Archives for : April2014

A David Song, Which He Sang to God After Being Saved from All His Enemies and from Saul-Psalm 18

18 1-2 I love you, God—
you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
the castle in which I live,
my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
where I run for dear life,
hiding behind the boulders,
safe in the granite hideout.
3 I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
and find myself safe and saved.
4-5 The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat;
devil waters rushed over me.
Hell’s ropes cinched me tight;
death traps barred every exit.
6 A hostile world! I call to God,
I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;
my cry brings me right into his presence—
a private audience!
7-15 Earth wobbles and lurches;
huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves
because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;
his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;
he lowers the sky.
He steps down;
under his feet an abyss opens up.
He’s riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger.
16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
20-24 God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
25-27 The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can’t figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.
28-29 Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,
I vault the highest fences.
30 What a God! His road
stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.
31-42 Is there any god like God?
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;
I’m king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;
I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;
you hold me up with a firm hand,
caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me
so my footing was firm.
When I chased my enemies I caught them;
I didn’t let go till they were dead men.
I nailed them; they were down for good;
then I walked all over them.
You armed me well for this fight,
you smashed the upstarts.
You made my enemies turn tail,
and I wiped out the haters.
They cried “uncle”
but Uncle didn’t come;
They yelled for God
and got no for an answer.
I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind.
I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter.
43-45 You rescued me from a squabbling people;
you made me a leader of nations.
People I’d never heard of served me;
the moment they got wind of me they listened.
The foreign devils gave up; they came
on their bellies, crawling from their hideouts.
46-48 Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me
and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,
he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.
49-50 That’s why I’m thanking you, God,
all over the world.
That’s why I’m singing songs
that rhyme your name.
God’s king takes the trophy;
God’s chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—
always.

 

 

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath-Luke 6

6 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. 2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

6 On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there.

9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

The Twelve Apostles

12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Blessings and Woes

17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

20 Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
25 Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
26 Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.
Love for Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Judging Others

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

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Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

 

Recently I was talking with a group of women about body image issues and the strain our culture places on women as desperately try to become “beautiful” in the eyes of society standards. One woman brought up the fact that there was a country that once had no television, and no real issue with anorexia. Apparently, once that country became media-ready and televisions invaded the land, they noticed an increase (up to 30%) of girls who were showing signs of anorexia. The “image plague” struck their society and began to change the girls in their midst. Body image, and the perception of beauty, changed.
The reality of “beauty” in our culture is quite deceiving. Just walk down your local toy store doll aisle, and look at the unrealistic proportions of the fashion dolls; each one modeling perfect hair, long legs, and overall body measurements that if translated to the average woman’s shape would look pretty silly in real life. Yet somehow, today’s girl looks at these dolls and craves similar curves, and sometimes even starves herself to achieve the tiny waistline, and plans for surgical procedures to augment her shape in other ways.
Also, think about the periodical displays at our local check out counter, look at the airbrushed pictures on the latest magazines. The young starlets that show up on the covers of these magazines are not exactly as they appear in print. A photo shopped nip here, a graphic tuck there, and voila! Perfection. We understand that what we see is not always what truth, but the impact of the media’s message is heard loud and clear by today’s girl. Strive for extreme perfection. Unfortunately, even in this airbrushed age, we can get caught in the trap feeling inferior to the false presentations on the newsstand.
Beyond the intangible expectations of our society, we as Christian women answer to a higher calling. We look to the Lord for our worth, and our acceptance. The only expectations and approval we should seek are that of our Father in heaven. And there is great news for us: God loves us. He adores us! He created us to be wonderful, diverse, and not anything like the media’s call to be an unattainable shape. God calls us to be His daughters. His followers. His servants. And you know what? The Almighty God loves us – loves you – just the way you are. And you are beautiful to Him!
In this women’s issue package from Jennifer Devlin, readers will understand the root of true beauty and happiness, the dangers of comparison, and receive practical helps for feeling beautiful in God’s sight.

You are Beautiful to God

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Familiar saying, but do we understand the magnitude of this thought in relation to the way God sees us? God looks upon us with love, and sees us as a beautiful creature He created. He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to provide a way for us to enjoy eternal fellowship with Him.
Somehow, on our worst hair day, or the time of the month when our clothes fit a bit tighter and our nerves are on edge, it is hard to imagine that the God of all creation would consider us beautiful. But He does. Even on our bad hair days! Society, on the other hand, will try and tell us that beauty is only skin deep – and that the newest procedures, products, and pills will be the answer to our most pressing image issues. Which will we believe? The cosmetic industry’s marketing mantra, or the Father who created us in His image?
God is head over heels in love with you and me, and desires for us to reflect His light to the world. Can you imagine? We can stand firm on this truth, knowing that God will always look to the beauty within us; the Spirit’s presence that guides us and helps us reflect the true beauty that comes from being a child of God Most High. Don’t toss to and fro to the tide of advertising schemes and skewed image requirements – stand strong on God’s Word, and delight in the promise that it is our inner beauty that pleases God. — JD
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge\u2014that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Comparison Trap

A friend once told me that women dress up to impress other women more than to receive approval from men. You know, I think she was right! Just look at how we, as women, plan our clothing and accessories — intentional and thoughtful. Thinking, rethinking, changing, and constantly assessing the outcome. Most men don’t even notice the details we spend hours planning. But women; they notice right away! Typical conversations may sound something like this:
New earrings?
Yes, they are! Nice shoes, where’d you get them?
Oh, at the store down the street. Thanks for noticing…
That sweater is a great color on you.
Have you lost weight? You look terrific!
Yes, I’ve been on the latest diet plan. Let me tell you all about it…

The niceties of conversation move from one topic to the next, but women somehow always incorporate image and presentation. Deep within, behind those acknowledgments and compliments, potentially lays another layer of observation – comparison. The earrings are better than someone else’s. The shoes must have been expensive. She looks so much nicer than another friend. Or, the comparisons may actually include the tragic comparison over weight issues. As women continually compare, compete, and cry over their current state of appearance, we fall into the snare set by the enemy. Today’s culture can hold us captive as we compare ourselves to others, the world, and the standards society sets for us…if we’re not careful to avoid the comparison trap. — JD

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Practical Steps to Beauty

Friend, you are beautiful to God. You matter to Him, no matter what your shape or size. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and as a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within you and guides you into all truth.
And yet, as you and I live in the world, we constantly hear messages that can make us feel a level of discontent. As we end this package’s sessions together, and have looked into comparisons, culture, and contentment, what’s a woman to do? How can we live victoriously as a believer and a woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes?
Here are some easy steps to understanding your true beauty:
  • Turn off the television when programs air that support unhealthy self image messages and stop buying magazines that promote unhealthy body shapes — keep away from the messages and media images that perpetuate culture’s unattainable standards.
  • Stay in the Word of God – especially seeking out verses that describe our worth to God, our beauty in His sight, and our standing in victory through Jesus Christ. Understand that those verses apply to you, your life, and the shape you are today.
  • Understand what you want to change about yourself and why – are you seeking change because of society’s demands, or because of a true inner desire? Evaluate motives, and only act on your desires if they will lead to personal goals being met instead of pressure from outside forces.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself daily with the truth that you are beautiful to God! — JD
“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

 

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Proverbs 31- The Perfect Wife

Wise Words for a King

31 These are the wise sayings that King Lemuel’s mother taught him:

2 I prayed for a son, and you are the son I gave birth to. 3 Don’t waste your strength on women. Women destroy kings, so don’t waste yourself on them. 4 Lemuel, it is not wise for kings to drink wine. It is not wise for rulers to want beer. 5 They may drink too much and forget what the law says. Then they might take away the rights of the poor. 6 Give beer to people without hope. Give wine to those who are in trouble. 7 Let them drink to forget their troubles. Let them forget they are poor.

8 Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Help people who are in trouble. 9 Stand up for what you know is right, and judge all people fairly. Protect the rights of the poor and those who need help.

The Perfect Wife

10 [a] How hard it is to find the perfect wife.[b]
She is worth far more than jewels.
11 Her husband depends on her.
He will never be poor.
12 She does good for her husband all her life.
She never causes him trouble.
13 She is always gathering wool and flax[c]
and enjoys making things with her hands.
14 She is like a ship from a faraway place.
She brings home food from everywhere.
15 She wakes up early in the morning,
cooks food for her family, and gives the servants their share.
16 She looks at land and buys it.
She uses the money she has earned and plants a vineyard.
17 She works very hard.
She is strong and able to do all her work.
18 She works late into the night
to make sure her business earns a profit.
19 She makes her own thread
and weaves her own cloth.
20 She always gives to the poor
and helps those who need it.
21 She does not worry about her family when it snows.
She has given them all good, warm clothes.
22 She makes sheets and spreads for the beds,
and she wears clothes of fine linen.
23 Her husband is a respected member of the city council,
where he meets with the other leaders.
24 She makes clothes and belts
and sells them to the merchants.
25 She is a strong person,[d] and people respect her.
She looks to the future with confidence.
26 She speaks with wisdom
and teaches others to be loving and kind.
27 She oversees the care of her house.
She is never lazy.
28 Her children say good things about her.
Her husband brags about her and says,
29 “There are many good women,
but you are the best.”
30 Grace and beauty can fool you,
but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised.
31 Give her the reward she deserves.
Praise her in public for what she has done.
Footnotes:

Proverbs 31:10 In Hebrew, each verse of this poem starts with the next letter of the alphabet, so this poem shows all the good qualities of a woman “from A to Z.”
Proverbs 31:10 the perfect wife Or “a noble woman.”

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Ecclesiastes 12 – Remember Your Creator

12 Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
2 before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
3 when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
5 when people are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags itself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.
6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.[a]
“Everything is meaningless!”
The Conclusion of the Matter

9 Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd.[b] 12 Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
Footnotes:

Ecclesiastes 12:8 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 9 and 10
Ecclesiastes 12:11 Or Shepherd
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Your Giving Is a Blessing – 2 Corinthians 9

9 I really don’t need to write to you about this help for God’s people. 2 I know that you want to help. I have been bragging about you to the people in Macedonia. I told them that you people in Achaia have been ready to give since last year. And your desire to give has made most of the people here ready to give also. 3 But I am sending these brothers to you. I don’t want our bragging about you in this to be for nothing. I want you to be ready just as I said you would be. 4 If any of those from Macedonia come with me, and they find that you are not ready, we will be ashamed. We will be ashamed that we were so sure of you. And you will be ashamed too! 5 So I thought that I should ask these brothers to come there before we do. They will help in getting together the generous gift you promised. Then it will be ready when we come, and it will be seen as a blessing you are giving, not as something you were forced to do.

6 Remember this: The one who plants few seeds will have a small harvest. But the one who plants a lot will have a big harvest. 7 Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. 8 And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work. 9 As the Scriptures say,

“He gives generously to the poor;
his goodness will continue forever.”
10 God is the one who gives seed to those who plant, and he gives bread for food. And God will give you spiritual seed and make that seed grow. He will produce a great harvest from your goodness. 11 God will make you rich in every way so that you can always give freely. And your giving through us will make people give thanks to God.

12 The service you are offering helps God’s people with their needs, but that is not all it does. It is also bringing more and more thanks to God. 13 This service is a proof of your faith, and people will praise God because of it. They will praise God that you freely share what you have with them and with all people. They will praise him to see you following the Good News about Christ that you openly accepted. They will praise God because you freely share with them and with all people. 14 And when they pray, they will wish they could be with you. They will feel this way because of the great grace that God gave you. 15 Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful to describe.

God Knows Best: Even If It Doesn’t Seem So

By Danni Andrew
Guest Writer

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My life has been an uproar lately. I have not been able to write, nor have I been able to think clearly. The time is fast approaching marking “one year”, since my Mother had her stroke. Soon after will be one year since I was forced to put her into a nursing home. Not long after will be … one year since she breathed her last on this planet.

When one person leaves such a huge void in my life, I am at a loss as to what to do about it. My life was not my own for so many years while I cared for the needs of my Mother. My dreams lay at the door, waiting for the moment when I could pick them up again. I do not regret one moment of the time spent with her. She needed me, and I needed to be needed!

God knew what my needs were before the words were even a breath. As I begged God to show me what to do to help my Mom, it became very clear that it wasn’t about what I wanted. I simply wanted my Mom back. I wanted her to get up off of that bed and tell me to quit being so bossy, just one more time! It wasn’t meant to be. It was her time and I needed to let her go peacefully. As much as I didn’t want to!

In those moments in time when I don’t have a clue what to do next, God does! When my head is hanging and my heart is broken, God knows what the next step is. God knows how much I hurt. He also knows that His plan is so much better. My Mom used to say, “If I could just get some rest I would feel better.” Well, Mom finally got the rest she has been wanting for such a long time.

As I stand here looking at my own dreams, I find it hard to pick them up. Somewhere in my sadness I must remind myself that it is ok to be sad, but I must also move on. My inability to write has been because of the loss of my Mom. Her words ring in my ears, “Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps and do what you have to do!” I have allowed myself to get bogged down in depression long enough. She lived a good life, and now so must I.

While I still feel like Job a bit, I am becoming more and more excited about the life that is before me. The door is opening and I must walk through it. My Mom would want me to. She was the one that read every Devotion I ever wrote. She was the one that always said, “Go for it!”

“I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” declares the LORD, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:14

While taking care of my Mom was not exactly “exile”, as I enjoyed my time with her, it was still somewhat of a deviation from what I had planned. It is a road I will never be sorry for taking.

You never know what the plans are that God has for you. You cannot know the road He will take you on. I learned many things about myself while taking care of my Mother – lessons that God felt I needed to learn. I am more patient now. I am somehow quieter as well. I am more reflective than I was before. My Mother and I spent the last eight months of her life studying the Bible. God knew all of this. He knew that I needed her just as much or more than she needed me! My life has been enriched because of the time spent with her. I am thankful for that time. My writing is much better now than it was before, and somehow God knew that too.