Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Exceeding Impossible

We wake believing in our God. Our attitude is set upon Him. Our focus is sure and steady. But what happens when easy is no longer our day and difficulty explodes around us? If we aren't careful everything about us changes. Doubt floods our soul. Anxiety mountains over us. Anger erupts into a volcano of hot red. What just happened? In a split second everything in us has just gone from praise on our lips to a countenance of dismay.

Our Lord is sovereign. There isn't anything that touches our lives that He doesn't intricately in every detail. This is where we encounter faith head on. This is where we experience peace in the storm. This is where we witness the glory of God moving on our behalf.

His peace surpasses our understanding. Where we are limited, our God is not. His glory exceeds every impossible. In our trials His presence remains faithfully bright. He will forever light our way even when things appear hopeless. There is no hopeless in our God. He is the very essence of hope. 

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Through the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls-yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-19

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25

He loves us so. He isn't just going to be present on those easy days. How many of those easy days do we forget to say, "Good morning, Lord"? When things go bleak we cry out to our God. Friends, He isn't punishing us. He never loves us any less than the His greatest love for us right this very minute. He hasn't brought us this far to just leave us. Whatever circumstances enter our paths He wants that path to lead directly to Him. 

May we never miss an opportunity to give Him praise. He will grow in us a mighty faith that this world can take witness of and see that in those moments when we could cut and run, we remain taking hold of our faith in our mighty God that turns the impossible to possible. 

"I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." Psalm 146:2

"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

He has a way of illuminating  Himself through our lives when we choose to allow the invitation of Him to transform our doubts into a walking-believing faith that He has the power to surpass all our expectations with His unlimited resources that come only from the Father. 

I have been there with you. Waking to take hold of all His glory and give praise, but in those next few minutes the phone rings and all that praise is quickly running into the disturbing call our hears just heard. Tears flow, anger boils, and now we have allowed that praise to drain out of us, leaving us now susceptible to the world around us. 

It is in those moments our doubts begin to overshadow all we know to be true. Let us make room for God to show Himself. Let us focus on Him and not the difficulty before us. Let us anchor ourselves in His strength and promises of unfailing love. In this we exchange our doubting attitude for an attitude of courage and hope that we can face anything up ahead as long as our God is leading the way. 

"The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26

"Even to your old age and gray hair I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." Isaiah 46:4

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Collaborating Peace

What is it stealing our focus right now? What circumstance is overshadowing all calm and peace? There's always something, right?

When we make the decision to be fully conscious of our God blessings begin to flow. When we are more aware of Him we focus less o the circumstance and more so on our God and all He is doing within and around us in the circumstance.

I mean, really, our journey is one circumstance after another. Around every corner is something new and changing. We can make the choice to look at the dire in everything or be willing to choose to see our God in the midst of our journey. 

I have found that I only gain peace in the midst of a trial when I am seeking my Savior. His peace comes with calm. There's trust knowing He was first there. There's hope because He knows my trial today and also my tomorrow trial. He is at work turning ash into beauty for my good. 

He isn't leaving any part of my life to chance. There isn't another I would trust more with my life. 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

So, you see, when I consciously collaborate with my Lord is is forever present with me, His daughter.  In that alone I find a peace bigger than the fear that tries to overtake me. It may sneak in. It may take hold, but the moment I turn my eyes to my Savior it dissipates with every moment I choose to remain with my Lord. 

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.Though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:1-4

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

"The Lord is my strength and shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him." Psalm 28:7

We will not be defeated when we are fully aware of our Jesus. No matter what, our God goes before us, and we do not worship a defeated God, but One who conquers all!

"A heart at peace gives life to the body." Proverbs 14:30


Experiencing His Living Presence

How amazing it is to be in a relationship where you are always learning more about the person you are so interested in. Oh, and to have them interested in you as well. We are to be intrigued. Always wanting and waiting to discover more, right? That's how our love grows. 

As our God desires an intimate walk with us, we too are to desire to know Him more. The more we know about our Lord, the more we uncover of ourselves. He so delights in us. That should stir our hearts. 

Our God is mysterious. We will never know all about Him. So much we don't understand, but isn't that intriguing? As we seek Him more, He continues to unveil more Himself to us. 

How wonderful to enjoy the sweet company of another. To experience life with them connects us in such a special way. He has given is us the invitation to join Him on  a faith-walk. When we accept, He is forever with us. We can be in a continual relationship of worship with our Savior. That's magnificent. I can't picture any other person wanting to spend such time with me. 

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." Psalm 27:4

I never quite understand this verse until my time spent with Him this morning. How could I possibly dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life? Isn't the house of the Lord in heaven? Yes, it is, but as the Living God is living and present within me, His temple in my body. Knowing this, He being present with me always I can be in continual fellowship with my Savior. Love it!

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Psalm 34:8

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

"For the Lord is good; His mercy everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:5

Oh, how we are to taste and see that our Lord is good. The more time we spend with our Lord the more we will uncover. We have a front row seat to our Lord's glory. His thoughts are higher than ours. He never overloads us with what we cannot yet understand. As we grow in person and closer in relationship with Him He will unveil more of Himself to us in His perfected time so we can grasp portions of Him, only to desire more. 

Our Lord is good. His mercy everlasting. Each day we have the opportunity to spend time with Him. In those moments spent with Him our faith increases as we are able to enjoy an intimate side of Him that is unique to our personal relationship.

Experience all of today in full anticipation!

Sunrise Praise

How cool is it to that before we open our morning eyes to the day our Lord is already at work about our day? Yes, the day He planned before us in perfect design. That should set us to gibing praise before our feet hit the floor. 

He is present before us in all things. How about that? He loves us so much He wants us to sing. He wants us to take part in experiencing ALL He has prepared before us. There is nothing about our day that is left to chance. Think about that. Every detail planned with intricate detail. 

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of God." Psalm 118:24

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." Psalm 95:1-2

"The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Okay, how cool is it that our blessings come down from heaven? Can you imagine all of heaven waiting in anticipation as the Lord blesses us each and every morning with a planned day before us? Just waking to a day gloriously planned by our God should set our course for thanksgiving and singing praise to Him. Imagine as we wake our Lord is singing over us! What a beautiful portrait of love. A morning greeting with singing, love, and blessing.

Every step planned, His feet were already there. His presence behind us, before us, and amazingly with us! As believers we continually possess the presence of our Lord. Opening our eyes to such love! Does it get any better than that? 

"The Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore." Psalm 133:3

A 'He Can' Kind of Peace

We are taught, 'He can'. We read, 'He can'. We share, 'He can'. We hear, 'He can'. But do we believe, 'He can' for us? That's the real question here, isn't it?

We believe He can and will for others, but when it comes to us, well, we feel differently, don't we? Is it that we don't deserve He can? Does He not love us enough for He can? The cross says, He can! The cross speaks of a love greater than any need we can ever request of our God. 

We must believe. His love is wide enough and deep enough for He can. His Word is filled with people like you and me experiencing He can. 

When we share our needs, when we bear our soul, He hears, He intercedes, and He moves the impossible to the possible. 

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. the Lord be with you all." 2 Thessalonians 3:16

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

Let us share our need with Him. Let us believe He can supply our every need. And let us walk in His peace as we wait with patience to experience 'He can' glory!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Precariously Hanging

Hang on! Just like a rock-climber, they are focused and determined. They look up as they steady each hand hold and foot grip. They don't spend their time looking down, allowing fear to shake them loose. They hold on to that Rock with everything in them. Strength, courage, and endurance, all of these are needed for the climb.

A climber is either ascending or descending the rock's edge before them. They make it look easy don't they? But those who make it look easy are the most trained and well prepared, right? They have faced the obstacles before them with courage and determination. This is a portrait of one who is an overcomer, ready and willing to face each challenge with hope. They are not always able to see the next position, but in faith they reach ahead. They are perceptive to everything around them. There are times their reach is stretched, maybe their foot is left hanging as they grab tight, but with each move they trust in the fact that they have trained well and are fully prepared to make it to the top. 

"You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4

For the climber it isn't so much getting to the top, but the journey there. It's those mountains that have come before that have readied them for the next. With each time they suit up they know what is needed. They know what can happen, but they are determined to experience the climb. 

"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We read these verses, but do we really ever take them apart and really see them for what they are to the believer? 

Are we hard-pressed? You bet we are. Life is so difficult. But, although we are hard-pressed we are not crushed by the weight!

Feeling perplexed about the circumstances surrounding you? Friend, although we may not fully understand, we are not in despair. 

How about being persecuted? When those times come and they will, we can trust in the fact that we are not forsaken!

How often are we struck down by the hardships and trials in life? Each of us have faced our own. Although we have been hit hard we are not destroyed! 

He is always eager to give a hand, to spot us, to be our safety cord. We are to look to Jesus for our everything! As each moment changes, as each reach and foot hold come into position, He is always with us. We just take great measure in trusting the One in control. We must take our focus off the circumstance and place it upon the One in control. Our God is cheering us on to take the challenge of the climb, to experience all of life, and to succeed in our climb. 

With Jesus we will persevere! With training comes endurance. We prepare, not knowing what's ahead of us, but trusting that our Lord is already there waiting. How do we prepare when we don't know the obstacles ahead? We dive in God's Word, seeking Him in every way. As we do He will unveil His Word to us. We pray, sharing our biggest fears with our Jesus. We give Him our questions and concerns. We lay it all at the foot of the cross, keeping nothing that will weigh us down. Let us trust in our Savior. He isn't at the top waiting on us to arrive. He is in every move, guiding us, and emboldening us to not only hang on, but to have the faith to take the next hold with just as much hope and trust as we did in the very first. 

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sea Rose Lane (A Hope Harbor Novel) by Irene Hannon

A beautiful coastal town that holds treasure beyond the shores. Inviting and warm to all who are blessed to live here. Small town hospitality lingers with such grace. Yep, this is a place I could get use to calling home. What a sweet dream.

I love spending a few hours in a book that allows me to relax and enjoy. Irene Hannon is a favorite of mine. Now, her suspense series ROCK!! She is the best of the best. But I too have so enjoyed her contemporary novels. They carry such heart and transport the reader on a journey of love, grace, and redemption. 

Hannon is gifted at bringing out the best in each character. Her words flow as they draw the reader in deep. The cover caught my attention for this selection, but more so it was that it was another selection from Irene! 

I enjoyed getting to know these characters. Okay, so if you read the blurb you get the gist of the two main characters. You have a beauty of a girl who welds a hammer and has a growing business, an out of work attorney who has come home to see his dad, and you too have the dad, who is refurbishing his home into a B&B. But...there is so much more to this story. That's what I might just love the most about a novel like this. The stories within the story. 

It was so unexpected to meet a Cuban refugee, an elderly woman with a cat named Methuselah, and the man in town that seems to know more about those living in this sea coast town than themselves. I know, right? I would have never guessed to meet these characters. We not only meet them, but we get to know their story. It unfolds gently as their stories intertwine with those of the main characters.

This wasn't a deep read for me. It was an afternoon visit to a town where the people really care, where they want to make a difference in the lives of others, and where there is always room for hope.

You will find a love story that grows from a friendship that is unexpected. Forgiveness of self and of past regrets. Dreams renewed and a God bigger than anyone's doubts about what's possible when we let our guard down and allow others room to see us for who we really are. 

So, see, you won't be disappointed. You may just find yourself wanting to go back to Hope Harbor. We are given the opportunity to pack a bag and visit again in spring of 2017 when we meet new characters and a new hope in Sandpiper Cove. 

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series. Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of that organization's elite Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Let Us Never Turn Away A Friend

A man is burdened with what he knows to be a truth. This burden has held him still for some time now. He listens to his Lord and obeys by going to a friend to share with them what has been laid upon his heart. 

This friend he has known for twenty-something years. Many call him Pastor, but this man, he has had the blessing of calling him friend. Isn't this the action of a friend? They are burdened by something not for themselves, but for this very friend they know they must share with sooner and not later. Just maybe there is no time to wait. After all, he is listening to his Lord in obedience. 

This man goes in hopes of sharing with him today. The Lord has said, "Don't put this off". He goes to the church only to be told by the another, "He doesn't see people on Friday or Saturday". Saddened and dismayed by those words, this man is determined. He goes to the house of this friend. There at his home he is told again, "Sorry, he doesn't see people today". This man's burden is now heavier than before. He's trying, but Satan is putting up barriers. 

This man is now praying about what to do. The man's friend sends him a text. "I don't see people on these certain days. If you want to talk you can make an appointment". Reading this text the man is now not only saddened, but deeply wounded. He has called this man friend for so many years. He has made himself available on so many occasions. Would gladly pick up his phone at midnight to aid this friend, but here he is being told he can't be seen. 

What does that say about us when we put off others? How often do we think our own time is more precious? See, this man so intent on sharing with his friend didn't think about himself. He was just getting off work and his mind and heart were upon his friend. If the tables turned he would want his friend to come to him. Wouldn't we all? 

We value our own time. We work through the week. We set our hours. We place up boundaries. All of this is well and good, but what does it say when we cannot spare a few moments for a friend? A friend that is concerned? A friend walking in love and giving of his own time?

We close ourselves off to a world that is trying to reach us. How often do we not make time for people only to never have a second chance? See, this man, he may never know just what this friend was going to share with him. Man to man, heart to heart. Now there is a void space. 

I can understand setting a schedule for business. I can understand not coming to the door for the UPS man. I can understand not being able to pick up the phone when it first rings because of course we can be in the middle of something. But to totally turn away a friend? This wasn't business. This was all heart in total obedience to the Lord. The saddest thing that wounded this man was that this wasn't anything about him. He was there, being the giver, opening himself up, in total obedience, to share something he would want shared with him.

So often we don't give people our time. As a pastor, ministry is about giving time to people. We say one thing about always being present. Always being available. But then our walk speaks of something totally different. We close our door unless it is convenient for us. 

As believers we are to be in the people business as God is in the heart business. He often calls another to a brother or sister in Christ to give opening for an unexpected blessing, a warning, a message of hope, friendship shared in a new way. As we give of ourselves it gives room for God to do a mighty work. 

This moment in time wasn't an invasion or an intrusion. It was one man going to another in hopes of opening the door to what God had set in motion. As this man may never know what the other had to share, this friend will continue in prayer and seek God about the matter he was to share, but was turned away. 

Friendship goes beyond the church doors. It goes far past times available. Friendship is to be everlasting. It isn't to take advantage, but to be willing. It is to take time out of your own to make way for the heart of another. Don't miss out on friendship. Oh, for one to share their heart with us? Might we feel honored and humbled. Might we want to share a moment that we can never get back. May we be the friend to others that we too so hope for in those we call friend. 

Let us always take every opportunity to make room for another. We invest in others. Never thinking that our time is only our own, but that our time belongs to Christ. When given room He takes in inopportune time and creates something memorable and lasting. We will never know the impact of moments given unless we take time to recognize them for what they truly are.

What can we learn from this man's journey? We can learn to always be obedient to the Lord. No matter how we are perceived or received we are to remain faithful to the Lord. All may seem void to us when we are not given the opportunity to follow through, but God is never void in His mission. He may use another to complete this heart mission. As another may now step in obedience, this man will already be in prayer for God to continue to move and be given the opportunity to see this through. Faith is putting our feet into action. 

There are times when our priorities are all mixed up. We can say we are always available, but our actions speak otherwise. Some talk to you in their free time and others free their time to talk with you. 

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

"Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Ephesians 4:5-6

Let God Take Them Captive

Our thoughts can scatter many areas over time in just a minute, can't they? Just as lightning covers a sky so do our thoughts and they engulf our entire being. Every emotion possible can find itself in our thoughts before our feet hit the floor. Many of those thoughts are the cause of us skipping getting up and remaining in bed with quilts overhead. Been there with me?

Can we really train our thoughts? Is it possible to escape all that clouds our view of glory each day? Yes, it is! We can take charge of our thoughts. We can train our minds to focus not on the circumstance, but the God who is in us the very moment that unknown circumstance hits us like an out of control fast-pitch ball.

Remember who you are and whose you are!

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8

We are given these seven virtues by our God who knows us so well. He knows exactly where our minds can stray. He too gives us just what we are to not think upon. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows that thought before it takes hold in our mind. Our All-Knowing God sees before we can know what our next thought will be. Yes, that's how much He loves us! He's ready and knowing just what each of us need. There isn't a circumstance we will face today that He isn't already present and waiting.

"Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:25-32

He goes even deeper and gives us just what we need for the journey's walk. We have a God who has thought out everything possible for us as we take this faith walk with Him. He has left nothing out, but has given all so that we lack nothing. We are equipped to face every moment of the day without excuse of not being ready or lacking something for the excursion.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

If we can live out daily these characteristics given by our God, everything changes. Our countenance changes. Our heart changes. Our minds begin to Jesus focus!

Think of the peace within our hearts that will come when we simply change our thought process. This is life living with no regrets. These characteristics encompass Christian love, Jesus love.

As we meditate on these things we are giving room for God and opening up room to have an intimate time with Him, not only for a few minutes, but throughout our day. As we allow Him room to live through us our thoughts, our actions, our words, all follow what are heart and mind are centered upon, Jesus.

When we truly make Him first of every thought, we allow Him to take captive all that is present in our being. As soon as a thought enters that we know shouldn't be there we can surrender that to Him right then and there, not only asking Him to remove it, but to replace it. It is possible to give command of our thoughts over to God. We must live determined and be aware of what enters our mind.

We don't want to just ignore negative thoughts. When we do they still remain present and that gives room for Satan to grow them until they take root deep within us. Once we make ourselves aware, give them over to our Lord, there isn't room left for Satan to take our thoughts captive.

This is so important because our thoughts have such control over us. If we allow thoughts like bitterness, jealousy, and lust to control us, they will take root and grow even stronger. But when we speak them over to God, asking Him to remove them and replace them, it gives room for His characteristics to fill us and overflow from our lips into our actions.

Prayer, reading God's Word, journaling, Christian music, books that stir the heart to Jesus, these are all positive structures that will lead us to living a life filled with Jesus thoughts.

We make a choice of what we allow into our minds each moment of the day. Let God take captive every thought, filling us with all goodness, grace, and mercy renewed.

"Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

Let's Linger A While More

In Your presence is where I want to dwell. Life is so time consuming. 24/7 Keeps us occupied. We are either wanting more time or pleading for it to slow. For You, Jesus, You are timeless. You are the Alpha and the Omega. You are in the morning and the evening. There is no hurried for You. We call out for You as if You have gone somewhere away from us. Lord, You're always present us with us. 

"You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with you in Your presence." Psalm 16:11

We rush to You with requests, but they are already known to You. We hurry with our time spent as You are wishing we would linger more. Time. Is there never enough for us? If there is more time we just fill it with more, don't we? I wonder, Lord, how much of my time is spent with You. How much of my 24/7 have I given to You, the Maker of all the minutes that pass through my day?  Not enough. Not enough.

If we lingered more, if no rush requests came from our lips as if there was no control, oh, the peace our hearts would know. The simply joy we would meet as we faced You with not requesting, but just being in Your presence. You are the All-Knowing. Where is our patience? Why is it so difficult for us to trust in You with all? If we lingered more Your sweet grace would extend from our words and actions. Your mercy that You give to us would freely be given to others more. Prayer wouldn't be a quick request followed by busyness, but a lingering conversation that takes us through the day into the night as we lay our head upon the coolness of our pillow. You would be our first and last thought. 

A conversation between Father and daughter, brother and sister, friend to friend. Lord, may I not rush through today without giving thought to You. May I not hurry through our time together before my day begins, but may this day be a gift between You and I that lingers into tomorrow and continues until time just isn't known.

"The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26

"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

"Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me." Micah 7:7

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End", says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."" Revelation 1:8

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

They Danced On (A Darling Family Novel) by Carre Armstrong

Easily I chose this novel because the cover captivated me. It is a gorgeous cover that visualizes a story all on its own. 

When I chose this novel I didn't realize it is the third of a series, but I too had not read anything by this author, so it seems all was new to me, but I would in no way be disappointed. 

Although this is the third novel in a series it could easily be a stand alone. Now with that said, since it is a series if you are thinking of purchasing this novel I would definitely go back and grab the first two. I can only imagine how beautifully they too are written.

I love meeting new writers through their penned words. The writing style is easy and captivating. As I read I was pondering how this writer is similar to a Karen Kingsbury style in that the characters are so well developed, the writing flows, and the story is one that goes straight to the heart.

ALS is what Jane Darling's husband, Leander, finds himself facing head on. This is a family of faith. I love the relationship of this married couple and the relationship they too have with their grown children. Jane is wanting to believe that if she has enough faith her husband will be healed. Leander and the children are trusting God to carry them through while facing the truth of the matter. They don't know when but ALS will take their dad from this earth. But the sweetness of their faith is that they know their dad will be healed. Maybe not as they would wish healing on this earth as we know it, but heaven healed. That is a mighty faith. 

This family deals with issues that every family faces. This is so encouraging to the reader in relating to the characters. I am sure you too will find a bit of yourself in these pages as I did. We see issues that Jane and Leander face, but also we get a front row seat seeing the lives of their children as they continue to spread their wings and fly.

This book holds so much for the reader to ponder after closing the last page. I found myself pondering my own faith if I were in these very circumstances. We never expect the unexpected. But as we see with this family there is hope beyond our fears. A hope to carry us through and bring us to trust the Lord even more as we witness His work in our lives.    

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you.

Carre Armstrong Gardner is a former worker with children at risk in Russia. Now she lives in Portland, Maine, with her husband and three teenagers, where she writes books and works as a nurse.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Standing Together In The Midst of Battle

Arms raised high in praise. "Thank You, Jesus. Thank You!" We raise our arms when crying out to God. "Help me, Lord. I need You to move on my behalf." What happens when we grow so very weary of the battle we are living? What happens when our arms no longer can remain high above? We call upon other believers to help us. Others step forward, side by side us, giving of themselves to raise our arms together, holding them up high, as we 'together' call upon the Lord.

I love chapter seventeen of Exodus. Such a powerful chapter. So much to embrace as we see the power of God and the power that lives in friendship. See, this morning I shared with my friend, Bobbie, that I would be writing and encouraging others to join us in court. Little did I know that in my morning study I would be reading this very chapter about lifting one another up in the very midst of battle.

I have start with why Aaron and Hur were lifting Moses up! That begins with the Israelites and their journey. The Hebrew children are yet again complaining. Oh, the blessings and provision God has given them, but yet, just as we do today we miss out on the here and now because we are not content with how things are moving for us. God had provided quail and manna. Water and all they needed for their journey through the wilderness of sin. Now as they traveled onward they once again needed water. They didn't turn to God. They turned to anger and resentment to Moses and Aaron. They were ready to attack Moses. Stone him even. Oh, how quickly our praise can turn to complaint, right?

God tells Moses to take his rod and strike the rock before him. Once he does water pours! This is a spiritual Rock. The Rock of Jesus Christ. This smitten stone pictures Christ who, when He was smitten upon the cross, became the fountainhead of blessing, the Redeemer of the world. Isn't that so cool? We have such a mighty God.

Hang with me now. I'm about to get to the message of friendship and encouragement!!

Now Amalek is attacking. He is a brother nation. An unexpected battle is at hand. Thrown upon them from out of no where. Isn't that how are lives are today? Battles rage upon us when we aren't prepared. My friend, God is always prepared! And He is willing to fight for you. We have a Savior who will intercede on our behalf.

The Hebrews were not trained in war while in Egypt. But Moses was. He knew what was needed and how to prepare. He gathered Hur and Aaron, not only brother, but friend. Moses calls upon Joshua, who would be Moses' personal minister for the next forty years. He would be put in charge of the military beginning with this battle. See, Moses was not only being obedient to God, he trusted these men. He knew he could count on their support. They stood together. This is what friendship is. This is what the church does for its people. This is where the community is for those who live next door. We are to be there for the journey. Brothers and sisters in Christ! Oh, how we need the armor of God!

As Moses knows Joshua is heading out to battle he takes Hur and Aaron up on the hill with him. From where they are they can see the battle below. Moses gathered his friends and they were with him while he cried out to God. He would hold up his arms to God. This was a gesture of independence on Yahweh. It wasn't Moses who held strength. Moses was growing weak. See, as long as his arms were raised to the heavens the battle would go their way. As soon as Moses would put his arms down the battle would go toward the Amalekites. This is what I LOVE so much. Hur and Aaron go over to Moses and they hold up his arms! They never let go. As tired as they too grow, together they stand giving praise to God. They are calling on God to have favor upon them. They are calling on God to move mountains. They are calling on God on behalf of Moses and their people. This is what friendship is all about.

The battle would be won. The God of Issac, Abraham, and Jacob was ensuring the victory. After the battle Moses built an alter and named it as a memorial to the Lord in the manner of the patriarchs before them. This shows such great faith. When a brother or sister grows weary from the battle we are to hold them up, not just with prayer, but to be present with them. We are to physically be present in the midst of the battle. This is a great testimony of what our Christian walk should be like as we journey this life here on earth together.

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:31-39

See, nothing is too big for our God. He is present. He is able. He is here for us in the midst of everything we face daily. As He intercedes on our behalf we too are to intercede for those around us.

I am calling on every believer to pray. I am calling on every believer to share with their friends, family, and church. I am calling on the people that attend church with Bobbie, those who have watched Donnie grow in church, and those who have yet to meet him. Every parent and every grandparent. Every sister and brother. I am calling on every single person in our Franklin County of Missouri to join us in court on June 17th at 2pm. Why?

Many of you have been following along as I share Donnie's story. Maybe you are just now seeing it for the very first time. It is my hope that you will share his story, that you will pray for this family, and that you will join us in court on June 17th at 2pm at the Franklin County Court House on the third floor. 

It is on this date that Ethan Humphries will be sentenced in the senseless death of Donnie Tipton on the morning of September 12, 2014. {Follow the links below to read about Donnie}. It is so very important that we pack this court room, fill the hallways, and have people overflowing until there isn't enough room to hold everyone inside. Why? I am sure you too have been watching on the news and seeing how judges are being slack in their sentencing rulings. It seems their ruling doesn't quite fit the punishment that should be for those who have chosen to break the law and create evil in their wake.

Christopher Kitchen was sentenced. He was released early from his 90 day sentence on good behavior. While he was in jail he was too released daily for the work release program.

Gerard Trotter received 3 days in jail and was released.  

Kevin Ryan has yet to be sentenced. We will still await his punishment. 

This should anger us all. What is happening that criminals should go free? These men who caused the death of Donnie deserve so much more.  Shouldn't they face a stricter punishment? These men all finally after two years of court proceedings have pleaded guilty to their charges. Guilty! Shouldn't a guilty plea mean you take the punishment given to the fullest? I mean, after all you are admitting you are guilty of a crime. That shouldn't mean you now receive a lesser punishment because after two years of fighting and saying you did nothing wrong, but now you are willing to say, "I'm guilty". We can turn on the nightly news or scour Facebook and the internet, hearing and seeing story after story where criminals are walking away from the punishment they should receive, to only walk away with a slap on the wrist. Do judges not value life? Friends, we have to be willing to stand against evil. On the afternoon of June 17 at 2pm we will have the opportunity to take a stand as we will see Ethan Humphries stand before the judge and receive his sentencing. Won't you please join us? Your presence will make a huge impact.

See, Donnie, could have been your child, your grandchild, your brother, your cousin, your friend. What would you be asking of others if he were? You would want others to fight with you, to stand with you. We have a voice. Every voice matters. We don't have to sit back and allow these senseless things continue to happen.

I have watched this family live this unexpected tragedy ravage their lives. This will never be over for them. Our community came together when Donnie was killed. But as we went on with our lives this family is still living the nightmare caused by the actions of others. We need to continue to stand with this family. This is the time so needed for us to make an impact. For this judge to see that this county is not going to take these light punishments any longer.

There's many things we can do. We can write our newspapers, our congressman, our local judges, and the prosecutor's office. We can come together and keep moving until we see changes happen. We don't have to sit by being polite and afraid to speak.

Donnie was only fifteen years old with his whole life in front of him. A life filled with dreams. He was so encouraging. He was an inspiration to every person who knew him. He loved his Jesus. Help me lift up the arms of my friend, Bobbie. Please, help me hold up her arms. Let us come together as Moses, Hur, and Aaron, overlooking the battle before us with hope and belief that God isn't finished yet. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Let us come together and cover the courthouse with our praise and presence!!

The battle is still before us. This is the time to lock arms together and make a difference so this doesn't have to happen to another child. Let there be no 'next child' that must die at the hands of the heinous actions of drunk drivers. Again, what if it were your child? What would you be asking, wanting of others? This is a fight for us all to battle together!

Since September 12, 2014 I have shared many posts about my friend. Here are just a few. Maybe you would like to take peek and follow just some of this journey of a mother's loss and heaven's gain. Maybe share them with your friends, family, and church members. It would be a blessing to continue to share Donnie's story. I encourage you to read each post and share with others. As we share Donnie's story we can give way for God to move in a HUGE way. Let us pray together, but let us be present to fight this battle on the front lines with this family who has been fighting for two long years now.

When we stand together in Christ it gives a powerful testimony of Christian love for their fellow brothers and sisters and for a world in need of seeing a love like no other. Bobbie, Jeremy, Phoenix, and their family will be so blessed to see this court room filled to overflowing. Won't you join all of us who will be there? Please, never think your presence wouldn't matter. It does, friends. Never think there will be enough people there without you. Your presence matters. If Donnie touched our lives in any way at all it is our responsibility to be there in support of justice. It takes courage to stand together. Let us show that Donnie's  life is worth fighting for today and always. Let us stand together and make a difference.

Standing In The Gap 
by Babbie Mason

I heard that you were hurting
That you were suffering pain
But I didn't dare just turn my head
And look the other way
For when your heart is aching
My heart is aching too
Let me help you bear your burden
That's the least that I can do
I'll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone, somewhere is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I'll be standing in the gap for you
Right now you may be troubled
But everything will work out fine
For the Spirit knows before you speak
What is on your heart and mind
So I'll be interceding
Til your standing strong again
The peace that passes understanding
Is going to be yours, but until then
So hang on my friend
It won't be long
And you have the strength
To carry on
For when two or three are walking together
It will be a much lighter load
For isn't that what a brother and a sister are for

Waiting for More

We can look to the Israelites and learn so much about ourselves. There is a vast wealth of knowledge to be learned in their lives as slaves in Egypt, to their journey to the promise land. Years would pass in between these two passages of time. It was no walk in the park. In fact they parked forty years in the desert. 

This morning my study opens in Exodus chapter 16. The Hebrew children had been out of bondage for only a month. A month and they were already complaining. Oh, I can hear them now. How about you? Sounds pretty much like me on a bad day when things aren't going my way and I am in no mood to wait for a good day. We tend to allow our circumstances to dictate our faith, right? If all is going well for us we tend to worship with all we have in us, but when things are not going as planned we look to God and ask, "Hey, where are You now?" We are not a patient people. We are downright demanding of all good things to shine down upon us at all times. After all we deserve it, right? Oh, mercy, have we not learned anything? Praise Jesus for His sweet grace and renewed mercy.

So, its been a month. Now they are ready once again to slam down on Moses. He seems to get the blame for everything that's happening or not happening at the moment. Makes you feel for him, doesn't it? He is trying to hard to lead these ungrateful people into a land of promise. A land he will never himself enter. 

They accuse Moses and Aaron of bringing them out of Egypt to die in the desert. Okay, living in Missouri I can totally relate to their agitation LOL. It is already so hot here and I am pleading for winter to arrive. Yep, we haven't learned a great deal. But at least we can relate and through relating to these people who lived so many years before us we can learn to walk with integrity, grace, and faith, through this journey on this planet that is a long way from home.

How quickly these people yet again forget the grace of God. How quickly once things grow a little difficult they forget all that God has provided thus far. One step forward and two steps back. This is our faith walk. Some days we are moving forward in faith and on others we are learning that even in our lack of faith God is forever present.

They are throwing a fit in the way of Moses. He is seeing all the people around him grow angrier by the minute and he cries out to God. Moses knew God's presence. He knew he wasn't alone. That's something huge for us to learn in our faith journey. 

God shows Himself once again. For five days each week He delivered daily portions for each person. On the sixth day He gave each a double portion. On the seventh day there was nothing, but that double portion was given to them for that next day. This is the day they would celebrate as the Sabbath Day. 

What they needed to through the wilderness was ONLY available through God. A lesson we can learn today as the wilderness is a very real place. Usually the place we learn who we are as people and where our faith grows the most.

These people had seen the work of the Lord. They had been under the Word. Now they would see the wonder of God. The revelation of the glory of God in the cloud was to instill confidence and compel faithfulness in His people. Its easy for us to judge these people for their continued lack of faith, but we do the exact same today. 

God brings a miracle of quail to His people. Quail would blanket the ground as a blessing to the people. They would give praise for this blessing, but would quickly grow angry again. Oh, the complaints our God must hear from His children. I know how crabby I become when I am hungry. My little self becomes a giant bear ready to roar. My growl can grow pretty ugly. What about you?

They complain yet again and what does God do? He gives grace to the people He loves so much. I can hear Him ponder, "When will My people get it? When will they get just how great My love is for them?". 

God brings the of manna. These little wonders of wafers would be their sustenance for the next forty years! Until the next generation this would sustain them until the promise land. 

Okay, this is amazing! One days food supply provided enough for more than two million people for forty years!! God's provisions are sweet for those who are willing to taste and see that the Lord is good. 

Manna was like white coriander seed and tasted of honey. Each morning the dew would cover the ground. As the dew would rise blanketed on the ground were the sweet wafers of manna. Such a beautiful sight this must have been. God continued to provide as He provides for us today. Our problem is that we don't look to the Lord for our provisions. We complain and fuss. We search all the wrong places for something to fill us when we should be looking to the Lord, seeking Him, being ready to taste and see all He has for us. 

Lord, may I be diligent daily in seeking You, trusting in You, and may my life be a living and lasting testimony to You, Lord, and to those who see my life lived out before them. 

The Israelites are waiting for more. They are waiting for the promise land. The sad part is that they are not living for each day. They have forgotten the here and now. We do the same. Living not only for tomorrow, for the weekend, for vacation to start, for the next great thing to happen to us. We often say, "I will be happy when...."

We miss out on so much waiting for something better to happen. We wait for peace to come. We wait for our circumstances to change before we can be happy. But what has happened to that wasted time passed? We can't get those days back. They are gone forever. Oh, the blessings I must have missed out on because I wasn't waiting in expectation for all the Lord had to show me of Himself. We are too focused on busy and tomorrow and what's next for us. So many things of this world rob our attention of the beauty moments only created by God.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord." Psalm 34:8

"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" Hebrews 3:7-11

The Israelites were people just as we are today. We weren't so different. A different time and place, but the same hearts of wanting more and not being able to find contentment. They lacked trusting the Lord when things grew difficult. They praised Him when all was grand. See, the thing about our God is that He knows us. He understands our hearts and where His love flows for His children there is grace. 

Take heart today, friends. Don't stop looking for God to do something spectacular in your life today. Look in anticipation for the Lord today. Allow your faith to grow in trust and hope as you patiently wait upon Him to move. May He have favor upon you today as you look not only toward tomorrow, but as you make the choice to live today. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book by David Jeremiah

I have loved everything I have read by David Jeremiah. I too have his study Bible which I use daily for my study. This book makes a great companion to any study. It would be a great gift. It would make for a  great tool for a pastor, teacher, student of the Word. 

This little gem would be awesome to just keep handy as a daily reminder, continually reading through like a devotional for encouragement and wisdom in the Word. It is one I will continue to turn back to in my faith journey.

The questions asked are questions that the believer has pondered, but many times just questions we never ask. Its easy to just ignore Satan and push all that evil out of sight, right? Wrong. Satan is very real. So many attacks on our daily lives are thrown at us by Satan and we place that blame on other things of this world. This is a book that will awaken you to the reality of how real Satan is and just how deceptive he is. He knows each of us, knows our lives in detail. His attacks are very real. 

This is a must read for every believer. Why? Because what this book contains about spiritual warfare isn't a subject every pastor preaches. It isn't a lesson we often find in our Sunday school book. It is in fact something that many don't believe exists at all. As the spiritual battle around us is so very real we need to know everything scripture tells us so that we can prepare and fight this battle with the tools that have been given to us. 

David Jeremiah is so informative. He gives us a mighty tool for our daily walk. What I admire about him is the fact that he never strays from the Word. He goes below the easy surface and digs mighty deep giving us every aspect we need to understand and live out the Word. 

In this newest book Jeremiah takes us to the armory shop of God. He shares with us just what to put on the armor of God means. He goes through each and every piece of armory. But he too shares just why we need to suit up daily. The spiritual battle around us is very real. Once we understand the truth of Satan, the mighty power of our God, and the battle around us we can have wisdom for this journey before us.

Throughout the book Jeremiah asks a question. Here are just a few:
Why study spiritual warfare?
Are we really in a war?
Against whom are we fighting?
Why is it important to understand the enemy?
What do we know about Satan's origin?
How powerful is Satan?
Are there different kinds of demons?
How does Satan attempt to imitate God?
What armor has God given me for warfare?
What is the purpose of prayer in God's armory?
How can I persevere in the battle when I'm afraid?
...and so much more!!

Each question asked flows easily to the next giving us a broad spectrum of the armor of God. He moves from each question with such ease he makes it so easy to understand. When we can easily understand it gives us a greater desire to learn more.

As Jeremiah gives a question he answers in a way that is easy to understand. He shares much about Satan, but even more so on the armor of God, just what each piece is, why we need it, and how to use it. From the introduction to the conclusion I kept turning pages. I grabbed my highlighter and deeply pondered the truths that he shares. I was excited to get out my Bible and search the scripture he shares. That's something extraordinary about Jeremiah. He always brings the Word to the forefront. 

We too are given The Warrior's Prayer which is a prayer for the believer to speak to the Lord each morning as we rise to all the day will bring our way. He gives a reference guide for spiritual warfare and prayer. Prayer is powerful in this battle we are living and needed for the journey. This is one of those books that is going to make a huge impact on the believer's heart, the wisdom they carry for the battle ahead, and the way they live out their daily life. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Its Not Just A T-Shirt

I was bent over and looking at a table when I hear a man's voice, "What does your shirt say?". I turn realizing I was wearing a simple t-shirt I had purchased at our local Goodwill. Okay, first, a great place to pick up comfy t-shirts, and second, I really had to think about what I was wearing at the moment LOL.

I looked down at my shirt and then up at the man in a wheel chair before me. I smile at his tender eyes and say, "Oh, its just a comfy t-shirt". Maybe I should back up just a bit. I was looking in Goodwill for some t-shirts to wear at home and found one that spoke about drunk driving. Well this t-shirt is from a local college and speaks about spring break and how 97% of the students attending this college have designated drivers during their spring break. 

This man reads my shirt aloud. At this time we are becoming surrounded by more people that are looking at items near us. He says, "Oh, are you a student?" Bless his heart, right? A student! I could have kissed this man. I tell him, "No, its just a t-shirt". He says, "A professor? Are you a professor?" Okay, by now I am simply falling in love with this man. Again I tell him, "No, sir. Its just a t-shirt I picked up". 

See, when I was in Goodwill and spotted this cute t-shirt I thought of more than comfort. I had immediately thought of Donnie. My friend's son, Donnie, who was fifteen when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Donnie was simply waiting in the drive way for the morning school bus. When I seen the t-shirt I had thought it could be an opening for a conversation about how it only takes one drunk driver to take a life. Only I never expected it to happen. Oh, our God is BIGGER than we can imagine!

He is still asking about the t-shirt and once again I tell him, "Its just a t-shirt, but when I purchased it I thought it could be an opening for conversation about drunk driving". I well up with tears and tell this man I have just met about Donnie. The man becomes emotional. As I am sharing Donnie's story people around us are beginning to really listen. 

This sweet man continues in conversation with us. My husband is listening intently to this man's story. He shares that when he came home from the Korean War he was battling PTSD. He shares that at the time they didn't have a name for it, but now it is well known. He shares how his life was spinning out of control. He doesn't want to speak about the war he witnessed and lived through. I can tell it is still traumatic for him. He shares how he started picking up the bottle. He became a drunk and would drive daily with his body inundated with whiskey. He says, "I have no idea how I got home after a day of drinking". 

He tells us his wife gave him a choice. The bottle or their marriage. He chose their marriage. He put down the bottle and never again took a drink. He continues with his story. He and his wife have been married for sixty-four years. He says, "I kissed my wife on the forehead every morning and night. She is now in a nursing home battling Alzheimers and I still kiss her on her precious head, but now she no longer knows my kiss." At this point tears are falling and my husband is about to lose the tears he's trying to hold back. He says to us," I can see how much you love one another. It shows just in your presence together. Kiss each other daily, never taking a moment for granted. Kiss one another and remember your love".

I wanna take this man home with us. I want to hear more of his stories. He says to me, "Never say, its just a t-shirt. That t-shirt caught my eye and brought me back to a time when the bottle owned me. That t-shirt could change someone's life. Your 'just a t-shirt' gives way for you to share your friend's story about her son and his life on this earth and why people should choose not to drink and drive. You keep wearing that shirt and take every opportunity you can". 

By now my hubs isn't holding back his tears. My heart is so full at this very moment over my, 'its just a t-shirt' answers. I know my Jesus enough to know that this wasn't just a chance meeting. He ordained this meeting with perfection. Not only did God give way for me to share Donnie's story, but also to hear this man's precious story about redemption and healing. To hear of a love story between this husband and wife. To just open our hearts to a stranger can give way for God to move in a way not expected by us peeps just wearing a t-shirt with a hope to share. 

Before we ended our conversation I took this man's hand in mine and thanked him for his service and for sharing such a personal story. He smiles at me and says, "You keep doing what your doing and don't you put that t-shirt away".

This taught me a valuable lesson. When God places something in our heart and gives us a mission He will forever provide the way. He will show us that nothing is too big for Him. I will continue wearing my t-shirt with a mighty hope. Oh, may we walk daily realizing that with God nothing is ever 'just an anything', but always an opening for Him to move in a mighty way! He can take a blank canvas and write upon it His story and way for the world to take witness to His mighty glory. 


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