Friday, October 30, 2009

This Week's WORD

The LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken...
The LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 21:17, 22:25

That's pretty much what it came down to. Much of what Isaiah had to say was unpleasant and unpopular - Who wants to hear prophecies about judgment and destruction??? - but he spoke what the LORD told him to say. Period.
There really was no sense in arguing or complaining about it.
God spoke.
And so it was.

And so it is today.
May each of us listen to and obey God's Word today. And always.

Have a joy-filled weekend. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sometimes it Hurts so Good

OK, so Tuesday I told you that today I was going to expand on the idea that God's purposes are perfect. Have you been waiting with baited breath???

You don't have to answer that question. *grin*

The point is, sometimes I have been praying for something and God has not answered in the way I wanted, nor in the time I wanted. But when all was said and done, I have understood that God's purposes are greater than my desires. In fact, most recently I have learned His purposes are greater than my pain.

I mentioned last week that I have been experiencing some back pain. To be honest, at times it has been debilitating.
I have been concerned about how I was going to get things done. I have been in tears, wondering why God didn't just touch me and bring healing. I have begged Him to take the pain away and let me function like I am accustomed to doing. I have asked God to examine me and show me if there is some unconfessed sin He is trying to bring to my attention.

I have been all over the map.

And do you know where I have landed?

Right here. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
God has shown me so much through this pain.
When I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to speak for a MOPS group because of the pain, God showed me that He is big enough to bring relief right when I needed it.
When I had to stay home from church and missed teaching my Sunday school class and another event for which I had signed up to help, God showed me He is big enough to carry on these events without me.
God used the pain to slow me down and led me to moments of sweet fellowship with Him. He has used it to show me His love and faithfulness. God has humbled me through the pain and required me to accept help from other people.
And through it all, He keeps reminding me - His grace is sufficient for me.

Do I still wish He would touch me and take away the pain?

I sure do!

In fact, I would love to be pain-free by the time this post hits cyberspace. But God has shown me, and continues to convince me that His purposes are greater than my pain. And that is why I can say, Sometimes it hurts so good.

I wrote this post last week, and thought I ought to update it to say that my back and I are getting along quite well now.
I can stand up straight.
I can walk.
Something still isn't quite "right" and I am still being careful, but I can honestly say - if my back never improved from where it is right now, I'd be OK with that.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today I'm @ Faith, Family and Fun

I've got great kids. I love them so much!

I know the same is true of you. I know because I've had some of your children in my Sunday school class. I've experienced their charming personalities and I've seen your tender love for them when you drop them off for, and pick them up from class.

Indeed, we have great kids.

But sometimes I feel weary in parenting.

You, too? To read the rest, click here.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Prayer

I hope you've been enjoying this series on prayer for What's on Your Mind '09? as much as I have. Again, I want to say thanks to Shane, both for hosting WOYM '09 and for choosing this topic.
I so enjoyed reading your comments last week about why you pray, and I hope we can continue the conversation today. Only today I have a slightly different question.

Why do you keep praying?

* If you're in the middle of a struggle and you're asking God to free you from it, but nothing seems to be happening, why do you keep praying?
* If the circumstances around you are confusing, and you're unsure about what you should do so you ask God, but no answer appears to be coming, why do you keep praying?
* If God is all-knowing and all-loving and He's supposed to be able to handle your situation, but the petition you've been bringing before Him - for years, even - remains just a petition, why do you keep praying?

I don't know about you, but I have often been praying about something and grown tired of waiting on God to answer. It has seemed as though He had other things to which He needed to attend, and hadn't been able to pay attention to my prayers yet. At least I've assumed that must be the explanation, because in my estimation - if God realized how urgent my request was, He surely would have taken care of it sooner!
I would wonder when He was going to get around to my needs.
And sometimes I would feel like giving up.
I would think, Well, my concern must not matter.

But God has taught me a wonderful thing while I've waited for Him to "get around" to my prayers. It is that thing which gives me reason to keep on praying.
And what is that "thing"?

God's ways are higher than my ways.

While I've spent time waiting I have learned that God's will is perfect. And sometimes that means He answers my prayers in a way I didn't ask Him to. But when I have hind-sight I can see that His answer was so much better than that for which I was asking.
During my waits I have learned that God's timing is perfect. So sometimes He answers my prayers according to a totally different schedule than the one I had in mind. But in retrospect, I have been able to see why His time-table was better than the one I was proposing.
And as I have waited I have also learned that God's purposes are perfect. More on this point Thursday.

I have become confident of the fact that God's ways are higher than mine. Everything about Him is perfect, and I can trust Him.
Even when I don't understand...
Even when I don't like it...
Even when I'm tired of waiting...
Even then, God is up to something good. So I keep praying. I keep hoping. I keep trusting.

How about you???

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

This Week's WORD

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the best from the land;
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword."
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20
I started Isaiah this week, and I know things are going to be difficult for the Israelites in this book. But right away I am drawn to the tenderness of God.

Come now, let us reason together.

Can you hear it?

It is His desire for us to be clean before Him and in a right relationship with Him. And I know all the trouble which is about to come to the Israelites in this book is for the purpose of bringing them back to God.
Oh, the wonderful, terrifying work He has done (Think of Jesus, on the cross.) so that we might be united with Him.

Come now, let us reason together.

Yes, Lord. I come.

May the peace of Christ rest upon you this weekend. I'll see you back here Monday.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

At Which Point I Realized, God Just Touched Me Through My Daughter

I sat on the couch, not wanting to move. Tears were welling in my eyes - partly for the pain I was experiencing, but more because I was so discouraged that the pain was still lingering.
I did something to my back last week and went through some serious pain. It looked like things were getting better and then, well, I started downhill again.
So there I was, sitting on the couch after our family prayer time. The boys had already gone to their rooms and it was just Elizabeth and I in the living room. She looked at me and asked, "Mommy, are you OK?" (I love that - at 13 - she still calls me 'Mommy.') I nodded, but my tears started falling and Elizabeth knew I was lying.
She said, "You're back still hurts?"
I nodded.
"And you're discouraged because you thought it was getting better?"
I nodded again.
Then she got up off the floor and came to sit next to me. Elizabeth put her arms around me and I rested my head on her shoulder. I let the tears flow freely and realized in the moment, God knew.
He knew all about my pain.
He knew my sadness.
He knew I needed to be held and comforted by Him in that very moment.

And He used my daughter to do it.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HE Repeats Himself

So, the other day I was reading A Prayer for Hope on this blog and was drawn to this line: because He knows what comes down the road and each moment could be His way of equipping you. I was in the middle of a struggle and was so encouraged to be reminded that God will use each trial I face as a way to prepare me for "someday."
As I pondered that thought, I was reminded of an entry from God Calling which had spoken the same hope to me. It says, Life is a training school. Remember, only the pupil giving great promise of future good work would be so singled out by the Master for strenuous and unwearied discipline, teaching and training.
Remembering that truth made me think of another Truth God has spoken to me before. From James. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. 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 anything. (James 1:2-4)

Considering this third assurance of God's purposeful utilization of trials convinced me, God repeats Himself. I was in the middle of a minor storm - wondering how I was going to make it, and what possible purpose there could be for me to be going through it. And there God was, reminding me three times that He knows what He's doing, and I can trust Him.
Yes. He knows what I need. He knows that I'm a little slow and sometimes I need to hear the same thing over and over again. So HE repeats Himself.
And I am so thankful!

Has God been repeating Himself to you, too?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Prayer

It's still October, so we're still talking about prayer during What's on Your Mind ' 09?
Many thanks to Shane for choosing this topic!

During this series on prayer we have talked about our joy in knowing that God listens when we pray, and the wonder of having Him speak to us. Last week we talked about some of the when and how of our prayer lives.
Today I want to go a little deeper. I want to ask why you pray?
God knows everything about us. He knows our hearts, our thoughts, our needs, our fears. When we pray, we aren't telling Him anything He doesn't already know. We aren't giving God news! So, why bother?
And what difference does it make, anyway? I mean, doesn't God already know what He's going to do? He hardly needs our input to decide on matters of universal (or even global) importance. I don't believe He's into opinion polls or popularity contests. So what are the effects of our prayers? Have you ever wondered if you're just wasting your breath?

Part of me asks those questions in a teasing sort of way. I hope you already know I have confidence that our prayers do matter to God.
But part of me has also wrestled deeply with those questions. In fact, there was a time I was so confused about what to pray, I wondered if I should be praying at all. I knew what my desire was regarding the situation for which I was petitioning Him. I knew how I wanted the matter to be settled. And I was praying that way.
Over and over.
But nothing in the circumstance was changing and I began to wonder, Am I wrong to ask for my will to be done? In my heart of hearts, I want Your will to be done, God. But with my limited vision, all I can seem to ask for is my will. I know Your will is best, Lord, but what is it???
That is when I found great comfort and encouragement from Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. He said, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39) I began to understand it is OK for me to tell God my desire for a situation. I can tell Him what I hope for - while still submitting to, and trusting in, His good and perfect will.

And so I look to Jesus' example and I pray - not because I think I can change the heart or will of God, but because I know He loves me and cares about my heart. I pray because in so doing, I am reminded of my need for God. I remember He has the power and the know-how to handle each situation. Praying takes my focus off of myself and my circumstance, and puts it on God to Whom belongs all the glory and praise. When I pray, I am drawn closer to the One who can do something about my need.
I don't believe my prayers change God, but they surely change me. And that is a very good thing.

And you? Why do you pray?

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Monday, October 19, 2009

That Counts!

By the way, Faith, Family & Fun - my church's new blog for families - has been officially launched! Mondays will be about faith, Wednesdays will focus on family, and Fridays will be for fun.
I'll always let you know when I'm posting at FF&F, but want to encourage you to visit there often, to find encouragement for your family, and to get in on the FF&F community!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

This Week's WORD

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasing God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

It started Monday morning.
I was working out and Mike was having me do some hard exercises. Trying to encourage me, he said something about soaring like an eagle through the sets, and I told him that reminded me of a Bible verse. I said if I could just remember it I would repeat it to myself and be able make it through this workout he was giving me. So during a breath-catching break we ran into my husband's office and looked it up on
As I did my next set I prayed, My hope is in You, LORD. Please renew my strength!
That evening as I sat in the parking lot during Matthew's soccer practice - with a headache from all the stress and frustration which had led up to that moment - I opened my Bible and read this entire passage from Isaiah aloud. Several times.
Just let the Truth of it sink into my heart, and fill me with hope.
And I've been clinging to it all week!

May you find hope in the LORD today, and see Him renew your strength.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Do YOU Need to Hear?

Have you ever been having trouble with your children, been struggling through an issue, experiencing frustration and you just need to tell someone about it? Then the opportunity presents itself (i.e., you're in the presence of another woman) and you pour out your heart, and she responds with something like, "Everybody goes through it," or, "Just try..."
I have been in that position more than once, and my heart sinks everytime I get one of those responses.

Recently I have been thinking about it more, wondering why I react inside the way I do. Surely, the women who are talking to me have good intentions. They're trying to be helpful. So why does my heart sink when I hear their words?
Like I said, I've been pondering it more, and I believe I have come to an understanding of myself. I'm wondering if you might feel the same way.
When I am struggling, there is something I need to hear more than condolences and solutions. While it's nice to know I am not the only one who has ever faced this situation, although advice can be beneficial, what I really need to hear is that my feelings are valid. I need someone to tell me that it's reasonable for me to be weary, because this thing I'm facing is hard. Then I need them to take my hand and lead me to my Father's throne and pray for me. I need to be reminded that, although the circumstance seems too much for me, God can handle it - and He's going to carry me through it.
And then? I think I'm ready to listen to suggestions.

How about you? When you're struggling, what to you need to hear?

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tell Them Now @ Faith, Family & Fun

My church is getting ready to launch a new blog for families called Faith, Family & Fun. And I am a contributing writer. The official launch for the blog is this coming weekend, so I didn't even realize until recently that one of my posts had been published already. Anyway - it's a story I didn't want you to miss, so I'm pointing you to it today.

My son had lost his Nintendo DS. One minute he had it, and the next? It was gone.

Now, Matthew is known around our house for misplacing things, so I wasn't surprised when he told me he couldn't find the DS. I figured it would just show up – like all the other lost items tend to do. But this time, the lost item stayed lost for weeks. In fact, Matthew seemed to nearly forget about it. Until his friend called and invited him over to play.

To read the rest, come on over to FF&F!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09 - Prayer

This month Shane has declared a prayer focus for Whats on Your Mind '09?, and I am only too happy to go along with it!

Last week I asked what was on your mind in regards to prayer, and it was Patricia's comment that inspired my post for this week. Patricia said that rather than much time of "formal prayer," she often finds herself talking to God throughout her day - as she's doing various daily activities. And I thought, Yeah! That's me, too!
I do have time when I sit down on the couch and read my Bible, and close my eyes and pray "formally." I love writing out my prayers in my journal. And sometimes God moves in me to get right down on my knees with my face to the ground to pray. But most of the time when I'm praying my eyes are wide open, my hands are not folded, and my head is not bowed. So NOT what I was taught in Sunday school as a child!

No, most of the time when I am praying I am also doing every day, ordinary activities.
*I am walking to or from school.
*I am standing in line at the grocery store.
*I am helping my son with homework. Oh, boy, is THAT ever a time for prayer!!!
*I am making dinner.
*I am driving to a speaking engagement.
*I am chatting with someone on FaceBook.
*I am preparing a blog post.

The thing is, I have come to understand that God is involved in every moment of every day of my life. There is never a time when He is not with me, so there is never a time I cannot speak with Him. And He listens to me and loves me whether I am actively doing something else, or not.
Yeah, that thing Paul said about praying continually? (1 Thessalonians 5:17) I'm learning what it means, and I love doing it!

How about you? How do you pray?

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

This Week's WORD

Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God...even in his illness he did not seek help from the LORD.
2 Chronicles 16:7,12b

This week I read about King Asa, and God caused me to beg of Him to protect my heart. To keep me steadfast in seeking Him.
Just two chapters before the above verses - in which Asa was not seeking God - I had been admiring his devotion to God with these words: "LORD, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O LORD, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you." (2 Chron.14:11)
I cannot help but wonder what happened to Asa's heart between his devotion in chapter 14, and his detachment in chapter 16.
Seriously. I was so moved by Asa's prayer in 14:11. And then in a matter of minutes (Well, it was minutes for me. Don't know how long it was for Asa.) he was completely turning away from the God who so faithfully delivered him. And I don't know why.
All I could do was respond by praying that God would protect my heart, keep me faithful, find me fully devoted to Him all the days of my life.
May we each surrender ourselves to God and seek Him faithfully today and always.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

What NOT to Do - Again

This week has shaped up to be busier than I anticipated, so I am relying on my Archives for today's post. I had fun re-reading it, and laughed at the memories. Hope you enjoy it, too - even if it is your second time.
If you are a mother prone to irritability, with tendencies pointing toward perfectionism; and if these conditions are intensified by 8 and 10 year-old boys who act like, um, 8 and 10 year-old boys, I have some very specific instructions for things you should not do.

If you are a mother like the one mentioned above, and your husband owns a personal training studio, and he has an idea that it would be a nice touch to have you and your boys come in and wash his clients' vehicles while they are doing their work-out, don't agree to it.
Your boys might be excited that their dad is going to pay them for washing these vehicles, but you really don't want to do it. Because what will likely happen is the boys will think the work is fun the first time around. In fact, they'll probably work at it really hard and do a great job, and make you think the day you spend washing cars is going to be great.
But chances are, they'll lose interest by the time you start the second car. They might start arguing with each other and complaining that their brother is not working hard enough. And when one brother accidentally gets some of the wash water on the other, the offended brother will likely throw an angry fit. He will throw the fit about his "wet-ness" in spite of the fact he purposely gets in the way of the water you spray out of the hose - even when you expressly tell him to get out of the way.

And when these things occur, you will question your state of mind at the time you agreed to this car-washing bit. So you probably just shouldn't do it.

Because later in the day these boys will likely need to use the restroom. And even if you allow them to enter the studio one at a time, so as not to disturb the clients who are trying to endure enjoy their personal training session, they will find a way to be disruptive (By hiding around the corner and shooting off their pretend gun, or something.) and make you regret letting them go in. Surely, one of the bushes out back would have worked just as well. So, don't let them go in.

And if you need to leave momentarily to drive the client's sparkling clean car to the front of the building, even if you tell the boys to sit on the stoop and behave, don't do it. Ask your husband to do the driving. Because, even if the boys say they'll behave, they'll probably grab the hose and start spraying the dumpster and whatever else catches their fancy. But if you're lucky there will be no additional cars parked nearby to receive the random sprays.
Of course, each boy will be eager to point out the misdeeds of the other and you will tire of hearing it. So just don't leave them alone. You'll regret it.

Finally, at the end of the day, when you're home and hurrying to get the finishing touches put on dinner so everyone can eat, when you've been reminding the boys they need to set the table, when you're tired of answering questions, tired of listening to bickering, and just plain tired, and your son says, "Mom?" by all means - Don't answer him abruptly and with a short temper. Because, chances are he just wants you to turn around so he can hug you and say, "I love you."

That was my day. How was yours???


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

My Accountability Journal

I have been working out at Fitness Together for nearly two years now, and have been entirely pleased with my trainers and my experience there. But I have a new trainer now, who has given me a new task, and - wow! - has it opened my eyes.
Last week as I was getting ready to leave Mike asked me, "Do you have an Accountability Journal?"
What he meant was, Are you writing down everything you eat and how often you're exercising?
I admitted that I did not have such a journal, and he promptly gave me one. I think I groaned when he put it in my hand. Not because it was too heavy, but because I was not fond of the idea that I had to write down everything I eat, so that Mike can critique it. I mean, I know it's for my good, but c'mon! Can't a girl sneak a treat here and there without feeling guilty?
I was soooo glad I had purchased and eaten a candy bar the day before I got this journal. Didn't have to report that one! LOL

I'm telling you, this Accountability Journal is the best idea there is for getting me to eat well. Every time I want to sneak a little something extra - which I don't need and I am totally desiring just because I am bored, or emotional, or for some other non-essential reason - I stop short. Because I know I'll have to write it down. And I know Mike will give me a hard time about it.
Writing down everything I eat in my Accountability Journal makes me think twice before I put something into my mouth. It makes me ponder the value of the food item. It makes me make wise choices.
It makes me think we should all have an Accountability Journal for the words we speak and the way we treat each other.

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What's on Your Mind '09 - Prayer

Oh, this is going to be a good month for What's on Your Mind '09.
Shane is devoting the whole month to prayer.
What's on my mind about prayer??? Seriously, friends, I could write for the whole month - not just Tuesdays!

Those of you who see me on Facebook know that I have been crying quite a bit over the past few days. I won't go into all the details of Why? here and now - don't even understand them all myself - but I can tell you one of the sources of my tears has been the subject matter of my prayers for a very long time.
And I know God is listening.
I know He cares about the things which concern my heart.
I know God does not get tired of listening to me as I bring my questions, fears, heart-aches and frustrations to Him. Over and over again.
I know He knows what is best for this circumstance and that it is all a part of His plan.
I know I can trust Him to respond in His perfect time.
So, I wait.

It is these assurances of God's tenderness and care, of His perfect nature, which make me so thankful for prayer. The LORD of the universe listens to me!
And He speaks to me, too. He speaks through His Word. He speaks through my pastors. He speaks through Bible study with my small group.
He speaks through you.
And I am so thankful.

Yes. Prayer is always on my mind. Sometimes speaking, sometimes listening. Always thankful for the ability to communicate with my Father.

How 'bout you? What's on your mind about prayer today?

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

This Week's WORD

He will not let your foot slip -
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3-4

As I drove home late Thursday night after speaking for a MOPS group, with droopy eyes and a tired mind, I realized I had forgotten to write today's This Week's WORD post. And as I thought about how desperately I just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep, I was reminded how very thankful I am that God never gets tired of watching over me - and rolls over to take a nap.
God is never not watching over us.
He always has us in His sight. Always.

May the knowledge of God's constant attention bring you peace today.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

HE Cares for my Husband's Heart

I love to brag about God. Love to tell about His faithfulness. It simply delights me to share cool God-stories.

And I have one for you today.

As you may know, my husband is a small-business owner. And as you may also know, small-business owners are particularly prone to stress these days.
Brian is no different.
Like everyone else, he is dealing with a failing economy. He has had issues with employees, had his business burglarized this summer, and is having his faith stretched as He tries to trust God in the midst of all of it.
Not to mention he is also a landlord, dealing with some very difficult tenants.
Yeah, that, and he has to come home to ME every day. *grin*

A few months ago I started seeing ads in the bulletin at church about a four-day men's conference coming up in October, and I was so hopeful that Brian would want to attend. I knew it would be a good thing for him to get away and have God refresh his heart. And one Sunday I pointed to the announcement, asking Brian if he had thought about going.
Oh, he had. But the cost was $260, and that's a lot of money. (Good value, but still a lot of money.)
He commented, "I wish I had $260."
The next morning I was thinking about Brian and this conference and began praying. I told God I knew He could provide the money, that it wasn't too much for HIM.
Then I remembered Brian had a stash of money on his dresser. A pile which he's been accumulating from Christmas and birthday gifts. I ran over to his dresser and started counting.

Y'all, that pile of cash totaled $261!

I jumped and smiled and laughed and praised God.
Brian said he wished he had $260. And here it was. With $1 left over for fun. *grin*
I knew at that moment God intended for Brian to go to the conference. And Brian agreed.
So, today Brian is on his way to somewhere in northern Michigan where God is going to refresh his heart. I am jealous as can be absolutely thrilled for him. Praying that God will speak tenderly to my husband, that He will care for my husband's heart, and that Brian will be renewed in his love for the Lord.

I just love it when God works like He has in this circumstance. And I am anticipating great things for Brian.

Thank You, Father!!!

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