Welcome to Mountain Breeze Devotions

Mountain Breeze Devotions began in May of 2003. This ministry is an email ministry sending devotionals and meditations seven days a week by request.
It is the sister site of www.ChristianDevotions.US

This is the ministry of authors Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones. Two friends brought together to serve the Father -- to spread the word to those who may not know and to promote the art and writers of Christian writing.

Welcome to Mountain Breeze Devotions --Cindy Sproles, author

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hard Aground...Again and Eddie Jones Book Tour



Eddie Jones, author of Hard Aground Again, and co-writer of the weekly He Said -- She Said devotional series, will be in Martinsville, VA, May 10 at the Waldon Books. Eddie will be part of a large book tour. I hope you will support my friend, co-writer, and www.christiandevotions.us ministry buddy if you live in the Martinsville, VA area.
Click on the link to see the booktour authors.

http://booktour.com/signup?referrer=7908

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wee Wisdom


We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. - Colossians 1:28


Lexy dropped her book satchel at the door and fell into the loving arms of her dad. He brushed her hair away from her eyes, then kissing her forehead, he asked about her day. "I felt God today, daddy."

Surprised that his seven-year-old could grasp the concept of feeling God, he asked her to tell him about it.

"At recess, I walked to the fence at the bottom of the mountain. I laid in the grass and it was quiet. I closed my eyes and felt this warm breeze come into my body. At first I thought it was just the wind. But then, it was peaceful and I knew right that minute, it was God. I felt God today, daddy."

Regardless of our age, we are never too old to learn. Sometimes our greatest teachers are the wee ones who see God on a different plane than adults. Their eyes see a clear picture and their minds listen willingly to the still small voice that we often shrug away. But their greatest moments are when they genuinely seek and know the truth because the Father has touched their hearts.

Christ wants us to come to him with the heart of a child and to seek Him with willingness and in innocence. Then He can breathe His presence into our soul. Children never seem to have longings. They are content in the simple trust they have.

I asked God today, "How do I find that childlike innocence?" He looked at me with tender eyes and brushed the breeze across my face. He warmed me with His presence, took me into His love, and gave me peace. In that moment, I asked Him once more to take my heart as His own. The sounds of the world faded away and for an instant, I felt God.

If you have not laid in the grass and listened for the Father. If you have not invited Him into your heart, it is never too late. Lexy felt God today and she's seven. I felt him in my heart, too -guided there by the wisdom of a wee one. Won't you listen? Won't you seek after Him. He promises if we seek Him, we will find Him.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Guest Devotionalist - Ane Mulligan




Worship with Your Talent



By Ane Mulligan


God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. -- Romans 12: 6a & 7a NLT




Jerry sat in the pastor's office, still smarting from Sunday's sermon. "What c-c-can I do? I don't have any t-t-talents to offer God. I can't t-t-teach, I don't sing. Shoot, I can't even t-t-talk."




The pastor, steepling his fingers under his chin, smiled. Just yesterday, the drama director, Ellen, had told him about Jerry building a Noah's Ark for children's church. "You have talent, Jerry, you just don't see it. Tell me, who builds the sets for our drama department?"




Jerry looked incredulous. "B-b-building sets is ministry?""Just because you're not feeding the homeless doesn't mean it isn't ministry. And your hammer speaks quite eloquently for you. Your sets help suspend disbelief and transport the audience to old Jerusalem, so they can experience the crucifixion of the Savior. Many hearts are touched and lives are changed.




The Bible says in 3 John 8, you are a partner in sharing the truth. And those lives that are changed will be counted to you."








Ane Mulligan is a writer, and co-owner of Novel Journey and Novel Reviews.

Friday, April 25, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID ....April 25, 2008





A New Leash On Life -- HE SAID



"Everything is permissible"­but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"­but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.... So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble." - 1 Corinthians 10:23 & 31

Remember a few weeks back how I was telling you that my dog had the freedom to roam because I used an electronic leash? How I would warn her with an audible beep and she'd come running, and when she didn't I'd give her a little jolt? What I didn't tell you is that I also carry a lanyard-type leash with me when we walk because it's the law, and because not every dog owner understands the liberty Sandy enjoys.

Church folks are like that, too. We don't all understand or agree on the doctrinal issues. In fact, some days it seems as if the body of Christ can't agree on much of anything except that if it weren't for Easter and Christmas we'd never meet the financial goals of the church budget.

I blame it on God. He made us in His image, so I can only conclude that He's one schizophrenic dude with an vast assortment of idiosyncrasies.

There's the God of wrath, justice and just Jews, but there's also the the turn-the-other-cheek God of the Gentiles. There's the God who calls many, but chooses few. The saved by faith promise and work out your faith with fear and trembling, God. The God of law and the God of mercy.Which means it doesn't take much to cause a brother or sister to stumble. All that is required is that one of us push a hot button issue and the fight'n is on.

So the next time you're tempted to turn the body of Christ into a punching bag for your favorite doctrinal issue, remember this. Whatever you say or do, eat or drink, it all should be done for the glory of God. And if a weaker brother or sister doesn't share in your freedom, agree with your doctrinal stand or sing from the same page of your traditional hymnal, remember.Submit to the leash. Christ did, and aren't we glad of it.


**********************************************************************************



Humanitarian - hu•man•i•tar•i•an (noun). --SHE SAID



Everything is permissible,­ but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible ­but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble. 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24, & 31



Something has been bothering me. Humanitarian. Odd, I know, but it’s been eating at me, so I looked up the word to see what I was missing. The meaning is simple: a person promoting human welfare and social reform. There was nothing there that said, “Humanitarians are silent givers with the aim of helping others and not bragging.”

Hollywood relishes in its wealth and when a need arises, its media children rush to donate millions, waving to the masses as they are praised for their efforts. Don’t misunderstand, these folks do wonderful things with the donations they offer, but when all is said and done—where is their heart?

In my Google search of humanitarian, I clicked on images. There I saw pictures of Angelina Jolene, Brad Pitt, Oprah, Bono, and Princess Diana-all individuals who have given countless dollars to aid the welfare and social reform of others. I kept clicking through the pictures, and nowhere did I see a picture of the elderly lady who gave her grocery money to a poor single parent so they could feed their kids. Nor did I see the picture of the man who wrapped his arms around the shoulders of a wailing soldier's wife, whose husband had given his life freely that others might have freedom.

Where are their pictures? Their gifts may not have been monetary, but they were given with the heart of a servant. Most gave quietly, and they expected nothing in return. Their gifts were for the good of others, and to glorify the Father.

I kept gleaning through the photos, never once seeing the face of Jesus. I suppose He wasn’t listed because He hadn’t donated a half-million dollars to help Oprah broadcast her worldwide class on inner peace (which by the way, says you can find the higher power any way that makes you happy. Forget “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me”).

The silent and selfless gifts of time and effort are worth so much. Jesus was beaten brutally, and He said nothing. Instead, He lay on the cross arms extended and palms open, giving His life. Not for the glory, but for the sin. Those of us who look to Him find what it means to be a humanitarian.

In Him, we find peace and forgiveness. In Him, we find eternity.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WHO'S TO BLAME?

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. - Job 1:22

point the finger

There are those who, simply said, have the ability to "roll with the punches." Life can dish out its worst scenarios and these folks evaluate and react accordingly. Onlookers stand in amazement at how these individuals glide through disaster with grace.

Tad Anderson was a modern day Job. Married at 22 years old, he and his wife were dreaming of a long life together. Their first child came into their lives when they were 23 years old. By the time they were 27, they had three small children, good careers and a zest for life.

Tad left his home at five in the afternoon heading to the baseball field, but by the sixth inning his cell phone was ringing. When he answered the call, he found that his wife and three children had been hit head-on by a drunk driver, sending the car careening over an embankment and bursting into flames. Within seconds his entire life change--he'd lost everything.

Months after he buried his family, a friend asked him how he managed to move forward knowing that God had taken his family. His response, "God did not take my family. A drunk driver killed my innocent family. God is the sustainer of life, here and in heaven. My family is sustained in the blessed grace and mercy of heaven."

The first response for the average person is to accuse God of ruining their lives. The Father seems to take the brunt of our pain when bad things happen to us. However, Tad had it right. Approaching the unfortunate things in our lives with the attitude of Job can help us manage the pain.

We'll never understand the why's of the universe, but we can rest assured Satan actively seeks and attacks us --sometimes stealing those who mean the most to us. Tad suffered a deep loss, yet he did not blame the Father. He glorified God by saying He was the sustainer of all life, both in heaven and earth. What an amazing attitude. What an amazing faith. When tough times hit, it's hard to look for the good. Job admitted that he came into the world naked and he would leave the same way. He suffered, yet he remained faithful in the fact that God was a sovereign God.

When the ills of life strike, grasp hold to the hope within the Savior. Even if you feel that things are slipping away, hold tight. The prize for those who are diligent is worth the wait.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

GASPING FOR AIR


Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. - 1 Peter 1:13

I cherish being able to breathe. You're saying, "Goofy statement. Everyone cherishes being able to breathe." Of course, there is that innate desire we have for life, and apparently none of us are able to skip the involuntary habit of breathing--at least, not without serious consequence. I can tell you from personal experience that lacking for air is not pleasant (Note the football player).

There was the time I was taking swimming lessons. I was eight years old and had just mastered the dog-paddle when our instructor lined us up along the pool. Being four feet tall in five feet of water, and only having just learned to dog-paddle is a recipe for disaster. So when the instructor asked me to turn loose of the edge and paddle, I think he meant toward the shallow end, not the deep. Three strokes and one large gulp of water, sent me straight to the bottom. Within seconds, the instructor had fished me out of the depths. I remember, outside of the obvious embarrassment, the feeling of that first gasp of air. I did learn to swim--even became a lifeguard, but I never forgot that feeling. I never forgot the fear.

Lately, I've had trouble breathing. The inhaler works temporarily, but it doesn't remove the invisible weight sitting on my chest shoving the air from my lungs. The doctor reminded me to remain self-controlled when asthma strikes. "Don't panic." That's easy for her to say. It's me turning blue around the lips; still she was right. Even when things look bleak, remain self-controlled and don't panic.

There are times in my Christian life when I lose the ability to think clearly and panic takes hold. I'm flailing around attempting to find my way. God tells me to stay in control. He wants me to take long slow breaths and trust Him to handle the situations that are pressing the air out of me. It's hard, and it's frightening. After all, it feels like you're going to die. Sometimes we fall apart, even when we know God has our backs. Self-control in my actions and thoughts --trusting the Father fully, helps me breathe through the hardships, teaches me to wait, and takes away the fear. He offers us His grace and His promise. Are you self-controlled enough to trust the Father fully or are you gasping for air?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Consistently Second Cindy


I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

- Psalm 130:5

Consistently Second Cindy. That's me. It's been true since my beginning. It started when my mother gave birth to me, second! That may not be a fair assumption but technically, my brother came first by twelve years, so I can't even say the doctor goofed on the time of birth. I was never voted patrol leader in Girl Scouts, it was always assistant patrol leader.

When my teacher looked over our handwriting papers, she chose mine and Ellen's. Our teacher never liked penning the masters for the mimeograph machine, so she chose students with good handwriting to print them. It was Ellen Moore or me, and Ellen won. She got to write the masters until she fell on the play ground and broke her right arm. Then second place wasn't so bad.

High school was my worst nightmare. While upper classmen were searching for ways to beat the school rules and walk to the fast food place down the street for lunch, I was still trying to find my way to the lunchroom.

In band try-outs, I never achieved first clarinet. Second clarinet was the best I could render. And when the day came to try-out for drum majorette - you guessed it, assistant drum majorette. In track, I never won the 440 yard dash (that's where the name Consistently Second Cindy was coined). I would have sworn the second place podium had my name engraved on it.

It seems my life is full of seconds and frankly, sometimes it gets old. Everyone needs an occassional pat on the back. Today my dear friend sends me an instant message that says, "Here's today's Upper Room Thought For the Day: When has God sent an angel to direct, comfort or encourage you? You're that person, Cindy, so thanks."

That's when it hit me. Some of us aren't meant to be the dog that gets the treat. Some of us are chosen to wait. Maybe all these years of being Consistently Second Cindy was just the preparation for being the voice of urgency and support. These days, second place doesn't bother me. I got over it when I gave birth. I figured giving birth was a first place feat, so I lost the title of Consistently Second.

After all Jesus wasn't first place either. He wasn't invited to dine with families. Most of the time, He invited himself. He certainly didn't win the coin toss when it came to Him or Barabbas! Come to think of it, second place is really not so bad. Learning to wait for God's timing is easy to verbalize to our friends, but actually learning to do it--well, that's a whole lot different. Wait for the Lord and your time will come. Wait with confidence, patience, and excitement for your time will come.

Until then, I wait.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Ane Mulligan


"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." -- Luke 18: 13-14

Humbling the Ham

by: Ane Mulligan

What makes an actor, or any entertainer for that matter, able to perform in front of an audience? One man's knees knock, he perspires profusely and hyperventilates, wishing the trap door in the stage floor would open. Yet the actor moves with grace and confidence. Why?

God wired the actor with a measure of-dare we call it-ego, along with his talent, to enable him to be comfortable in the spotlight. At the same time, God calls us to humble ourselves for His glory. So how do we accommodate both humility and the ham within? By remembering who gave us the talent and for whom we perform.


A simple "thank you" is sufficient when complimented on a performance, but offer God the praise, recognizing without His gifting, we'd flop. Give Him all the glory. The Bible says the proud will be humbled. Better to humble ourselves before the King, than be humbled in front of an audience.


ACFW web Ane Mulligan

Ane Mulligan has a varied professional past: hair dresser, legislative affairs director, and writer-her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for fiction. She's co-owner of the popular literary blogs Novel Journey & Novel Reviews and has published dozens of plays and several articles. Ane served as creative arts director for The Family Church for eleven years. Residing in Suwanee, GA with her husband, they are owned by one very large dog.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID ....April 18, 2008

HE SAID -- The Best Part of Waking Up

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning..., therefore I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion, I will wait for him." - Lamentations 3:22-24

There is a popular jingle that goes, "The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup!" The folks at Folgers understand the power of praise, so they sing the accolades of their product. And it works. The aroma of Folgers freshly brewed coffee fills my bedroom each morning, pulling me from the bed. That, plus my dog jumping up and down on her hind legs warning that they'll be something else in my cup if I don't get a move on.

But there are other smells, as well. The scent of my wife after she's showered. The smell of soap and perfume and the sound of the hair dryer as she styles her hair. The freshness of my bride also pulls me into the day.

God does a little tugging, too. The writer of Lamentations tells us that God's love and compassion are new each morning, and I've found that to be true. When I've caught myself in a sin, the beginning of a new day marks the moment I can move beyond the guilt. The failure of yesterday's fall is history. Old news. His portion is rich each day.

And to be honest, the time I spend with Him each morning is the best part of my day. As I open my Bible and read His word, I always find at least one promise, command, or exhortation that directs my eyes on the focus of that day. The pages of my Bible are marked yellow from the ink of highlighters, my devotional journal filled with reassuring scripture of His promises of provision.

The best part of waking up, is God in my life. He has placed a hole in my soul for the rich smell of His love. The aroma of His compassion pulls me up even when life beats me down. If you're dragging this morning, ask yourself this question. What's in your cup?

If it's not Christ then your portion is no better than the burnt scab of yesterday's decaffeinated brew.

*****************************


SHE SAID -- PORTIONS



"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning..., therefore I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion, I will wait for him." - Lamentations 3:22-24

Portions are hard for me. I mean, I’m a southerner. We love a healthy serving of biscuits and gravy, and it’s just not right if you can’t have seconds. Of course the consequence of over indulgence is the junior plenty backside that follows us where ever we go. There’s nothing like a good plate of southern cooking.

When I passed 45 in a mad rush to 50, it dawned on me what it meant to proportion things. My plate was loaded with over-sized servings. Between my family, job, writing, church, and school, the thin paper plate I was loading down, folded in the middle and “stuff” fell everywhere. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, my stomach stayed in knots, and a looming sadness fell across my heart. The harsh reality of being overwhelmed shadowed me.

Having always been the queen of time management, juggling four growing boys, work, and their school schedules, I thought it would be easy to rearrange the items on the plate –put the heavy items close to my palm and the lighter pieces near my fingers. But it didn’t work. There were too many irons in the fire and none of them were hot. Stepping back was hard, and something I fought against, but I moved away and looked at the mess that had hit the floor, and then grabbed the paper towels. It was time to clean up.

The world pushes us toward exhaustion and frustration by continually shoving huge helpings onto our plates. We are consumed by menial tasks and our sights are moved away from the things that are valuable and important. I took a long look at my plate and realized the one portion I needed seconds in was the Father. Waiting has never been something I’m good at, but I had to learn to wait on Him, and when He came to me the portions were perfect. He allowed me a clean, new plate that was balanced, and my life smoothed.

The Father’s love saves us from consumption and offers us a new start every day. We only have to wait for Him and trust His portions will fill us to overflowing. Is your plate bending in the middle? Let the Father scrape away some of the weight and give you good proportions. He is the balance we need.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

IN THE BEGINNING.....


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surfaceof the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. - Genesis 1:1-2

IN THE BEGINNING......

Joseph pulled to the edge of the road and shoved the gearshift into park. Reaching overhead he punched the light by the rearview mirror. He flipped open his map and ran his finger along Interstate 81. Where in heavens name am I?

He should have listened to his wife when she suggested purchasing a new map. His were old. Besides maps don't change that much. Joseph rolled his eyes. I hate it when she's right. As much as it hurt him to admit it, he was lost. With no signs of life for miles, a quarter of a tank of gas, and darkness closing in, he wondered where he'd gone wrong. If he could only start over.

How often have we been lost and wandering, and let's not mention -low on gas. We'd never want to admit it out loud, but we become afraid and start to wonder what will we do if- There have been plenty of times I've wanted to start from the beginning and see if I can fix the things that have gotten messed up. In fact, I did that today. I asked God if we could just start from the beginning.

God, in his infinite wisdom said yes, because He offers me His grace as a result of Christ. When I think of the times the Father has allowed me to go back to the beginning and start again, it's very humbling. Imagine what it must have been like for Him "in the beginning." He was able to take a formless clump of darkness and shape it into all we see today. I've wondered about me as a nothingness, and I've wondered if each time I fall to my knees and ask for forgiveness, does the Father sees me as formless and darkness. I hope so, because then, a smile will part His lips as He re-forms me from the beginning.

In the beginning God created. You and I are part of that creation. I, for one, am glad my heavenly Father is somewhat artistic. Each time He starts over on me, He forms me as beautifully as He did the first time, and each time I mess up His work, He forgives me and starts again.

Search for God in His Creation and you will find Him.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wrinkles



You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in the true righteousness and holiness. --Ephesians 4:22-24



Ella Danielle Byington-Byerson. She neatly penned the name her parents had given her. Ella's wrist ached as she signed the inside covers of one-hundred plus books. The manager of the store scurried about opening additional boxes of Beauty Beneath the Beast. His store had only experienced one-day sales like this at Christmas.


Ella tipped a deep green bottle to her lips and swallowed as a young mother explained to her son that Perrier was water not an alcoholic beverage. Then she went back to signing. The front book cover presented a glowing young woman, perfect teeth, eyes, and lips-all probably fake. This was not Ella's first book, but it was the one that struck home. She'd had a harsh realization that morning when she opened the first book and noticed small wrinkles below her knuckles. Shocked that she'd never noticed them before, Ella balled her hands into a fist and watched as the skin tightened to smooth and young looking. Where had this come from?


She found herself worrying about the corners of her eyes. Wrinkles. A strand of hair dropped across her cheek. There was probably grey in her blonde. She'd always been beautiful and now, the reality of aging stung.


We place such importance on things that really do not matter. Oh, I'll be the first to admit that I pull a bit closer and peer at the tiny wrinkles forming around my eyes. Who doesn't as the reality of aging settles in? I'm comfortable with who I am. My earthly body could stand some improvement, a nip and a tuck here or there, a little touch around the lips and eyes, but none of that matters in heaven (besides, that makes it hard to justify the cost on earth). I'm excited for my new body, and I wonder what it will be like to be perfect again.


Until that day, Christ has armed me with all I need here on earth. He's given me the ability to put off my old self and put on my new one -lose the sinful skin and step into the new. The fit can get a little snug when the old me tries to break through. Once I'm squeezed in, I can feel the new taking hold and shaping me, giving me back what I'd lost as a child. The problem is most of us aren't willing to wiggle and make the fit. If we do; if we make the effort, it's a tiny taste of heaven-the flavor of the new body and the new life. The hard part is keeping it clean.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

IGNORED

".....pray continually;" -1 Thessalonians 4:17

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

James 1:22 -


Ignored
Ignored......

God and I weren't talking today. I suppose I should clarify that statement. I was talking but God wasn't. You see, I've had some important things on my heart so I prayed about them. In fact, I've prayed for months. What do I hear from God? Nothing, nadda, zippo! Not a peep.

As a child, my mother knew the best way to punish me was the silent treatment. It drives me nuts. I can't stand being shunned. God knows that, too. He and my mother must have been in cahoots, because, I've talked and talked, but God is simply not speaking.

So, tonight I shrugged, slapped my legs, and plopped down on a rock. Resting my elbows on my knees, I tinkered with a blade of grass. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Father, down on all fours, work gloves on, pulling a few weeds. I watched as He inched His way along the cobblestone walkway.

My stomach grew tight and I could hear my heart pounding. I said nothing. I was talked out. I wanted to ask Him if He was mad at me, and I resisted for a long time. My jaws ached from gritting my teeth. Picking up a pebble, I tossed it in the pond, the ripples rolled across the water jumbling my reflection.

Several minutes passed and I finally spoke, "You mad at me?" The Father sat to one side of the sidewalk then brushed his forehead with the top of his hand. He went back to His work.

"Great! Another one-sided conversation. Father, why are you ignoring me? I don't get it. We've talked about everything in the past. You tell me to pray continually. So, what have I done wrong?"

He sighed and pulled off His muddy gloves. "Here's the thing. You keep talking and I'm done discussing. I hear every word you say. I listen. Honest. I know about the plotline in the novel, about the kids, about your friends. I know all that. And yes, I tell you to pray continually. This is not an issue of praying. It's an issue of listening."

My heart sank and tears filled my eyes. I rolled to my stomach and touched my finger to the water, gently drawing circles on the surface. A leaf dropped from the tree and a breeze carried it across the pond like a ship on the sea. The tears that filled my eyes dripped into the water like rain from the heavens. I was hurt-really hurt.

"So, are You saying I'm being pushy?"

"No. I'm saying You're preaching to the choir and I've already got the music worked out. Just listen to it play. For the time being, until you listen, I'm finished discussing."

Sometimes it hurts when the Father makes a point. None of us like to admit we have a hard time hearing, but we do. We're so busy talking, we don't hear His music. And failing to listen, blinds us as well. A double whammy! God hears our every word, but sometimes we never hear His. So I guess tonight, I'll hush.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Guest Devotionalist -- Aaron Gansky


wisemen
Namesake

By: Aaron Gansky

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. -- 2 Kings 22:1-2

AND

He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the Lord. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. -- 2 Kings 23:12



Even as a teenager, I was impressed. I was in what amounted to a cerulean felt dress (the costume designer insisted it was a royal robe) in front of an audience of just over 100 people (including my mother and father). I should have been embarrassed. I should have felt self-conscious about my stringy white legs hanging like two rogue threads from my "royal robe." Instead, I was thinking about the play I was in-"Good Kings Come in Small Packages." It was a church production of a piece that centered on the life of Josiah, the boy who would be king.

Eight years old and ruling the nation. Not just ruling it, but doing it well. Where does an eight year old with a wicked (sadistic, twisted, and about a dozen other adjectives also work well here) father get the guts to rule with such confidence, such righteousness. How does he give an order in such a way that his charges don't crack up laughing? How does he command respect?

I remember as an eight year old, I marched into a toy store with a crisp twenty. I was going to buy a video game and my folks were waiting for me in the next store over in the mall. I stood at the counter, shy, timid, waiting patiently (as my parents taught me) to be acknowledged so I could tell the employee which game I wanted (what was it-The Karate Kid? That must have been it). I must have waited for fifteen minutes. The whole time I was staring at the employee and she (what, a sixteen year old high school student-the ultimate ignoring machine) would look at me quizzically, then help an adult. Then, another adult would cut in front of me and she'd help them. Each time, though I was smoldering inside, I waited. Finally, when I was the only breathing thing left in the store, she finally asked if she could help me. I asked politely for the game and flummoxed her. Surely I didn't have the money to buy a video game by myself.

But here's an eight year old commanding his subjects and they unquestionably follow his word. His demands, mind you, were not for a kingly peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. They were to tear down popular idols and places of worship. Granted, they were used for pagan practices, but they were popular nonetheless. Unflinchingly, without wasting time, Josiah gave uncompromising orders to utterly destroy anything that defiled the name of God. He was unquestionably, unflinchingly, uncompromisingly righteous.

Playing the part of Hilkiah, the high priest who helped advise Josiah during his reign, feeling oddly confident in my womanly attire, I decided on the spot that my first son would be named Josiah.

Now-all I have to do is pray that I'm a better father than Amon.

Aaron and boysAaron Gansky is a writer and teacher living in California.

Friday, April 11, 2008

HE SAID - SHE SAID ....April 11, 2008


Weed Be Gone - He Said




Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
- James 1:21


I hate a weed. Our neighborhood has one of those commons areas beside our home. When we first moved into our house, this plot of land was covered with rocks, dirt and weeds. I spent three years landscaping the dirt on a piece of property I didn't own because I hated the sight of the weeds. Plus, they were spitting their seed onto my lawn.

Then a couple of years ago the homeowners association (HOA for short which, as you know, stands for Home Owner Asylum, because you'd have to be completely out of your mind to agree to live in a subdivision with one of these) finally spent some money and had a landscape crew come in to dress up the vacant lot. They planted golf grass, carved out a few flower beds, buried some sticks that eventually grew into trees, and then, raised our dues.

The vacant lot got to looking better. Then this year the HOA abandoned the commons area and gave it back to the weeds.

A few weeks ago I went around the area pulling up weeds. It felt good to rip broad leaf invaders up by the roots. I thought I'd done something big, you know. Improved the look of our neighborhood. But the weeds came back, this time with dandelions, and there are too many to pull, so I've given up.

While I was looking at that disgusting lot I heard God remind me that my attempts to rip out the sin in my life are about as futile as my efforts to de-weed that vacant lot. I can stop sinning for a while, but not for long. Lord knows I've tried.

Earlier this year, while I was battling a particular weed in my life, I fell on my knees and told Jesus he'd have to deal with it. That I couldn't keep it from coming back and taking over. So now that plot in my soul is His responsibility.

Do I still stress about it? Sure. Do I still encourage the weed? Sometimes. But really, I'm looking forward to the day when that portion of my soul is golf grass perfect.

There's a reason Christ came to die for my sin. He knew I could never pull the weeds fast enough to keep the lawn of my heart pure. Praise God, with His help, I don't have to. I only have to give my sin over to Him and let him cleanse, trim and manicure my heart.

I have no idea what people who don't have Christ do about their weeds. I guess they could argue that their lawn is putting green pure. But I know weeds. And I've watched a few rounds of golf in Augusta, so I know what a good looking spread of golf grass can look like.

I also know that left on its own neither a man's heart or his lawn gets to looking like that without a Master's touch. So if you're having trouble keeping the sins out of your life, ask... no, beg Christ to take over that area of your life.

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Ashamed and Embarrassed -- She Said


Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. – James 1:21

A few months ago, I sat at a dinner event with a friend. We’d both worked hard with this group and we were thrilled to accept their invitation to attend an awards evening. We dressed up “real purty,” from the panty hose to the lip gloss. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with royal treatment. As the program began the speaker read a short bio. My heart raced, the color left my face as I thought, “This is about me.” I nearly died. The speaker led a toast to my friend. I was stunned. The bio sounded like my own, even down to the little tidbits of service. My face turned crimson and heat permeated from every pore of my body. Embarrassed was not EVEN close. I was just thankful I didn’t jump the gun and stand up before the name was read. It didn’t bother me that I was not the recipient, but what got my goat was I assumed it was “all about me.” I’d fallen prey to sin and I was ashamed.

When I walked by the river today, I caught a glimpse of the Father sitting on a boulder jutting from the water, one knee up, arm resting across it. He chewed a piece of dried grass and as I neared him, He motioned for me to join Him. Laying across the boulder, I rested my elbows on the stone.

“We need to talk.” I said.

“I know. I was waiting,” the Father replied as He slipped His foot into the water.

“It’s not like You don’t already know what I need to say.”

“No, it’s not. But I need to hear you utter the words.”

“I know. That part stinks.”

“Uh-huh. That’s why it’s called repentance.” He tossed a crumb of bread near his foot and smiled as the fish surfaced to nibble.

“My heart wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t mean to assume. I mean, the bio sounded like mine. I’m embarrassed and ashamed that I thought that recognition was for me.”

“It happens –mistakes, that is. You slipped up, let the Father of lies whisper to your ego.”

“Thank God, I didn’t do that.”

“You’re welcome. But no need to thank me.”

“I really work hard to keep my heart in the right place. I mean, I make great effort to try and do that. I’m so ashamed.”

We sat quietly for some time, Him tinkering with the fish and me watching. Not a word was uttered. “Are You mad?”

“Mad about what?”

I groaned. “About my heart being wrong.”

“Wrong about what?” He asked.

“Assuming the recognition was for me.”

“What recognition?”

It took a minute for me to realize, I love a God that forgets! For some of us, forgetting is a serious matter, but not for God. It’s an intentional habit.

He wants me to tell him my sin and then He forgets. That makes me humble. So, tonight as I crawl into bed, I’ll thank God for setting my heart straight and then forgetting.

Do you have things to tell the Father? Share with Him. You’ll be glad you did, because in the end, He forgets.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking for anything.

James 1:3 & 4

I closed my eyes and pulled a long, deep breath in through my nose and held it, listening as the echo of my heart beat a steady rhythm in my ears. I filled my jaws with the air and blew it slowly through my teeth. Grasping my neck at the shoulders I pressed and pulled at my muscle. The tension caused my back to ache.

My knees sank into the sand as the foamy waves of the ocean rushed across me, pulling grit and shell mixture from beneath my legs. The ache of exhaustion tugged at my mind, weighing heavy on my thoughts. Water dripped from my chin and the taste of salt made me ill. I fell forward into the wash, elbows burrowing into the beach, my fingers slowly sinking below the surface. I stretched, pulling my buried legs free.

Over my shoulder the Father stood, bare foot in the water, the tail of His robe swaying with the roll of the waves. He motioned me to come, yet He never took a step toward me.

“I’m trying to stand!” I shouted.

“I’ll wait,” the Father said, “No where else to go but here.”

I squinted my eyes and swiped the salty taste from my lips. “I could use some help.”

“Yes, you could, but what good would it do for me to lift you from the sand? It’s just sand.”

“You sayin’ You pick and choose when to help me?”

“No. I’m saying I help you when you really need it. This is just sand, it moves with every sweep of the ocean. Persevere. I’ll be right here.”

How many times have we felt that the Father ignores us or refuses to help? Countless, would be my guess. He promises to be there, to help us, to save us, but I can’t get Him to walk ten steps and lift me out of the sand. “Why, God? Why?”

“I’ve never failed you. Persevere. Get up. Come to me.” He said.

I lifted my body from the water, staggering toward Him, His hands extended. When I reached Him, I fell into His grasp. The Father slipped His arm around my waist pulling me to my feet. That’s when I learned what perseverance meant. It’s a long obedience in the same direction –that continual obedience that we must have even when it’s hard. When we persevere, He always grabs us before we fall. It’s up to us to reach. After all, it’s just sand.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are You Ready?


Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him…..You also must be ready. – Luke 12: 35, 36 & 40



The chatter prior to Sunday school filled the sanctuary. The women were hugging one another, smiling and sharing their joy to visit, while many of the men moved among the pews shaking hands, welcoming each person. The sun peeked through the stain glass casting a yellow hue that seemed to warm the hearts of all those present. One of the kids opened a piece of grape gum and the scent floated through the air causing my jaws to sting thinking of the sourness. This was nice.

I stood at the pulpit, peering over my glasses, content in the fellowship of the congregation and I wondered should I follow through with my plan. There was such peace and happiness among the members, I hated to scare them. I reached for a hymnal and lifting well above my shoulder I slammed it with a great force against the wooden top.

“Are you ready?” I shouted. “Are you prepared?” A gasp fell over the room as the people were startled. One lady in the rear of the church returned a frightened reply.

“We’re ready. Honest! We’re ready!” Laughter rolled through the crowd as people tried to decide if I was serious.

Shouting again I said, “I asked you, Maria! Are you ready? They’re bombing the city. I sent word and told you to be ready we may have to flee. Are you ready?”

Maria hung her head. “I am not, father.”

A hush fell across the congregation, puzzled and perplexed many furrowed their brow, some shook their heads. Stepping away from the pulpit, I asked in a gentle tone. “Are you ready? For when the Father comes there is no time to prepare. Are you ready now?”

We take so much for granted. Hundreds of times I have asked you to rise before the sun and wait for the sunrise. I wanted you to see its beauty. So much is missed by not being ready to watch. And what about the defense of your faith? Are you ready? Are you prepared to offer the evidence?

When you knock at the door of the wedding, will you be invited in because you were prepared and arrived early or will you be late and the door be locked? In a world where we are offered many freedoms, much wealth and great prosperity, we often forget the one who stands at the door knocking. The one who wants into your heart—the giver and maker of all things waits patiently for you to invite Him in.

If you have not once risen before the sun and waited to see the day break then why would you have prepared for the coming of Christ? Setting the alarm is simple, but readying yourself for the Father takes effort and perseverance. Are you ready? Are you prepared or will you wonder what you have missed?

ARE YOU READY VIDEO - CLICK HERE TO VIEW

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Light that Finds Me in Early Morning - Guest Devotionalist Derek Maul


Guest Devotionalist -- Derek Maul

I love the light that finds me in the early morning.

I usually leave the house when it is still dark. Then, somewhere in the first mile and a half, details begin to emerge; the grass changes from black to green and almost immediately the birds begin to sing.

I'm not sure if color even inhabits the trees and the flowers at night, but the moment the light comes the truth about their beauty is instantly revealed. Was it there all along? Is it simply revealed by the light? Or does light somehow create anew at the beginnings of the day?

That's pretty much how I feel, sometimes; walking home, picking up the newspaper, making coffee, standing over the sink and watching life pour over the small rise behind our house and into the kitchen window; long shadows from the east and the morning heavy with promise; I feel made new.

The morning is a kind of altar on which I can offer what is made possible by light.

Two weeks ago, doing an interview with a local pastor, I was taken by the communion table set at the front of the church sanctuary; its simplicity, its rough-hewnness. This particular faith community called it an altar, because the bread and the wine represent the very real and very complete sacrifice made on our behalf when Jesus offered his body and his blood. Each new day is the venue where, essentially, I vote on how much Christ's action really means to me. Rather than the diffused revelations of candle-light, I appreciate the way early morning sunshine highlights with such gentle clarity exactly everything I bring to the table.

So what do I bring to the table - the altar, the new light in the kitchen window - this day? How will my pilgrim way refract the truth of insistent life and bring communion to my world?

I don't know. But today I am committed to the light.

DEREK MAUL is the author of Get Real, A Spritual Journey for Men and a columist for the Tampa Tribune. Buy Now



His book second book, My Heart I Carry A Star: Stories for Advent" is to be released August 2008).

Friday, April 4, 2008

He Said, She Said - April 4, 2008

FREEDOM TO ROAM -- HE SAID


By: Eddie Jones



"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." - Isaiah 30:20-21






I'm a lawbreaker. In our town there is an ordinance that states all pets must be restrained on a six-foot long, lanyard-type leash but I ignore this law and walk my dog using a remote leash.



My dog's collar has a receiver that responds to a transmitter I carry in my hand. The range is around 100 feet. If Sandy gets too far ahead I'll whistle for her. Usually she comes right back, but if not, I press a button and her collar beeps. She comes slinking back, then. But sometimes even that doesn't work, so I press another button that both beeps AND shocks her. Because of this negative reinforcement my dog has learned to listen for my voice and respond to my commands.



In some ways God does that with us. We can choose to roam, ignore His voice commands and sprint beyond the range of his zapper. We can run from God and go off in the woods, alone. When Sandy does this I call her "lost."



People outside the church think Christianity is about limiting the fun, restricting the passion of life and following a list of "don'ts." Nothing could be further from the truth. Sandy enjoys a world way beyond the six-foot range of the noose-like leashes other dogs wear. But she only gets to keep her freedom when she obeys my voice. When she deliberately disobeys I put her back on the rope. Then we're both in compliance.



When God gave us free will He gave us the freedom to escape the range of his voice and many have. But Christians know the call of love and we respond to it. Perfect freedom is found in perfect obedience.



If you are struggling to hear God's direction in your life slow down, stop and sit. Perhaps you have rushed ahead of his pace. Maybe he said to "wait" or slow down, and you did, but not long enough. If you have a sense of being lost then you should do like Sandy in the picture above, turn around and look back towards Him. For me, this requires that I fall on my knees and open my Bible.



If you want life, true abundant life, then learn to hear His voice and trust his commands. He wants to give you more, not less. For those who follow Christ the best is yet to come.









THAT STILL SMALL VOICE -- SHE SAID


by: Cindy Sproles




I headed out to a 7:00 a.m. class and when I pushed open the huge doors from the dorm I was met by a blinding fog. The Bible college I attended sat along the banks of the French Broad River and early morning fog across the pastures was not uncommon. You couldn't see three feet in front of you.

I stepped off the porch and felt my way down the stairs to the long sidewalk that led to the education building. Heaving my backpack onto my shoulder I inched my way through the thick mist. There was no sound, and the deeper I walked into the mist the more disoriented I became.

Dropping my satchel, I knelt to the ground in hopes to get my bearings. From behind me I heard the voice of an angel ringing through the mist. A clear, a high soprano with perfect pitch and a tender vibrato filled the air.

Spirit of the Living God echoed across the campus. Standing I looked to my left and then to my right and I couldn't see a thing. I was lost, yet the voice behind me spurred me to move forward. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me floated through the thickness of the morning. Within a matter of moments Rachael, the angel in the mist, stumbled upon me.

"You can't see either?" she asked. "I sing on mornings like this. When I'm close to the building, my voice bounces back. Walk this way." She smiled and slipped her arm through mine. Then she began to sing again.

I'll never forget that morning. The morning an angel came from behind me to lead me to safety. Being lost in the fog doesn't seem like a big deal. We can wait till it lifts and find our way, but to me it was life changing. When I think of the times I look to the left and then to the right and I can't see my way clear. I'm blinded by the fog. Fear rises to the surface and I wonder if I'll find my way back, when from behind me I hear a voice-the voice of a redemptive Savior whispering to walk on.

When you feel disoriented, lost, or confused, listen to the voice that whispers from behind. Listen intently and you will hear that still small voice offering you the direction you need. The Father will say, "Walk this way. Walk in it."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Write On!


Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

– 1 Timothy 4: 12 & 13

I spent the weekend slaving over my novel, writing and rewriting, polishing and fixing, changing, seeking after perfection. If I wanted to enter this work in a contest everything had to be perfect. Therein lays the problem. I’m about the farthest thing from perfection as it comes. My own impulsive and spontaneous personality has its pitfalls and my striving toward perfection – well, that’s not a strong suit. Once I hit the send button and the novel was sent, I asked myself why writing means so much to me?

Everyone would love to have a book in Barnes and Nobel. Even the most boring person has a story to tell, so who are we to judge? For me, being an author is a passion, not just a fleeting thought.

Every serious writer knows the odds of publication –it’s a cold hard fact of the business that many are written but few are chosen. I realize that though my book may not be in print yet, I am still a published author.

We’re all writers. Each one of us has written a book that is picked apart by the stiffest critics, loved by the romantics, and quoted from frequently. Our life is read daily by those around us. Cliché’, I know, but I think it’s important that we realize the impact we have on others. When we look at ourselves as published authors, then the lives we present to the world become best-selling novels. People pick up our lives and thumb through pages, reading the gory details. That’s when we have to ask, “What have I written?” What are people reading in me? When they skim through my pages do they see my Father’s eyes? Am I being what God wants me to be?

I’ll probably never write the perfect piece, but I’ll continue to try by studying, learning and practicing the skills God has given me. Oh, I want that book in Barnes and Nobel and I’ll keep plugging away with the help of a few good friends. But the work that is read most often, the one that tells the greatest story, is the novel I pen daily in my Christian life. I’ll continue to practice my writing daily, learn to critique my work, take constructive criticism –improve. Then, when others read my life’s novel perhaps they will say, “What a good story.”

Is the Father pleased with your book?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

INDENTITY CRISIS - Guest Devotionalist, Candy Arrington


Identity Crisis?

By Suzannah Ruthanne Candy Neely Willingham Arrington

“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV).

If I wanted to, I could have a major identity crisis. Over the years, my name has been misused and confused. The name I was given at birth is a name I’ve never been called. My mother wanted to name me Suzannah, but my father didn’t, so, they settled for naming me for my grandmother, Ruth Anne. While still in the hospital nursery, folks began calling me “Baby” Ruth to distinguish me from my grandmother. The name caught on quickly and soon my father decided that if I was Baby Ruth, I was Candy, i.e., the candy bar. Thus, the child whose birth certificate read “Ruth Anne Neely” became “Candy Neely.” To this day, there are still some annoying people who insist on calling me “Candace” because they are sure that is my REAL name.

My numerous nomenclatures have been a source of confusion for government agencies, schools, insurance companies, the highway department, and countless individuals. Diplomas, award certificates, my wedding invitations, and even checks reflect my various nombres. I’ve successfully created aliases without even trying. Even now, when I have manuscripts accepted for publication, editors reply with “exactly how should we make out the check?” It’s especially confusing when I use my pen name “Suzannah Willingham.” Mama liked the name Suzannah and I do, too, so I figure I should use it from time to time.

When I married, I decided I didn’t want to lose the “Anne” in my name so I began writing the “Ruth” and “Anne” together. Thus, my married name legally is Ruthanne N. Arrington… I think. At least that’s how the IRS has me listed so I guess it must be official. Very quickly I went from a compact ten-letter name to too much name to fit on the blanks of most things I need to sign.

Some people would be disturbed to have such a vast array of monikers. I rather like it. I can be whomever I feel like being on that particular day. If I feel formal, I can use my married legal name. If I feel witty and happy, I’m Candy. If I’m feeling moody or mysterious, I might be Suzannah Ruth. The choice is mine.

It’s comforting to know Jesus has lots of names, too. Sometimes the name “Jesus” is all that keeps me from a real identity crisis. Because I put my faith and trust in Him, I am saved and bear the name “Christian.” For me, there is no confusion about that title. I’m redeemed and the name “Jesus” is emblazoned on my heart and life. No amount of confused name-calling can cause me to question that name, nor can it be taken away from me. I’m not concerned about which of my names is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Perhaps it simply reads “my child.” No matter what the designation, I’m content knowing my name is there and my Father recognizes me.

Father, I’m thankful you know us no matter what our earthly names.

Candy Arrington is a contributing writer for Focus on the Family's Focus on Focus on Your Child parenting publications. Additionally, her publishing credits include: The Upper Room, Encounter, Discipleship Journal, The Lookout, Advanced Christian Writer, CBN.com, and Writer's Digest. Candy is co-author of AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). How to Have a Life While Caring for Your Aging Parent releases July 2009 - Harvest House Publishers. She is also on staff with The Christian Communicator Manuscript Critique Service and teaches at several national writers’ conferences. http://www.CandyArrington.com



Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fool that I Am










We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong….

1 Corinthians 4:10

There are times when I doubt. Times when I wonder, “What’s the point?” Trusting is like spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. I’ve fallen to my knees and cried out to God, only to have the words fall upon deaf ears. I’ve asked, “Why won’t You listen, better yet, why won’t You answer?”

I’ve worked hard to accomplish projects that might serve the church or God’s people, encouraged a handful of others to hop on the bandwagon and seen the efforts work for awhile and then fall by the wayside, regardless of how hard I try to pick up the pieces.

Fact is, I finally figured out, I’m not the savior of the church. It’s not me who has to keep things running, who has to manage every program, do every job, open the doors of the church every Sunday. I can’t do it all and more so, I don’t want to do it all.

When I look at the amount of projects I’m personally involved in, just in church, I have to cross my arms and say, “Shish, God. Can’t you pick on someone else?”

Now that you’re wondering if this woman who has professed to love the Lord with her heart, soul and mind, has lost her mind –then listen up.

I am a fool for Christ and I do love Him with my entire being. Under no circumstance, do I begrudge any of the projects I’ve taken on for the kingdom because I love being a servant. However, it wasn’t me that came up with April Fool’s Day! Though I can say, it is me who can take advantage of it! So Happy April Fool’s Day.

Throughout this “foolish” ranting, there is a message and the truth of the matter is, my bestfriend Mark tells me, “You need to slow down.” He’s right. My plate is full and it’s taking its toll on me physically. I have given up some of my hats within the church and other places, too –not because I didn’t want to do them but because others need an opportunity to serve where their talents lie as well. I love being a servant and my heart is completely foolish for the Lord. And for all the times I have fallen to my knees, God has never failed to answer.

May you be a fool for Christ, wise and strong in Him, fully trusting the one who IS the Savior of the church, who IS the giver of life, and who loves us completely.