Faith during Hard Times

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I would like to consider myself a person of Faith.  However, lately that has been put to the test.  We all go through tough times in our lives, times of heartache, confusion, grief, challenges, sadness, depression and we may even wonder if God is really there.  It’s easy to have faith when everything is going the way that we think that it should, but the moment that changes is a test of how much we truly trust God’s plan over our own.  Sometimes His plan doesn’t look or seem good to us, but it is.  He loves His children and promises us all a bright future filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11)  He is our strength, our peace, our provider, our comforter, our refuge, and so much more.  He is EVERYTHING that we need.  The only way to truly get to know Him is by reading His word and asking Him to reveal Himself to us.  He will in such amazing ways!  This doesn’t mean that the challenges in our lives will stop.  A lot of times, as we are growing in our faith, we may actually have even more challenges.  In James, chapter 1 we learn how the challenges strengthen our faith, and once we work through the emotions that naturally come up during these times, patience will be developed inside of us.  This is a process and does not happen immediately, but over time.  The same way that we grow physically, we grow spiritually.  At first, we are like babies and our needs are so many, but as time goes on and we begin to grow, then God helps us learn that we have all that we need inside of us.  How? Because His Son, Jesus died to give us life.  This life is the spiritual growth inside of our heart that allows us to experience joy in the midst of pain, peace in a world of chaos, love when we feel alone and abandoned, wisdom when there doesn’t seem to be a way out, patience to joyfully walk through the “desert” to get to our “promise land”.  Knowing this is great but it doesn’t change a thing until we believe it and live it each day in each moment.  It’s a choice, seems to be an easy one, but that’s not necessarily so.  I’ve found it to be extremely difficult at times, but always worth it.  God has a plan for us, we just need the heart to see it.  We have to rid ourselves of anything that is not of Him and ask Him inside of our hearts to fill us up with all that He is.  This is not a one time choice.  But one that we must make regularly.  Making the choice to have faith in God rather than worrying and doubting helps us mature spiritually and as we do, we learn what “life” really is and eventually are able to even say “thank you” to God for the times in our lives that we used to complain about.  And then our heart changes to become more and more like His.  This is the greatest gift of all.

John 15:10 – Living Words

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I’m sitting on my patio as the cool morning breeze dances across the sky.  Isn’t it neat how one word can make our minds think differently?  How many of us focused on the word “dance” in the last sentence and what kind of thought did this put in our minds?  Can we visualize the breeze dancing through the sky, through the trees, dodging the leaves?  The breeze blows, the breeze dances, it’s doing the same thing yet it sounds so different.  We have put labels on words, however when we open our minds to understanding that the meaning can possibly be so much more than we first see, perceptions change.

The Bible is called the “living word” but why is this?  So many people argue over the meaning of this book, and it can be found in so many translations which can alter the meaning quite a bit.  So, how do we go about reading it and understanding it?  They are just a bunch of words in a book, that people wrote years and years ago, aren’t they?  What I have found is that these words give life to my heart and provide an understanding to life, about God, about others, about ourselves, about any circumstance that we could imagine and then some.  All of the answers to life’s questions are found in this book.  Today we are going to focus on one verse, found in John 15:10 NIV –

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love.”

Opening prayer:

“Good morning Father,

Open the eyes of our hearts today, to see the meaning that you have in these words for us.  Lead me as I meditate on your word and share with others what you share with me.  I ask that your word penetrate our minds and saturate our hearts preparing us to receive all that you have planned for our lives.  May your words transform us into the ones that you created us to be.  We were made in your image yet this world has covered up our true identities.  Help us find ourselves, by finding you.  In Jesus’ sweet name I pray.

Amen.”

How do we remain in the love of Jesus? First, we must know the love of Jesus. The word “love” is used so much in our world, yet it has lost it’s true meaning. The love of Jesus, is something that we don’t see as much as we could see. It’s here, but it’s like a buried treasure, just waiting to be found. It’s everywhere. We walk around with blindfolds covering the eyes of our hearts and that’s why we don’t see it. It’s more than a feeling, yet we feel it. It gives life to our souls while killing the humanness that sometimes hold us back from seeing, from experiencing this perfect love. We search for it, out there, when all along it’s inside of us. We even turn to religion and try to be a better person and earn our way to Heaven, when we can’t, really. We can try to love others, when inside we kind of judge them anyway, what is this doing to our hearts? How do we keep His command to love? Truly? I ask God to show me the answers to these questions because they are questions that I’ve asked over and over again? I’m learning, kind of. But there’s still so much to unpack here. Again, it’s one verse, one command to remain in His love and He even tells us how, by keeping His commands and He has even done the same, kept His father’s commands and remained in His love. So, why is it so confusing and so difficult? Am I the only one that feels this way? He tells me that what our minds are filled with directs the course of our hearts and what we focus on helps us see. When we search for His love like the buried treasure that it is, once it’s found a relationship begins. As we walk with Him, He begins to romance our hearts. When life gets tough, He holds our hand and walks with us. When life is great, He’s there too to celebrate the joy that we have found. When tears fall, He comforts us and wraps His strong, gentle arms around our entire being and a peace floods our souls. He is our strength, our friend, our Savior, and the one who fills our hearts with EVERYTHING good! When we receive all of this, then we are truly remaining in His love and we can’t help but keep His commands because it becomes our hearts desire. We change from the inside out, not the other way around. So when we live in His love we can begin to view life through His eyes and it becomes a BEAUTIFUL view.

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1 Peter 5:8 – Be Alert but Not Afraid

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This was my verse for yesterday, and even though I haven’t made time to do this every day, I’m still going to complete 21 days in the word, and blogging on each days verse even if it’s not for the day that I should have.  Why am I saying this?  Because I feel like it matters.  I have been getting so distracted by things beyond my control and they have brought me to a place of total confusion and frustration.  Is that a coincidence?  I don’t think so.  Here’s why:

1 Peter 5:8 NIV “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”

If I’m sharing what God is saying to me, to us, then the enemy wants to stop that.  If one person here’s the truth and no longer dwells on the lies of the enemy but learns about life giving salvation, then it begins to change the course of our world because it begins to change the course of our hearts and the thoughts that we allow to take up space in our minds.  It is a big deal, what we think about!  It is a big deal, what we mediate on regularly!  It really matters!  The things that we allow to occupy space in our minds plant a seed in our hearts.  Those seeds grow and impact our lives, as well as the lives of those close to us and those placed along our path each day.  So, it makes sense that this is the area in which this devil works the most.  In our minds.  The enemy does everything that he can to bring ruin to your holiness.  He doesn’t really care about your happiness.  In fact, he will whisper tempting lies that promise happiness.  We have all fallen for it.  I believe.  But temporary happiness can sometimes lead to future pain and even deep wounds.  He knows what he’s doing.  However, Jesus came to give us life by bringing joy and peace to our hearts as we are growing closer to our Holy God and following His plan for our lives.  He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world, but Stay Alert!  When Jesus comes into the story, everything changes.  EVERYTHING CHANGES!  We all begin to live, hearts are healed, hope is found, comfort and strength and peace flood our souls, and Heaven comes to earth.  Could this happen?  Yes, and one day it will.

Until then the enemy is guarding the Jesus inside of our hearts from coming out, the same way that the enemy guarded the tomb of Jesus after he died.  It didn’t work then and it’s not going to work now.

Put on your armor of God and fight the good fight

Ephesians 6:10-18

John 15:17 – Every Rose Has it’s Thorn

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Now, I am a few days behind on my writing, but it’s my favorite day of the week, Sunday.  I have the day off of work and I get to see my church family.  I have a lot going on in my mind and my heart and I have some time on my hands to write now, so maybe I can catch up and really soak in all that God has to say to me.  I really wanna get more focused on Him.  So let’s do that now.

John 15:17 NIV says, “This is my command: Love each other.” … That’s it.  Two small sentences consisting of 6 words that sum up the entire meaning of the bible and God’s plan for our lives.  Have we ever really thought about what this means?  What if we memorized this verse and every time that we became frustrated and angry, disappointed and hurt, we meditated on this verse and ask God, “In what way would you like for me to live out this verse in my life RIGHT NOW?”  How differently would our words be?  Would we handle a situation in the same way?  How would we view life’s circumstances or the actions of another?

Loving each other is selfless, and by doing so we can learn to have faith in God’s guidance by allowing Him to speak and act through us, ESPECIALLY when we don’t feel like it.  When we feel like being alone, so that we can dwell on the horrible things that are happening all around us.  We feel like no one wants to listen or really cares.  If we take this opportunity to express God’s love to another in need, He finds beautiful ways to express His love to us.  Our hearts begin to live again, and smile through the tears that no one sees.

The enemy wants to steel our joy, and sometimes he will do so by trying to convince us that temporary happiness is what we need.  This is a lie.  True joy is what our hearts desire, the joy that is found in living a life in relationship with Jesus.  When we learn this we become a threat to the one who wants our hearts too.

What we often feel is so far from what’s real.  When we love each other, we join and encourage, uplift, walk beside of and inspire another heart to see the truth.  It doesn’t always feel good.  But it is good.  Every time we do what we know is right to do when it feels like a part of us is dying, but that part that is dying shouldn’t be alive at all, we grow.  I could write about these six words from John 15:17 for hours, it could be a novel, a great story, a fairy-tale almost about how we can give life to a dieing world, just by loving them.  Oh wait!  It is a great story, a story of salvation, and how a perfect God came to earth in the form of a man to show us paradise, to bring Heaven to our hearts.  This story is found in the bible.  These words give life to our hearts and wisdom to our minds that lead us down a narrow path filled with roses and thorns.  Enjoy the beautiful journey, and even though the roses have thorns, stop and pick them anyway.  🙂  Just be careful! 🙂

Matthew 15:24 – Without Him, we are Lost

lostsheepMatthew 15:24: “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

I read this verse and I stopped and asked God, “what exactly do you want me to see in this verse?  How is this important to my life right now?”  This is how I always like to study God’s word.  It’s much better than a self-help book, it’s a God help book.  I’ve found answers to so many of my questions in this book, when I read it with God.  It can be a bit confusing if I don’t include Him in the story.  Since, ultimately, He is the one who wrote it.  So I sit alone with this verse for a few moments, waiting for God so speak to my heart.  It takes a few minutes sometimes, due to the mass of thoughts that are still running through my mind, all of the things that I need to do, the things that I didn’t finish, the text after text that keep coming through my phone for various reasons, with all of the thoughts and distractions, I hear his voice how?  Good grief.  I’m kind of glad that I’m writing this because it helps me understand so much.  I’m lost.  “Jesus save me.  If you came for the lost sheep of Israel, then here I am.  I am yours, yet have lost my way, in a sense.  I’m still following you, however I keep stepping off track a bit.  This path you’re on is so narrow.”  That’s no joke.   This Christian lifestyle is nothing that I had imagined it to be.  At one time I thought that once I became a christian that my life would all of a sudden be filled with happiness and my troubles wouldn’t affect me anymore.  If I had problems I would pray and He would answer my prayers, because that is what His  “word” says.  Right?  NOT AT ALL!  My problems did not disappear, in fact, there seems to be a lot more of them now.  When I pray, He answers, but not at all like I would imagine that He would.  How silly I was for thinking that when I pray for patience that He would just give me patience.  But no, He gives me opportunities to exercise patience, many opportunities.  🙂 Should I be afraid to pray? HA, at one time, I kind of was.  Because the way that God was answering my prayers was tough for me and it was a lot of work on my part.  I would think, “Doesn’t He realize how tired I am and that I would just like the patience to deal with the lovely people and circumstances that I should be thanking Him for placing into my life?” Now looking back, I laugh.  Wow, is our God patient and me, not so much.  He is still giving me opportunities to exercise my patience.  Sometimes, I feel like I do ok and sometimes I don’t.  Without Him, I’m lost.  I need His guidance in my life every day, in each moment.  Don’t we all?  We are his sheep and when we get lost, he is here to lead us.

Romans 8:18 – Live, Learn, Grow

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“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18 NIV

Have you ever noticed that when we go through something in our lives that doesn’t “feel” good that we often ask for prayer and pray ourselves that this circumstance be taken away from us?  Maybe this trial isn’t a dart from the enemy, maybe it’s a lesson from God, and a blessing in disguise?  It could be an answer to our prayers and now we are trying to pray away the answer?  🙂  I can already see how important God’s word is in our lives, how well it all links together, when we focus on Him and meditate on the word and allow Him to work it into our lives.  On Day 1 we learned from Jeremiah 29:11 that God has great plans for our prosperous future, filled with hope.  On Day 2 we learned from Psalms 37:4 to delight in the Lord and He will give us the desires of our hearts.  We also learned that we can delight in the Lord when life is anything but delightful, by focusing on who God is and delighting in that.  I feel myself getting stronger and wiser already, how about you? 😉  Now, let me ask you a question, are you going through something right now, that you would love to disappear from your life, so that you could just be happy?  Do you ever think, “If this one thing would change, my life would be better?”  I know I’ve thought this, from time to time.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the storms of life and forget that maybe that storm was created by our perfect God to calm something inside of us.  Once we’ve excepted Christ into our hearts, God begins to mold us, more like His Son, and where else would He start, but our hearts.  These trials of life open our minds to a deeper perspective and give us a wisdom beyond what can be found in books.  We learn, by walking hand in hand with Christ through these trials of life, trusting God to walk us through the storm and thanking him along the way.  Sometimes it may feel odd, thanking God for something that doesn’t feel good to us and that our human nature would just love to disappear.  So let’s just remember, that God is doing something in us and the end result will show His amazing glory and it will be revealed through this story.

Closing prayer:

Good morning Father,

Thank you so much for what you are opening my eyes to see.  Thank you for what you are doing for my heart.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel good, but I know that you have a prosperous future planned for me and I take delight in all that you are.  Nothing that I face is worth comparing to what you are doing inside of me.  You are my strength, my song, my hope, my future, and the love of my life.  I’m on a journey, a beautiful journey, and with Jesus holding my hand and you filling my heart, and this sweet Holy Spirit guiding my thoughts with your word I’m traveling down a path that leads to you.  A path that is narrow.  I’m praying that you help me stay on this narrow path.  Help me see things the way that you do.  Give me your heart.  I love you and thank you for loving me so much!

me 🙂

Psalms 37:4 – Know God Know Joy, No God No Joy

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Psalms 37:4- “take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I’d love to say that my daughter and I woke up and read this verse together and listened to worship music and shared the desires of our hearts and got ready to start the day with a smile.  But that didn’t exactly happen.  I am already frustrated and almost didn’t write on here and honestly not sure why I am.  I am going to carry my index card with this verse around with me today and I am going to look for God throughout my day.  I know that the enemy wants to stop anything good that God has planned for my life and man, he keeps trying.  My hearts desire is that it at least stops hurting quite as much.  The enemy has had a field day with my heart and my mind lately.  So how do I delight in the Lord at times like right now?  I’ll start by reviewing Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  So, this current situation is not my final destination.  I have a lot going on right now that I don’t know what to do about.  I’ve done all that I know to do and a few circumstances in my life have used my heart for a punching bag.  Once I can delight in the Lord, I’m sure that my heart will start to heal again.  How many times can a heart break?  How many times do you think Jesus’ heart broke?  We can still delight in the Lord because of who he is, understand that we don’t understand everything.  When we open our hearts to him and delight in all that He is, He plants a seed in our hearts.  As this seed grows, of course it must me watered (by reading God’s word) and fertilizer is used (the crap we call trials of life) from this beautiful life grows.  The desires of our hearts also change.  When we delight in the Lord, the desires of our heart reflect so much more.  They are not as selfish, but selfless, because we realize more about what life is really all about.

Closing prayer:

Good morning Father,

Please help me see you in the moments that my heart is heavy and hurting.  Help me remember your promise to give me hope and a prosperous future.  Thank you for loving me in such an incredible way.  As I sit here, praying, I can almost feel you wrap your “arms” around me and comfort me.  I pray that even when I feel like giving up, and putting your word down, and just trying to survive on my own, that you give me strength to keep going, with a smile on my face and a joy in my heart that no one and nothing can take from me.  Wipe away the tears, and take my hand.  Walk with me through today.  Through my story, if one person can find you, then it changes the meaning of it all.  I pray that anyone who reads this knows you and seeks to know you more.  I already feel my heart getting lighter.  Thank you!  Father, forgive me for my selfishness sometimes, for repeating out loud the lies of the enemy, mostly regarding who I am.  I’m yours!!  You created me in your image.  I’m not perfect, because I do stray from who you created me to be.  But you are perfect and want what’s best for me.  Thank you for helping me see.  I love you so much!

your daughter,

me 🙂

Wounded World in Need of Love

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I can’t even turn on the news anymore.  It breaks my heart to see what we’ve become, as a society.  Why?  In the end, when we live as if it doesn’t matter we are the ones that aren’t truly living.  Looking back through my journals I found a poem that I wrote on April 5,2010:

Tears fall from my eyes, my heart flooded with pain
Thoughts of this wounded world parading through my mind
How come we’re treated so differently, when we’re pretty much the same?
Does it really matter where we live?  What we have? Or who we are inside?
Does it matter how much money we have or the type of clothes that we wear?
Or the car that we drive?  Or how popular we are?
Does anybody see the pain?  Does anybody care?
Or is it just easier to ignore the truth, and go have a drink at the bar?
A place where there are again so many searching for
happiness, acceptance, feeling of importance, a shield from the storm
those without the “one true love” are always searching for more
Growing tired of escaping, or worse, excepting this reality as “the norm”
It’s a thing called life, things happen, it’s no big deal
Does it have to be this way?  Why do we except this reality?
Some are alone, some abused, some don’t know where they’ll get their next meal
Why aren’t we all doing something?  Why doesn’t everyone see?
This broken world happened because we’ve closed our eyes and looked the other way
While hearts are being broken, dreams shattered, people breathing but don’t have life
Why do we judge instead of love and not speaking to others because we don’t know what to say?
Aren’t we all on the same planet merely striving to get by?
What if everything you have, everyone you love, was taken away from you?
No one even gave you enough respect as a person to smile and say hello?
Would you continue to see the world the same or would this change your view?
With no family, no friends, no money, where would you go?
Everybody has a story to tell, so why can’t we all relate?

If we would all open our hearts to the one who gave us life, then maybe we could learn how to function as a society again.  There’s enough food in the world so that no one should ever be hungry, yet we throw food away every day and then complain often of what we do have.  While we are complaining someone is starving and usually from what I’ve experienced, they’re living more than we are and we could learn something from those that we look at and judge because of the way that they look.  The story of the heart is what’s important and once we learn to open ours to Jesus and share His love, the world will be a better place.  We may begin to see a little Heaven on earth and escape the Hell that we have all created.

God’s Love Story for Me

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This goes out to all of the single ladies, girls, men, and boys.  Looking for that special someone to enjoy our lives with can be quite a challenge.  I’ve been married before.  I got divorced after 11 years and 3 separations from this one man.  God was never the center of our marriage and it failed horribly, no matter how hard we tried on our own.  Since the divorce, I had one long relationship, which also did not have God in and it failed after 2 1/2 years.  We did not get married, at least.  I’ve since been quite “picky” about what I’m looking for and I’ve now been single for quite a few years.  I have gone out on dates and the first thing that I look for is a man of God, who is faithful, and will point me to Him.  I feel that if someone is in love with Christ, then he will know how to love me.  I also prayed one day and God spoke to me in the form of this little poem that I’d like to share with you:

Your heart is scarred and you’re afraid so until you can fully trust another, keep your trust in me
Fear blocks the gifts that I’m sending your way, The only way to live is to just “let it be”
For now and always, learn to live each day, looking for me and my blessings and you will see
People and circumstances in a different way, by opening your heart and setting healthy boundaries
No steel wall is needed, I’ve also taken the chains away, you no longer live in bondage, I have set you free
Open your heart to my love then give it away, Instead of surrounding your heart with a steel wall, fill your heart with me.

I’ve learned that I need to get to know my true identity by getting to know my God.  The closer that I get to him, the more I see who I really am, as well as who He really is.  I never knew that I could be so content, being single, but it’s because I’m not alone and the one romancing my heart is the one who created it.  I do want someone special to share my life with and I know that in God’s timing this can happen for me.  Until then, I’ll stand tall in my faith and keep my standards up, because I’ve come so far and I’m not going back.  I will move  forward and this time Christ will be the foundation of our relationship.  My new man will love me like Christ loves the church, this is what I’ve prayed for.  And I will be His proverbs 31 woman.  Maybe God has a lot more to do in me, before I’m ready for that role.  But I know that God is in the process of writing my love story and he’s also writing yours,  Trust Him.

Our beautiful Journey Begins

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Life isn’t always easy and the road may seem rough and long
Even though we may approach a shortcut, we must stay on this road we’re on
It may get steep and difficult to climb, but with each step we get stronger
We can’t wait to get to the top and once we do realize the road is even longer
So we may pick up the pace and go a little faster and then trip and fall
Then take even more time to medicate and bandage our wounds, this didn’t speed things up at all.
We pass others on this race with a quick smile and hello
We don’t have time for conversation, we have somewhere to go
we think, “Keep your eye on the prize, don’t lose focus, just get to the finish line”
“No time for rest, no time for food or a drink, not now, no time”
Even though you’re getting weak, which causes you to trip and fall again
This time you don’t even take time to medicate and bandage, you will, when you get to the end.
Determined to win this race, no matter how tough it may be
You pass by a few more on your journey, pretending you don’t see
Up ahead you see a crystal clear spring and think about stopping for a taste
But then decide to keep moving forward thinking, “Gotta finish this race.”
Growing hungry, and in a fruit tree close in sight
The fruit looks delicious, would give strength, so appealing to the eyes
But you don’t stop, you’re almost there, don’t give up just yet
Happiness will come on that blessed day, “My rewards will be great, I bet.”
“Because no matter what, I kept going, God will be proud of me.”
“This journey is not fun, but it will be worth it, I know it will be.”
Growing tired, hungry, thirsty, your strenth is almost gone.
You fall to your knees and pray to God to just bring you home
This road is too long, you feel like you can’t go on anymore
You lie down where you are and in a dream you hear a knock on the door
When you open the door, Jesus stands asking you to let him in
He says, “There is a better way than this, let me show you, my friend.”
“It is not just a race with a prize waiting once you’ve crossed the finish line.”
“It’s a journey, a beautiful journey, and I will be with you the whole time.”
“I will show you the way and your life will never be the same.”
“Our Father, who is love, will be with us too, all we must do is call His name.”
“When you get hungry, He will proved a feast for you.”
“When you become thirsty, He will provide a cool drink for you too.”
“When you fall, I’m here to heal and restore, I’ll never leave your side.”
“On this journey, learn from me, let me change your mind.”
“It’s important that you understand things the way that I do.”
“It’s important that you understand God’s love for you.”
“You will meet others on this journey, take it together.”
“Help them the way that I’ll help you, we’re in this together.”
“Many may not understand just like you once had it wrong.”
“Still, our Father never left you, He was there all along.”
“Now with this new life, you have access to everything that you need”
“I’ve paid the price for you, all you need to do is believe.”
“Once you’ve taken this first step, your transformation will start.”
“Transforming the way you see things, the way you think, and what’s inside your heart.”
“I’m so excited you’ve accepted this precious gift, please share.”
“So that this chaotic race through life can become a jouous journey to people everywhere.”
“Just remember to take each step forward through love.”
“The love overflowing your heart from our Father up above.”
“Don’t hurry, don’t worry, I’m giving you a perfect peace.”
“So that no matter what struggles you face, you will overcome them with you and ease.”
“Keep you Faith in God, trust Him to get you through.”
“And remember that God always has and always will love you!!”
You wake up from this “dream” no longer hungry, thirsty, or tired
A feeling overshelmes your soul and you look around to admire
All of the beauty you didn’t notice berore, when you longed for this race to end.
Now you have a new life and your beautiful journey begins.