The Sun is Shining!

(So many of you are sick now – or your loved one is sick. I was very sick three years ago, pre-COVID, but with most of the symptoms. Hopefully this short piece I wrote at that time will be a blessing and encouragement to you now.)

The sun is shining. I saw it heading south, as we crossed the Georgia/Florida line, a few days before Christmas  . . .

and it was shining brightly when we stopped at the Welcome Center . . .

but as the symptoms worsened, and the days of sickness turned into weeks of sickness, the sunshine outside seemed to be in a different world – not in mine. I missed it. I wanted it.

Has this happened to you? Perhaps it isn’t sickness. It might be defeat, loss, discouragement. Are your plans suddenly darkened? Do you have to fight to get the sunshine back?

It’s hard to fight when you’re weak, isn’t it? In that weakness – that lack of sunshine – the enemy, thriving in the darkness, just seems to flourish. He fills your mind with fears and gloom. He zaps you until you wonder if you have any fight left in you.

It’s in those times that we have to turn that fight over to our defender, our leader, our Lord.  We have to let ourselves dwell in that secret place – that shelter of the Most High. We need to rest in the Almighty’s shadow, let Him be our refuge. 

As I strove to have faith in His promises of healing, I knew I needed  to “hear” the Word. So I listened. I went to sleep, listening to Healing Scriptures (Link); to excerpts from messages teaching the Word of God. I heard the Word as I spoke it in prayer,  There is no greater prayer. He wrote it.

Through those days – those weeks – a passage of the Word “stood out” to me. I heard it over and over: “Put on the armor of God, Kathi.”

I meditated upon those pieces of armor:

The Belt of Truth

The Breastplate of Righteousness

Feet Fitted with Readiness for Peace

The Shield of Faith

The Helmet of Salvation

The Sword of the Spirit

Prayer in the Spirit 

 I needed to put on the armor. I was reminded that I have a leader. He goes before me. He goes behind me. He hems me in.  I’m just a soldier in this battle. The battle is His, and I am so glad. He is fighting for me.

The battle went on for quite some time. Long weeks. Several doctor visits. But one day, I discovered something amazing here in Florida: the sun was shining!

Don’t give up the battle, friend. Strengthen yourself with the Word. Let Him fight the battle for you. Soon you’ll see: the sun is shining!

 Click here to listen to hear the healing Scriptures I listened to.

Further Reading:

Psalm 91:1,2

 Romans 10:17

Proverbs 18:21

 Ephesians 6:17,18

Psalm 139:5

Out of the Darkness

Our family – all 20 of them – had plans right through the actual Christmas Day, so we celebrated our big family Christmas with them all that first weekend of December. It was a short season of lights, trees, and nativity scenes for us this year! On the Monday after that first weekend, I packed away all the Christmas decorations in tubs and containers, then securely placed all in their 11-month “storage units” on shelves. So by the middle of the first week of December, Ron and I were in the car, “packed to the hilt” with food, swimsuits, summer clothes, and all my writing materials, and headed south to our little Florida home near the warm Gulf waters, for the winter.

I must say it was “odd.” We sped along the highways, passing thousands of homes, brightly decorated  inside and out, knowing our own Michigan home was now dark and cold; the upcoming Christmas Day, too, now seemed dark and cold because our family Christmas was past. Yes, it was “odd.”

The trip, our drive of typically 18-20 hours, was long and tiring. The outdoor temperatures rose as we neared our destination, but our physical strength diminished, weary from it all. Those last hours especially were the darkest of the year. Nearing winter solstice. The atmosphere clouded. No moon in sight. Finally,  after midnight, we turned onto the dark, narrow street in our little quiet neighborhood, leading to our little Florida home. And there it was: a light in the darkness. 

Kathy,  a caring neighbor and friend, had left the outside light on for us. It was a welcomed sight! A light to lead us to the door, to welcome us home.

We entered our home, relieved and thankful.

I quickly but carefully stepped through the darkened rooms,  moving toward the back of the house,  being drawn by yet another light – this one of various colors. 

There, through the glass of the back door, leading to our small back yard, my eyes gazed upon  another light in the midst of this dark night, this one strategically lit by our neighbor, Donna, also intended to welcome us home.

The kindness of our neighbors reminded me of the graciousness of our Savior.  Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who  believes in me should stay in darkness.” (1)

The Gospel writer says, “In Jesus is life, and that life is the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (2)

I understand it.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (3)

I understand it.  I no longer walk in darkness because I am a follower of Jesus Christ!

When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, His light exposes the truth that our sins have been completely removed. The Light, which is His presence, give us grace and hope we need in this darkened world.

Yes, I understand it. Do you? 

Come out of the darkness, my friend. Come into the Light!

Click here to understand how to become a Christ follower.

1) John 12:46

2) John 1:4,5

(3) John 8:12

My 2020 Christmas Letter

This is not your typical “Christmas letter.” Instead, I’m opening up, which isn’t always easy for me, sharing  a composition of my thoughts late in this beautiful Christmas season of this dreadful year of 2020.

First, I must clarify – every year is “blessed” – none can truly be “dreadful,” if one is alive to tell about it. But we all know what 2020 has been, and it is not at all pleasant. So, even though as a Christian, I find blessedness in all the Lord has provided and brought us through this year, I also find dreadfulness in the year itself. Why? Because our enemy has twisted and maligned, and – well, Jesus stated it so well in John 10:10, when He told us that our enemy, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That’s just what the enemy has done this year. Every heartache, trial, illness, death, separation, loneliness, divisiveness, turmoil – all fit in the categories of at least one of those three words: steal, kill, and destroy.

Woe! And whoa! This piece of writing is becoming dreary and seemingly hopeless.

But Jesus . . .

My friend, our Jesus turns this terrible year completely around – totally inside out – from darkness into light – from death to life. It started when He was born, it continued when He saved me, and it’s happening right now. He makes all things new. He is our hope. His promises are true. He is unchanging. He is all faithful. He will never leave us or forsake us. Never. He is with us now – at the end of this dreadful 2020 – in the midst of this beautiful Christmas season.

This is our Jesus.

He came to give us life. LIFE! Not just a sense of “living” but a LIFE abundant! (Also John 10:10) Jesus refers to that life as rich and satisfying (NLT) – as full. NIV).

This is our Jesus.

So at this Christmas time, we can rejoice in singing of Jesus as Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Newborn King. We can rejoice in singing of the hope and peace He brings.

Recently, I saw these pictures of the Baby Jesus and as our Savior Jesus, dying for us:

He came for all. He died for all. And He rose from the grave for all. But He is not yours if He is only your Christmas Baby Jesus. He cannot be your peace and hope if you have not trusted Him as your Lord and Savior. This year – this dreadful year – may you realize the fullness of His love for you. May you realize why He truly came.

I’m sure this is a strange Christmas for many. It is different for me, too.

Ron and I were blessed to celebrate Christmas with most of our children and grandchildren in Michigan – early. They all had other plans around the actual “Christmas Day,” so my home was decorated early – and for just a short period of time. It was different. It didn’t seem like Christmas time that early, so I did not deck the house as usual.

Although the nativity was set in a prominent place, the remainder of Nana and Papa’s Michigan home didn’t change much from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Only the lighted church was set up – not the many lighted houses, the tiny ice skating pond the little ones so love, or the snow and mini fences completing the beautiful little village. No wreaths adorned my doors this year; no garlands embellished the fireplace mantles; only one tree was decorated instead of two. I’m not sure why. Was it the mindset of an altered year? Or was it because of an altered mindset?

On a Monday, nearly three weeks before Christmas Day, Ron and I “took down” Christmas and packed it away for another year. We headed south.

Once settled into our southern Florida home, we scouted the local stores in hopes of finding the perfect little Christmas tree and the most meaningful Nativity set. In hopes of establishing a new little tradition of Christmas with just the two of us. Because we must. It is different. Many of you know. More than I. You’ve been alone. Perhaps single. Perhaps divorced. Perhaps widowed. This year, isolated by the evils of a virus. It is different yet. And most often unwelcomed. You try. You bake cookies and place at another’s front door. You send cards and encourage others. You mail packages. Sometimes you cry. You often pray. You find Jesus sufficient. More so than you ever realized. You have found Christmas. 

You have probably learned what I am now discovering. The truth about Jesus. The truth of meeting him in the manger. The truth of looking ahead to His suffering and death and resurrection. The truth of peace and joy – that only He can bring. The truth of knowing why – why He came as a baby. The truth that we sometimes can only learn at the end of a dreadful year.

And it is a blessed understanding. One that needs not a lighted tree or even a beautiful Nativity. One that needs only the Word – the Carol – the Worship.

If Jesus is your Savior, as well as your Christmas baby, you understand. If you are uncertain, click here to read how to make certain – to receive Him as your Christmas gift – as your Savior.

Turn from thoughts and anxieties and pain and fear of the killing, stealing, and destroying brought by the thief – turn to the abundant, full life promised by Jesus!

Join me in the true celebration of Jesus’ birth. Together, we’ll sing,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

And His favor rests on us, His children,

because of our Jesus.

“I have told you all this,” Jesus said.

A friend recently posted on Facebook:

“Seriously – if I don’t get this anxiety under control, I am going to be exhausted for the rest of my life.”

I related to her posting:

Anxiety. Fear. Exhaustion.

Within a day, she posted again:

“I try really, really hard to have faith in humanity, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Decent people get bad things they don’t deserve, while horrible people get good things they don’t deserve. The universe just seems pretty upside-down to me at the moment.”

Anxiety – Fear – Exhaustion. Now we add Frustration and Confusion to the list.

Can you connect? I can.

Why is the world so unsettling now, we wonder. Jesus addressed our concerns.

“I have told you all this,” Jesus said, “so that you may have peace in me. . . Take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

You see, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, having recently entered Jerusalem, the city he so loved, between what we refer to as Holy Week. Similar to the holiday time we are presently celebrating.

“I have told you all this, so you may have peace in me.” Jesus said.

What is “all this” we might question.

We find “all this” in the book of John, Chapters 12-16. In the few days after entering Jerusalem,

Jesus predicted His death, washed His disciples’ feet and told the people He did not come to judge the world but to save it.

He predicted His betrayal and Peter’s denial.

He brought a new command: “Love one another.”

He comforted His disciples, and promised the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to them.

He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

He explained that He is the source of life, being the true vine.

And several times He told them to ask for anything in His name and it would be given them.

He told them that the world would hate them but that someday their grief would turn to joy.

It is in this context that He tells them,

“I have told you all this (all these things), so that you may have peace in me. In this world, here on this earth, you will have many tribulations, troubles, trials, sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Some of you now feel like his disciples felt at that time – hated by the world, by your family, your co-workers, your congregation.  Some of you perhaps have prayed for a loved one for ages without seeing results. Your heart is troubled. Maybe you’ve received bad news. Or you are afraid. You feel separated from the true vine. You are lonely. You can’t imagine your grief ever turning to joy. The world is “upside down.” Life isn’t fair. But Jesus tell us that we can have peace in Him. He tells us to take heart. He has overcome the world.

You might question why  Jesus said, “In this world you will have many troubles” instead of  just make everything perfect?

Well, He did!

“In the beginning . . .” we read. “And God saw that it was good.” God was pleased with His creation. It was perfect.

God did not create sickness. He did not create addiction. He did not create death. God’s plan was not for us to suffer. He didn’t create hatred and strife, wars and destruction. But it happens. Because “Here on earth,” or “In this world,” as some translations read, actually in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, in their sin, turned the keys over to Satan. For a time, our enemy Satan, roams about, trying to steal from us and kill us and destroy us. (Be sure to read John 10:10 to discover who brings evil and who brings good.)

Was this “upside-down” world God’s original plan?  Did He bring it? No. Does He allow it? Yes, He allows Satan to roam ~ because man chose it.

Our Jesus knew it would happen. Our “upside-down” universe is not a surprise to Him. I picture His face saddened as He spoke the words: “In this world, you will have many troubles.” He is saddened that “Decent people get bad things they don’t deserve, while horrible people get good things they don’t deserve,” as my Facebook friend observes. He is saddened that our world, our lives, are invaded by disease and suffering, that our children are hurting, that our world is in strife. He will bring justice one day. But today, we can trust that in Him we can have peace. Peace that passes all understanding, His Word tells us.  He has overcome the world. We must trust His Word, for He “has told [us] these things so that in Him [we] may have peace.” I’m so glad He did.

Click here to learn more about the peace Jesus offers.

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It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to.

I had a party today. Sorry I didn’t invite you, but I was all caught up in myself. This kind of party is much more fun when I’m all alone.

It started this way: “Surely God is good to me . . . but I’ve stumbled and lost my footing. All day long I’m plagued with trials; seems there’s a new punishment every morning.” If only I had said something different – if only I could explain– if only he truly loved me – if only she understood – if only things were different – if onlyif only – [i]

Wow! The party was really

getting going at this point!

(Maybe you should have been there!)

When I tried to understand all that was going on, it suddenly seemed very oppressive to me.[ii] (You know how that oppression works!) By this time, the enemy was knocking loudly at my door. He really wanted to come to my party!

Like I said, I wanted to be alone at my party. But I did recognize that malevolent knock, so when it became oppressive to me, I left the room where he was knocking, and I entered the sanctuary of God.[iii] It’s a quiet place – so very comfortable – such a place of refuge! God took hold of my right hand; He became my strength; and I realized that I desired nothing more than to be with Him. [iv] I realized it was good for me to be near God.

He said, “You can have great peace because you love my law, and nothing can make you stumble.”[v]

And I said, “I wait for your recovery, O LORD, and I follow your commands. I obey your statues, for I love them greatly. I obey your precepts and your statues, for all my ways are known to you.” [vi] (That last part made me I realize that He had known about my party all along!)

Looking back, I see it really wasn’t much of a party at all until I entered His shelter. That’s when the true celebration started.

Next time I’ll try to have a different kind of party

– in the sanctuary – and I will invite you!

Click here to listen to Lesley Gore’s 1964 hit, “It’s My Party, and I’ll Cry If I Want To,” the song that led to the title of this blog!

Psalms

[i] Psalm 73: 1,2,14,15 NIV paraphrased

[ii] Psalm 73:16 NIV paraphrased

[iii] Psalm 73:17 NIV paraphrased

[iv] Psalm 73:23-25 NIV paraphrased

[v] Psalm 119:165 NIV paraphrased

[vi] Psalm 119:166-168 NIV paraphrased

I’m weary.

I’m weary. You know how it is.

It’s not just one thing. It’s more than one. It’s more than two. It’s one thing upon another. Stacking. Compounding. Until that one more thing, no matter how small, seems just too much.

I’ve been aware of the stacking – the compounding – for quite some time. I’ve dealt with it in the past, and I’ll deal with it again. But for now, I’m weary. It’s like a compounding pile of rocks. Some light. Some heavy.

Today, as I write, my brother in law is in surgery, having a lung transplant. This rock is a heavy one, and it’s been on the compounding pile of rocks for a long time. Its very presence on his stack, and on my sister’s stack, causes it to accumulate in diverse sizes on my own rising pile. It makes me weary.

Facebook and Instagram photos look lovely, but we all know, there’s quite often pain behind the smiles. My family is no different.  I’ve encountered those heaping rocks many times, repeatedly, and have pushed them off, one by one, turning them over to the Lord, trusting those issues to Him. Oftentimes, when I do,  I figuratively wipe my hands and smugly say, Take that, you cursed enemy. By the power of the name of Jesus. But today, those same stones – or rocks, as they’ve become, aren’t moving as easily.  Because I’m weary. Sometimes it’s a recurring pebble that pops up – with my spouse’s name on it. Sometimes an entire little bag of pebbles – you know, like the bag of marbles we had when we were kids.  Sometimes it’s huge – the loss of a child – or of a parent. It’s the grief that permeates and changes your life forever. It’s your child’s middle-of-the-night fever or her wicked diagnosis. It’s a learning disability or a mental illness. It’s a daughter’s addiction or a son’s waywardness. It’s the pain on your grandchild’s face and the tears in his eyes when his daddy yells and leaves the house. It’s the pain of your daughter’s singleness when she yearns for marriage. The problem burdens not just one in the family; it burdens all. You hurt not only for the burdened one but for each one who suffers – physically, mentally, emotionally. The rocks seem heavier than they once were. And they’re all stuck together. Sometimes they seem cemented. I’m weary from it. And I know you’re weary. I can see it behind your smile.

The enemy throws a lot of political rocks onto my stack, more as the last few years have progressed. My “friends” and community members have called me names – well, not me personally, but in general, along with anyone who has my political view. And I create my own stones on my stack, as well, having zero understanding of  those who view the political issues from a different perspective. It’s all so heavy. And I become weary.

This COVID thing is just  plain weighty in this pile of rocks. The COVID rocks keep appearing in various sizes and weights upon the stack:  Isolation. Sickness. Death. Fear. Hate. Divisiveness. Anger. Exhaustion. Loneliness. Separation. Anxiety. Suicide. Grief. Poverty. Judgment. Depression. This is not a bag of rocks. It’s a truck full of boulders that have become ever present month after month, enveloping our birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, travel plans, elections, and now our holidays. We boldly and bravely  knock one COVID rock off our pile; another related rock appears. We’ve all become weary from it.

Here’s the thing: 

On the other side of my weariness is Jesus. He’s waiting just like always. He whispers,

Kathi, I will refresh your weary soul and replenish you when you are weak. I will give you pleasant sleep. My Word sustains you. Keep it fresh in your mind. Come to me. I will give you rest.

So today, in my weariness, I go to Jesus, the one who came to give me abundant life. I turn my burdens over to Him. We know He doesn’t bring any of the burdens that are making me weary. But He gladly takes them and brings the victory – some that I see today – some that is yet unseen but promised.  Either way, I have the promised rest,

What about you?  For all of these things we have Jesus. If you’re a Christ follower, go to Him. Place each burden, big or small, light or heavy, on Him. Until your weariness is gone. If you’re yet uncertain if you have Jesus, turn to Him. We needn’t remain weary!

Click here to learn more about following Christ.

Further reading:

Jeremiah 31:25, 26

Isaiah 50:4

Matthew 11:28

John 10:10

Who is Touching You?

Today, I was reading about Jesus. It’s the story of Jesus at a dinner. All four gospel writers record it. Perhaps you’ve heard it – or read it.

A woman comes in to the house where the dinner is held, obviously uninvited, and she opens a very expensive bottle of perfume and anoints Jesus with it. Most likely she is chastised. The Pharisees even chastise Jesus  for allowing this to happen. The “righteous” guests have various reasons to criticize the action. They are self-righteous and think they know best – know more than Jesus. Jesus uses the situation to teach them about the forgiveness of sins. Paraphrased, it’s something like this: He who has been forgiven much loves Him much. He who has been forgiven little loves little. Then He tells the woman her sins are forgiven, her faith has saved her, and she is to go in peace.

It’s a marvelous story about forgiveness. About repentance. About redemption. You’re probably familiar with it. Perhaps like me, you’ve read it or heard it many times throughout your life. But today, as I read it – distraught by the sin openly flaunted around us, by the self-glorification and haughtiness displayed in this country and this world in which we live – one line stood out to me more than the others. One line I never really contemplated before. It is only found in Luke’s account (7:39). The sanctimonious, hypocritical man who had invited Jesus said it:  

 If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.

He knew. Oh yes, Jesus knew.

It made me question: Who is touching me? And I ask you, Who is touching you?

Every day, we are approached, surrounded by, or we simply encounter a sinner – at work, at the grocery store, even on social media – one whose sins are not yet forgiven, one who is not yet saved, one who does not yet have the peace our Jesus offers. That person is touching you. And you know.

We must tell them about Jesus, the one who forgives sins, saves souls, and offers peace.  We must tell them about the Jesus we have touched. The Jesus who saved us. The time is short.

We know. Oh yes, we know.

So I must be aware of who is touching me. And I ask you, Who is touching you?

Further Reading: Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8

Papa, can I lie in your bed?

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart:

I put her to bed, as usual. Well, really, with a bit more tenderness, a bit more time–reading, laying, singing, snuggling. But she is still quite unsettled when I leave her bedside, and shortly after, I hear her behind me in the living room.

Quietly.

“Nana, can I lie in your bed?”

“Sure, honey.”

I follow her down the hall. She steps up onto the little white stepping stool and up up up on to the big, soft mattress. And then I see the tears.

“I miss my mommy.”

I wipe her tears.

I lie beside her, cherishing her soft hair rubbing my cheek, breathing in its sweet, innocent scent.

Later, after she is sound asleep, Papa carries Kaylee back to her own bed.

I awaken in the night. My heart aches. I miss her mommy too. And I know a bit of the pain my precious daughter is going through. She shared it with me months ago, shortly after the arrest. Now I know that tonight, she lies on her cot, in her cell,  cold and lonely. My throat makes a foreign noise. I try to hold back the sob, knowing that when it starts, it doesn’t stop for a long time. I pray for her in a whisper – a whisper I know my Papa hears.

Months ago, after the arrest, on the 9th day, we brought her home–from that cell, from that cot–for one night before recovery began. She wanted her own bed– her old bed. The comfort of home.

Now I want the comfort of my Papa’s bed. I want that comfort for my daughter, and for her daughter, Kaylee. I want that comfort for all of us and for all others who are hurting.

I find it. I find it in the Word that is near me!

He gently tends me like a shepherd tends his flock. He gathers me in his arms and carries me close to his heart.

I might be unsettled for awhile, but I know that as I rest in his arms, close to His heart, I’ll find that comfort.

Further Reading: Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 91:1; Matthew 11:28; Romans 10:8

As you read the above post, you might connect. Some of you have or are presently raising your grandchildren. Some of you have or have had a son or daughter incarcerated. Some of you agonize, watching your own little ones unsettled and distressed, often unable to sleep. Take a verse or two and personalize it for yourself. Speak it over and over and over .  . . His Word is powerful. And it’s near you.

If you’d like to read my story about facing our daughter’s addiction and her subsequent arrest, you can order When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers by clicking here. 

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Restoration from the Word

Are you distressed? I am. Most recently, I fight anxiety day and night. Truly the only thing that really helps me is speaking God’s word – praying God‘s word. Speaking God’s word puts things into perspective. Praying His word covers it all – becomes the perfect prayer – because it is His word! It is powerful. And it speaks to my anxious heart.
 
So I give you this sunset as a reminder of His mighty power, His faithfulness, and His sustenance.
 
I invite you to speak these word and to pray them. This short passage is Psalm 51:1-12
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
 
I especially find comfort in the last  two lines (verse). For it is that joy I desire and that willing spirit I so need.
 
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Whispers in the Cove

My body and mind are accustomed to cool autumn days of falling leaves, of rainy, foggy, mornings and of frost on the last of the pumpkins, but this autumn season is different for me, as I am in the midst of a sunny, warm climate. My body is adjusting – appreciatively! But my mind, nonetheless, is not following suit, as it is boggled with reports of riots, with spewed hate on social media, and with division over an election.
 
Ron and I try to get away from the stressors so many of us are experiencing. Today, we follow a white sandy trail, in need of grading, a preserve on either side. 
 
If I were a bird, I would see the quiet waters of the intercoastal to the east,  cushioned by mangroves and occasionally spotted with cottages. On the west, I would see the unending waters of the Gulf, the sound of its surf now reaching well across this span of sand and preserve.  We are surrounded by saw palmettos and cabbage palms, a stark contrast to the suddenly barren trees of the north with intermittent splashes of white snowflakes.
 
A Tribute to Saw PalmettosToday, we reach the end of this sandy trail, a small turnaround, and because no other vehicles are within sight, we stop our car in the middle of the rugged sand. I step down toward the water, hoping for a view of this beautiful expanse of intercoastal but stop short of the opening, discovering a heron, standing in the high tide of this tiny cove. The cove belongs to him. I do not disturb. Instead I stand and listen. In the soft water sounds of this secluded area, I hear Jesus whisper:
 
“Kathi, do not be afraid of the evil in this world today. One day, The roots of all this darkness will all be disclosed. You are my child. You only need to fear me with a righteous fear of which you have been taught. Speak in the daylight. Speak the truths you have been taught by me. Do so without fear. You see the beautiful heron. I have given him a place of refuge. How much more you are worth to me than the heron. I know everything about you, and I have redeemed you. I am your refuge.”
 
So now, I encourage you, my friend, to read the following short passage, the words of Jesus, from Matthew, chapter 10, verses 26 – 31, and as you read, to let Jesus whisper to you!
 
 “Do not be afraid of them, for nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light, and what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
 
His Word brings His whisper – or sometimes a roar! Either way, it is His special message to you.
 
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Further reading: Isaiah 8:12-13; 4:8-13; Psalm 34.
 
May God Bless!