Tag Archives: faith

How do “doors” and “cups of water” merge?

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of Matthew 10:42

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”


My family participates in a small group bible study once a week with some wonderful people from our church. Right now we are studying the Gospel of Matthew. This week we read Chapter 10. Tuesday late afternoon found me taking my first big trip since breaking my leg in January. Part of my job for the Beef Marketing Group is to service cattle feed yards, and I had a visit that was overdue. It was far enough away from home that I decided to stay overnight in a hotel.

I broke my leg on January 5th, and never would have dreamed that I would still be basically non-weight bearing and on crutches the 13th of March. But, with some nerve damage in my foot and a stubborn ankle, that is my reality. I packed carefully for the trip with two backpacks (one with my computer and the things that I would need for the feed yard visit, and the other with an extra change of clothes for the overnight stay).

Before I experienced life on crutches, I never realized how difficult it was to open doors and then pass through them. Most doors these days (at least those in Nebraska) have to be pulled open and physically held because they are designed to immediately close. The majority do not have that awesome handicap button to push to operate the door automatically. When you have two working arms and legs, it likely never enters your radar screen that this creates a challenge for some people. I’ve learned to balance myself on my one working leg and the crutches and pull on the door, but holding it open while I try to move in a forward motion is hard. Usually it results in the door banging into some part of my upper body. I’ve yet to truly master the process.

Please pardon the “selfie” – I don’t take them well 😉

Rural Nebraska hotels do not have “bell hops”, so when I arrived at the hotel I parked in the closest available place and put one back pack on my back and the other on my front. I pretty much made an “Anne sandwich”, and crutched my way toward the door. When I got there, I realized with a bit of a sinking heart that there was not only 1 outside door but a set of 2 outside doors (one followed by another) to help reduce energy use with the difficult Nebraska weather.

While I was getting together a game plan, I noticed the one lady sitting in the lobby. She was just on the other side of the second door, and scrolling through her smart phone. I made eye contact with her hoping that she would see my difficulty and come to my aid. After glancing at me briefly, she went back to scrolling on her phone. I faced the reality of the doors and began the tedious process of getting myself through one and then the other. I’d never tried it with two backpacks on before, but God was with me and I worked my way through.

As I awkwardly cleared the second door, the lady looked up – a little bit sheepishly – and said, “Oh, I guess I should have helped you.” I just smiled and told her that it was okay, and made my way to the front desk to sign for my room.


So, by now you may be asking yourself:

What does Anne’s “door story” have to do with a cup of cold water?

I think that the above statement from the Gospel of Matthew is designed to remind us that we are a community, a family. And, as such, we are called to offer a cold cup of water when someone is thirsty and in need of help. Sometimes it is a physical need, and sometimes it is an emotional or spiritual need. In any instance, Jesus asks us to take the time to notice the need and then to reach out in love to help.

I’ve learned many things over the past 9 and a half weeks, but I can promise that I will never look at a manual door the same way again. Additionally, I hope that I am learning to be more sensitive to others, to pay better attention to the needs that exist around me, and to reach out in agape love to help fill them. Sometimes it’s simply opening a door for someone who is physically struggling, but other times it might be offering comfort to someone who has pain in their heart.

There is a saying that everyone has a story of need. Perhaps if we all tried a little bit harder to help others, the world would be a more loving place. I am confident that many would have rushed to help me with the doors, but the truth is that not everyone does. What if one of the ways that Jesus heals others is through us? If that is the case, what happens when we ignore His call?

I’m going to try harder to be one who responds instead of one who doesn’t.

 

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God’s part, My part, Other’s part…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 8:12

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”


One of my greatest personal challenges is “refilling my cup”. God has filled me with a lot of passionate energy, and working to make a difference sits close to the top of Anne’s priority list. The cup stays nice and full when I can see the positive impact of my efforts, but it steadily empties when I do not get to experience a tangible part of God’s evolution.

There are lots of places in the New Testament where the Bible talks about the “water of life” and the role of the Holy Spirit in the daily renewal of our faith. There are also lots of places in the New Testament where Jesus talks about following him in order to live in the light. I get that. Where I stumble is the additional internalization of the core teaching that there are three parts to a life filled with faith:

  1. God’s part
  2. My part
  3. Other’s part

I get too hung up on the outcome and feel personally responsible for it.  As a result, I feel an acute sense of failure when others do not chose to respond in the way that I would like when I offer help and support.

A friend of mine sent me this comic a couple of weeks ago. It inspired me to pause and think a bit. While I’m not sure that walking away is always the correct answer, having enough faith in God to recognize that I am only called to do my part helps me to not lose hope.


I suspect that I am not the only one to struggle with this. It’s a hard lesson to realize that we cannot be responsible for other people’s hearts and actions. I struggle with this daily. I want to fix, but really all that I can do is love. Each person is responsible for their own decisions and actions. And, God is truly the only one that can heal the broken. While he can use us as vessels to guide and share his love, we have no control over another person’s response when we share.

I’ve been coaching and working with kids for almost 20 years now. I remember the first time that I truly realized that I couldn’t do it for them. I was 24 years old and the assistant high school Cross Country coach. We had a good group of boys on the team that year. While none of them would have told you that Cross Country was their primary sport, they had a lot of potential. I learned something at the district meet that fall. I learned that my passion couldn’t carry them in their race. I could teach them the proper technique and help them to gain the needed fitness to find success. I could do my best to inspire their devotion. But, when it came to the race, I couldn’t do it for them. Finding success required a choice on their part which was out of my control.

Our faith journeys aren’t really any different than that race.

Faith is an individual decision that each person makes – every single day. No one else can make it for them. It’s the difference between living in the light and living in the darkness. I can control how I respond to others, but I cannot control how they respond to me.

  • God’s job is to love and guide.
  • My job is to reflect that love and guidance.
  • How other people chose to respond to that is their part.

I’ll let you all know when I’ve truly mastered that process, as there is a difference in knowing it and truly believing it. That difference influences the quality of the light that Jesus talks about in the above passage from John. My heart clearly tells me when I lack the trust required to let go, as then I loose sight of the light and the cup seems to systematically empty.

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No Short Cuts…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the book of Leviticus. Instead of pulling specific scripture out of the book, I’d like to share three very timely lessons that I learned from my study of the book.

  1. Offer your best to God. It should come from pure intentions and from the heart.
  2. Follow directions! There is honor to be found in doing the little things right. God’s calls do not come with the ability to find a short cut. Faith requires loyalty and steadfastness to travel the entire journey.
  3. God has high standards for us. It takes a combination of God’s grace and individual commitment to travel the journey to holiness.

As most of you are aware, I broke my fibula in early January. It’s rocked my world. Instead of leading my regular active life for the last 7 and 1/2 weeks, I’ve lived in a world of limited movement and physical discomfort. I traded logging 20 miles a week of soul-freeing running for the simple wish that one day I’d wake up and my leg didn’t hurt.

I got my plaster cast off last week, and traded it for a rehabilitation boot to begin the physical therapy process. The good news is that I have a lot of work to do! I will need to build strength to regain ankle motion as well as muscle regrowth in the foot and entire right leg. It’s a healing process that will span months, and my goal is to find complete well being by the end of the summer.

The reality of the rehabilitation process left me a bit shaken. I spent a few days being overwhelmed by the shear number of little things that I needed to accomplish before I could regain total leg health. God seems to always have a hand in things, and these days also found me finishing up the book of Exodus and beginning to read the book of Leviticus. The Holy Spirit grabbed me several times as I read the passages and gave me a much needed kick in the tail with these three lessons.

  1. God meets us where we are in any given moment. He does that because he loves us. He asks us to give Him our best, whatever that is, in all of those moments. Our best may change over time due to circumstances, but our attitude and the state of our heart when we bring it to Him should be marked by devotion.
  2. God’s call to holiness does not include a short cut. I was reminded that I need to quit looking for one, and instead focus on finding joy in the daily work that His call brings to me. I can work stubborn or I can work smart. I think working smart by packing Jesus in my heart is a better choice 🙂
  3. God is holy. He has high standards. There is honor to be found in aspiring to meet those standards. Changing the standards does not lead to success. There is both joy and victory to be found in the challenge of trying to meet them!

One of my first physical therapy exercises aims at trying to get the toes on my right foot to begin working again. I practice picking up a crumpled kleenex off the floor with my toes. My big toe was the first to wake up. By day 4, I excitedly showed my favorite farmer that all of my toes had joined the team and I could move my little toe again! It might seem silly, but to me it was a huge deal. I couldn’t even feel my little toe when they took my cast off – to be able to move it was tremendous progress.

My toes didn’t start working because I sat in a chair crying that my leg hurt. They started working because I packed my faith and started the new journey to rehabilitation. God met me where I was. I brought an honorable effort and accepted that there was no short cut. When I did, I found joy in an unforeseen place and a small victory that will surely lead to others.

Perhaps that is what this path to holiness written about in Leviticus is all about. When we combine devotion with careful work, then we find the grace that leads us to healing.

What if there’s no short cut because the learning happens when you take the long way around?

 

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AOTA…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Hebrews 12: 11

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”


Our family entered the world of Haymaker Wrestling this year. About a month after Joseph came to live with us, he decided that he wanted to learn to wrestle. Two of the Haymaker Wrestling coaches have kids that swim for me, and my favorite farmer was a wrestler in high school so it seemed a good fit.

As a swimmer and a runner (with a brother who played baseball), I was a newbie to the sport of wrestling. The discipline and fitness intrigued me, while the culture of the sport just plain pulled at my heart. Over the course of the season, I watched a small group of young men band together to create a brotherhood. A brotherhood that inspired loyalty and leadership.

Photo Credit: Brian Bazata

The mantra of the Haymaker Wrestling team is AOTA. A-always, O-on, T-the, A-ttack. I questioned it a bit going into the season, but it didn’t take long for me to understand the meaning and the purpose. In a wrestling match, you are either in control of the match and earning points or you are getting beat by an opponent who is. Leadership on the mat requires a high level of engagement and a willingness to take chances in the moment in order to claim victory at the end.

There is no room for laziness.

Rather, the wrestling culture inspires enthusiastic and proactive “headmanship”. Our Youth Ministry Pastor defines “headmanship” as the leadership that men demonstrate as they intentionally work to serve and protect. It comes from active and selfless engagement as mental and physical strength merge to create honor.


There’s a lot of spirituality that happens on the wrestling mat. I don’t know if the Haymaker wrestlers would intentionally call it that, but I clearly saw it as I watched them come together as a team this season. Paul reminds us in Hebrews 12:11 that God calls us to never be lazy – rather – we are called to work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

It takes an intentional individual choice to create a victorious community.

Joseph began his wrestling career as a senior with no prior experience. He faced the challenge of spending the season wrestling some of the Midwest’s finest who had more than 10 years of experience. I never worried that he would fail. I knew that God would carry him. What he lacked in learned skill, his teammates and coaches helped him to fill in with discipline, leadership, and love.

I cried when he won his first match. My heart swelled when he got his first victory by pin. I watched him lose more times than he won, but each match brought a sense of purpose, identity and worth to the young man that God had brought to me as a son. Joseph discovered the beauty of “team” as well as the pride found in working hard to honor the mission.

He learned that being on the attack can be something incredibly righteous.

Isn’t this what Jesus calls us to do?

The New Testament is full of passages where Jesus implores us to actively and passionately love community more than self. And, to keep giving even when it hurts because the mission holds unfathomable value. My heart filled with hope as the season went on and I realized that wrestling provided a tremendous battlefield to teach our young men to fight with righteousness.

When the battle is honorable, being on the attack is a good thing.

We are not called to be passive. We are called to fight with our whole hearts as we engage in Jesus’ mission.

To the 2019 Haymaker Wrestling Team, thank you for fighting the good fight. I pray that you will take these “life lessons” and apply them to the calls that God has for you during your life journey. You all earned many medals this season, but the greatest is the one that you carry in your heart as you honor your God and your team. Thank you for your efforts.

Respect is earned — you all have mine.

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Building A Solid Foundation…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Matthew 7: 24-27

Jesus says, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rains come in torrents and the flood waters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But, anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”


Do you ever have moments where your faith falters?

Something or a combination of things happen that just shake your core. Misunderstanding and incomprehension combine with an inward pull of sadness that just plain pulls you in. As self-pity takes over – faith, joy, hope and peace all temporarily find themselves sitting in the background. When this happens, tunnel vision threatens to cloud up the faithful perspective that guides. It leaves you with an unabashed picture of how solid your foundation is.

Over the past thirty days, I’ve had several things shake me. While they’ve all come at me independently of each other, the combination of them created a powerful force. My habit during hard times is to run. Running clears my head, helps me to work through my energy in a positive way, and it brings me to God. I pray when I run. While I also pray outside of running, running is my place that I go when I need to just open my heart and let Jesus fill it. As I log in the miles, I find a sense of complete peace that very simply centers me.

My children tell me that I am unique, but I would suggest that each of us likely has a “crutch” in our faith journey (like my running is for me).

Today marks 33 days since I broke my leg. On January 5th I traded one crutch for another. I guess that it was time to see how strong my foundation was. Perhaps a test to determine whether I could lean and carry Jesus constantly in my heart without my blessed time “in the wilderness” — running with God across the gravel roads near our farm.

I don’t know why the accident happened, but I do know that faith calls us to believe during times when we cannot see.


Both Matthew and Luke hold versions of Jesus’s teaching on how to build a solid foundation of faith. When I read them this weekend, it occurred to me that we can’t just build our house on a rock and then assume that it will always be there and able to withstand life’s challenges. We are called to do daily maintenance on the rock to keep it strong – even and especially during those times of storm.

While it is foolish to build your house on the sand, it is also foolish to take for granted that the rock will never chip away and become sand during the barrage of hard times. If we are always called to be faithful, then we must do the daily work that ensures that our faith will persevere during times of trial.

Monday morning, I wrote the words “patient endurance” on the toe of my rainbow cast. I found the guidance last weekend in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews 10:36. Patient endurance allows for us to diligently work to build back what those storms may chip apart. Piece by piece, Jesus fuses the worn sand back together into a rock when we bring it to Him. I think that there is honor in that process.

Someday I will wake up and my leg won’t hurt.

Someday I will put on my running shoes and take a step.

Perhaps this summer, I will even be able to log in a mile or two running in my “wilderness”.

I don’t know. But, I do believe that Jesus carries me when I let Him. That gives me hope when my faith starts to falter. God uses creative ways to grow us. I used to think that running was something that I needed for my spirit to remain whole. Today, I know that whenever I get the privilege of taking those quick and harmonious steps once again, I won’t be driven by a sense of need as much as I will be driven by a feeling of great freedom and joy.

Perhaps faith is about finding the privilege in the midst of the need…

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Find the Rainbow…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Genesis 9: 12-14

Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is a sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.”


I am notorious amongst the young athletes that I coach for having “inspirational sayings”. They just seem to roll off my tongue. Some of them I borrow from others, and some just pop into my mind in the moment. I believe that the ones that simply “pop into my head” come from the Holy Spirit and I tend to cling to them with loyalty. Sometime, I should sit down and make a list of all of them. Better yet, I should ask my athletes to make a list of them 😉

I believe that attitude shapes experience. No matter where our journey takes us, the way that we perceive our daily experiences determines our ability to not only find joy in the moment but also to evolve and learn for the future. When we approach life determined to find the rainbow, then each day becomes an opportunity rather than an ordeal.

The difference between opportunity and ordeal may not seem that big a deal on the surface, but I believe it to be profound.

Let me share a story from last summer.

I have a group of junior high and high school athletes that gather on the pool deck at 6:00am every weekday during the summer for swimming practice before they go on to their days working jobs and practicing for other sports. In the moment — as we gather to begin each morning — I *may* be the only one of us truly excited for each morning workout 🙂 The words, find the rainbow, often pop out of my mouth during those times.

One morning, after a thunderstorm had blown through, we were in the water in the midst of a difficult set. One of the boys said, “hey look there’s a rainbow”. I suspect that he was trying to distract Coach Anne to get some extra rest at the wall, but I humored him by pausing and looking in the sky before we left for the next interval. While I did not immediately find a rainbow in the sky, about twenty minutes later — as we were finishing up the workout with some sprints — God brought us a beautiful one. On a regular day, we might have missed it because it was a small one in the shape of a vertical sundog. But, we were looking for it since the motto for the day had turned into different ways we could look for the rainbow.

As the summer progressed, we found many rainbows together — some in the sky and some in our hearts. In each instance, we found them because we were intentionally looking for them 🙂


God reminds us in the book of Genesis that a rainbow is a special sign from Him.

It is the sign of a covenant.

It is a beautiful physical image that depicts a promise.

To me, it is a reminder of eternal hope. I make the intentional choice to take the image with me every day as I pack my faith. The challenges will still come. However, my perspective – my attitude – allows those challenges to be opportunities rather than burdensome ordeals. Over time, I’ve figured out that it’s really not about the challenge itself. Rather, it’s about how I embrace God’s grace in my daily life to live with honor.

Last week, I transitioned from my post-surgery cast to a hard cast. As I looked at my pathetically bruised leg and it’s 8″ incision, I might have wanted to cry. But then I remembered my own advice. Find the rainbow. So, I covered the leg with a colorful reminder. Every time that I look at it, I remember God’s covenant. I remember that He loves me. I remember that it’s not my job worry about the “why”. It’s my job to focus on the “how”.

I honor God when I pack an attitude of love and positivity. Great things come out of hard times. Noah packed his faith to live with grace in a way that brings great perspective to my own challenges. He did his part and I can too.

How does God inspire you during times of challenge?

 

 

 

 

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Love Wins…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week comes from Matthew 18: 10-14 and the Parable of the Lost Sheep.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this parable over the past year. When Joseph’s life fell apart early last spring, I read this passage. I prayed. I ran. I asked God lots of questions. I received a very clear answer from the Holy Spirit, and I clung to it.

Go and love him.

So, I did.

I made my first visit to a jail and I ached for the scared and broken young man that looked back at me. I prayed with him and I cried with him. Ten days later, I brought him home. It was likely the most reckless thing that I have ever done in my life. It is very clearly the first time that I have lived entirely through faith.

I remember our pastor saying one Sunday last spring in a sermon, “God will give you just enough information so that you can follow His call. He doesn’t often show you everything because that might bring you unnecessary fear in the moment.” Trading fear for faith depends on this delicate balance, and I am very thankful for God’s transparency time table.

Corey Asbury has a song out on Christian Radio called  “Reckless Love” that I feel like sums up my feelings quite accurately. It brings to my mind the following questions that I ponder daily:

  • How does God recklessly pursue us?
  • What does it mean to love so recklessly that we are willing to leave what is comfortable in order to do what is right?
  • What is our role in Jesus’ mission?

I believe that there are many ways that God pursues us. I can personally attest to the fact that the pursuit is, in fact, reckless. Honestly, it’s the component of reckless abandon that provides the truest beauty of it. God never gives up on us. We are all worthy and we are all loved. Whether it is through Jesus’s love, the work of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, or the actions of other people — or some combination of them — God is steadfast and tenacious in pursuit of our hearts and our lives.

God used Joseph to teach me how to live by faith. I learned to abide in Jesus’ love so that I could share it recklessly. I left what was comfortable to embrace something better. My perspective shifted so that I could let earthly things go in order to remain true to my heavenly call. It’s changed me, and it continues to change me each and every day.

God used me to show Joseph that he was loved – worthy – and cherished. I’ve watched him intentionally work to leave what was comfortable to embrace something better. It’s a daily choice. It’s hard. But it is good. Neither one of us travels the journey alone because God created a community to support us. Our family has learned to make a new team which allows us to be successful as we work to share in Jesus’ mission to love.

I think sometimes, as humans, we like to make things complicated. I struggled for many years trying to figure out what my role in Jesus’ mission was. I thought too much instead of leading with my heart. I looked past the simple, yet potent answer:

Love Wins.

Every time.

Every one matters. Just ask the lost sheep.

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Learning To Abide…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from James 1: 2-5

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”


This is one of my favorite verses. I don’t just enjoy it, I need the perspective that it brings. While I like challenge, real troubles sometimes stump me. When fatigue sets in, I begin to question God’s plan as I forget to let go of the hurt and simply abide in Jesus’s love.

About 10 days ago, I fell on the snow and ice and broke my right ankle and lower leg. I was delivering lasagna to the high school to help feed the Lady Haymaker basketball team and I slipped and fell as I transitioned from the parking lot up the handicap access to the side walk. I had surgery last Thursday and am now the proud owner of a 10 screw plate in my lower right leg, as well as a few extra “long screws” (holding my ligament in place) that will have to be removed after my leg heals. I’m non-weight bearing and in a cast for six weeks before beginning physical therapy.

There is never a good time to have an accident. I have to admit that I’ve had moments over the past 10 days when I’ve wanted to fall apart. After one of those moments, my favorite farmer came hurrying down the hallway. He said: “Okay, the guy on the radio just said that James says to find joy in your challenges because they bring you endurance and a stronger faith.”

I think that’s the first time that Matt has ever quoted scripture to me– and it made me smile that he’d been listening to MyBridge Radio and had picked up on some of my favorite verses. I’ve yet to figure out why my accident happened, but God has sent me several very clear signs like this one that He is with me on the journey 🙂


As Christians, Jesus calls each one of us to abide in His love.

To be on His team.

The invitation is open to everyone and it’s there on the good days as well as the hard ones. It’s there, we simply need to put it on. Our pastor talked about this same thing on Sunday and it was so truly meaningful to me. As we abide in Christ, our hearts become full of Jesus’ love. There is no limit to His love which brings both peace in the moment and hope for the future. Our ultimate call is to share that love. Not just to love our neighbor as ourself, but to love them as Jesus loves us.

That’s a big deal.

We often pray for God’s help, but how often do we sign up to whole-heartedly and intentionally be on His team? The culture of love only develops when we are all in. That’s because God uses all of us to reflect Jesus’ love — it can’t be reflected if no one answers the call. When we sign up to be on the team, we need to be willing to put in the work.

I saw this picture on facebook last week and it really resonated with me.

Perhaps this is part of what James is talking about.

I am coming to understand that there is both joy and honor to be found in being a member of God’s team. The hard things still come; but there is a purpose to them as Jesus uses the experiences to mold us into something more complete – more loving – more meaningful. Sometimes learning is hard, but Jesus’ love makes impossible things possible.

What if all we really need to do is to more deeply abide in His love so that following His direction becomes a natural out-pouring from our hearts?

One day, maybe we’ll wake up to find that we are so completely filled with grace that we are in need of nothing.

That will be a good day 🙂

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