November 30, 2011

Off the beaten path


My husband and I have very different ideas about how to do a road trip. He loves asphalt with nobody else in sight, windshield wipers beating time to good tunes, and open windows – no matter what temperature!

I enjoy getting out there and seeing the countryside, too, but I also value getting to a destination, spending some time exploring the area, and staying put in one spot long enough to savor the experience. Not to mention occasionally arriving with my hair intact.

Yet somehow, in spite of our different approaches to road-tripping, we manage to enjoy traveling together… most of the time. *smile*  
This we share: we love is to take the road less travelled and off-season is prime-time in our book.
So, I thought it might be fun today to simply share some snapshots I captured while we explored in our zany way during a recent road trip to Mississippi and back. I discovered a love for photographing old, rusty, authentic items from yesterday present, and God gave me some interesting little object lessons along the way -- I'll share more on those later.

Enjoy!

~ De





Stumbling upon Sciple’s Water Mill on some red, dirt road north of Dekalb, MS 

CLOSED for repairs; nobody around ! ! !
But to our surprise ...

Sciple's Water Mill, Honor system store box
… an honor box filled with product and a hand-scrawled price list. Love it! And, no, my Mr. isn’t one of the old-rusty-authentic-from-yesterday-present items.    ; )





“Water Mill Opry” – across the dusty road from the shut down mill. The gas pumps were frozen at 95-9/10 cents per 1/2 Gallon!
Along Hwy 16 in Mississippi

Beautiful old farm building in late afternoon light -- somewhere along two-lane Hwy 16 between Dekalb and Philadelphia, MS.



Go ahead, step off the beaten path.

Even if you can’t get away on a mini-trip, you can still find new discoveries by simply looking at the ordinary with eyes of appreciation. There are object lessons all around.
Listen for what God might show you in what you observe, or through the interactions you may encounter with unique people (His treasures) along your way.




November 28, 2011

Like vinegar on soda –Proverbs 25


I haven’t posted one of my personal SOAPs from my Proverbs readings lately even though I am still following along with the Proverbs in 31 Days series over at Mom’s Toolbox. I saw this verse in a new light, and thought it so timely for the holiday season.


Scripture:  Proverbs 25:20
“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
Observations: 
“Vinegar poured on soda” illustrates a violent and sudden reaction; a burst of bubbling that rises; Vinegar has astringent properties; soda has cleansing properties.
“Taking away a garment on a cold day” illustrates a shock to the senses; the unpeeling of a self-protective layer.
“One who sings songs” illustrates a messenger with good news and positive words.
Application:


I’ve always interpreted this passage from a very practical how-not-to-behave perspective. In other words, don’t be an insensitive clod when someone is going through a tough time!

But this time I saw the actions in the passage as merciful and loving instead of clueless and clumsy. After all, heavy heartedness spirals inward on itself if left unchecked, and sometimes it takes a pretty good shock to your senses to shake you out of your drowsy cocoon.
At first it feels uncomfortable – almost irritating – to subject the ache of your heavy burden to His light and positive truth, but it is necessary for healing or to bring things back in balance.
Personally speaking, praise & worship songs with lyrics taken directly from scripture whisk me into His presence, and before long I feel that bubbling in my spirit even when troublesome situations remain unchanged. This part of the verse has definite, literal application.

Yet the passage also provides spiritual clues to help us understand the negative reactions of others and to minister to them through positive words and actions.
What about that person who exploded at you the other day? Or that one who seemed unresponsive in their insulated numbness? Did you take offense and write them off? Or did you recognize it as an opportunity to be the one who sings songs to a heavy heart?
All around us especially in the bustle and exaggerated festivity of this commercialized Christmas season – the heavy hearted abound.

Prayer:


Lord, help us to go out watchful, sensitive and prepared with Your song in our heart, willing to risk our own comfort, and ready to serve as Your messengers of hope and healing.

~ De

What spoke to you in Proverbs 25?





November 23, 2011

Pink ruffles and toothy smiles


Some of you read my March journal post at OurCompassion titled “Gakii’s Christmas: My Surprise!” 

In it I shared about my Kenya correspondence child, Gakii -- another of my Compassion children without a mom.

Last fall I was so burdened for her, and as I prayed I felt specifically impressed to ask God to provide this little one with a new dress or an outfit.  You know, that kind of loving act her mama would do for her if she were around.

I wanted her to feel loved and special like the treasure she is to God’s heart. Yet as much as I would have loved to be able to send money for a dress for her, I was in no position to do anything about it at the time...except for prayer.

But God …

Gakii’s Christmas Thank-You letter arrived in March. Six simple lines of text, and a list of items received through the Compassion project’s Christmas outreach. Most children I know would scoff and grumble at gifts like this.
3 kgs wheat flour
cooking oil
cooking salt
matchbox
bar soap
 
But topping the list was this item -- “a girl dress.”


In her six-line-letter Gakii said the dress was beautiful. There was no photo in the letter, so I could only imagine her happiness and what she looked like in her pretty new dress.

Last week I received her updated photo. While I can’t be sure that this is the dress she got last Christmas, I have a sneaking suspicion it probably is!

Sparkling eyes and a seven-year-old toothy smile in a ruffled pink dress! Does it get any better than that? A little girl feeling like a pretty princesses, so precious to God's heart.
Gakii.2011

Thank you, Lord, for your love and care for this beautiful, precious little person.

Amazing. Wonderful. God.

~ De


You can help release children from poverty in Jesus’ name, too. This holiday season, would you join God in the work He is doing all over the world?





November 21, 2011

Your grateful daughter



SWEET TREAT! I returned home from first-birthday-celebration-travels to find three Compassion envelopes waiting for me. It sure helped take the sting out of the aching reminders of the Little Darlin’ I had to leave behind, down south.


Letters from my Compassion children always help me refocus on a purpose far greater than my present, and this was an extra necessary such time. ; )

So… what did I find in those vanilla colored envelopes?


From Carolyne in Kenya – She’s really opening up to us and sent a very newsy draft. She writes very well in English, so we get the added benefit of a longer letter – no wasted space for translation. Nice!

I love her opening greetings. This one said, “Receive Calvary greetings from me.”

She told me she bought some maize and a dress with a child gift we sent back in July. Though I’m more a jeans-and-sweatshirt-kinda gal these days, the mama’s heart in me still rejoices to near tears when my Compassion girls tell me they got a new dress. I can just imagine how special and pretty they feel, and it’s such a treasure to be able to do that for them with such a small gift.

Carolyne reports that she is doing well in school and will sit for her Kenyan International Training Centre papers this year. I am thrilled to hear about her great progress and success in her vocational program, but what blesses me even more is that she always mentions how thankful she is for salvation. She writes:
“I am still thanking God for the free life he has given unto me....”
She drew pictures of several items, which I think is her way of sending me a snapshot of her world. I love it.

Her signature line, however, went straight to my heart when she closed with the words,
“Your grateful daughter
I know from her profile bio that her mother is dead – I don’t know when or how. She lives with her grandparents and several other related children, and she has given no details about her family in her letters.

Yet she addressed herself to me as daughter…   grateful daughter.


Whew!
Talk about refocusing on a purpose much greater than the littleness of my here-and-now. God has entrusted me with this young lady for this place in time – a spiritual daughter -- to pray for, to love and encourage in Jesus, just like I would one of my own.

Humbled and enriched.

~ De





Snapshots from Carolyne’s world.
Carolyne-art-8132011Ltr

Look for the second letter and updated child’s photo in a separate post.


November 20, 2011

Kid Quips…


My two-year-old grandson Aiden smacked the bony part of his pudgy little foot against the rocking chair rung while playing ring around the rosy with Taffy the dog.

The shrieks and screams that immediately followed told me it was a good one, and I knew I had but a few seconds to gain control of the situation before he went into an inconsolable melt down.

“Show me exactly where it hurts,” I asked him calmly.

It seemed to be working. As I pointed to various spots on his foot and ankle, he stopped his wailing momentarily to let me know I was missing the BIG hurt.

Finally, exasperated with my not-so-clever distractions, he pushed my hand away with a series of frustrated “no’s” and pointed adamantly to the slightly reddened joint at the base of his big toe.

“Right there, Gramma! On my toe knee.”


*smile*

~ De

November 13, 2011

Regal or Rotten? – Proverbs 12


More fun from Proverbs today. Here’s the verse that spoke loudest to my heart.




Scripture: Proverbs 12:4
“A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.”
Observation:
My character affects what others see.


Application:
I love to see my husband all decked out looking like my Mr. Strong and Handsome. Of course, he’s just as handsome to me in a sweatshirt and work jeans wearing Sawdust for cologne as he is adorned otherwise. After all, I’m looking through eyes that love.

As a wife, I can positively influence how others seem him by the way I characteristically conduct myself.

For example, when I accept and love my husband just like he is, when I speak words that build up instead of those that tear down, when I respect him as a person or as the leader of our home, when I praise all-things-man about him, – these are like the little light beams that dance off the jewels in a crown. 

Spiritually speaking, as a part of the bride of Christ, how I handle myself affects how others see Jesus. Do they see Him as the Living Regal Prince that I adore? Or do they see Him as powerless, diminished by the rotting decay I put forth?



Prayer:
Father, help me to live in such a way that I bring you honor. Help me to honor my husband in all that I do and say. I need your help to live rightly so that others see your awesomeness and desire to know the wonderful friend and love-of-my-soul that you are.

~ De

Thoughts on this passage? Or please share the verse that spoke to your heart.


proverbs-sidebar
I’m following the Proverbs in 31 Days bible study hosted by Amy at www.momstoolbox.com
Jump in at any point. Good stuff!




November 12, 2011

What am I looking for? - Proverbs 11


Starting in the 10th chapter, did you notice how the flow of the theme changed? Each verse stands on its own as a complete lesson of wisdom truths.  WOW! What a gold mine.

Like a yummy bag of freshly opened Lay’s Potato Chips, it was hard to choose just one. Here is the chip I munched on today.

Scripture: Proverbs 11:27
“He who seeks GOOD, finds good will, but evil comes to him who searches for it.
Observations
Practically speaking, whatever I focus on determines my perspective.
Spiritually speaking, when I seek God I find goodness.

Application:
God is teaching me to see His goodness all around me as I live each day. It is so easy to slip into a negative mindset because elements of positive and negative can be found in any situation in life.

I choose the focal point. I am the one in control of the tuning knob to adjust the focus of whatever it is I observe.

Here’s a humorous practical example. As I drive up in front of the nice house in the beautiful neighborhood where our ladies bible study meets, in my only vehicle – a pick-up truck with it’s patches of rust and 433,320+ actual miles on it --  trust me I have a huge opportunity to look for the good.  -- Hey, It still runs! It’s 100% paid for! I own a vehicle while 91% of the world’s population does not. I am a rich person. --
Now, that’s the good stuff.
However, every popular self-help book on the market today shouts the benefits of having a positive attitude and looking on the sunny side of life. So, how is this verse different?

The reality of GOOD is God. He alone is GOOD, and there is nothing good apart from Him. He is more than just a positive outlook. He is the full embodiment and expression of all that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, praise worthy and virtuous.

So when I look for Him in the midst of every situation and then extend His goodness to others, His true gifts and incorruptible treasures are what returns to me.

Prayer:


Father, I love your goodness, but you know that I need your help to see you in the noise and confusion and darkness of some situations. Thank you for continuing to show me how wonderful it is to look for and to find your eternal goodness all around me so that I can share that with others.


~ De


How about it? What did you get out of this passage?


proverbs-sidebar

I’m following the Proverbs in 31 Days series hosted by Amy at www.momstoolbox.com. Click on the SOAP badge in my right sidebar to learn more about the SOAP bible study method. (Thank you, Amy!)




November 11, 2011

After the storm–Proverbs 10


I prepared this posting before heading out of town to celebrate a special little someone’s first birthday. I’ve got a couple more posts scheduled for you in case I don’t have a chance to grab a connection. Watch for my Proverbs, 11 & 12 posts coming up in the next few days.

Continuing on with the Proverbs in 31 Days bible study, here’s what God spoke to my heart from chapter 10. (Is that coffee I smell?)



Scripture: Proverbs 10:25
“WHEN the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous STAND FIRM FOREVER.”
Observations:


First of all, notice that the verse says *when -- not if. Storms in life will happen.

Because I love God, I have the promise that I will not be completely destroyed. I will rise from the aftermath. I will come through the storms and continue steadfast.

Application:


My relationship with God and my faith in the trustworthiness of His promises will help me survive the most difficult adversities in life.

I went through a devastating time in my life. While it happened I watched, helpless as my life was ripped to shreds. I felt the sting of all the debris that battered me to the very brink of what I thought I could bear. He never left me, though it was difficult at times to hear His voice above the raging commotion. 
When this life-storm finally subsided and eventually blew on through, I didn’t exactly feel like I was standing. But I am still here because He gave me His word. And He keeps His word.

People who don’t know Jesus have nothing to anchor their life to. Life's difficulties roar through their world and just blow them away. If they would just grab onto the truth of this passage...

The storm I experienced affected my life deeply, but what remains is that which could not be touched. My faith in Jesus Christ -- who is Solid. Firm. Eternal.

Prayer:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Father for your gift of righteousness by faith in the precious blood of Christ Jesus. You have proven your word. Help me to remember and recount your faithfulness when the next storm approaches.

~ De

Have you experienced a time when God proved His word to you?

proverbs-sidebar
I’m blogging my thoughts on the Proverbs in 31 Days bible study series hosted by Amy over at Mom’s Toolbox.



November 10, 2011

Remain teachable–Proverbs 8


Today’s thoughts are from my readings back on November 8th in the Proverbs in 31 Days bible study -- hosted by Amy over at Mom’s Toolbox (click the links at the bottom of this post to hop over to her blog and check out her posts, too).

This is the verse that popped out at me.

Scripture – Proverbs 8:33
“Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it.”
Observation:
Remain teachable and humbly accept the lessons God has for me.
Application:
To hear God, I must first tune out distractions so that my ears and my heart can receive the message He wants me to learn.

God is constantly teaching me through what I hear preached at church or shared in my bible study group or in conversations with friends. He also provides instruction through the things I experience in life. He uses circumstances and situations to shape and mold me, to test and prove me, and to strengthen my faith in Him. He also teaches me about who He is through these lessons.

Some of the real-time lessons are easier learned than others. It’s important that I yield to the learning process and that I am open to what He teaches. This is how I grow in wisdom.

The test comes when I walk through the tough stuff of life and I still look for God in the midst of the trial. When I come away from these harder, hands-on-learning-labs with more of His truth evident in my life, and a greater understanding of His nature and character, that shows that I was paying attention to the teacher.

Prayer:


Lord, I'm so thankful that you love me enough to take the time to teach me what I need to know and to grow more like you.  Help me to receive your instruction with the right spirit, and continually help me to see your hand at work when I might otherwise miss the point.


~ De

What did you get out of today’s chapter?


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I’m blogging through Proverbs in 31 Days along with Amy at Mom’s Toolbox.



November 9, 2011

Blue on Blue

  

Blue disc

Blue on blueGently floats, suspended on air.
Within reach. Grab. Curl. Release.

Blue skies
Daily host of sunshine and clouds
Beyond reach. Gaze. Blink. Reflect.


Blue eyes

Keenly watch as saucer soars high.
Strain to reach. Jump. Grunt. Got it!


Blue / boy

Rough and tumble, playing outside,
Full of dreams yet unrealized


Blue blur

Days pass too quickly, boy moves on,
Play to work to things all grown


Blue on Blue


~ De





Wishing you the treasure of sweet memories made today.
(Ps27:13 Moments)






November 8, 2011

Of Doctors, Dasara, and Drums


048

Last week I received a letter from Vinay in India. In keeping with his style, his communication is short and sweet but full of insights into his life.

His favorite school subject is English. I can make out the printed words “quarterly exams” inserted within the lines of his artistic, Sanskrit-style (?) handwriting. I think he is practicing his English words to show me how well he is doing.

Vinay has one sister, and they live with their grandparents. This is new information that actually leaves me a bit confused. He mentioned his mother and father in an earlier letter. I don’t know IN4770040_Vinayif there has been a change in his family dynamics, or if there was an error in the earlier translation… or in my understanding. Anyway, this is something I want to follow up on in my response letter.

It was encouraging to read of his future dream to be a doctor and “serve the society.” I can see the future doctor standing here, can’t you?

His region observed the Dasara holidays, which is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Click here for more info.


In my letter about favorite school subjects, I had shared with him about my life-long love of music, song-writing, and playing piano. He told me he  cannot sing, but that he likes to play the drums.
Gotta  love that!

I’ve always been fascinated by the sound of artistic percussion – (like STOMP – oh yeah!) – but even more so as the rhythmic support of a great praise and worship set that just puts us in motion.

As happy as I am for his vocational dream, I really pray he gets to use his love of rhythm to glorify God, and that the worshipper within him continues to blossom.

~ De


Mail Call Mondays
MAIL_CALL-IMG_8029
inspired by Michelle at Blogging From the Boonies

November 7, 2011

Bind them on your fingers - Proverbs 7


I hope you're enjoying your time in the word, and I'd love to know if you're trying out the SOAP method, too. Go to Mom's Toolbox to learn more. This is a very helpful bible study approach, and so easy to remember.

Coffee ready? Here’s what stood out to me in Chapter 7.


Scripture:  Proverbs  7:3-5
Bind them on your fingers and write them on the tablet of your heart. (v5) They will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words.”
Observations:
Obedience to the wisdom of God’s principles protects me from the lure of unfaithfulness, both literally and spiritually.

The ways of the adulteress described in the chapter show some of the tactics the enemy of my soul uses to try to destroy my faithfulness and intimacy with God. When I find myself bombarded in these areas, that’s when I need to be on guard.
    • Anything that plays to extreme sensuality or enticingly attracts and absorbs my senses and replaces my focus on God (v10)
    • Invitations to excessive self-indulgence – not only to those things that God forbids, but also to any personal pursuit or activity that threatens to take first place in my heart
    • Smooth talk & persuasive words that disarm my better judgment
    • The loud and brash voice – distractions that drown out God’s voice.
    • Defiance –  casting off restraint;

Application:


What protects me from becoming unfaithful to God?
Bind them on your fingers...
That means picking up my bible every day, and clinging to the truths I read in His word. It also means to let God’s principles dictate my choices, methods, attitudes and actions in everything I set my hand to do, and in how I do it.
Write them on the tablet of your heart...
When I read and study God’s word, and apply His principles every day, I chisel wisdom into the most impressionable part of my core being.


Wisdom. Understanding. The guardian of my life. Like a protective older brother or a concerned and loving sister, clinging to wisdom and understanding will keep me from wayward paths. (v4).


Prayer:
(In this step, take a moment to ask God to help you apply what you have learned from your study in the passage today.)

~ De


What passage spoke to your heart today?


proverbs-sidebar
I’m following the Proverbs in 31 Days series at Mom’s Toolbox.




November 6, 2011

The ways of the ant - Proverbs 6


I hope you are enjoying a soapy soak in the word, and taking notes on what God is speaking to your life. Here’s what I heard in today’s reading from chapter 6.

Scripture – Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Observations
I can become wiser by studying the life and behavior of godly examples, including those shown in nature.
The ant shows restraint by storing provision for basic needs – not hoarding excess for indulgence.
The ant works independently to perform the right kind of work in the appropriate season.
Application
When I first read the verses describing the diligence and self-motivated work behaviors of the ant, I felt a negative aversion sparked from past association with the burned-out, Type-A driven wreck I was in my early 40’s.

Then I realized God was showing me that the ways of the ant stand in stark contrast to the workaholic entanglements of the son described in verses 1-5, and the inexcusable laziness of the sluggard outlined in verses 6-15.

These two extremes are the folly God warns us about in this part of the chapter.

The busy little ant teaches me these wisdom principles that I can apply to my life.

Live Balanced – I must exercise initiative in performing my daily tasks, but I must take care not to set such lofty goals that I become driven to involvements beyond my responsibilities.
Work well – I must manage and invest my time wisely. If not I could end up sacrificing my strength and purpose to a life God never asked me to live, or waste opportunities He puts before me.
Stay Content – I will focus on taking care of the life God gave me instead of looking for the one I don’t have.
Plan & Prepare – I will store up what I reasonably can for basic provision in the future. The emphasis on storing food in this passage reminds me not to worry about the extra trappings of my life that may or may not be there at some far distant date.

Prayer
Thank you for your word, and for your creative lessons from nature that I can easily connect with. Help me to apply your truths and be more like a happy, productive little ant.


~ De


What is God saying to you from today’s reading?




I’m following Proverbs in 31 Days, hosted by Amy at Mom's Toolbox.
Click for more info about the SOAP method.


November 5, 2011

Dad’s Watching–Proverbs 5

 
I'm linking up again today with Moms Toolbox and the Proverbs in 31 Days bible study using the SOAP Method. Grab a cup of coffee and join me. Here’s what stood out to me in the chapter.

Scripture – Proverbs 5:21
“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths.”
Observations
Nothing is hidden from God. Every essence of my being -- my thoughts, character, nature – my actions and inaction – every choice, and the innermost motives of my heart both good and bad – Me. I am an open book before Him.

There are no overlooked slip-ups. God doesn’t get distracted, yet he doesn't want me to think of him as some frightful, big-eye-in-the-sky.

In the context of the chapter, this verse warns me to stay true to right living. I am always in His presence – within His direct line of sight, and He is totally with me in the moment.

I see a corrective, a creative, and a comforting facet to the truths in this passage.
 
Application

If I’m doing wrong, these truths are a sober reminder.
“Straighten up! Dad’s watching.”
If I’m doing right, these truths are the liberating voice of encouragement to keep it up.

“Give it your best shot! Dad’s watching!”

If I am scared, lonely, grieved, confused, lost, hungry, tired, struggling, these truths are like a soothing, warm-fuzzy blanket he wraps me in as he takes me into his strong, protective arms.

“Trust me. Everything’s going to be okay... Dad’s watching.”
Prayer
Lord, I’m so glad that you see me completely. Nothing about me is a surprise to you, and you totally have my back. Show me where I’m messing up so I can improve and bring joy to your heart.
 

~ De






November 4, 2011

Guard it well – Proverbs 4


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I am following Amy at Mom’s Toolbox as she blogs through Proverbs in 31 Days. The approach is to read a chapter a day from Proverbs, and using her SOAP method for bible study, I’ll post thoughts about what stood out to me in the passage.

My disclaimer right up front is that I may not post something everyday, but I intend to journal the passage that stands out to me as I read daily through Proverbs this month. I encourage you join us and dig into God’s word, too.

So, here we go with the passage that spoke to me from Proverbs 4.



Scripture - Proverbs 4:13
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go, guard it well for it is your LIFE.”
Observation
I must do everything I can to protect and maintain the things I learn from God’s word. There is an urgency in this passage that calls attention to my personal responsibility.


Application
How many times have you “learned” something just long enough to pass a required test? Afterward, the knowledge quickly fades, replaced by a 1000 other pressing pieces of data screaming for space in your overloaded brain.

This passage says that holding onto what I’ve learned from God is LIFE to me. God’s instruction is spiritual survival.

Therefore, I must take care to internalize God’s truths and remember them for the long haul. I can’t do that without spending time in daily bible reading and study.

Reading alone won’t help me remember what I’ve learned unless I put it into practice on a regular basis. For example, as I practice the principle of extending grace and forgiveness – over and over again –  then sooner or later what I’ve learned spiritually begins to affect my nasty old inclindations to look-out-for-number-one.

To protect what I’ve learned – to guard it well (I love how that’s phrased) -- I must take steps to ensure that nothing dilutes or distorts God’s truth in my life.

How do you do that?
  1. Follow sound teaching on a regular basis
  2. Limit personal distractions
  3. Make room / create space
  4. Take the time to be taught / remain teachable!

Prayer
Thank you, Father, that you care enough about me to remind me how important it is to apply myself to your instruction. Please give me the grace to grow humbly and help me to remain teachable.



What passage spoke to you in Proverbs chapter 4 today?

Click the link to Mom’s Toolbox Proverbs in 31 Days for today’s post, and read more spirit-led devotions from this passage.

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