say, 'Here am I. Send me!' Help us bow low to you and you alone. Praising you today, Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Obedience to His Call

by Debbi Weeks

I love testimonies! I love to hear how God has worked in someone’s life. Testimonies are always an encouragement to me.

One year, on the youth’s mission trip to Mexico, a student was called upon to share his testimony (we had all been prepared during our pre-trip meetings to share our testimony in three to five minutes). This young man began his story with “Well, my testimony is boring.” At this point Pastor Ken loudly and abruptly interrupted the student and said, “There is no such thing as a boring testimony! It is not boring that God, the Creator of the universe, would come down and die to save you. No testimony is boring!” I’ve long thought about Pastor Ken’s response – it is so true, our testimony isn’t even about us, but rather about all that God has done for us . . . and that’s never boring! We always need to be prepared to share the difference Christ has made. Who wouldn’t be encouraged by knowing all God has done?

Perhaps it’s because of my love of testimonies that I love biographies and autobiographies in particular. I could list about a hundred great books I’ve read about the life stories of people of faith.

This summer I enjoyed Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman, a young woman who was involved in the Dutch Resistance during World War II. Oh my goodness, what God called this woman to and brought her through! It’s an amazing story – one of miracles, of hopes and dreams, of fear and desperation, of God’s hand in the midst of incomprehensible brutality and of her faithfulness to all that God had called her to, despite great personal sacrifice. It is so inspirational.

In the postscript of the book Ms. Eman writes, “To write a book about these difficult years was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to forget, and I even left the Netherlands after the war to do that . . . my conscience started to grow and it seemed that every time I opened the Bible something like ‘Tell the great things I have done’ stared me in the face.” I’m so thankful that Ms. Eman was once again obedient to what God called her to. Her story has made a difference in my life. Each of us has a story - a story of God’s work and faithfulness. God’s given you a story – you need to tell it!

I Peter 3:15

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Father God, I praise You that You have a plan for each of our lives. I praise You that You know the beginning from the end.
I confess that I am not always bold in sharing my story. Please forgive me when I keep silent instead of sharing all that You have done for me.
Thank You for encouraging me through the testimonies of others. Thank You that not one of us has a boring testimony! Thank You for Diet Eman’s story of Your faithfulness.
Please help me to share the story You have given me and please help me to appreciate the story You have given others.

In Christ’s Love, Amen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Gotta Love It"

by Sue Donaldson

It’s Fall and in San Luis Obispo, that means AYSO Soccer season! Mary has enthusiastic coaches, so we started Monday with a pre-season scrimmage (of course, it doesn’t matter in the least. . . but the Purple Poisonous Grapes of Fury won . . .)

Looking across the field, I saw a familiar figure walking towards his son’s game. I called out, “Well, hi there – are you ready for soccer season?”

Randy Newby, with a bounce in his step and a grin on his face, called back, “Gotta love it!”

Then it dawned on me, Randy suffers from cancer. Just last Spring he underwent major surgery where parts of several major organs were removed. He’s not completely out of the woods, and yet here he was, like any other dad, making fast tracks to his son’s first game. What a great scene, what a great blessing. Puts a grin on my face, just remembering it.

God loves blessing His kids. That doesn’t mean we don’t go through seasons of pain and trials and grief. Just ask the Newby’s. Take a minute to thank God that Randy was on the field today and keep praying for the whole family.

James wrote: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth. . .” (James 1:17,18)

Maybe James didn’t mean that soccer is a “gift from above” – but seeing Janine and Randy out on the field today turned my mind to God’s great gift of life and love and family. And, if the Apostle James lived in San Luis in 2008, he would probably be a volunteer coach, don’t you think? Gotta love it!

Father God,

Thanks so much for caring for the Newbys. Please continue to strengthen and heal him. Thanks, too, for all your good gifts like soccer and family and life and love. We love you. Let the games begin! Amen.