Living Life, Uncategorized

Should I or Shouldn’t I

I am not a risk-taker. There are pros and cons to that. pexels-photo-555709

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Growing up, I did have a few moments of carefree adventure. For instance, I spent many, many hours riding our horses, galloping down the dirt roads in the middle of hop fields and orchards, and setting up small obstacles, which my horse and I would fly over.

 

 

I drove my Chevy Nova much too fast down the back county roads, while I’m certain my guardian angels were busy trying to keep up.

 

I will end my confessions of reckless behavior right there!

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There is one phobia which kept my feet on the ground for most of my adult life: the fear of flying. A time or two, I would try to imagine myself getting on an airplane and going to my dream destination, but the thought of boarding and taking off on that plane, would cause anxiety to rise up in the pit of my stomach. However, I’ve always said I would do it if it was for one of my children.

 

The point came in my life where it was time to face that fear head-on and conquer new experiences!

 

At the time, I was working for a small but dedicated and growing non-profit organization in my community. As part of the staff, I was to be included in the trip to the annual conference, held on the eastern side of the United States. Although my initial thoughts were filled with apprehension, I was also excited for this opportunity to grow in my job skills, to be part of the growth of this wonderful organization, and yes, I was also ready to conquer the fear that had kept me secluded in my little corner of the country.

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As I prepared for this new experience, I did not allow myself to dwell on fear. I would be in the company of several co-workers, experienced flyers, and the excitement felt really  good!

 

The most difficult moments of the entire adventure were walking onto that first airplane, and the first take-off!

 

As I walked down the corridor towards the plane and it hit me that I was really doing this, I just kept silently talking to myself, “Just breath…Just slow down the breathing, just breath…. Just walk and breath“.

 

Once seated, I was still having that conversation with myself, as my co-worker, who was seated next to me and knew this was a first for me, reassured me and engaged me in light conversation.

I might have appeared to have it all together, but inside, the dialog continued. I did not want to be one of those people who faint. Oh! I could have easily been THAT person!

No, just breath. Slow, steady, intentional… just breath!” And I prayed a lot!

 

The surging power of the airplane during take-off was also cause for my apprehension and calculated breathing efforts, but once in the air, and as I peered out the window, the sight of the earth at that altitude replaced my anxiety with wonder and awe. Once the plane ascended above the clouds, I was certain we weren’t far from heaven itself, as I had never before seen such a thing of beauty as the brilliant sunbeams, shining across the great expanse of clouds, highlighted the texture and depth of each one, and they glowed brilliant white! It was so beautiful!

 

The next challenge involved my short legs moving as fast as they possibly could in order to keep up with my seasoned-flyer co-workers, as they nearly sprinted to the next gate, through these small cities they call terminals, so as not to miss the next flight!

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I’ll never forget it, or all the wonderful experiences as I took in new sights, tastes, and met so many kind and interesting people! This one was worth the risk!

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Risky

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Faith, Uncategorized

Can We Learn the Language of Love?

Sometimes, there are no words…. all that can be mustered is silence, words suppressed and trapped beneath cares and trials so heavy, one cannot be rescued or restored by their strength alone.

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How many times have you fallen to your knees, bringing your burden to the feet of Jesus, and no words can come, but only your tears? No words come to your lips, and no audible words are spoken from God himself, yet when you rise, you’ve no doubt that your prayers reached heaven, and that your weary soul has found rest in the presence of God’s loving kindness.

 

It is in these times of weakness and weariness, that God’s strength becomes a shining light! Even without words, His light permeates above, underneath, and throughout any barrier, whether it be man-made or of spiritual origin. There is no place where His light and His presence cannot shine.

 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6

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Because man was created to not only need, but to thrive in relationships with others, He endowed us with language.

 

Unfortunately, as with everything else God created with specific, perfect purpose, influences of evil took hold of it and distorted it into a weapon…barbaric, course, perverse, and sometimes just ugly. It is manipulated like a sword, striking anyone in its path, cutting into the depths of the soul, beyond mere flesh and bone. Leaving scars in some fashion, leftover reminders of the power of unkind words and accusations.

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The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

 

 

 

If only we felt the pain inflicted upon those who receive our dangerous weapon of words, then perhaps we would never again unleash them so carelessly.

 

 

Yet, are we not all human? Are we not overcome by emotions which cause us to lose control of the most untamed member of our bodies…our tongues?

 

 

They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. Psalm 64:3

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If only we, as citizens and rulers of this planet, could harness and master this one, small but powerful part of ourselves, what an amazing world it would be for all.

 

For if every word were an instrument of kindness, encouragement, compassion and love, then every person would walk with their faces to the sun, eyes bright with hope and promise, and with their heads held high, not in haughtiness or selfish pride, but because  we would be compelled to seek out others with whom to share the warmth which would be on the brink of bursting forth upon those who need it.

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Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

 

 

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:9

 

I think maybe that was the intent of words after all….

Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Really Good Movie

Today, I’m writing a movie recommendation rather than a story.

 

 

Some movies entertain, make my mood lighter with laughter, some make my eyes leak and tug at my heart. And then there are some which have a longer lasting affect, like this one, for instance.

 

 

My family enjoys watching faith-based movies. Along with great story lines intertwined with core family values, they encourage us in our faith in God.

 

The movie ‘War Room’ is a faith-based story which highlights the value of having a prayer life, likening it to a military war room, where top experts and leaders meet to strategize and develop a plan in order to fight an effective battle against their adversaries.

 

The main characters in this movie located their ‘war rooms’ literally inside a closet in their homes. On paper, they wrote down their petitions to the Lord, the names of their loved ones, bible scriptures written out by hand, and taped them on the walls.

 

Then, within the walls of their war rooms, they went to battle… spiritual battle. Armed with the Word of God, calling out their battle cries of truth and faith. Trusting, believing, surrendering the fight to Him, and upon leaving the war room, they are adorned with a medal of strength and confidence that God is in control. Mixed with a little bit of humor, the family stories in this movie will draw you in as it all unfolds.

 

We have seen this movie twice and loved it both times. I hope you are able to view it and that you will be encouraged. This movie is no longer in theaters, but is available on DVD.

 

I’ve included a link to the movie trailer:

“War Room” official movie trailer

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Some Days Are Just Like That

Writing has alluded me as of late. In light of all the major disasters taking place across this country, anything I had thought about writing seemed quite insignificant in comparison.

 

When I began this blog, my desire was, and still is, to leave my readers with hope, inspiration, and smiles. 

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Well, life isn’t always that easy, is it? Mixed in with those good days of joy and laughter, rainbows and sunshine smiles, there are a few cloudy days, mumble-jumbled emotions and uncertainties. I get it.

 

Some days, it takes more strength than what we currently possess to stand up straight and tall and to find that signature smile. I get that, too.

 

Just being real here, I’ve had more of those kind of days in the last couple of weeks than I have in quite a while. It’s been a struggle, which I’ve kept secretly hidden deep within myself. Many people don’t want to hear about those kinds of days, and to share that with you… is scary. But you know what? I know that you, my fellow travelers in this messy, human journey of life, get it. 

 

So, in keeping with my initial objective, this post will not end without hope. Just know, that on those difficult days, when you are feeling alone in your struggle, that you are NOT alone at all. You can remember that at least one person completely understands and can relate. That would be me. 

 

On those days, be kind to yourself, sip on a hot cup of soothing coffee, or tea. Pray, and be a couch-potato if you need to. Go to bed early and rest well, my friend.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

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Uncategorized

Let’s Just Hit the Pause Button

Where is that big, red ‘pause’ button anyway? It’s got to be around here somewhere.

 

Oh yes, that’s the one appropriately labeled, ‘humanity‘. Or perhaps it says, ‘Priority‘!

 

Can we just hit that and take a break? Please?

 

 

Every time I open the news page or Facebook, I see more images of human devastation, the horrendous flooding in southern Texas, and now Louisiana prepares for possible flooding as well. Parts of Montana are being reduced to ash, as wild fires are raging there. And there is more….

So, hey. Media, news networks, fake news, protestors, and ‘anti-whatever or whoever’. Hit the pause button! Stop! Just stop! Put on your humanity goggles!

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Take a break from the pettiness and political agendas, and just be human beings, at least for a while. Please! 

 

Does it really matter what someone’s choice in footwear is? Is fashion of more importance than the men, women, and children who have lost everything, including family members, as a result of these devastating forces of nature? Do you really think that a Presidential visit to a hurricane ravaged city is the appropriate time to stage a protest? Do you really think this is the time to be heard in a legitimate and effective way?

 

No! Of course not! I, personally, am disturbed that this is what it has become. That when I open the internet news page, I am seeing criticism about shoes in the major headlines.

 

Please! Just tell me what’s going on in the parts of my country where my vision can’t reach, tell me the stories of courage and heroism, and of overcoming adversity. Tell me the stories of how these citizens are banding together in a show of unity and finding common ground.

 

Show me the pictures so that I can fully grasp what these poor, fellow human beings are going through. And show me how I can extend my compassion and care to them in even small ways.

 

I beg of you. Please, just do the right thing.

 

 

Living Life, Uncategorized

That’s Not Who I Am

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My husband and I took our teenage son for a dental check-up, and at the same time, my daughter was to be seen for the tooth pain which remained since her prior appointment, at which time she had some fillings done.

 

That prior appointment, which my husband took her to, was uncharacteristically  difficult and very painful. The cavity was deep, requiring two numbing injections, which still did not deaden all the pain. But she just layed there and tried to get it through it, while squirming and with tears running down the side of her face. You would think the hygienist would have known she was having difficulty and tried to help.

 

When she got home, she was very upset and never wanted to go back. This is the dental office she has been going to since she was 4 years old. So as her parent, I felt it was important to let them know what she had experienced, because it had never happened before. Not to speak badly about anyone, not to get anyone in trouble, and not in anger.

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Fast forward to our appointment yesterday. I am speaking for my daughter, because that’s what parents are supposed to do, right? Advocate for them when needed? Be their voice?

 

We are escorted to a room by a young woman, and Andy and I mentioned to her about Meg’s previous difficult appointment and that she experienced a lot of pain.

 

 

The woman begins talking about their pain management… sometimes there is pain… they do what they can, etc…… never taking a breath, never pausing to allow me to speak, just continuing on and on…. Not showing any concern, no interest in my daughter’s experience, not one word or facial expression of sympathy or empathy. I had not even begun to speak yet. Honestly, I was waiting for a chance to jump in at the slightest pause in her run-on sentences.

 

She then asked what my daughter was here today for. But because I had not been able to speak yet, I back-tracked and tried to tell her about that difficult appointment, not just the pain, but that it was so bad she didn’t want to come back. The woman interrupted me and didn’t allow me to speak. (I have been sitting down this whole time, my husband and my two kids are standing there listening)

 

 

So I held up my hands to gesture for her to wait, and I said, “Listen…”, never raising the tone of my voice.

 

 

She looks at me and says, “I feel like you are being aggressive with me, so I’m going to go get my manager.” And she walks out the door, as I find myself almost speechless, and words fumble out of my mouth as I try to tell her that I am not trying to be aggressive.

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We are all in shock, and I was torn between wanting to laugh and being in total disbelief! What? What just happened? I barely even got to speak. We couldn’t believe what just happened!

 

Let me tell you right now. I HATE confrontation! I hate it with a passion! I don’t do confrontation well at all! I am a peace-lover! I never speak up for myself, and I rarely share any opinion which I think might cause controversy or debate. I rarely speak up about anything!

 

I don’t like feeling like I don’t have the freedom to use my voice like others do, but that’s how I’ve always been. And because I avoid conflict, when it happens it takes a while for me to process it, and it upsets me.

 

 

Another thing I don’t like about my temperament is that when I get angry or upset, eventually, it escapes my body through tears. Just the way I process the adrenalin rush of emotion I guess. And I hate it, because I cannot say what I need to say in the way I want to say it, and the other person just gives me that look, and doesn’t take me seriously.

 

 

So here I go, I advocate for my child, I speak up for her, and this is what happens! 

 

 

Praise God, the manager and the dental tech who came to help were super nice and were receptive and accepting when I apologized that the other woman interpreted what I said as aggressive, and assured them that I did not behave in that manner. And she listened when I explained why I was trying to speak for my daughter. She apologized for the incident.

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But I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with it, even though I don’t feel that I was in the wrong, and Andy assures me that I was not being rude whatsoever. I told my sister I would let it go, and I’m trying.

 

But it hit me on a personal level and has made me question who I am as a person. Is that really how I come across? Is that how other people perceive me as well? I’m not perfect, I get attitudes and have bad moods, too. I get irritated, frustrated, and impatient just like every other living, breathing human being. But aggressive? Really? Is that the impression I leave on people? Am I that horrible?

 

I know where those questions are coming from. They come from my spiritual enemy, the one who knows the things that will knock the wind out of my sails, and rob me of any confidence or joy which abides in my spirit.

 

But here’s what I do know. I know that is not how I’m wired, though I may have moments that I’m not proud of, just like everyone else. God wired me for peace and simplicity, it’s where I’m most happy and content. I like kindness, civility, pleasant exchanges of words even if they are of a more serious nature, hearing others’ ideas, opinions and viewpoints with mutual respect and intentional listening.

 

 

So this is me, shaking this off, not excepting the self-loathing view of myself this has threatened to darken my spirit with. Although I’m certain I will have my share of less-than-amicable moments in my lifetime, I know that is not my true nature, that those who truly know me understand who I am, and the only good thing to come of this situation is that I can be more careful that my words and actions reflect who God created me to be.

 

 

family, Living Life, Uncategorized

If Wishes Came True…

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As a majority of Americans prepare to capture a glimpse of the eclipse about to take place above our beloved country, I find mixed feelings stirring inside me.

 

I am excited about taking part in this rare occasion with my children. It brings back fond memories from my high school years, when my entire school stood on the front lawn as we experienced an eclipse. I want my kids to carry these memories with them and excitedly tell their own children about it someday.

 

And I want it to remind them of the wonders of creation, fashioned and set in motion by God’s very own hands, and I want them to feel in awe at His majesty!

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On the other hand, the more recent conflicts that have taken place in America and across the world leaves me with sadness and a feeling of helplessness. In my tiny, little niche of the world, I don’t know what else to do but to pray, make sure I am guarding my own heart from the darkness of contention and division, keep hope alive, and, if nothing else, wish.

So, if wishes really can come true, here are mine:

 

*That as the shadow of the moon completes its covering of the sun and the new light begins to peek through in beautiful rays, may it also awaken a new heart in those who, today, carry an oppression of hatred which has darkened their humanity, and our homeland.

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*That as the path of the eclipse completes its course, mankind would suddenly see clearly the destructive direction in which it is headed.

 

 

*That empathy would take precedence over coarse speech, the need to express oneself through violence, or the need to shout out in contempt at all. Instead, human beings would see one another not just with their eyes, but with their hearts. And as their brothers or sisters speak those things which weigh heavily on their souls, they would find an audience in our ears and compassion in our hearts.

 

Then, it would be the other person’s turn to share, and they, in turn, would feel heard. 

 

*That, the crest of the moon shadow which cuts away the sun’s rays, would also cut away from every human being the callous, hardened shell of hate, and reveal the vulnerable  heart of mankind. Hearts which all have the same basic needs: to be loved… to be heard… to be valued…

Faith, family, Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Detour

We had just departed from my older brother’s home in Oregon, after spending a few days visiting him and his wife. It had been a great time, as usual, but we were ready to head for home, and we were only a few hours from our destination.

 
We had borrowed my Mother-in-law’s motor home, an older, open-designed model, with a nice, comfy couch located directly behind the driver’s seat. This is where I sat as we made our way down the highway.

 

 

I brought along some journals, one of which I had been writing in periodically since the beginning of our marriage. As it often goes, there were more entries from the earlier years of our lives than the more recent ones. Included were details about our first-born daughter, Melinda. Memories of her infancy, toddler-hood, and many of her first words and such.

 
I had also started journals for my other children, Michael, who was about 11 at that time, and 1 & 1/2 year old Marty. I thought the long drive would give me a chance to jot down more cherished memories.

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We left LaPine before noon, stopping in a neighboring town to top-off the large gas tank before resuming the long drive home.

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Andy drove, of course, with Marty seated next to him, buckled into his car seat in the front passenger seat. Melinda and Michael were enjoying the ride in the bedroom, which was located at the very rear of the motor home.

 

 
Less than 10 miles from where we had stopped for fuel, as we rounded a curve in the highway, the front tire of the driver’s side blew without warning.

 
I’m thankful for the good driving skills of my husband, for he was able to keep control of the motor home, as he carefully pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder.

 
As we came to a stop, smoke was billowing up from under the driver’s seat, and into the interior of the motor home, quickly becoming thicker and darker. Andy said, “Get out!”

 
I dropped everything, yelled to Melinda and Michael to come on and grabbed my baby out of his car seat while trying to stay calm. Andy struggled for a few seconds to get the latch on the old door to come free, and Melinda said, “Open it, Dad!”

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By the time we all got out the door and began walking away from the motor home, the driver’s side was engulfed in flames. By the time we were a good safe distance away, looking back at the peril from which we had escaped, the entire motor home was an inferno.

 
The thick, black smoke smothered both lanes of the highway, with the fire so intense it literally melted the asphalt beneath it, and ignited the dry brush along the roadway.

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Kind witnesses of our distress stopped to see if we were okay, as the kids and I stood crying and in shock, watching the motor home be reduced to nothing more than the frame it was built on. The only thing that survived the blaze was a pair of cast-iron wall hooks which I had purchased at an antique store. One good Samaritan literally gave Melinda the shoes off her feet.

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We left the motor home with absolutely nothing. The irreplaceable journals, my purse, phones, baby supplies, identification. Nothing. I had packed some of our best blankets on the motor home, including the wedding-ring quilt which I had pieced, crafted, and hand-quilted myself….. It was all gone.

 

After the fire was out and all the legalities were taken care of, a local man who had extinguished the brush fire took us to his home, where he and his wife extended open arms and warm hospitality at what we had just endured. We quickly came to realize that they were fellow Christians, and he was a singing cowboy for Jesus, no less! God-sent is how we would describe them.

 

 
They drove us to a quaint, near-by town, where we waited for friends to come take us home.

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Even though we were all okay and extremely thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, the effort to process what had happened, and the numbness we felt from the traumatic events, was still with us well into the evening. In fact, all the children slept in our bedroom that night. We just needed to be together.

 

 
Sometimes, my mind plays out the other possible outcome. The more I think about it, the more frightened I get, but I remind myself that we were not alone that day.
There was one more passenger with us…Jesus.

Faith, Uncategorized

Adorned In His Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  (I am not trying to say here that we should not fix our hair, or dress nicely, etc. But I see this scripture saying that our true beauty as human beings is more than what those things may define it as, with the second part of the passage describing from where our beauty should be rooted.)

 

I was attending preschool in the small city where we lived. It was nearly summer, and my class went on a special outing to the city swimming pool.

 

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The city park had a separate, very nice kiddie pool. The large, round pool was a small child’s delight, where one could play and splash with abandon. Evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circular-shaped pool, were small fountains which sprayed water up and into the pool.
Some memories are embedded in our minds because they are marked by strong emotions, so although I was quite young, I have never forgotten this particular day.

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That day, my Mother dressed me in a red, one-piece, very plain swimsuit. I remember clearly like it was yesterday, feeling so terrible in it. Even at preschool age, I apparently had some awareness of fashion, or perhaps it was an early introduction to peer pressure, comparing my attire to that of the other girls. Either way, to that small, shy girl, it was not a good day.

 

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I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and I sat along the shallow edge of the pool that day hanging my head and crying. I didn’t want to play.
I can still see myself sitting there. I would liken it to going to the prom dressed in a plain, hand-me-down, dull, lifeless dress, while all the other girls wore beautiful, sparkly gowns. You would want to find a corner to shrink into.

 

 

That’s what I felt that day. I’m not blaming my Mom. She was a busy mother with limited resources, and I’m sure she dressed me in something we already had, and probably thought it decent and adequate. I can only speculate that my teacher must have spoken to my mother about what took place that day.

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What I can tell you is that my wise Mother put her seamstress skills to work that evening, hand-crafting a new swimsuit for me. The next day, when my preschool class went to the pool, I donned a cute, two-pieced, brightly colored swimsuit!

 

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My countenance changed, and I played and splashed, laughed and dipped along with all the other children! (This too, I remember like it was yesterday.) I was a different child. I didn’t feel like a shy girl that day!

 

 

 

What I wore that second day changed my countenance! It changed how I felt inside.
And what I felt inside, showed on the outside.

 

Oh, you know there is a life-lesson in this story, right!?

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In a secular sense, we change our outward appearance in order to change how we feel on the inside.

 

But God works differently. He begins on the inside of our being, and the inner changes manifest in our outward reflection.

 

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When we no longer keep God confined to the sidelines of our lives, but invite Him to dwell within us, becoming vulnerable and moldable, surrendering our will to His, we are changed from the inside, out.

 

When we allow God to change us on the inside, His righteousness and His goodness begins to manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and we begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.

 

 

Although His love and abiding presence brings humility to our nature, we don’t hang our heads in shame. No!
Our spirits soar, and dance, and play with delight in Him!
We no longer wear that dull, lifeless old swimsuit. We have a new suit! It is new, and colorful, and it was fashioned by our Father’s own hands!

 

 

Shake off the shame of that old suit, and raise your hands in freedom and joy and dance in your new suit!

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Colossians 3:12-14

Faith, Living Life

Come & Rest

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I offer these well-known and comforting words spoken by Jesus as He beckoned those who were weary to come and rest in Him.

Days become weary… we robotically replay daily routines until they morph into one big blur. Some days are just like that, and we feel the need to take a break and rest.

Do you ever feel the need to lean against someone and just release all that heaviness you’ve been carrying around?

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I remember, as a small child, laying against my step-dad’s chest, listening to his long, heavy breaths going in and out, while feeling his firm chest rising and lowering beneath me. Though not soft and pillow-like as a mother’s embrace, that strength and rhythm felt strong, yet soothing.

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As you become relaxed and still in quiet commune with God, feel His strength. Let His Spirit wash through your soul and sooth, as you are renewed and restored. Lay your head on the bosom of His majestic strength and feel the rhythm of His unfailing love for you.  Listen for His quiet, soothing voice saying, “Come, just rest”.

 

Here are some songs that bring me much comfort when I need to put everything else aside and just bask in who Jesus is and His love for me.

 

Enjoy

 

MercyMe- I Can Only Imagine

Kari Jobe- Be Still My Soul

Kari Jobe- Fall Afresh

Playlist Simply Worship #1