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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Inspired by . . . new and a year in review

Star Wars isn't the only story ever written that doesn't start at the beginning. I've read others, only to discover that there was a new Prequel that had just be released. Prequels often add a backstory and fill in the gaps, fleshing out characters that may not have had as prominent a role in the main story.

When God gave me the word new as my one word for 2015, I had no idea what the year would bring. Now that we're quickly approaching 2016, the word new still resonates strongly. Looking back, I feel like 2015 was the end, rather than the beginning . . . as if 2016 might be the prequel to something . . . new.




That may have something to do with how the year began. With loss.


Early in 2015 a new void was created in my life when my dad unexpectedly passed away. The loss set the tone for much of the year, and the grief still lingers.

Although there was much JOY and blessing this year, I feel as if only part of me was engaged after that fateful day in February. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, and perhaps those of you who have suffered a similar loss can relate. There is a part of me that hasn't moved on. A part of me that is not embracing the fullness of life. 

This feeling will pass, I'm sure. But perhaps I have to go back, in a sense, before I can move forward again.

Time will tell.

There were other new experiences for me in 2015, some of which I have plans to share in various ways. But for now, I'll leave you with a visual recap:

2015 in photos. (And it was really hard to choose!)



So, here's to a a new start, and
another year of . . .
new.

Are you choosing a one word for 2016?

Blessings,









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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Inspired by . . . Noel




Wishing you and yours
a blessed
Christmas
and
all JOY 
in 
2016


Shalom,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Inspired by . . . good news of great JOY


And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luk 2:10-11



For all people.
God doesn't care about your race, financial status, or even your creed.
His gift of salvation is free to ALL people. Why?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Joh 3:16

Because He loves you.
His gift came wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Have you opened it for yourself?

Blessings,

Before:











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Friday, December 18, 2015

Inspired by . . . gifts for a newborn King


I was shocked to read a recent Washington Post article wherein the writer of the article called the little drummer boy a "jerk" and claimed the song was the worst Christmas song of all. Oops, actually, she said "holiday song." The term is telling, is it not?

I'm not ashamed to admit that the Little Drummer Boy is my favorite CHRISTMAS song, and it truly is a song about CHRISTmas. 

If you're like the writer of the article, questioning the audacity of the little boy to who came to a baby shower without a gift and then played a drum, of all things, think about this:

What do you have that's fit to give a King? What do we have that is worthy of laying at the feet of the Savoir of the world?

Nothing.

He asks only that we come.

pa rum pum pum pum

Humbly.

pa rum pum pum pum

To honor Him.

pa rum pum pum pum

And what does He want, really?

Not the loud, showy harshness of a rat-a-tat tat, but the soft gentle

pa rum pum pum pum

of your heart.




The writer of the article had it wrong; giving of yourself, to God, and to people is not a "get-out-of-jail-free card" for not having an expensive gift to bring.

Giving of yourself, authentically, is the only gift that matters. It's the power of Christ's love in this world. It's the one thing we need the most right now. And it's the only gift that will make a difference.

So come humbly. Come reverently. Honor Him. Give your heart this Christmas.


Then, He'll smile at you,
You and your heart.

pa rum pum pum pum

Blessings,



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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Inspired by . . . the message of JOY

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."  Luk 2:7-15




God didn’t need the World Wide Web to announce the birth of His Son. He had created the heavens and the earth, the angels and their angelic voices with which to do the job. The angels didn’t appear in the courts of grandeur of the king either, they appeared on a lonely hillside, to the simplest of men.
The miracle of His birth, the Savoir of the World, comes to us the same way today. A JOYful carol and a shining light that finds the lonely places of our average life and transforms them into purposeful living.
We share a lot of interesting, and fun things on social media. Above all, this season {and in 2016!} let’s share about the transforming power of His love. Amen?


Shalom,


BEFORE:





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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Inspired by . . . Advent: whispers of His grace

Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Gen 3:13

Eve, the mother of all living. Yet, like all of us, her pride and desire to be like God brought death {sin} into the world.
How the enemy must have gloated over his victory.
But God.
God had already made a way. Ironically, a woman would once again have a vital role to play.
God’s plan of redemption was in place before Eve ate of the fated apple. I wonder if the enemy heard a whisper of it as the sunlight filtered through the apple blossoms, and the wisp of wind made merry upon the leaves.

Pear_Blossoms

Did the enemy hear a whisper of it when a little girl named Mary was born, and grew in favor? I imagine him cowering, seething in the darkness as Gabriel appeared in glory and spoke the prophetic words to the blessed virgin.

Luke1_28

Things must have looked very bleak to the people living at that time. They were over-taxed, persecuted, oppressed. The government was in turmoil, and immorality was rampant. Sounds a bit like our world today, doesn’t it?
But those who were waiting, waiting and hoping with JOY and anticipation for the promise to be fulfilled, they saw the signs and they reJOYced!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.  Eph 1:3-10

JOY

And so it should be with us. Nothing that has happened, is happening, or is going to happen on this earth that will change the day of His coming.
Advent is about much more than waiting and preparing for the arrival of His birth - it is for us, first and foremost, the preparing for the arrival of Him in glory!
Are you preparing your heart to receive a baby or a King?
Lord, work in my heart, tear it asunder if You must,
make fertile the soil to prepare me for
Your coming as my Lord and my King.
In Jesus name, amen.
Blessings,
Blog_Signature
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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Inspired by . . . a flash of red

 

 

Cardinal_Prepare

 

a flash of red
in verdant trees
a cardinal!
bright
within its leaves!

soulsurvivor
(c) 3-18-2014

 

Before:

Cardinal_Prepare_Before

 

I hope you’re enjoying my ‘cardinals in the snow’ series. If you’re celebrating advent, you’ll notice the scriptures are following the symbolism of the candles in the advent wreath. The first being the candle of hope and the second being the candle of preparation. I hope you’ll take a moment to prepare your heart and mind to receive Him, and at the same time to ponder the glory of His creation. In truth, I find it difficult to separate the two.

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

 

 

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Inspired by . . . Advent: His name is Jesus

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Mat 1:19-21

 

Behold the virgin birth!

Should we be surprised that God chose such a righteous man as Joseph, and such a courageous woman as Mary to raise His Son?

During this second week of Advent I encourage you to ponder the back-story of His miraculous and JOYous birth.

Come down from the pomp and splendor of the trumpeting angels. Turn from the bright, twinkling stars for just a moment, and walk the dusty streets beside a simple carpenter and a teenage girl.

Never, in their wildest dreams, could either of them have imagined what God would ask them to do.

What kind of man was Joseph? Scripture tells us he was a just man. Even before the angel appeared to him in a dream, Joseph had decided to divorce Mary quietly, rather than shame her publically. His compassionate response tells me that he had feelings for her, which means he likely felt hurt and betrayed by what he believed had taken place.

What would life had been like for a young mother shamed in this way? Mary might very well have chosen stoning over the life as a single mother and outcast,  except for the Promise that she knew grew within her.

Mary trusted God to protect her. She trusted Him even though she didn’t know His plan. We know about Joseph’s dream, but there is no evidence in scripture that Mary knew. When she said yes to God, she did so assuming the worst could happen. She had to have been terrified. One moment she was the apple of her father’s eye, betrothed to a good, stable man and the next . . . at best an outcast - at worst stoned to death.

Yet, she said yes.

What gave Mary the courage, and Joseph the confidence to say yes?

I think they were able to do so because they knew. . . how great is our God!  They had been raised with the scriptures. They knew them intimately. Generation after generation had been waiting for the Messiah.

Just as we await Him now.

Their fear quickly turned to JOY and praise!

The long-awaited Savior was about to be born!

We can learn much from Mary and Joseph. They were real people. Dealing with real, life-changing issues. Just like you and me.

Are we compassionate, like Joseph, in the face of disappointment and betrayal?

Are we obedient and trusting, like Mary? Even when saying yes to God may mean losing everything we hold dear?

If there is one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that things are often not as they appear. God works in complex and mysterious ways.

But He can be trusted.

Always.

 

HolyFamily_cutout

 

“For nothing will be impossible with God."  Luke 1:37

 

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Inspired by . . . framed in glass

 

We just spent a cold, wet, blustery weekend in north Texas.  The weather was perfect for one thing . . .

. . . getting us into the Christmas spirit!

The town squares were dressed in twinkling lights and the shops were filled with all things merry and bright. Lovely things, cozy and warm, just what you’d expect to see this time of year.

Snowmen and Santas are icons of the season, but there is one, little red bundle of feathers that makes me think Christmas all the year through.

I’m blessed to have several pairs of cardinals that have made their home near mine here in south Texas. Of course, I have a gazillion pictures of them, but being south Texas, not one of those pictures includes snow!

I thought it would be fun to do a little creative texturing over the next four weeks leading up to Christmas, and share with you some before and after images of these beautiful red birds. Enjoy!

Before:

Cardinals_Hope_Before

 

After:

Cardinals_Hope

 

Framed in Glass

Starburst crystals cling to the window pane

Lavish mounting for a frame

Cardinals in the snow

All rights reserved @ Debra Squyres 2013

 

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Inspired by . . . a month in photos: November

 

November? what? where?

Gone.

Yup.

That was November.

{I think the elves were conspiring against the turkeys . . . or something}

 

NOV_Collage

 

My images are not nearly as November-ish as the lovely Mona’s. Please click over and give her some love. You won’t be sorry.

 

Favorite photo:

Queen_yellowFlower

 

Favorite quote:

 

To live content with small means;

to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, wealthy, not rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently,
await occasions, hurry never;
in a word to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,

grow up through the common-
this is my symphony.    

~ William Henry Channing

 

May it be our guide into this season of Advent . . .

 

When you look back at November,

what do you see?

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Inspired by . . . Advent: the Word became flesh

 

 

WordMadeFlesh

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Joh 1:14

Advent: arrival

The season of Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas, celebrates our anticipation of Christ’s arrival into the world!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

After sharing 31 days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God with you in October, I’m thrilled to begin this season of Advent focusing on five beloved names of our Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah gave Him five names that continue to inspire and fill us with hope today.

Wonderful - The people wondered at the many miracles performed by Jesus. Luke 11:14

Counselor - Jesus spoke with authority. No one had ever spoken the way He did. John 7:46

Mighty God - Jesus said that He and the Father are one. John 10:30

Everlasting Father - Jesus is the designer and creator of the universe. John 1:3; Heb 11:3

Prince of Peace - There is no peace apart from Jesus, the peace that He made by the blood of the cross. Col 1:20

The full meaning of these five names from Isaiah should give us hope when enduring sorrow, strength against temptation and JOY in the face of trials.

Let’s take time this week to ponder how Jesus has been all of these names to us.

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

Sharing inspiration here:

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Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series IV: Every Blessing Turned to Praise

So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift up my hands. Psa 63:4

Being able to praise God in both trial and blessing is evidence of a grateful heart.

In moments of difficulty, when He is all we have, hopefully we come to realize that He is all we need.

Failure to give praise can open the door to pride and feelings of entitlement. We can start thinking that we deserve, or have earned our blessings on our own merit.

This is a dangerous path, my friend.

Instead, when we give praise to God, and acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good gifts, we open the door wide for Him to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21


 

Pumpkins

 

Wishing you and your

family a blessed Thanksgiving!

Blog_Signature

 

 

 

Sharing inspiration here:

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Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday

Monday, November 23, 2015

Inspired by . . . serial novels

Hello, friends, Jonathan Graham here, stepping in for June today.

It seems it happens every year, the holidays are upon us before we’ve fully recovered from summer. Pilgrims and pumpkins are whisked off the shelves, replaced with Rudolph the reindeer and laughing Santas before we’ve even had the chance to honor the meaning of the moment.

My thoughts always turn to Dickens this time of year. I’ve watched A Christmas Carol every year since as long as I can remember. And every time I see it, I’m encouraged to honor the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.

 

 

Poinsettia

 

Those of you familiar with Dickens probably know that every one of his novels was published serially--that is, the novels appeared not all at once, but in parts or installments, over a space of time. There were various reasons for this, one of them being that the cost to purchase a complete novel was well above what most people could afford in those days, while each installment cost only a shilling. Much as changed in the literary world over the last 150  years.

With the invention of electronic readers the cost of the texts has gone down, and with it the need for large spaces in which to house the books that fulfill {some of} our insatiable appetite for the written word. Personally, there are still some texts that I want, no need, to hold in my hands and smell the ink, but I also have a vast electronic library that continues to grow.

There is no shortage of books, even good books. What I find to be in short supply of, as I’m sure most of you do as well . . .

. . . is time.

It is with all this in mind that we have decided to release June’s next book as a serial novel.

No Tomorrow will be released in six, time-manageable installments, over the course of the next four to six months. The first installment is available now for pre-order , and releases this Sunday! Just in time to wrap up your holiday weekend with cup of tea and a new book!

 

NT_Cover_ActI

 

 With Thanksgiving upon us, June and I are counting our blessings. I know I speak for her when I say, one of our biggest blessings is all of YOU!  Your readership and support is of great encouragement and inspiration.

Thank you!

Jonathan

 

 

 

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Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Inspired by . . . as the deer

 

 

Doe_MorningLight

 

As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longeth after Thee

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

You're my friend and You are my brother

Even though You are a king

I love You more than any other

So much more than anything

 

You alone are my strength, my shield

To You alone may my spirit yield

You alone are my heart's desire

And I long to worship Thee

 

I want You more than gold or silver

Only You can satisfy

You alone are the real joy giver

And the apple of my eye

 

In the stillness,

Blog_Signature

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Friday, November 20, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series III: “more please!”

 

I’ve been pondering how often I receive a blessing from God, thank Him for it, and then immediately move on wondering, what’s next?

Like the child who says “thank you” out of obedience and then immediately asks “more please.”

Always looking to the next or bigger blessing reveals a dissatisfied spirit.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Php 4:11-13

Certainly I can be grateful without always being content, but for my gratitude to be truly pleasing to God, I believe it should walk hand-in-hand with a spirit of contentment.

A grateful perspective realizes God gave us the good we have, responds with praise, and then believes His good is enough.

Cultivating a spirit of gratitude laced with contentment is as easy as looking at your life.

Every day, take time to look around you and thank God for what you see.

But don’t stop there . . .

 

RedLeaf_purple

 

. . . tell Him it’s enough.

 

Blessings,

Blog_Signature

 

 

 

*Thoughts inspired by the I’m Grateful reading plan at Bible.com

 

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Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Inspired by . . . brown-eyed visitors

They eat my blooms and knock over the birdbath, yet they have a gentleness and grace that quiets my irritation.

They have a light in their eye that touches my soul. And I know I would have to be suffering a great hunger before being willing to snuff it out.

 

Two_Deer

 

They came this day to quench their thirst.

The earth, after drinking in nearly a year’s worth of rain one weekend in May, was once again dry and cracked. The summer had dragged on . . . cloudless.

 

Doe_MorningLight

 

It’s been a year of feast or famine.

Highs and lows.

Mountain tops and valleys.

My spiritual life is like that sometimes. One moment a bubbling brook of Living water, resting in calm, deep pools of faith. Or running merrily over jagged rocks without a care. Then, suddenly, the riverbed is dry and cracked. I find myself tired and weary, wondering where God is in this barren wilderness.

If I’m honest, I’ll tell you the riverbed didn’t dry up overnight. It happened gradually, just as the moisture moves deep within the earth to fill it’s cavernous depths. It happened as I put one more thing ahead of time with Him, time in His word, time in worship and in prayer.

 

Doe_drinking

 

The deer know when they can’t find water anywhere else, they’ll find my birdbath full. It’s a risk, they have to come near the house to take a drink. But the water quenches their raging thirst.

In the same way, I know that Jesus is the Living water. Only by abiding in Him will I have life. Drawing near to God has its own risks. God accepts us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us that way. When we come into His presence we are changed. Change can hurt. But the kind of change that God brings births freedom, and peace.

The deer come in the early morning light to drink, just as I should come each morning to Him.

The deer will be thirsty again.

In fact, this big guy visited me this morning.

 

White-tailed_Buck_8pt

 

But Jesus promised that when we drink of Him, our thirst will be eternally quenched.

In Him we are satisfied. The deep pools of our soul’s deepest longings are filled, and our faith once again bubbles merrily along the way.

 

Doe_water_droplets

 

Shalom,

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Sharing inspiration here:

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Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,

#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,

Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday

 

Nature Notes, Sweet Shot Tuesday, Through My Lens, Little Things Thursdays,

 Saturday’s Critters, Life thru the Lens,

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Inspired by . . . solidarité

 

 

WaterLily

 

Shine Lord into the shadows of this world
and by the light of Your people dispel the darkness
that this world might glimpse Your grace
and seeing it might understand the difference.

©John Birch

 

 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psa 34:18

 

Praying for Paris,

Blog_Signature

 

#prayforparis

 

Read more at: http://www.faithandworship.com/prayers_peace.htm#ixzz3rUQU8SPa
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Inspired by . . . Grateful Series II: Good Gifts

 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Jas 1:17

Do these words seem familiar to you? That may be because they are also in my blog header. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. I love it’s poetic nature. I love what it says about our Lord, the Father of light, Who does not change. He is the Giver of good and perfect gifts. So many wonderful, inspiring Truths in this one passage!

Do you believe that God gives good and perfect gifts?

Do you believe that every good thing is from God?

 

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There is an important distinction here, because I think that sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing that WE are producing some of the good things in our lives.

Only God has the power to create. He is the Author of every good thing that exists.

Not even the enemy can create things, he can only pervert what God has made.

As the Father of lights, He gives the gift of reason.

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. Job 32:8

He gives the gift of learning.  All of Solomon’s wisdom, the art of government, science, and knowledge of nature was ascribed to God. And so it is with what we know and discover, the advancements we make in our world today.

He gives the gift of divine revelation. Compassion, faith, purity, sympathy all these are bestowed upon us by God. And it is by the renewing influence of divine grace within us that we have the ability to be {the noun turned verb} these things to others.

Do you believe that God gives good and perfect gifts?

Do you believe that every good thing is from God?

 

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One way to answer these questions is to look at our words and actions. Is it obvious to others that I see God as the ultimate Provider of the good in my life?

Making a conscious effort to acknowledge God as the Source of our good makes us more grateful. It also makes us less anxious, more generous to others and less friendly to pride.

Not only should we thank God for the good gifts He gives, but we should thank Him for HIM!

 

God, Himself is Good, and worthy to be praised!

 

Blessings,

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Sharing inspiration here:

Playdates with God, Testimony Tuesday, #TellHisStory,

Thought Provoking Thursday, Grace & Truth, Weekend Whispers,

Inspire Me Monday, RaRa Link Up, Intentional Tuesday,

#WordswithWinter, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays,

Encourage Me Monday, Wholehearted Wednesday,

Women with Intention Wednesdays, Word Filled Wednesday,

#GiveMeGrace, Still Saturday, #write31days