When Hell Broke Loose

I was thinking earlier about the most recent time hell broke loose. I wanted to go back to the move to Alabama and the two years of seemingly endless rain and the mud it has made, but truth won’t let me take it back that far. The last time hell broke loose was when we needed to move schools. What a mess…

 

New brother had already moved. He made clear it was necessary for him soon after he came to live with us a little over a year ago. Just too much nasty smack being talked; smack I was told by an adult that “all the boys are guilty of talking.” Like that somehow meant I should just let it pass. Well, I didn’t. I was in hopes, and still am, that our boys will someday, maybe even today, decide that unwholesome talk is better left unsaid. So we moved him on simply because he asked us to. Noah wanted to hang on since he was new and he liked his teachers and he didn’t want more upheaval than was already, so we let him stay; trying our best to serve these fellows the best we can depending on their individual needs.

 

Anyway, soon after this school year started we took Noah home and started online public school since we were in a real bind and were trying to save his freshman year from being a complete bust. Seemed there were some real conflicting stories about what happened on that fateful day when a group of teenage boys were left unattended and mine was the only one who left with a busted hand from where he put it through a window. A call from another boy’s mama gave me lots of information that confirmed what Noah told me. And, later, one of the boys who had been party to the whole thing told me to my face that he and the others lied about what was done to Noah that day because the biggest culprit wasn’t going to be punished anyway because of his personal circumstances. I thought my mouth might never reset itself after the drop it took when that boy acted as if lying is just something you do when it’s convenient. Apparently, it is for many… It was easy for a group of boys to decide what their story was gonna be because no one was questioned on that Friday after school and the weekend gave plenty of time to determine what would be said and what wouldn’t.

 

We painstakingly climbed the mountain of readjustment along with doctor visits and diagnoses and treatments; managed work and new brother through it all like we knew what we were doing. We rose to the challenge of waking a boy who had rather never wake again and coaxed him to study biology, literature, algebra, and health. I knew as well as a person can know how little those things can mean to a young person who is fighting the urge to end it all; who has decided after much trying to not decide it that this world ain’t worth what it costs to stay in the game. Too many who don’t care and just as many in positions of authority. Dang, I never wanted my son to walk a path so similar to my own, but here we are, ankle deep in Alabama mud and it’s still raining.

 

We are adjusting again since Noah begged to be put back in a “real school” because he wants to be “normal” and get to be with other kids. Thankfully, we found a place that will take him. It was another indescribable ordeal trying to get credits sorted out and get him on board with all the different modes of learning; logins, online classrooms, 7 period days part of the time and blocks the others; different kids and different teachers and being a teenage boy and GIRLS everywhere 🙂 Some days I wonder if we will make it or not…But then I remind myself, hell has broke loose before…

On Back…

The Move: After months of working with a builder-recommended draftsman to get our house addition plans just right, and on the builder’s word that he would be ready to get started end of summer, we sold our house of 20+ years. Yep, sold it and moved, and then found out things weren’t going as planned. Seems there’s a bit of breakdown between the words of some and the words of others who knew where the builder went instead of coming to our place. Some ties matter more than others. That little lesson just keeps on teaching. In the meantime…

 

In the meantime, there was a boy…A boy who needed a place to be. We’ve never fostered or considered adoption, but then this boy came into our lives and we knew he needed a place, and we had one. It wasn’t what most would call ready. We didn’t even call it ready. Even without knowing we were adding to our number, we had planned on getting more room, but need doesn’t wait on convenience, and we had a bed just the right size, and another plate to set at the table, so we grew our number…

 

Before we could find a bigger house to buy, one that would afford our new resident his own closet, flood waters raised the lake too close for comfort, but thankfully didn’t get inside the house. A little canoeing in the yard gave some comic relief to a season of life that had far more tears than laughs… Seems that’s a new normal; more tears than laughs…

 

There was reprieve, calm after the awful storm of a few years back; another time when hell broke loose. We had a demon of a man in our lives; large and loud and stubborn as a mule; lazy and wouldn’t work and didn’t bat an eye at taking my husband’s hard-earned money and wasting it on whatever he could find to blow it on after we gave it toward bills. It was enough to make a saint want to cuss, but we had four little ears we were trying  to protect. We prayed and we counseled, and we coaxed, and we tried everything we knew to try, and it made no difference at all; least it seemed it hadn’t when my precious ones came home, bruised and broken. Our home of peace was needed as a place of refuge while “the law” took their time doing justice (no pun intended). Innocent until proven guilty is a good thing until you are a worried Mama sitting on your couch all night in the dark  just listening for that loser to show up and start trouble there’s few ways of stopping. Then, it’s not so good. There is a lot in this world that really ain’t so good…

 

Anyway, those prayers were answered in God’s good time and in His good way. He fixed it so that mountain was moved and silenced, at least for a while so that the innocent can heal and grow and the bruises can all fade away…

 

And before all this, all hell broke loose when Erick’s daddy had his  decline that occurred during my pregnancy with Noah. Erick being an only child, had to handle the legal matters that come when a person loses their ability to make decisions for themselves. The doctors at the hospital told us that we needed to see a judge to get power of attorney and then needed to find nursing home placement immediately because his daddy wasn’t able to be cared for at home. Heather was still in high school. I was working full-time at the hospital, and Erick at GA Power. We were between Rome and Carrolton, the hospital and the courthouse and his Dad’s home trying to do the business no adult child ever wants to have to do. And Erick wasn’t raised with his daddy. He had divorced parents and his dad had been married and divorced multiple times. Erick had so hoped the birth of our son would be a time of healing and bonding for him and his daddy, for all of us, but it was not to be. We even found where a former student of Erick’s Dad’s had written out a check to cash for $50,000 and had Erick’s dad sign it soon after that same former student had purchased and delivered a gallon of liquor to the poor fellow with a taste for it. Do you believe a jury of his peers let that sorry sucker off the hook for stealing that money? Well, they did…

 

And honestly, I could go even further back and tell you more about when hell broke loose in my life, but it doesn’t much matter today. Today, what matters is getting a handle on the hell that broke loose most recent and continues to threaten the heart of my home. I’m weary with the foolishness of this world and am ready to spend my days planting seeds and watching good things grow. I’m ready to have peace that isn’t threatened by hateful and hurtful words and deeds. I’m ready for Jesus…

 

 

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I Can Speak for Her

Sometimes we lose people unexpectedly. Everything seems fine and then, all of a sudden, without any warning at all, it’s over. There’s no letter, no clues upon reflection to tell us what exactly it was that finally broke her. Just like the tiny pappus from the dandelion’s stem, she blew away with a wind no one saw coming, and then she was gone.

It’s hard to be a girl and then a woman. It’s even harder to be a wife and a mother and a person in your own right. There’s little room for error given to a mother, to a woman for that matter. We are to be the gentle carriers of all, lovely and pure and kind, yet strong enough to bear and birth children from whom a piece of our soul never detaches.

Unlike the husbands and fathers who, by nature and design, are made to compartmentalize feelings and roles, we simply expand in heart to accommodate each task and trial of every role we fill. The feminists argued we are “just like men.” Evidence proves contrary. We are little like men if at all…

I can speak for her because I share her cares. I walk her journey. I know her path. I know the world of words and how to string them together to convey much, but words are inadequate for describing the deepest places of a woman’s heart. These hearts of ours literally beat for our children as they develop at the center of our being. Awareness of the connection and how our every move moves that tiny life inside is experience that teaches what words cannot. The consequential responsibility staggers a mother’s mind while Daddy is separate, still waiting, unknowing of what his other cannot keep from knowing…

The connection is different from the moment of conception to the end of all ends. First, the responsibility and inseparability, and then the first break; the cutting of the cord after nine months as one. Handed immediately back to Mother, she cradles her baby close and nurses the new life from her own reserves; sacrificial love overflows from body to baby, and the child grows on…

Days and nights revolve around sustaining new life; body is given for body and life for life. Each sacrifice is made with hope; never doubting the good that will grow from the continual tending.

I must go back to say why I can speak for her…The insults we bear can break us. I know…That young, 16 year-old girl with blossoming belly and breasts; awkward and blushing with shame at what couldn’t be hidden heard the jarring words from him, “I don’t find you attractive like that.” To say a piece of her died that day would not be true because death brings relief and there was none of that to be found. Oh, I’ve learned to forgive foolishness a thousand times over, but I’ve never forgotten the absurdity of love- claims when failures such as this occurs. There’s more than one way to break wedding vows. I felt the break when this wound struck my heart. I’m convinced Jesus felt it, too…

I don’t call suicide victims cowards. I do not call them selfish. I call them wounded beyond repair inside the confines of this cruel world. I believe some are just too good for this world and those who call them cowards are likely the ones who broke the dandelion’s stem and released the delicate life to the freedom of the wind…

 

 

 

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Sports. Life. The 99 and the 1.

Overwhelmed would be an understatement and roller coaster would be a tame ride compared to what the past months have brought our way, but I don’t regret wading into the unknown for all the right reasons. I am, however, discouraged by finding systems that ought to bless, instead hindering a good effort at a new life.

Walk with me back to December when we found a young man needing a place to be. I’ve never considered adoption or fostering kids in any real way; not from a cold heart, but from an already full life and schedule. However, this all came about in such a way that Erick and I both felt the call of Christ to open our home and set another place at the table. So we did.

We waded into deep waters of the unknown and have tried to act in love and wisdom when faced with the many challenges we’ve since encountered.
It has all unfolded one step, one moment, at a time.

Just as we had no forewarning that this need would come and we would be called upon to answer, we faced another request from our new, young family member. He said he needed a clean start all the way around. He cited our home as one place of beginning again, but he said he needed another; a new school where he had no past connections. We love the school he left and the one he went to. Both are good places filled with good, caring, solid people who are investing in his life. We could have refused to move him, but he had some credible and painful reasons for making the request. We listened, and we enrolled him in a new school.

We’ve hit quite a snag. His lifeline has been sports for a long time. He loves ball and loves to be a member of a team. He loves to play and to feel the freedom of the field and the court. We love to watch him. He looks so much older than his 14 years, but getting to know him we’ve grown to love the boy that he is. Don’t let those big, strong shoulders fool you. There’s a young boy inside with a great big, tender heart that just wants to to be whole.

We were warned he might not be able to play for a year given that we moved from one school in the county to another. We asked about exceptions and we read some things that seemed to indicate he could play if certain conditions were met and we were actively working toward making that happen. From the beginning, I’ve asked for a meeting with the governing authority because I realize the circumstances are quite unique. I have been told no to a meeting from the AAHSA or even a phone call with them. I find this quite unprofessional and frankly, uncaring. I realize that there are people who try to do unethical things to stack teams with talented athletes. However, there is none of that going on with this case, and this is common knowledge to everyone who were privy to its unfolding (including some local attorneys and a judge).

It gets even more absurd when I learn that had DHR been involved in placing the child in a foster home, he would be allowed to play, but because we went the route of obtaining permanent custody (DHR’s recommendation) he is not afforded the same right to play. Make this make sense to the one I’m caring about. How about make it make sense to me…

I’ve been called a rule follower, and I guess I pretty much am. I’m respectful of authority, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see that some rules and some laws are unjust, unfair, and simply unkind. I wonder when I ‘m sorting through my own concerns for this young boy why I’m not granted some time to discuss this with those who make and enforce the rules. Maybe because it’s much easier to justify when you don’t have to count the personal cost to a real live kid. When I’m told these rules were established because so many are dishonest, I think about the 99 and the 1. The Good Shepherd left the 99 to find the one lost sheep making clear for us the significance, the worth, and the value of a single life. Some rules need to be changed. Some laws need to be changed. If no one ever challenges the system, it never will change. I have but one request, Let Key Play. He’s just a kid who has suffered more in his short life than most suffer in 70 years. I’m not here to talk about the sports-crazed adults in the world or the kids they raise to be the same. I’m just a concerned advocate for a kid The Lord has brought into my heart; a kid that loves to play. I won’t stop asking and I won’t stop hoping. Others should join me. Every child matters.

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Careful

As is often the case, it is when the struggle is real I turn to this place to pour it all out and see what’s worth keeping and what should be filtered away. We are to the midpoint of a semester. Much has steeped long enough to make a worthwhile cup of knowledge.
As is always the case, relevant cultural, social and political issues provide evidence of the need for critical thinking and for truth finding. We need clarity that only wisdom can bring.
I’m deeply thankful for scripture; for timeless truth. “For whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
I’ve spent countless hours of time in the pages of books, but none so worthy of honor as this. Don’t misunderstand. There have been some sorrowful hours recognizing myself in the stories penned. From the fall of those who came before me that are recorded in scripture, I find my own story and those of others whom I love. It’s not all easy to swallow, but it is all true and written for our ultimate good, hope, and deliverance.
I’ve looked at the cross, even at its foretelling in the book of Isaiah, and counted the cost of my sin that was suffered by my Savior and I’ve wept bitterly.
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:1-6)
I appreciate those moments of truth that drew me to repentance and from there to praise. How can I love Christ sufficiently if I don’t first recognize my need and His provision of grace? I cannot. If God does not mind how we live and how we behave, why was it necessary for Christ to suffer, to pay the penalty for sin, to buy our pardon?
I’ve seen so many times arguments in favor of all kinds of sinful practices by referencing Jesus’ company with sinners. What is left out of those references is the fact that He did not leave them as He found them. He called them to a new life, one that required them to take up their cross and follow Him. They had to leave the path they were on and go in a new direction in order to become His followers. Otherwise, they continued on a path leading to destruction, to harm, and He did not abandon His ways to accommodate them, nor did He continue on with them. He could not. He is truth.
The grief I feel over mishandling of truth is deep. When I look back, again and again, to the cross and I remember that Christ died to save us from sins that people still insist are worthy of celebration, my soul aches; my heart grows weary, and the only way forward is constant prayer. We pray for eyes to be opened to the greatest love ever given. The Lord always has something better for us than what error, sin, or self-gratification can give.
I’m struck by the same old deceitful schemes employed by the serpent in the first garden. If ever the human mind can be persuaded to doubt what God has really said, nothing but sin will result. If ever the human mind can be persuaded to believe that God is withholding good, nothing but sin will result.
How important are beliefs? How important is it for beliefs to be true? Scripture answers:
“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him: for He that comes to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) His love is better than life. His sacrifice paid the penalty for our sins, freed us from being slaves to sin, and reconciled us to God.
“Because His lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise [Him.]”
Psalm 63:3

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For Better or Worse: Thoughts on the Kavanaugh Hearing

As a student of psychology with interest in trauma and memory, I’ve closely watched and listened to both Ms. Blasey Ford and those who questioned her. I must admit I found it deeply unsettling, sad, and regrettable. I watched Mr. Kavanaugh and his wife as he, too, endured questions, some deeply humiliating, and his reactions that seemed to equal or surpass the pain of that demonstrated by Ms. Blasey Ford.

I’ll begin by addressing the questioners and the audience. Again and again, I listened to people applaud, praise, and validate Ms. Blasey Ford for speaking out. Her words were repeatedly referred to as “truth” by members of the Senate. I watched her reactions. I watched her body language, facial expressions, sometimes confused and often fragile emotions play across her face. I listened with pity to her quavering voice, and I hurt for her. Anger was my reaction to all who encouraged or allowed this very public display of her testimony. She stated that it had not been her desire. She also attested to much emotional anguish of many years. From my study,  I know such a public and stressful appearance could easily be her emotional undoing. I wonder about her history prior to the alleged event, and following, that might shed light on what appears to have been a lifelong struggle with anxiety.

I tried so hard to listen with an unbiased, yet informed, ear to each person. I listened with intent to hear each as a human being with all that goes with that condition. I listened considering the alleged event took place 36 years ago, and considered myself as I was so many years back and how different I am now from who I was then. An honest appraisal of any life history should mark change and hopefully progress along with a deepening understanding of self and others. My training has taught me to recognize the difference in perspective and perception from that of an adolescent and that of a mature adult. It has taught me that memories are fluid, meaning they are subject to alteration/change every time they are recalled, and trauma experienced at any time in one’s life may have an impact on that person’s memory processes. These are important things to know when trying to ascertain truth about any event especially one many years past.

The most disturbing to me of the entire ordeal is the willingness of many to believe without clear evidence anything other than the truth we all know: two lives and many who love them are devastated by a process that took us not one step closer to knowing what, if anything, took place between the individuals making opposite claims. They can’t both be telling “the truth.” One is not. I don’t know which. Do I believe a person can think they are telling the truth and not be? Absolutely. Which one? Either. How? Intoxication or false memory (which can result for a number of physical and/or psychological reasons). I will not simply choose which one to believe because of gender. That is prejudiced and discriminatory and deeply harmful. Truth matters enough to admit what we don’t know. Truth is worth seeking whole-heartedly. Every life equally matters.

Finally, regardless of what took place thirty-six years ago, two human beings much like the rest of us are now middle aged, have families, careers, hopes and hurts, times of triumphs and regrets. Neither is fully innocent as no human being is, yet neither is a menace to this world as is evident in the many years of life and service that stands as testimony for each of them. As I watched and listened to a mom of two boys and a dad of two young girls, the ache over the condition of our nation grew. Unless we throw away the notion of personal truth in favor of absolute truth, we will have nothing of value to offer those coming along behind us. Feeling a particular way does not make something true. The reality of prevalent sexual abuse does not make every accusation true. My feelings of sympathy and empathy toward Ms. Ford makes no difference in determining whether or not what she recalls and states is accurate, nor does my similar feelings for Mr. Kavanaugh have any bearing on his guilt or innocence.

We ought to be most careful in our handling of matters of truth, guilt, and innocence. We, of all people, as Americans, should understand the injustice of prejudging and discriminating and should uphold the dignity of every person. I was thankful that no one questioned the legitimacy of Ms. Ford’s suffering or even that at some point she had endured a terrible event, simply offering without explicitly stating it that memories can be misplaced or have significant errors in details, especially memories involving trauma. I just wish the same grace had been offered to all involved for sake not just of the two giving testimony, but for all young boys and men, young girls and women who were watching.

 

 

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Not so fast and not so simple

I’m just a regular ole person out here in a chaotic and sometimes cruel world still listening, as I did as a child, to those in authority as the least of these (the children) pay the price for indecisiveness or poor decisions made by parents, governments, etc. I remember being a kid. I think its a bit of a curse to still be so connected to those feelings of complete vulnerability and dependence.

I’m not even sure all people ever feel all of that. Maybe those whose needs were so completely and consistently met, both physically and emotionally, throughout childhood are spared the brutality of knowing…Ah, so maybe because of lived experience we have different perspectives. Maybe differing perspectives could offer benefits if only we listened to each other and didn’t go about interpreting other’s motives and twisting their words.

Struggling yesterday as I read several articles from differing perspectives on the border crisis and watched snippets of news between chores (painting a section of the deck, cooking, laundry), I was ready to talk to the person whose opinion I deeply value, my husband’s. I asked him, “Erick, what do you think Jesus would say if He were there at the border?” Silence set in and lingered there between us, and he then said, “He would deal with everyone.” Indeed…

The great Law-Giver and the great Redeemer; who would He defend? Without a doubt, Erick and I agreed, He would defend the children. If I’m communicating in the posts I’ve shared what I’ve intended, I’ve simply offered my heartbreak for the children. I’ve not said what the government should do nor what the parents should do.

We can all reasonably agree that law is necessary and obeying law is necessary, but we cannot forget that sometimes laws are unjust. I’m not for “open borders’ as I’ve been accused of being 🙂 I am for offering asylum to those who are oppressed and persecuted; whose lives are in peril. I am for fair and timely legal immigration procedures. But I’m not intent on making political arguments. I’m intent on compassion. For me, it is a matter of my Christian faith. I cannot look at those precious children and not suffer right along with them. For me, I cannot callous my heart so that I can simply say, “well it’s the parents’ fault so let it be.” I cannot. That does not mean I hate my president, or my country. It does not mean I am a democrat or a republican. It means, for me, that I am a Christian Mother. That’s all.

Erick raised the topic of children frequently being separated from parents when abuse is occurring. Yes, another deeply troubling reality. That we live in a world where children are secondary to other priorities for many is a tragedy and a mark on our culture that cannot be ignored. I can’t help but see that foundation to all our woes is what Jesus told us would be; lack of love for God and for others. We have been weighed in the balance and found lacking. Many in our nation value wealth, financial stability, and prosperity far above the well-being of the poor, the orphan, the suffering. I’m guilty of not doing enough, not giving enough. When pressed to look in my heart by The Holy Spirit, the root of my error is always selfishness; lack of love. I’m haunted by the scripture that says in the last days the love of many will wax cold. It is here. It is here. And for me, the deepest hurt comes when disagreement proves to be stronger than our love for one another.

Lastly, I continue to see the abortion issue raised when mention of children at the border being separated from parents. The horror of abortion is real and is another perpetual mark of disgrace on our nation, but all children matter equally and the ones at the border are still breathing. There is help and hope for them. May we commit to lovingly praying together for our nation and all the nations of the world; for our president and all leaders of the world; for parents who face hard lives and what seems insurmountable challenges, and for those who have plenty, and let us not forget to pray for our enemies as Jesus commanded…Sometimes I think our prosperous nation may be more spiritually bankrupt than any of us would dare admit. God help us. We need to love…

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For the unsung heroes with their warrior hearts…

We’ve made it to that time of year again. A time of celebration and reflection. We gather to honor achievements and to look forward in hope; all good things, but yet…

I sat and listened to another award’s day message. I applauded with sincere joy for those receiving recognition for hard work and achievement. I looked around the gymnasium and saw many proud families; parents, grandparents, extended family, etc. I also saw the empty spaces, and I heard the hollow echo of the unsung heroes. I saw many of them sitting among friends and fellow classmates with kind smiles offering their applause and congratulations. Dignity, I thought of them, such beautiful and amazing dignity…

I haven’t quite been able to free my mind of those images as I’ve carried a bit of sorrow for the missing words and acknowledgment of their meaningful and rich contributions to this place. How many achieve the highest awards? How many have all that is required for those achievements to be won? Isn’t there more to it than simply who worked the hardest or has the greatest potential, work ethic, intellect? Oh yes…So. Much. More.

Remember those empty seats I mentioned? Maybe the emptiness gives a hint to what is missing from some of these precious young lives. All do not have the same family support, strength, and commitment. Some families offer wings to their young. Some, for various reasons, weigh heavily instead.

I listen and I watch even as I teach. Some, it is necessary to mention, are distracted by frivolous or selfish things, and this stunts their academic progress. Others, however, are distracted by very real problems that require incredible emotional strength and mental discipline to bear. These are the ones for whom my heart pains…

Still pondering all of this on the drive in to work this morning, I recalled learning of how different names used for God in scripture reveal different aspects of His character. One of those names, El Roi, means “The God Who Sees Me.” Tenderly, I gave thanks for this truth: The God Who Sees both knows and cares for ALL. He sees the struggles and efforts not rewarded by human hands or by voiced accolades. I’ve often heard that God’s economy is very different from ours. He doesn’t measure anything superficially. He doesn’t have to. He sees all…

We can’t measure effort, but God can. We look at outcomes; test scores and grades. He looks at motives, obstacles, and the process. He knows who worked the hardest. He knows who overcame the most. He knows who made the most diligent efforts and the cost of everything earned. He knows our deepest needs, and He meets them. He sees, and He gives eyes to see to those who seek Him. In the grand scheme of worldly knowledge, I know little. But I give the deepest thanks for this seeing ability that brought me to these words this morning. The God who sees also remembers, and with the gentlest of Hands He heals the heart, renews the mind, and strengthens us for lives of worthy work. These are the greatest rewards of all.

Tender our hearts, Lord, that we may truly honor You in all we do.

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