Me? Decrease?

ἐλαττόω

elattoō

Decrease (Verb): signifies “to make less or inferior, in quality, position or dignity;” “madest… lower” and “hast made… lower.” It is used in the Middle Voice, in John the Baptist’s “I must decrease,” indicating the special interest he had in his own “decrease,” i.e., in authority and popularity. 

Lower (Adjective, and Verb, to Make), Lowest: denotes “to make less” (elatton, “less”), and is used in the Active Voice, “Thou madest (Him)… lower,” and in the Passive, “was made… lower,” “(I must) decrease,” (lit., “be made less”).

  • to make less or inferior: in dignity
  • to be made less or inferior: in dignity
  • to decrease in authority or popularity

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

Who do I think I am? ~ Am I an important person, or do I think I am? Am I desiring or needing praise for things I do, how I act, what I look like or do not look like? Do I look for attention from those around me? Do I need to be the center of attraction? I can answer, “No” to some of those questions but certainly not all.

God sees me for who I am. He sees who I am becoming. He desires to see more and more of Christ in me. When I am in the world, I am not to be of it…only in it. The light of Christ should be emanating from me, reflecting Him to the world. There is work to be done. It is not about me giving things up in order to decrease or be less of me. It is about me being obedient to the One Who created me. There will be humbling, teaching, guiding, and more obedience. God calls for my heart and spirit to be His. In order to come to Him, my spirit needs to be broken and contrite (crushed) so that I may be made new.

For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:2-6

Yes, decreasing is not something I can or will do alone. I must depend upon the One Who will be increasing to help me. I will need discipline for my ego will mostly likely get in the way. Things of this world will get in the way. I think of Alice in Wonderland shrinking to go down the rabbit hole. I cannot know exactly where I am going but I actually want to go there. There will be testing, and hunger, and fear, yet I will have the arms of the Lord wrapped around me when I trust Him. He will be with me, will be providing the manna all along the way. He will be quenching my thirst. He will be keeping my feet from swelling on this journey. Worry should not be anything for me when I trust Him to hold me near as He guides me. Yes, I must take one step at a time in a forward motion towards “decrease.” That is my goal. I will need to learn more about humbling, being obedient, reading the Word more regularly, being in prayer consistently, knowing that He will hear me no matter how small I become.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on John: He (John) owns it highly fit and necessary that the reputation and interest of Christ should be advanced, and his own diminished (:30): He must increase, but I must decrease. If they grieve at the growing greatness of the Lord Jesus, they will have more and more occasion to grieve, as those have that indulge themselves in envy and emulation. John speaks of Christ’s increase and his own decrease, not only as necessary and unavoidable, which could not be helped and therefore must be borne, but as highly just and agreeable, and affording him entire satisfaction. 

  • [1.] He was well pleased to see the kingdom of Christ getting ground: He must increase. You think he has gained a great deal, but it is nothing to what he will gain.’ Note, The kingdom of Christ is, and will be, a growing kingdom, like the light of the morning, like the grain of mustard-seed.
  • [2.] He was not at all displeased that the effect of this was the diminishing of his own interest: I must decrease. Created excellencies are under this law, they must decrease. I have seen an end of all perfection. Note, 
    • First, The shining forth of the glory of Christ eclipses the lustre of all other glory. The glory that stands in competition with Christ, that of the world and the flesh, decreases and loses ground in the soul as the knowledge and love of Christ increase and get ground; but it is here spoken of that which is subservient to him. As the light of the morning increases, that of the morning star decreases.
    • Secondly, If our diminution or abasement may but in the least contribute to the advancement of Christ’s name, we must cheerfully submit to it, and be content to be any thing, to be nothing, so that Christ may be all.

Father God, Mr. Henry says what I have tried to say so very eloquently. I want to be a light in this dark world. I want to shine in order that others might see the light of Jesus the Christ in and through me. Show me Your way, O Lord. Show me Your way. Teach me what it is to “decrease” so that Christ may “increase” … to be all that others see when they are with me in the physical sense. I bow before You and ask Your forgiveness for the times that I will be disobedient, not be humble nor teachable, nor revere You as You so deserve. Show me the way. Help me to learn from the tests and lessons taught, the struggles and sufferings which I will face. Help me to see Your gifts. I desire to be all who You want me to be. I need You, O Lord. Thank You, now. In the blessed Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Psalm 51:17 graphic: by Phil Ware & Heartlight @ https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/psalm/4/

Deuteronomy 8:2 graphic: https://livingwordofgod.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/deuteronomy-8-remember-the-lord-your-god/

Quotes: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on John

Both photos of weaving with graphics: the weaving, photo and graphics created by Linda Gill

For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

When Advent is celebrated and pondered in the Christian church, it is as though we are waiting for the appearance or arrival of Christ, for His birth. And we are also waiting for His second coming. For us today, we also praise God for His Presence with us this day by the Holy Spirit. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves spiritually.

Two people we find in the Bible at the time of Christ’s birth had been preparing, seeking, praising God for His promise of the Messiah well before the actual arrival of Jesus the Christ.

When Jesus turned 8 days old, his parents took Him to the temple to be circumcised, as was the custom of the law of the Israelites. So we turn to that eighth day in the life of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple that day, they experienced two beautiful people, Simeon and Anna, who were waiting. Waiting for their Christ, yet did not know He was about to appear.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your Salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.” And His father and his mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Simeon had asked God to reveal His Salvation to him before he died. God did. Simeon came in the Holy Spirit Who told him that this was Whom he had asked. Anna knew that this Child was from God and was the redemption of Jerusalem. Anna had been waiting also for such a time as this.

Are you still waiting? He has come. He was born a baby, leaving Heaven to come to Earth as a human being. He walked this earth for thirty-three years spreading His message of deliverance from our sin. He performed miracles. He showed kindness, grace, and mercy to many. He died a terrible death on a cross. He was buried and then arose three days later. Jesus lives this very day. He is waiting for you. He waited for me for 45 years until I kneeled and called Him my Lord and Savior. I read His Word, desiring to become more and more Christlike and to spread His light through my life.

Are you still waiting? Call upon Him. Call His Name. He waits. He will never stop waiting for you. He is our salvation from the sins of this world. I have seen my salvation through the eyes of my heart. I have heard my salvation through the ears of my heart. I pray for each and all of you who need the Lord.

For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12

Lord, I thank You for waiting on me for 45 years, for drawing me near, softening my heart 28 years ago. Thank You for calling me Your child now. Although I am still a sinner and always will be while I walk this earth, You have forgiven me with Your beautiful mercy and grace. You sacrificed Your Only Son to die on the Cross for one such as me. As I walk my life through, I desire to be obedient to Your will for my life. I do not want to sin, yet I am human. I am sorry when I fail You. Guide my steps, Lord, and guard my heart that I would continue to be filled with Your light that shines into this dark, dark world. So many need You NOW Lord. Draw them close, speaking Your Truth into their physical ears and into the ears of their hearts, shining Your Light into their physical eyes and into the eyes of their hearts that they would hear and see You … only You, Lord Jesus. Oh, such a blessing You have been and continue to be to me every moment of my life. Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus, Your Son, into this world to draw many unto Him. And thank You for the many disciples who hear Your call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May I walk in the steps of Your will for my life all the remainder of my days on this earth. May I continue to grow to look more and more like You, Lord Jesus, my Christ, my Messiah, my Salvation. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Luke 2:29-32: photo by Larisa-K @ Pixabay – Scripture added by me

Luke 2:38: photo by Larisa-K @ Pixabay – Scripture added by me

John 14:6 – Bible Inspirations.org

I am honored to be featured @ Candidly Christian this morning (January 8, 2021) with this post. The words written before my post link have humbled me so. Valerie Riese says it so beautifully. https://candidlychristian.com/my-eyes-have-seen-your-salvation-grace-truth/

According to Your Word

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1:30-33

So much happens in these four verses:

 An angel

He speaks to Mary

She has found favor

and with God, no less

She will conceive a son

The angel gives her the name to call this boy

He will be great

He will have the throne of David

He will reign over the house of Jacob

There will be no end to His kingdom

He tells her about her coming son, words that any mother would be proud to hear, but would wonder if all of these things could be true.

Beautiful and amazing is this young woman who is to be the Christ’s mother, innocent and gentle in her spirit. She had questioned the angel, and then graciously accepts those deep and powerful words by responding thusly:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:38

As I wait in this Advent time, I ponder the magnificence of this proclamation.  Would I be able to understand and accept these words had they been spoken to me?  Could I grasp the future that these words speak?  An angel naming my baby?  Me, a young and vulnerable woman, having a baby of God’s, not of man?  How could this be?  To me, if I were Mary…I don’t know.  I just don’t know. Yet, when Mary went to visit and stay with Elizabeth, there was immediate confirmation by and through Elizabeth:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45

I do understand something though.  God can do anything for He created everything. He is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.  The angel says in Luke 1, verse 37: “…For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Could I?  Would I?  Oh, God, grant me a heart that so beautifully wraps around Your Truth; accepts the words of Your messengers; opens myself to Your will.  Would I? Could I?  I pray so, my LORD.  I pray so.  I pray with my whole heart and every ounce of my being. I pray with my heart’s ears and eyes open to You, to You alone.  Thank You for giving us the most wonderful gift of all. O LORD, in Your Son’s Holy Name, the Son of the Most High, I pray.  Amen

Photo by David Hewitt from FreeImages. (with added graphics)

Photo by Deborah Krusemark from FreeImages (with added graphics)

Orange rose photo – https://pixabay.com/users/alexas_fotos-686414/ (with added graphics)

“Trees Covered With Snow” by Pixabay on Pexels (with added graphics)

Photo from http://ziongwinner.blogspot.com/2016/12/why-was-jesus-born-part-1.html (with added graphics)

To Bear Witness About the Light

God’s plans are perfect.  He gave an old man and an old woman a child, to be named John, not Zechariah after his father.  God had prepared the path for this “John.”  On the day of circumcision, this child would be named by a father who had lost his ability to speak during his wife’s pregnancy as he had not believed the words of Gabriel, the angel of the LORD.

And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,…. Luke 1:63-67

Part of this prophesy was: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:76-80

John, the Apostle, writes in John 1: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through Him. He was not the Light, but came to bear witness about the Light. The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:6-9

God prophesied through others about John and Jesus: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord Whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:3-5


“And you, child….”

“What then will this child be?”  ~

prophet of the Most High

God’s messenger

Christ’s harbinger…a preparer of the way, for Who is to come

a guide for our feet into the way of peace

a giver of knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins

to bear witness about the Light

strong in spirit

The tender mercy of God prepared John for this calling.  John’s obedience and abiding with God would allow him to go before Jesus.  

Jesus said this about John: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Matthew 11:11

Father God, You are the Holy One.  I am at peace this day as I wait in this Advent season, seeing the ministry of John who came before Your Son.  John had so much to be and do but You were always with Him for You gave him Your Holy Spirit from the womb.  He was obedient to You.  He abided in You always.  Thank You for these lessons to my spirit.  When I stand upon Your holy ground, I am called to follow You in all ways.  May my sight be focused upon You and my hearing towards Your voice as well…that I would know Your will for my life, the path which I am to walk.  Father, I meander and get lost, but You never lose me.  I am so grateful for Your strong hand upon me always.  Keep me on the straight and narrow highway that is Your Way.  My heart is Yours.  I pray, in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.   

John 1:7 photo by: Hunt On Photos Studio @ Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/users/hunt_on_photos_studio-1547933/?tab=popular&pagi=2 (graphics added to photo by me)

“A Voice Cries” photo/graphic: https://www.kevinhalloran.net

Make Ready A People Prepared

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.  And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:5-17

Zechariah prays.  God hears his prayer.  He sends an angel, bringing great and yet unbelievable news to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God’s Truth comes to pass for He said it.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 1:67-80

John was to “…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am mindful of being drawn closer to Christ Jesus, my LORD, with each day, each passing minute, even seconds.  God gave John a calling to draw people to the LORD Jesus even before He became known.  He was to prepare a people for the coming of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.  In our own day, we, too, can prepare for His coming as He enters our hearts with newness each year, each Christmas, but also each and every day, each and every moment.  Christ brings cleansing and wholeness to us with each breath.  

May we then be prepared ourselves and turn to prepare others. May we be sensitive to those whose hearts are hardened to Christ, not desiring to know Him, not thinking they need Him. May Your words come out of our mouths to touch those hard hearts and soften those hearts towards Your Son. May the soil be made ready for the seeds to be sown, to sprout, to send down roots, to grow and be fruitful. Prepare us, O LORD.

Father God, I seek You and call upon You to prepare my heart in this Advent season.  I wait.  I wait, Father, for Your Son comes anew although He has been, has gone, rose again, and yet lives in me today through Your Holy Spirit for I am one who had to be prepared for His coming.  I believed.  But I believe today, not in the past tense, for “believing” is ongoing and for always.  Father, breathe in me afresh daily that I would be able to continually be prepared so that I then may prepare others for His coming.  I praise You, Father, for You gave us the Only Gift we would ever need.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing…for until I knew You, nothing meant anything.  I thought ‘things’ meant something to me, but they really did not.  Knowing You, Your Son, Your Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is All that makes a difference in my life.  I know that Your Son is the Redeemer for He redeemed me…yes, even me.  Praise You, LORD.  You are the Holy One of Israel. And He will come again to take believers to His Heavenly Home. Open my mouth, guard my steps, make my life a light to others that I may share the wonderful Truth of Jesus. Make me ready, please. I pray in Your Wonderful Name.  Amen.

Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the One Who helps you, declares the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  
Isaiah 41:14

Winter Image by Ina Hoekstra from Pixabay

Image with Luke 1:17: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/mountains-1562932 / danieloo fiatod

For I Was Hungry…

My maternal great grandfather sought refuge in this country, searching for work, an income. My paternal great, great, great grandfather sought refuge in this country to escape religious persecution.

Today, many seek refuge in this United States of America due to fear of violence, gangs, drug cartels, dictators, and so much more.

Inside the lower pedestal of The Statue of Liberty is this sonnet by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”[11]

This poem was written as a donation for an auction of art and literary works[3] conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” to raise money for the pedestal’s construction. “Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but ‘The New Colossus’ reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.”[16]. The swarms of immigrants knocking on the Eastern shore of this United States quickly turned the statue into a welcoming-harbor greeter.

So I write this with a heavy heart which I have held for years, more so, these past four years. I have seen pictures of migrants, refugees, young, old, with all range of skin shade pigmentation standing, crying, grasping, yelling, crawling, swimming, climbing, and drowning to get into this country. Babies and children of all ages torn from parents’ arms. Four years later, we have 628 children (now) whose parents cannot be found (although just this past week of December 1, 2020, knowledge of phone numbers has been brought to our attention). Even though, my heart breaks. Tears roll down my face as I type these words.

This is not the America that my grandparents sought those many years ago.

Yes, we have had problems throughout our history. We have lived with segregation, racial injustice, the KKK. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, for equal pay, for the ability to obtain a job that once only men held. We had the Civil War…the South against the North. We have taken land and rights from Indigent Peoples. Yes, this nation is far from perfect.

My great, great grandfather was Italian. He was not liked by the immigrants who came before the Italians. I have Irish immigrants and Scottish immigrants as my kin. They were not liked by their predecessors. It seemed like each group wanted to close the gates, not allowing anyone else in to this country. (This still happens as people move from state to state or area to area, desiring to close the gate once they have found a beautiful place.).

Yet, my mother grew up in Chicago at the turn of the last century in a neighborhood made up of Italians, Irish, Russians, Polish, Jewish, Catholics, Protestants. They loved one another. My grandmother even raised the 6 Bates girls who became orphans when both Russian parents died. Grandma was Irish/English/German. Mama loved to help a widow and her daughter make dinner because the food was Jewish, something different from her own fare. During the Depression, if a family could afford to make bread or soup or both, they would share with those who did not have enough. It was the way it was on Mama’s block of immigrants.

The United States of America seems not to be the UNITED states in some substantial aspects. We are broken.

That melanin of the skin is so distinguishable, not only by black and brown and white, but red and blue, bigot and humanitarian, racist/supremacist and equalitarian/humanitarian, and on and on!

Upon looking up the antonyms of several words, I found “bigot” to mean “one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” Words of opposite definition of “bigot” include: liberal, moderate, conservative, middle-of-the-road, militant. Does that not cover just about all of us? So how can we all come from various and unique backgrounds and be a united people? The real question is…how can we NOT?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

I want to love unconditionally. That is hard. But I want to.

I desire to be united with my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, my church family. Speaking out about concerns and issues can bring unrequested wrath from people I love. I do not handle that well. AT ALL!

God has called us to love.

By His Word, God leads us in the ways in which He wants us to walk. Again and again! …

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?  And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

To keep oneself unstained from the world” … “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”… oh, I need Your help, Father. Please hold me still, guarding the words of my mouth, whether verbally or through the written word. I am sorry for words I have uttered recently that drew unexpected words from others. Forgive me, LORD, even though they were words I am feeling. I need to not be drawn into these worldly concerns. Your ways are infinitely better, LORD. Infinitely. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10

learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
Isaiah 1:17

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Father God, I am sorry for those times and situations when I betrayed You because I did not love, did not give, did not do unto You for I did not do unto the least of those in need. I am truly sorry. As I walk through life for the remainder of my days, please guide my steps, my words, and my actions…that I would be obedient to Your call. I know through my mother’s own stories of our relatives that times were not always easy being a stranger in a strange land. I also know through my mother’s voice that people did learn to get along, to love one another, to wrap their arms around everyone no matter the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their temperament. She taught me and my sisters to love as You teach us. I pray for this nation and this world. I pray for the emigrants who have left their home country and are desiring to enter a new country, possibly the USA. I pray, that one day soon, the opportunity, the gates, will be opened to them. I pray for the DACA children/adults who were brought into the USA innocently with a parent and have known only the United States as their home. I pray for those 628 children who are still in custody in the United States whose parents cannot be found. You know where every single one is. Please unite those precious children with their parents, LORD. They are lambs who need the Shepherd to reunite them with those who bore them. I pray for everyone who is running away from a scary, violent situation who need a new home. Father, You know each one of them around the world. I ask You to guide us as a people to wrap our arms around them. I pray all in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

[11] The New Colossus – Lehman, David, ed. (2006). The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford University Press. p. 184. OCLC 62697134

[3] Sutherland, Cara A (2003), The Statue of Liberty: The Museum of the City of New York, Barnes & Noble, p. 77, ISBN0-7607-3890-4auction of art and literary work; Mark Twain also contributed.

[16] Auster, Paul (2005), “NYC = USA”, Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations with Artists, Picador, p. 508, ISBN0-312-42468-X.

Graphic of Mark 12:30-31: https://www.heartlight.org

Graphic of Matthew 25: https://www.alittleperspective.com/february-04-bible-reading-2020/

Graphic of James 1:27: https://www.heartlight.org

If…Then

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

THEN…I will understand. I will understand the fear of the LORD, holding Him in respect, kneeling before Him in awe.

בִּין

biyn

to separate mentally (or distinguish), i.e.(generally) understand:—attend, consider, be cunning, diligently, direct, discern, eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, have intelligence, know, look well to, mark, perceive, be prudent, regard, (can) skill(-full), teach, think, (cause, make to, get, give, have) understand(-ing), view, (deal) wise(-ly, man).

And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 1 Samuel 3:8

He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper. 2 Chronicles 26:5

But it is the spirit in man,
the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
Job 32:8

THEN…I will find His knowledge.

מָצָא

matsa’

properly, to come forth to, i.e. appear or exist; transitively, to attain, i.e. find or acquire; figuratively, to occur, meet or be present:— be able, befall, being, catch, × certainly, (cause to) come (on, to, to hand), deliver, be enough (cause to) find(-ing, occasion, out), get (hold upon), ×have (here), be here, hit, be left, light (up-) on, meet (with), × occasion serve, (be) present, ready, speed, suffice, take hold on.

And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38

And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 1 Samuel 1:18

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my King and my God.
Psalm 84:3

Before finding and understanding, there must be obedience to the One Who gives these things. I must seek and search. I must ask. I must treasure that which I am given. IF I will do these things…THEN…

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints. Proverbs 2:6-8

The LORD gives that wisdom I need in order to walk worthy of Him. He watches over me. He pours into me all that I need in order to grow more Christlike when I focus my eyes upon Him, seeking His face. His wisdom, His understanding are mine should I seek to find them.

Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil,… Proverbs 2:9-12

Hallelujah!

God, Your promises are found everywhere in Your Word. You tell me I can find the Truth, the wisdom, the knowledge. You tell me I can also understand these deep things of You. Only by Your Spirit, Who lives in me, can these things be found. I am so grateful to You for loving me so…You allow me to find and understand wisdom and knowledge so that I may walk worthy, holy, and Christlike…more and more with each passing day. I have been filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving of 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic, a country of physically hungry people due to economic instability because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many hungry for You, although most do not even know that fact. Your gifts are immeasurable even still. You have brought a sister-in-Christ through surgery for cancer. You have provided meals to thousands via food banks and pantries across this country. You have brought the ability for some to be able to see family members, through windows, Zoom calls, phones that allow video-chats who needed to physically see one another. LORD, You are King of all. And more than that, You are my King of kings, my LORD of lords, my God of all, in all, through all. From a heart filled with gratitude and grace, I thank you. Your mercy is new every morning. Praying in the Name of my Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Proverbs 2:4-5 – https://www.donnalcampbell.com/scripture-of-the-day-memes/proverbs-24-5

Pitcher/Water Pouring – https://www.graceplacewellness.org/spiritual-vitality-for-the-long-haul/

Bethesda

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3

There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible). 

There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.

This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.

The photo below is more like what it looks today.

It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

~

Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14

In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.

Βηθεσδά

bēthesda

a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers

From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.

Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9

This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.

At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.

We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.

Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b

יְהֹוָה

Yehovah

Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One

רָפָא

rapha’

to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole

Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals

Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.

The LORD sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness You restore him to full health
. Psalm 41:3

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3

And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16

~

Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Graphic/Map of “Pools of Jerusalem. Shows area north of temple mount. Photo by Leon Mauldin.”

Photo of “Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda. Photo by Leon Mauldin”

Photo of Bethesda Meeting House; English Wikipedia User: by Daniel Case

Postcard of Bethesda Naval Hospital

Photo of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center: Wikimedia Commons

Graphic: Jehovah-Rapha

** 2 Corinthians 12:9, 2 Corinthians 13:4

Words, Words, Words

Oh, how I struggle for words…words to speak my opinion yet would be surrounded by God’s Truth…all in one sentence! Words to share my experience but anger might be added at the way another is treating someone. Words to pummel yet knowing that God would not desire that from me. Words to encourage yet touched by spite. In my mind, I feel like I am on a roller coaster shouting words at the top both praiseworthy and unworthy. And when at the bottom, words to undermine yet filled with words of gentleness. What can I say without compromise? What can I say without speaking both truth and deceit in the same sentence? All of this is in response to others short Facebook or Twitter posts regarding things of this world.

“OF THIS WORLD” is the relevant phrase!

So I am silent.

Until I can speak words of the Holy Spirit and He Alone, I must be silent, for I do not want to fall into things of this world.

I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. John 17:15

Deliver me, O LORD,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.
Psalm 120:2

Sometimes, I want to take someone by the shoulders and shake them until sense is upon them. But who am I to know sense from non-sense? Who am I to tell someone else anything unless…

UNLESS… it is the Word of God, the Truth of Jesus, the Kingdom to come. That is the Truth.

In Christ Alone. So unless I am sharing the Gospel, am encouraging one with the Gospel Truth, am praying for another, am loving another in Christ, silence needs to be my game. Silence must be my story.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
Psalm 139:4

Teach me Your Ways, My LORD.

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;… Ecclesiastes 3:7b

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elementary principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

So if the topic is politics, behaviors/actions, spoken words, beliefs, masks/no masks, etc., that first desire to respond is usually NOT going to come out right. It is like squeezing that toothpaste out of the tube into the letters that spell “WORD.” The words have oozed or flown out to say something that I may regret. And I cannot put that toothpaste back into the tube! It is too late. I do not want regret sitting on my shoulders.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

Forgive me, LORD, for my foolish words. Forgive me when I denigrate You, the One Who has saved me from this world. Why do I so easily fall back into it? Why, oh why? Thank You, Father, for Your love and forgiveness.

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Proverbs 17:28

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs 17: This is generally taken for such a sure indication of wisdom that a fool may gain the reputation of being a wise man if he have but wit enough to hold his tongue, to hear, and see, and say little. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought that he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, and is consulting with himself what he shall say, that he may speak pertinently. See how easy it is to gain men’s good opinion and to impose upon them. But when a fool holds his peace God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound up there; thoughts are words to him, and therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment of men.

And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

May I know my times and my places, lifting my voice to praise the LORD.

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God,
because He has not rejected my prayer
or removed His steadfast love from me!” (Psalm 66:16-20). Thank You, my precious LORD. I praise You for holding my tongue, for guiding my steps, for teaching me Your ways, for loving me even when I fail You. In the Holy and Powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

“Words” graphic: Oyster English

Photo – Ecclesiastes 3:1,7: BibleInMobile

Toothpaste: https://s234.photobucket.com/user/tammy_61/media/toothpaste.jpg.html

Photo – Pray1 @ https://recruiterpoet.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/pray1.jpg

The Word of God

God’s Word is powerful.  It is Truth.  It is Jesus.

Jesus is the Word.  He is Truth and He is Life.  He gives me life by His sacrifice, by His Blood shed for me. I kneel before Him, seeking forgiveness and redemption.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  John 1:1-4

He is my life-giving bread and water.  From Him, I will never hunger nor thirst. He is Life.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”  Matthew 4:4  (CAPS from Deuteronomy 8:3)

“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

Jesus came to live among men.  They saw the power of the Word.  When Jesus spoke, they felt the passion of the Word.  Jesus spoke and the waters calmed, the lepers healed, the dead arose.  He was and is the Living Word.

“Never compare this Book with other books. Comparisons are dangerous. Never think or say that this Book contains the Word of God. It is the Word of God.  It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in application, inspired in totality.  Read it through. Write it down. Pray it in. Work it out. And then pass it on.” —Smith Wigglesworth (8 June 1859 – 12 March 1947)

The Word is not just biblical history but is living and active this very day.

For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Nancy Guthrie writes, “The Word of God offers us power and perspective.  Its truth brings comfort, not confusion.  It is substantial, not merely sentimental.  It is true, not trite.”

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalm 19:8-11

The Word cleanses us by His blood, His sacrifice. Once paid…and for all.

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

LORD, I come to You this day, seeking Your Way, Your Truth, Your nourishment, YOur love. May I seek Your Truth and find it. I pray that I may discern truth from deceit. May I see and hear Your Truth with clarity. May I speak in honesty and with forbearance. May my words be Yours. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
(Psalm 19:14) I love You so. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

photo: The Word of God @ Moody Media

graphic: “God’s Word is…” by Smith Wigglesworth @ Craig T. Owens

Nancy Guthrie, author of “Book of Hope”, quote from page 353

photo with Scripture: photo from Arduino Tronic; text added on fotor.com by me

photo of Portland Lighthouse: free @ Pixabay