Sheep Grazing

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Sheep follow one another.  They will wander into areas that may lead to danger, or cause them to hunger or thirst.  Sheep, left on their own, will graze the same area over and over until there is nothing left to eat, gnawing the grass right down to the dirt.  As they graze and re-graze one area, they will make ruts in the dirt.

A shepherd’s reputation is based on the appearance of his pastures as well as the condition of the sheep.  If the pastures are run down, not very green, filled with deep ruts, then it is safe to assume that he is not a good shepherd.  The same could be said of the shepherd if the sheep are not well cared for.  They need to be constantly tended to, groomed, fed, and protected.  The shepherd’s reputation is on the line.

When sheep are led by a good shepherd, he/she will drive them into fresh pastures regularly.  He will have a pattern whereby he leads his sheep from one area of new grasses to another so that they are continually fed, and minimally damaging the land.  The shepherd will know his land well in order to drive or lead them each day into an area that would be a benefit to his sheep.  He will know right where the watering holes are as well.      

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Psalm 23:3

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He leads us.  However, we don’t always trust Him (or anyone else) to lead us where we think best.  Instead, like sheep, we will often stay in one pasture, working ourselves along the same paths turning them into ruts.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.  
Isaiah 53:6

We can be stubborn, prideful, stiff-necked, filled with self.  We often blindly follow another or are determined to go our own way.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Looking around at others near to us or gazing into a mirror back at ourselves, we might see abuse of drugs or alcohol, sexual promiscuity, dead-end careers or jobs, wrong or falling-apart relationships, family members gone astray, following others into New Age religions, or so much more.

Can we ask: Where have I strayed away from the LORD?

The LORD calls us into fresh pastures…each day…for nourishment and refreshment.

It is important to note that it is for the LORD’s Name sake that He leads us. Our well-being, our peacefulness and joy reflect upon His character, His ownership, His management, His protection of us.  If we claim be to Christ’s, His image would be tarnished by our behavior or thought patterns when we go astray.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Am I willing to be led?  Am I willing to follow Him to fresh pasture for nourishment?

Am I willing to love Christ and others more than myself?

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  1 John 3:16

Am I willing to be set apart for Him?

Am I willing to release what I might call my “rights”?

Jesus did not say this would be easy.

And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.  Mark 4:17

BUT…Jesus said,

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

Am I willing to rest in being His and not mine?  

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

Am I willing to be gracious and thankful for all situations, no matter what comes my way?

Am I willing to have no self-will, but have His will for my life?

Am I willing to follow Christ to obey all He asks of me?

“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”  Acts 5:32

…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13

LORD, I pray that I will be like a lamb that jumps and plays, that brings a smile due to joy-filled leaps into the Shepherd’s arms.  I want to be filled with that joy because You loved me first.  

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LORD, I thank You for caring for me always.  Thank You for loving me.  Even while I strayed, going my own way time and time again, You waited patiently for me.  Once I became Yours, I wanted to be Your sheep.  I have to admit that it has not been easy, but I love You so and want to please You more than anything.  May I walk in the steps You have prepared for me and stay close.  May I feed within the pastures where You lead me and drink from the water You know is thirst-quenching and safe.  LORD, You are my Shepherd.  Praises to the Shepherd of Israel.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.  

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Sheep grazing near to Pentraeth by Nigel Williams  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Imgarcade: Baby Lamb Jumping

More Than Enough

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No matter what version of the Bible you are reading, the word “commit” and “committed” appear over and over again.

“You shall not commit adultery.”  Exodus 20:14

And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.  Deuteronomy 19:20

Almost every time, the word is in regard to committing a sin, warnings about committing a sin, or the consequences of committing a sin.

So this is my 2016 word.

Commit

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I do not want to commit any sin against God.  I am also human and, most likely, will commit some thing(s) against Him.  I am sorry before I even do such as I do not want that for myself nor to do such against the God I love with all of my heart.

When I chose “commit” as my word, I included those meanings listed above, but, actually, I am focusing on committing my life, my walk, my heart, my all to God, desiring His orchestration of me…all of me!

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him, and He will act.  Psalm 37:5

I do not want to be half-hearted and need extra proof from Jesus to commit my life, my days, my moments to Him.

Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know Me, Philip?   Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father Who dwells in Me does His works.  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.  John 14:8-11

I believe, LORD.  Please help my unbelief. 

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

and perform your vows to the Most High,

and call upon Me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”  Psalm 50:14-15

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me;

to one who orders his way rightly.

I will show the salvation of God!”  Psalm 50:23

In thanksgiving, I commit myself to You because of all the You have done for me.  I praise You, Abba Father, for in Your sacrifice of Your Son, I am now saved from death, having eternal life with You.  I give You all the glory because You are All…ALL!  Teach me to walk in Your ways and Your way alone.  I am so in love with You.  I am committed to You because You are truly Enough.  Uphold me when I stumble; lift me when I fall.  Your arms are strong enough and wide enough for me.   Your touch is tender enough for me.  Your love is true enough for me.  You are enough, Father.  Enough.  In the Name that is Enough, I pray.  Amen.  

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Commit — One Word 2016

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Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him, and He will act.  Psalm 37:5

גָּלַל

galal

a primitive root; to roll (literally or figuratively):—commit, remove, roll (away, down, together), seek occasion, trust, wallow

To roll: a reproach being rolled off or removed from someone:

Take away from me scorn and contempt,
for I have kept your testimonies.  Psalm 119:22

To roll:  one’s ways and works rolled onto (committed to, entrusted to) someone (especially God):

Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established.   Proverbs 16:3

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to deny

to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone

to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

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Commitment to Jesus Christ is a lifetime commitment, one which requires time, work, and determination.  Commitment also requires faith, trust, hope.

Commitment can build faith and trust, and can develop character.

I made a commitment to Christ Jesus July 17, 1993.  I have left my cross on many-a-path since then, yet have picked it up again and again.  I have not stopped following Jesus, but, when I relinquished my cross those times, I would be singing la-ti-da without a full commitment.  I thought I was denying myself, yet I was denying the fact that I had even dropped my cross.

Commitment feels rather scary.  Yet I know that I am heaven bound because I laid my trust and hope in the One and Only Lord Jesus, the One Who came to this earth to save me, Who died for me, and Who was resurrected for me.  He will return for me one day.

In 1993, I chose to marry my husband and am so very committed to this wonderful man, to our marriage, to our walk with Jesus.  I am not afraid of this earthly marriage.

‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  Mark 10:7-9

I am wholly committed to Jesus, following Him as He has called me.   LORD, I will do my best.  I thank You for picking me up when I fall and for loving me when I am wayward.  I am still Yours.   

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For Your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:35-39

“Being killed all the day long….”  Teach me, LORD, Your way in this life.  I am not of this world, but am in it.  I want to be separate.  I want to be the sojourner in this strange land because I am Yours. 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Jesus prayed for His own (John 17), committed them/us to His Father:

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since You have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. …. “I have manifested Your Name to the people whom You gave Me out of the world. Yours they were, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  Now they know that everything that You have given Me is from You.  For I have given them the words that You gave Me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.  I am praying for them. …. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.  …. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know You, I know You, and these know that You have sent Me. I made known to them Your Name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

I want to memorize all of this prayer this year and know the very love that Jesus has for me.  I want to know it deeply.  I want to delve into The Word, Jesus Christ, to know Him more and more.  I am recommitting my life, Jesus, to You.  My life is Yours.  I am Your sheep. You are my Shepherd.  I am Your child.  You are my Father, my Abba Father.  I want to be obedient to You.  I am wholly Yours.  Guide my every step.  Please hold me near.  Forgive me when I stray.  In Your Name, I pray.  Amen. 

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Alone With Jesus

Some times, many times, days just don’t go the way I would have hoped.

I had a tooth with a crown just break off recently.  I needed a new crown and some build up work done to make it right again.  That is not a cheap investment either, but important.  The dentist did not get all the decay so now must redo the whole process again.

I am praying for one who has considered suicide recently.  I just had a two-part series posted on my personal experience with suicide of a friend.  I am saddened for this woman, for her family.

I recently found myself wishing that things were going a bit differently than they were.  I was placing blame all over the place until God reminded me that satan is everywhere desiring to devour me.  I uttered these four words: “Satan, get thou behind me!”

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”  Matthew 16:23

Some days, the road just seems filled with bumps, holes, blockades.  When life feels hard, rather than falling into one of those potholes, I need to be looking for that quiet place to be with Jesus.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Matthew 6:6

Jesus sought to be alone at times.  He knew He would meet His Father.  He could lift His heart’s desires, hopes, and even those things that were so heavy upon Him to His Father.

And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there Mark 1:35

David knew this too.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
  Psalm 34:4

I want to meet the LORD wherever I am and in all circumstances.  I cannot do that while deep in worldly thoughts.  I need to step aside, away from the world, removing myself from the negativity, the fears, the heaviness, the busyness.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him.  And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us. Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit Whom He has given us.  1 John 3:19-24

Father, You are my God and Creator of my soul, my mind, my heart, and my body.  You know all that goes on in and through me, Father.  Thank You for reminding me Whose I am.  I may live in this world, but I am Yours and want to stay connected to You with every breath.  Thank You for guiding me and lighting the candle along what felt, what feels,  like a dark path.  I am walking with You today.  I want to stay here with You.  I pray in the Morning Star’s Name, Jesus.  Amen. 

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

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Rejoice in the LORD

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Isaiah 35

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;

the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

it shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of the Lord,

the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,

and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who have an anxious heart,

“Be strong; fear not!

Behold, your God

will come with vengeance,

with the recompense of God.

He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then shall the lame man leap like a deer,

and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

For waters break forth in the wilderness,

and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

and the thirsty ground springs of water;

in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,

the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

And a highway shall be there,

and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;

the unclean shall not pass over it.

It shall belong to those who walk on the way;

even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.

No lion shall be there,

nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return

and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

they shall obtain gladness and joy,

and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

The Way of Holiness is surrounded by waters, plants, and animals that reveal the glory of the LORD.  All of creation shouts.  Redemption has come and we, the people, sing with rejoicing.  Healing and forgiveness make way for gladness and joy.  The hard things of this world fade away, leaving sorrow and tears to be no more.

The LORD your God is in your midst,
a Mighty One Who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”  1 Chronicles 16:31

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.  Psalm 16:9

Father God, I rejoice in Your Holy Name.  I sing to You and worship only You as I continue to learn of Your ways.  Your highway to holiness is the only way I want to be journey upon.  Your Way is the Truth.  May I walk steadfastly along that highway, remaining close to You, precious LORD.  As I ponder these and other verses about rejoicing, my heart lightens.  The heaviness of this world, all the heartaches and soul aches I see and hear about me seem to fade into the background as You stand strong and faithful beside me.  You come before me and are my way.  I follow You.  May I be in Your will in this world, and may I be strong in You that my heart would not grow faint.  

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:28-31

May I wait upon You and sing praises of joy to You, only to You.   In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

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Walk by the Spirit

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But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  Galatians 5:16

Oh, that I walk in obedience to the LORD in ALL my steps.  But I am human and that is just not possible UNLESS I let this SELF go, placing her at the foot of the Cross and trust, TRUST, in the Holy Spirit for each and every step.  God gave me free will and I choose to pick this self up and try to do things in my own power.

I want to…

  • …walk humbly
  • …stay close
  • …live and show the fruit of the Spirit to this world in which I live in
  • …accept my inability to do these things as I am
  • …that I must be moldable and tender

 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5:24

from Daily Help by Charles H. Spurgeon:

As a man does not make himself spiritually alive, so neither can he keep himself so.  He can feed on spiritual food, and so preserve his spiritual strength; he can walk in the commandments of the Lord, and so enjoy the rest and peace, but still the inner life is dependent upon the Spirit as much for its after existence as for its first begetting.  No man himself, even when converted, hath any power, except as that power is daily, constantly, and perpetually infused into him by the Spirit.

The motive-power of action to a believing man lies hard by the realization that God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven his iniquities.

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For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:17-25

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And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:2-3

Abba Father, may this world dim in my mind and Your Light draw me nearer to You with each day, in each moment.  May I be the clay that You desire of me that You can mold me into the Linda that You created me to be.  May I be Yours in all ways.  I want to be a light in this world, drawing others to You who live in the darkness of this world.  I want to walk in humility as Your Spirit guides my steps.  Thank You, LORD, for Your love of this imperfect one.  …for I love You.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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Daily Help (the February 19 reading) by Charles H. Spurgeon, compiled and edited by George Perry Dixon, The Family Inspirational Library, Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap, New York

Are You Being Spent in the King’s Service?

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“’Lord, I am Thine, wholly Thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to Thee.  Thou has bought me with Thy blood; let me spend myself and be spent in Thy service.  In life and in death let me be consecrated to Thee!’ Have we kept this resolve?”
from “Daily Help” by C. H. Spurgeon

As a caregiver, I prayed this prayer and spent quiet time with the LORD to help me answer the question… much I did in God’s service and much I did not.

I spent 15 years as the primary caregiver of my mother, along with the staff of the facilities in which she lived. We needed to move Mama near one of her three daughters. For affordability reasons and because I was the one who would be able to be this primary caregiver, we moved her to Texas.  God had much to teach me and the school’s door seemed open to me 24/7 (still does!).

I attempted to hold the reins of control, to hold back the flood of change. None of us wanted to move Mama. A move is hard for anyone, but for one of 84 and strong willed, that proved especially tough. I also have one sister who truly struggled with the move and had words for me since I “seemed” to be the main decision maker in her eyes. Once the decision was made, then I held those reins for I wanted to control the physical and mental downward spiral of my mother as I watched her age and live with dementia and the related fears, anger, frustration, confusion, jealously, and so much more. Those reins were hard to hold though. Eventually, I had to give them and Mama to God.  I could not control her life nor the changes that were occurring.  I had to allow her to live out her days with the best quality I was able to oblige her and assuring the best care from the others watching over her.

During the fifteen years here, changes of residences from a senior apartment to an assisted living to a nursing home happened according to her abilities, her health.  She received the care she needed from loving staffs.  She was still able to watch her baseball games with the Chicago Cubs and the White Sox, plus the San Diego Padres.  She ate fairly well, and got to enjoy some of her favorites like ice cream sodas and sundaes, my home baked peach muffins, and fresh fruit I brought to her each time I grocery-shopped for myself. She was allowed to choose even with the diabetes.  There must be some independence no matter what the consequences.  Even though there was a narrowness of life because of the need for a nursing home, I found ways to broaden the opening.  We attended a local AA baseball game once or twice during each season, ate lunch out together when she was able or in when she did not feel up to going out. I would bring a meal treat to her as often as I could. We spent time together most every day, just the two of us, or in a small group for a Bingo game or a favorite karaoke singer.  Decisions were hers as often as she was able.  I followed through with her choices when I could.  And if not, I did as she did when I was a child saying, “We shall see, Mama,” and, by the next day, her dementia-riddled mind had usually forgotten.  But, at that moment, she was satisfied because she had made the decision.

Did I keep the resolve?  As best as I could.  I wanted God to orchestrate the care I gave to my mother.  I wanted Him to open my heart to her love, accepting it with the love He gave to me so that I could give back to her.  I wanted to be able to accept the hard and not-so-good days that often came with dementia and being 86, 98, or all those in-between. I wanted God to shield me from words that hurt, but also to help me not take those words personally when they came like grenades.  No matter what the day brought, I wanted to be able to love my mother unconditionally.  God loved me unconditionally (and still does) and I had His love through which to love my Mama. And I did.

I shared my life with many other residents at the various living facilities too.  I learned their names, addressing them when I would see them.  I sometimes was able to touch them on their backs with a little rub or by holding their hands.  I talked with them. I stopped for a conversation or a prayer.  I sat with them when Mama was asleep, when I could dawdle.  I smiled at them.  We all need someone who cares about us.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

I resolved to be near my God so that I would obediently follow His will for my life, and for my Mama’s life in regards to my part in it.  More than once, I was called to the home because she was not feeling well and needed comforting. At times, she needed to eat something in order to raise her blood sugar (rather unusual for her!) so I would feed her (usually running to get her just what she would desire at the moment…eggs and bacon, an ice cream soda…!).  She, ever so sweetly, would tell me, from time to time, how much she loved me or how much she appreciated all that I did for her.  I returned the love with hugs and words, but my heart felt like it was overflowing.  I knew God was with us.  I prayed I was being spent in the service of my LORD.  (Mama was not always one to get “mushy” yet when she told me how she appreciated something that I did for her or what I meant to her, I knew that her words were really coming from her heart. She became more precious to me with each passing moment. At those moment, I felt that I was being spent in His service.)

We love, because He first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Father God, these precious moments with my mother were far more than doing her laundry or taking her for lunch or cleaning up after her. They were about being Your daughter in her presence. They were about being Your child for her in whatever way she needed me. They were about staying true to You while being there for her and for the other residents too. You are now, and were then, my Beacon from which I was guided. Thank You for lighting my path to be Your best for my Mama. Thank You for loving me so that I could love her as I did. I loved her so, Father. And I miss her now, yet it is with a peaceful heart that I came to know that I did my humanly best to keep Your resolve in the midst of many a moment…sweet ones or extremely difficult ones, all beautifully filled with Your Grace. Thank You for Your forgiveness when I failed to be in Your service for her (and now, LORD, too). Thank You, my Abba Father, for putting these tears of mine in Your bottle for they come, even now. You are the most beautiful Lighthouse, LORD. I am so grateful that You are my LORD. In the Light of Your Son’s Name, I pray. Amen.

How are you keeping this resolve? 

 

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