Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Loving Like Jesus {GraceNotes}

Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite writers. She writes with a style that is totally opposite my own. Her unique style gets my attention every time. I am always inspired when I read her works.

Today Ann’s blog welcomes a guest author, Lisa Bevere, and what Lisa shares is transformative, so I am sharing it here.

This is what Ann has to say about Lisa:

“This woman is undeniably anointed and the power of God ignites her words.

“Lisa Bevere is the New York Times bestselling author of Without Rival, an internationally known speaker, and the cofounder of Messenger International. The story she shares here with our little community is from her newest book Adamant: Finding Truth in a Universe of Opinions.

“She writes with both personal candor and biblical clarity, showing us how we can love like Jesus in a world of confusion and compromise.”

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Here is today’s post from Lisa, shared on Ann’s blog. It is very touching and contains lessons I hope to be able to put into practice.

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To say that my mother and I had relational challenges is an understatement of grand proportions.

As far back as I can remember, there was an undercurrent of tension between us.

Over the last ten years, whenever I called her, the conversation would quickly escalate to a misunderstanding of some sort. Perhaps you can relate. And yet even now I am hard-pressed to even remember the harsh words that passed between us.

What I remember most are the words I didn’t say.

I wish I’d been more intentional to show and tell her I loved her when I had the chance.

When it came to expressing love, my mother and I spoke languages as different as Italian and English. Sadly, I refused to become bilingual until much too late.

Yes, near the end, in the last month of her life, I said all the things I wished I had said all along. I told her I loved her. I asked her to forgive me for any and every grievance, large or small.

As I held onto her frail frame, tethered to the hospital bed by tubes and wires, she leaned into my ear and graciously whispered my reprieve.

That’s when the levee broke. We both cried, overwhelmed by the knowledge we had so little time to live this love out this side of eternity.

Less than a month later she was gone.

I’m glad I have the promise of eternity—it softened the blow of this reality.

But even so, regret can be a hard taskmaster.

I’ve often responded to its accusations and remorse by either making excuses or casting blame.

But over the years I’ve learned to handle it with a different approach: owning my mistakes. Though at first, it proves the more painful option, I can promise you it saves so much unnecessary hurt in the long run.

The truth is I should have loved my mother better sooner. I was in the stronger position to love her well, and I didn’t.

While I can’t change the past, I am left with clear choices going forward. I can feel bad and the sadness will stay with me, or I can flip my mistakes into lessons for others.

You see, once you own a mistake, it no longer owns you.

God is a redeemer, and His redemptive nature extends into the deep caverns of our regrets and failures. When we bring our failures and regrets into the light, we find God’s redemptive love brings something beautiful out of the ashes.

Please allow my mistakes to be your instructor and love well while you can.

Be kind while it is in your power.

Be generous in word and deed.

Look beyond the actions and search for God’s heart in the matter.

Have the hard talks. Extend olive branches. Reconcile. Own your part even if they refuse to own theirs.

You will never regret kind words, warmth, or acts of generosity—but you will regret the love you never gave.

Love well, and you will live well—for love is our agent of transformation. Our heavenly Father, who is adamant in His love for us, is likewise adamant that we love one another.

As followers of Christ, we do not have the option of not loving them. Loving one another is not merely a biblical suggestion. Jesus tells us, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

The last five words are the challenge for me: “…as I have loved you.”

Jesus is our pattern.

How different it all would have been if I had loved as Jesus loves me.

Love how Jesus loves you. This may seem a bit abstract at times. It is hard to find specific Bible examples for our daily journey. Here is what I have learned: We won’t go too far wrong if we love others the way we wish we’d been loved.

We are not limited to how well our parents loved us, or anyone else, for that matter.

This is good news. At the end of the day, others are not our example of how to love. Jesus is. And His example is available for all to follow.

Beloved, we are those who have received God’s adamant, unwavering, steadfast love.

Aren’t you so glad He didn’t wait until we deserved it, but rather, freely lavished His affection on us?

Now, dear one, with the same hands that have freely received this love, may we follow the pattern of Jesus and freely extend it to a world in need.

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I have ordered the book. I think it will be good for me to read it.

#LoveLikeJesus #GraceNotes #AnnVoskamp #LisaBevere #NoRegrets #TimePasses

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mightier than the Waves {Bible Art Journaling}

Bible Art-Ps 93-4-Mightier than the Waves

Sometimes I need to be reminded. Even though I’m so small, even though I’m so weak, I have within me, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, the availability of the power of my Almighty God.

Psalm 93 (KJV)

The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.

4 The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever.

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I should not feel small and insignificant.

God has created me for a purpose, and in my weakness, His strength is made perfect.

What a mighty God we serve!

#BibleArtJournaling #FaithArt #ScriptureArt #MightyGod #WaterColorinMyBible #StrengthofGod #HisStrengthisPerfect

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“Whispers of Rest” {Bible Study}

A couple of days ago I started a new Bible Study called Whispers of Rest, based on a book by Bonnie Gray.

I had previously read her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, and loved it, so when I learned about her new book, whose subtitle is “40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul,” I was ready to buy the book and delve in!

Whispers of Rest

So far I am loving the study. As I’ve written about before, I adore the word “rest.” At this particular point in my life--a season of being exhausted emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally--I’m especially drawn to the thought of rest.

For those interested in more than just the book, there are videos, a Facebook group (book club) and other bonus materials.

For me, I’m not on Facebook now (whew) and am totally enjoying just the book, my journal, and me (and coffee!).

New study Whispers of Rest

In the introduction, Bonnie says, “You will find your voice, rediscover your dreams, and find your spark of joy again…You know, that glow inside you when you feel utterly safe, special, and known—that makes you feel alive, that all is right in the world—that you are right in the world?”

Yeah, that’s for me.

The introduction calls attention to one of my favorite verses:

draw near

Today, here in my corner of Missouri, we had the first warm, sunny day in a long time. My husband and I took a walk—outdoors! Yay!

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It felt peaceful and rejuvenating to be outside without a coat, and to soak up the sunshine, therapeutic in itself!

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I am looking forward to this study. Looking at the title of Part One, “Embrace Your True Identity as God’s Beloved”—even the title sounds inviting. I need the reminder.

Loving the idea of hearing from God, some Whispers of Rest for my soul.

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#BibleStudy #BonnieGray #WhispersofRest

Monday, April 9, 2018

Freedom from Social Media {Heartstrings}

I run in the path

To each her own.

Lately I have been burdened and convicted about the role of social media in my life. I was on Twitter mainly to follow a couple of people. On Facebook, I mainly followed a few family members, and I was in several “groups” (Bible Art Journaling, Planner Groups, etc.).

But Facebook became more and more “demanding” (it was my call of course, but it “felt” demanding).

Then I read articles on how Facebook actually programs people to become addicted to it. People are programmed to crave/live for the positive affirmation that is a result of posting.

The addictive power was intentional, in the developers.

But there is more to it than that, in my conclusions about the negative effect of Facebook. There are actually several issues, not all of which I mention here.

Fresh on my mind is the fact that I watched first-hand as Facebook algorithms (their functionality) literally caused a ministry leader to appear to change personality and go off the rails, negatively affecting her ministry organization. (Of course, it’s a personal choice as to how much importance to attach to Facebook numbers, but it’s not good when it appears that Facebook numbers are more important than people.)

Those observations, as well as other factors, all added up to make me realize that the downside, for me, of using Facebook FAR outweighs the upside.

So, last night, I deactivated my Facebook account, Facebook Messenger, and my Twitter account. I will continue to use Pinterest and Instagram, because to this point, those are inspirational to me (I’m careful about who I follow).

Result, for me: Freedom.

Today I feel so free. No constantly checking my phone to look at Facebook. And why did I do that anyway? I was rarely posting, so I wasn’t looking for feedback. I follow very few people, and most of them do not post constantly. It was a habit. I needed to pick up my phone. And when I picked it up, I needed something to look at.

Then, after being on Facebook, I would notice that my mood would be affected by what I had seen as I scrolled through Facebook.

I have never liked being manipulated.

I’m in charge of me. I’m in control of what I allow to influence my daily mood and my thought processes.

where the spirit of the Lord is

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor 3:17)

FOR ME, the Spirit of the Lord is NOT on Facebook or Twitter.

My decision is mine. I make no judgment about the millions who disagree with me!

But I’m feeling pretty great today (frankly)!

#deleteFacebook #deleteTwitter #freedominChrist #mychoice #noteveryoneisnegativelyaffected

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Sweet Fragrance {Bible Art Journaling, This I Know}

Bible Art Fragrance 2Cor 2 15-16

“For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
2 Corinthians 2:15 (CSB)

I wish I could always leave behind me the sweet fragrance of Christ.

That is one of my life goals—and one of the hardest to attain. By nature I am critical, harsh, and always ready with a response that may or may not be loving. So I have to go against what is my nature in order to be sweet and kind. But, that’s my desire.

Bible Art 2 Cor 2 15-16 Fragrance

When I was a young woman, our pastor asked, “You young ladies out there—do you want to know how to be a sweet old woman? … Be a sweet young woman.”

That’s one of my Life Lessons right there.

I want to be the sweet fragrance of Christ, “an aroma of life
leading to life.”

#BibleArtJournaling #WatercolorinmyBible #SweetFragrance #LifeLessons #ThisIKnow #IllustratedFaith #FaithArt #ScriptureArt

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blessing Upon Blessing Upon Blessing{HeartStrings; My Family, My Heart}

Our first great grandchild, Leeland Carl Ford, was born at 6:07 PM (PST), March 10, 2018, in Vancouver, Washington, to our grandson Conner and his wife Caroline. Leeland’s paternal grandparents are our son Mark and his wife Kristy.

Stats: 6 pounds, 2 ounces, 19 1/2 inches

These pictures, from Mark and Kristy, are from Leeland’s first day. (We will be able to see him later this month…Washington is a long way from Missouri…sigh.)

Little Adorable Snuggle Bug

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As the keeper of the family history records, yesterday I input Leeland’s birth information into my family tree software. As I clicked on Mark and Kristy's record, and then next clicked on Conner and Caroline's record, and then clicked on "Add a son" under the record for Conner and Caroline Ford, that's when the obvious hit me.

In my family, Leeland is the first of a new generation.

He will always be our first great grandchild. He will always be Mark and Kristy's first grandchild. He will always be Conner and Caroline's firstborn.

Legacy is such a special thing.

We are blessed through these layers God has given us: our son and his wife, their son and his wife, and now their son. I think of the old hymn, “There Shall be Showers of Blessing.” For me, it is, “There Shall be LAYERS of Blessing.”

Welcome to our family, Precious One, Son of My Son's Son.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50 (NIV)

#FamilyLove #Legacy #LayersofBlessing #GreatGrandson #JesusLovesMe

Friday, March 9, 2018

This I Know {This I Know}

(photo taken out our kitchen window a couple of months ago)

“…but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 (CSB)

I have been thinking lately about the messages I want to share through my blog. Although most folks just do not comment on blogs these days, I do know that I have at least some visitors (about 2,000/month), and maybe someone who visits needs to hear some little something I share.

Perhaps I am at the “season of life” (a term over-used by me here lately…hmmm…) when I want to feel like I have made a difference in some way. I don’t view that as a bad thing, as long as I allow God to direct me in the ways I should do that.

Oh, that wonderful verse about soaring like eagles, running and not being weary, walking and not being faint! I love the idea of soaring, even though I can’t physically fly, running without being tired (just as unlikely for me as flying, frankly), and I can personally relate to walking (hello Fitbit) without being “faint.”

I want to finish well.

My trust IS in the Lord.

So, that promise is mine!

I’m grabbing on to it!!

Members in our very special small group a few years ago commented to me that they appreciated the life lessons I often shared with them during our time together. It helped me realize that having lived a full (okay, a “long”) life as a Christ-follower has resulted in a storehouse of lessons learned.

Sometimes those lessons were learned from seeing others’ mistakes. Sometimes the lessons were directly taught to me by a spiritual mentor. But sometimes those lessons were learned the hard way—by personal experience, maybe even through heartache, pain and sorrow.

No matter the source of the lesson learned, I am realizing that I have a series of mini-sermons stored up (from those experiences), and I feel safe to share some of those here, because, after all, it is MY blog, and it is not required reading (ha).

A new category for my blog is now “This I Know.” I will use that “tag” when I post one of those “mini-sermons.”

#ThisIKnow #LessonsLearned #LifeLessons #GodistheBestTeacher #SharindMyHeart

Monday, March 5, 2018

Plurals, Possessives, and the Almighty Apostrophe {My Red Pen}

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I am a self-confessed compulsive editor. I simply cannot help it. I do try to keep my mouth shut and only offer my suggested edits, corrections, and re-writes if/when asked.

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Okay, so I don’t always succeed at that keeping-my-mouth-shut thing.

Communication on mobile devices has spread so rapidly that many things heretofore considered improper usage are now considered acceptable.

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However, at least for now, there ARE some “rules” still in place.

(And, by the way, I’m the first to say I do not follow all the guidelines, especially those for formal writing--in my blog, for example. Sometimes formal writing can seem stilted and off-putting. So, you would absolutely be able to use YOUR red pen on much of my writing, I’m sure.)

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You can find many references to correct usage on the internet. But, off the top of my head, here are a few of my thoughts on this topic.

A standard joke among English teachers is, “I wish I had a quarter for every apostrophe or incorrectly-used comma I have seen this week…” or today, even…

If I had to choose to be a written/typed “character,” I would choose to be the apostrophe. I say that because it is apparently the most-loved and certainly the most-used of all the characters, save the boring end punctuation marks. From my observation, so much that is written these days seems to be absolutely laced with apostrophes.

Basically, apostrophes should be used either (1) to show possession or (2) to represent a missing letter in a contraction. They are not to be used simply to indicate a plural (more than one).

It gets tricky when you have a plural and you want to also show possession:

Correct: “We are going over to the Fords’ house tonight.”

(“Fords” is plural, describing the Ford family, and the apostrophe is added after the plural “s” to show possession; the house belongs to the Fords.)

Also correct: “We are going over the Fords’ tonight.”

(“House” is implied, so this is implied possession.)

Not correct: “We are going over to the Ford’s tonight.”

Not correct: “We are going over to the Fords tonight.”

Correct: “We are going to invite the Fords over for dinner.”

A common incorrect usage is when a word that is intended as a plural is spelled with an apostrophe, such as “story’s” instead of “stories.” So, it is correct to say, “the story’s beginning” (meaning the beginning that belongs to the story), and it is correct to say, “I love reading your stories,” but it is not correct to say, “I love reading your story’s.”

A possessive pronoun already shows possession, by definition. Possessive pronouns are words like his, hers, yours, ours, theirs, its. The pronoun “its” already shows possession.

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Following is my biggest pet peeve. It is without a doubt the usage error that I see the most often. And, strangely, the rule for correct usage on this one is the easiest to remember, because, unlike most “rules” of the English language, this one is set in concrete:

The only time the word “its” should contain an apostrophe is when used as a contraction of “it is.”

Hard and fast rule. Easy to remember.

So, one way to check yourself on this one: When you have finished your writing, do a search for it’s. Every time it’s comes up, it should be as a contraction for “it is.”

Repeating my disclaimer: My writing is not error-free; in fact, it is sometimes intentionally casual. Okay, maybe it is usually intentionally casual.

But I just see so much incorrect use of the language that sometimes I can relate to this:

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(Note: Obviously these images were all obtained from the internet, and they are clearly labeled with the original source. However, since my blog is in no way a commercial enterprise, I am thinking I am not infringing.)

#EnglishUsage #EnglishTeacherForever #CompulsiveEditor #CannotReadWithoutEditing #MyRedPen

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Joy in the Lord {In the Word, Bible Art Journaling}

Bible Art Neh 8-10 Joy of the Lord

This is one of my favorite verses, but in honesty, the reason I love the verse is because it puts JOY and LORD and STRENGTH all in one powerful sentence. The actual meaning of the sentence itself is a little hard for me to put into words. I think of it more like “my joy in the Lord gives me strength” (that’s this verse according to Barbara—which has absolutely no authority).

I have been praying lately for more joy in my life. So, following my own explanation, that would imply that I need more of God in my life—that is, If I want more joy, I need to give priority to God’s place in my daily life. My joy comes from God. And because it comes from Him, it strengthens me.

Reading some commentaries on this passage, I found this: “This beautiful sentence is, literally, ‘delight in Jehovah is a strong refuge’.”

I like that.

This page is in my She Reads Truth CSB, and I prepped the page with clear gesso to keep the markers and the InkTense blocks (that I use as watercolor with a water brush) from bleeding through.

#BibleArtJournaling #BibleArt #BibleJournaling #InktenseBlocks #WaterColorinmyBible #IllustratedFaith  #FaithArt #JoyoftheLord #Joy #SheReadsTruthBible

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Seven Months Ago Today: Redemption Story {HeartStrings, My Family, My Heart}

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Sometimes when an event is overwhelming in significance and emotion, I realize later that I did not include the “reporting” of the event in my blog. I don’t blog about every event in my life anyway (it is not meant to be a chronological life account—I have my “life story” that I have written/am writing, for that purpose). Still, I want my blog to include a “record” of this redemptive story of God’s grace.

Now, the details of the story are not mine to tell. The details belong to the main character, my daughter Sharida. But, as a mom, I can share a summary of my praise about it all!

Sharida came to faith in Christ as a young girl. Through a series of events in her life, some within her control, some not, she found herself in need of rescue in recent years. She allowed God to bring her back close to Him. As Sharida says it, “God saved me when I was 6, but he rescued me when I was 42.”

We all prayed for God to redeem what had happened in her life. God answered our prayers and brought a godly man into her life.

The wedding was seven months ago today.

The wedding, including praying over their new family as a part of the ceremony (led by Mark, our son, her brother, a pastor) was an incredible celebration of God’s redemptive story.

I thank God for this miracle, an answer to 46 years of praying by this mom.

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Sharida’s nephew, our grandson Conner played and sang “The Day Before You” (Matthew West) as the processional.

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Sharida’s daughter Alyssa was her Maid of Honor.

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Sharida was escorted and given away by her dad and her son (incredibly sweet).

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Recessional: “God of All My Days” (Casting Crowns)—played by Conner and sung by Conner and Mark.

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Sharida and her dad (my hubby).

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New Family: Sharida and Greg and their children, Alyssa, Dawson and Evan.

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Sharida’s family in attendance (happy to have my sister and her husband—who happens to be my husband’s brother—as well as my brother and wife, along with our son Mark and his wife Kristy, and their son Conner and his wife Caroline). Missing piece of my heart: Tory (Mark and Kristy’s daughter) was on mission in Mexico and could not attend.

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#ThankYouLord #RedemptionStory #GodsGrace #CountryWedding #GodAnswersPrayers

Monday, February 19, 2018

Praise the Lord! {Bible Art Journaling}

Bible Art Ps 150-6 IL Bible

This mixed media page in my Crossway Journaling Bible: Interleaved Edition (every other page is blank) took quite a bit of time, mainly due to drying times between the layers of paint and markers. I’m happy to be able to do art in this Bible without thinking about being careful to use transparent media over words.

This verse (Psalm 150:6) makes it very clear that every living thing is meant to Praise the Lord. Umm…that would include me. These are the last words of the book of Psalms.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! – Ps 150:6

#BibleArtJournaling #InterleavedBible #FaithArt #AcrylicPaints #MixedMedia

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Birds and Me {Bible Art Journaling}

Bible Art Matt 6-36 ILBible

My new Crossway ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition, with a blank page between every page of text, allows plenty of room for art without it being “on” the page of text. In this case, I used mixed media (a combination of media, such as paints, stamps, decoupage), my “first love” of hobby art.

After prepping the page with clear gesso so that the paint would not bleed through, I sketched the bird and branch and then painted the image and the background with acrylic paints. After adding a couple of background stamps, I used decoupage to adhere the word strips.

Note: I was hesitant about the Interleaved Bible, but it is quickly becoming my favorite journaling Bible.

I love this simple truth: God cares for the birds. How much more, then, does He care for me.

Matthew 6:26 (ESV)

Bible Art Matt 6-36 ILBible

#BibleArtJournaling #InterleavedJournalingBible #MixedMedia #GodsCare #FaithArt

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Legacy of True Love {HeartStrings}

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Today I posted pictures on Instagram of our Valentine’s Day lunch, at one of our favorite restaurants. I noted that this is 52+ years of celebrating Valentine’s Day together (we were sweethearts for 5 years before marriage and have been married for 52 1/2 years). Our granddaughter Tory responded to the post with ,“So much love to celebrate. A legacy to be proud of.” Her comment reminded me. It is true. Our love is a legacy that we happily pass on to our children, grandchildren, and soon-to-be great grandchildren.

It started when I was a very young lady, praying that I would know God’s will for my life, regarding a future husband. In my case, I know that God brought me together with Russell Ford, when my daddy was called to pastor a little church where Russell’s dad was a deacon. We met June 28, 1959, Daddy’s first Sunday as pastor there. I was only 12, but I fell in love that Sunday. We were engaged May 22, 1965, and married September 8, 1965. Through hours of prayer, God gave me the solid assurance that Russell was indeed the one.

When people ask me the “secret” to a happy marriage that has lasted so many years, I find it very difficult to answer in a way that most people would understand. The answer is, “I asked for God’s direction in bringing me together with the spouse He had planned for me. Then I prayed for His blessing and guidance all along the way through our relationship.”

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So, yeah, we always celebrate Valentine’s Day, because it’s all above love, and it gives us an additional day of the year (along with our anniversary) to pause just a moment and be thankful for a profound love that can only be understood in light of the One who IS love.

1 John 4:8 – “God is love.”

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#HeartStrings #LoveatFirstSight #LegacyofLove #ValentinesDay