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Posts Tagged ‘Love Letters from God’

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We were at the beach a few weeks ago. Two of our sons and our new daughter-in-law went parasailing. As I stood there watching, taking photos, God and I had a moment – a heads-leaning together, He understanding my humor when I said, “Parenting looks just like that, especially at the independence-with-training-wheels point and the full-blown independence point.”

Without faith, I couldn’t do it with an iota of grace. Without faith, I’d be scared, hollering at them to come back where it’s safe (like, really, where I am is safer at all?), crying, and asking everyone and their brother to help, to step in, to do something, to make. them. come. back.

I might be saying things like “They could break something. . . . something I cannot fix – you know – those unfixable things that once broken can’t be fixed. . . .They’re going to hell in a handbasket. . . . . Oh, my – they’ve really done it now!” You know – those out of control, only the-negative-outcome-wins kind of thoughts.

I might have even started out this parenting gig 29 years ago with a few moments like that – because I didn’t understand faith and hope – and tied together with God’s mighty, very interested, very hands-on, I-got-the-plan-and-understand-why-this-is-happening kind of love.

I sat there, camera in hand, watching these people I love soar – beyond my control – but under God’s.

How I can feel as a parent and how I can feel as a citizen of American right now have some commonalities. I can feel fear, disappointment, lack of control over a lot of decisions, both in the leadership of our country and on our streets. I can run around trying to fix everything, bemoan the state of everything, speak failure, downfall, going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket kind of faithless prophecy. I could do that. I hear it all the time, as if God isn’t big enough to save America. It would be so easy . . . . or I can do what I’ve done these last 29 years- ask God to handle the plan. . . . believe He is bigger than any challenge.

I can “Cry out”(ask God) like the angel instructed Zechariah – and “Cry out, again”(ask God, again), per the angel’s same instructions – so that God will intercede where man cannot (Zechariah 1:14, 17).

There are many who love our Lord. If the population in America is 318,881,992 (million) and the Christian population is 223,217,394.4 – and God was willing to save Sodom if 50 righteous men – I think we’ve got that, friends. I think out of 223,217, 394.4 Christians – there are many righteous children of God for whom He would save our country. There are many in our country who have not forgotten. We need to take our eyes off those who have no faith in Him, and place our eyes on Him. I believe he is bigger than those who do not believe Him or heed His ways.

He says, “he who touches you touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

Cry out, – and, then, after we’ve cried out, we need to take a deep breath and trust – and show that trust by praising God, loving on Him with our praises. There’s a lot in our country that needs intercessory prayer – but let’s start first by seeing God’s goodness around us, praising Him in the hard rain of a summer storm, worms from a mother bird whose baby fell out of the nest and scampered to safety, sweet peaches in cream on a summer Sunday morning, the grace in a sit long and talk much opportunity of a relationship restoration, the cool break in a summer hot, 4 stools filled with boys at the kitchen counter talking big and little thing and barbecue, faith that God is bigger than men chipping away at our country’s foundation, kitchen hugs that show love never fails, God’s faithfullness in the seed-time and harvest of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dill, lavender – and rain trees, how the smell of home-grown Spanish onions never fails to make me close my eyes, inhale deeply and smile – every summer, and that over the course of our beach holiday, one son emerged a new creation, one learned the value of sun screen – and that a parasailing adventure read, to this mother’s heart, like Miracle/Mystery faith play – a God message of encouragement.

No battle has been lost, friends. The battle is God’s – and His victory is assured. Praise Him in faith for it!

I bless GOD every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.
2 I live and breathe GOD;
if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
3 Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.
4 GOD met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.
5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.
6 When I was desperate, I called out,
and GOD got me out of a tight spot.
7 GOD’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.
8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good GOD is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
9 Worship GOD if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.
10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but GOD-seekers are full of God.
11 Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in GOD worship.
12 Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?
13 Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.
14 Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!
15 GOD keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.
16 GOD won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.
17 Is anyone crying for help? GOD is listening,
ready to rescue you.
18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;
if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.
19 Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, GOD is there every time.
20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken.
21 The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.
22 GOD pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.
Psalm 34: 1-22

See To Save a City: Interceding for a Nation

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brokenshells82“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)

Myrtle beach differs from the Gulf beaches: No Sandpipers, Rock Doves, Sanderlings, Laughing Gulls seen putting on morality plays at Myrtle Beach. . . .

No unbroken Sailor’s Ears, Heart Cockles, Spiny Jewel Boxes, Jingles and Butterfly Wings, Slippers and Scallops, Turkey or Sea Wings with which to decorate sand castles or fill jars.

However, Myrtle Beach this holiday was filled other things (34 of us this year), umbrella tents, grandparents, great-grandchildren and everyone in-between. The Gulf Beach is usually quieter, more intimate – with just the immediate family, those living in the nest – and that has dwindled from 5 to 3.

A Holiday for me, for me – whether it is a week, a day – or even a Holiminute – involves reading – reading a book over a sandwich at lunch, reading in-between conversation lines – or reading the love letters God leaves all around me – in the trees at home lifting their limbs up in praise, a cardinal darting out reminding me God’s with me, a pop-up rainstorm creating rivulets from tree roots to sidewalks outside my work window. I have learned to anticipate God’s messages in the daily, to expect them. God’s messages might not contain the answer to a prayer. It might not “fix” a challenge. God’s messages are often fellowship, part of an ongoing dialog, relationship-growing, a hug, encouragement – it is becoming what defines my day.

He is a faithful messenger – in the big and little messages.

brokenshells22cI looked for shells – but there were few whole ones to find. I looked for birds – but they had no interest in our beach with our umbrella city. I paddled in the ocean, watched it’s surface morning and night – trying to find His message.

The ocean clammed up – I couldn’t seem to pierce its cover to read its depths – yet, it called me – with its ever-changing shades from brilliant azure blue to blue cotton to white grey-sky-reflections all.

I’d sit at night on the porch, listening to the unrelenting wave crashes, watching white clouds in a black sky march silently like armies marching in-land under the cover of darkness, feet wrapped in clothe to silence their movement. When I woke, they’d slipped away.

Was this letter, the message in the sea too deep for me? Did it contain too big a message? It’s as though He wanted me to really want this message, like a child asking over and over to do the dishes the first time – because it was a task with responsibility and sacrifice.

I kept asking, waiting with expectation. The last day on the beach, He revealed the message. It wasn’t a cheer-leading message full of encouragement and, “You go, girl.”

The message about brought me to my knees.

The waves kept pushing shell pieces to the water’s edge– big and little shell pieces. Nobody wanted them. Most beachcombers had ceased to even search for there was so little hope of collecting whole shells. They only wanted the easy to find whole-shells. The waves, though,  kept pulling and hurling them into the beach – some shells recognizable, most not.

and there were so many pieces. . . .

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Each piece represented a broken soul
a broken soul desperate to be saved
though the soul didn’t know
it needed saving
didn’t know it could be made whole

The water, that Holy Spirit water,
kept tossing them on the beach
and when they’d slide back,
the water nudged them forward again,
sometimes gently, sometimes forcefully,
as if saying to those on the beach,
Hurry! Hurry! Come help save them”
as would cry the Captain of the Titanic
if he could have pulled his passengers ashore
one hand pushing shoreward, the other hand reaching
to save more
counting on the beachcombers
to revive and breathe life
into those which he strives
to save

Yet how does the broken fragments
of a soul
who doesn’t recognize
the force of the Holy Spirit
how do they know
this pushing to save is
a good thing, a better thing
because they don’t know, they slide back
because there’s no one to pick them up
because the beachcombers only see
Brokenness
Unredeemable brokenness

And God was saying, these broken pieces and parts of shells – all these represent the broken in the world, the broken a step away from you, in your community, in the world. I keep bringing them up for you to see, He says, for the world to see but my children just walk right by them, judging them beyond redemption, beyond wholeness – on your own shores.

I am overwhelmed
millions of shell slivers
shards, chips and chunks
how can I ever find all the right pieces
for them
if I cannot even find all the right pieces
for me

Unredeemable broken mess
if the fixing were left to me
that’s what it looks like
feels like
so many. . . so many broken to pieces

My soul-combing child, He said,
you just need to reach out
to pick them up
let your story be a letter
of introduction
show-casing my credentials
my credentials as
God Elohim, mighty and strong, who created you, is able to save you
Almighty God El Shaddai who wants to be all-sufficient to ALL your needs
Adonai, a worthy master over your destiny
who as Jehovah-Jireh foresees every challenge you will face, every choice, whether good or bad, and provides a way back home
where as Jehovah-Rophe  welcomes you,
wraps you in both his arms and heals your wounds,
both self-inflicted and inflicted by others
and as you heal in the shadow of His presence
Jehovah-M’Kaddesh will sanctify you, make you pure and whole in His sight
until, finally, you find peace in the presence of Jehovah-Shalom
the answer to a prayer fulfilled, made whole,
perfected with the mighty strength He put within you

just let the Holy Spirit push them to you
pick them up
all my soulcombers
pick them up
introduce them to me,
even if you think they ought to already
know me,
even if you think they don’t deserve
to know me
introduce me – that’s all I need you to do
introduce me-
so that I can make them whole

brokenshells1cI’m praying, friends, for God to show me how to live this message. I just know that the need to continue reaching in our communities is so important. So many don’t know God as a dear friend, a loving father, a knight in shining armor. So many want to save the easy to save – but God is calling me – to save the hard to save, the rebels, the ones that seems so broken and worthless – like the broken chips and shell shards on the beach. Won’t you pray with me, for our communities to make real connections, one-one-one story sharing connections where God-filled relationships are established, not fly-by relationships? Where introductions are made that build lasting relationships – because I think these youth and young adults want real relationship, need real relationship.

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sunrisebIt would take an unsearching and illiterate  heart to not find and read the messages of God in the everyday of the mountains – from the hard cover front of sunrise to the hard cover back of  moon-down.

I would know. Until last year, I was unsearching and illiterate in finding and reading the love letters of Shaddai.  Then I took Ann Voskamp’s challenge at a Holy Experience to find and read the gifts – these love letters –  a big God gives a little me daily. Too many have I missed throughout the years – because I could not read what I did not know I had.  It changed my life – its attitude, its peace-factor. The content of the love letters in these gifts left me content.

We took off for the mountains this weekend – and I pulled my night-owl self up at 5:40 on a Spring Forward morning to watch the sun rise.

For a long time, I sat with my coffee – lost in the dark expanse. A hope and faith time. I have learned, though, that He meets me when I wait for Him.

Black darkness faded, slowly, so slowly revealing iron-clouds shielding unpolished silver.

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In the slate of sunrise, my hope faltered – “Is this all? No riotous color carnival?”

A cardinal chattered merrily, going about it’s morning business – and I waited, committed to greeting sun-rise – and finding blessing whatever the colors. Shaddai, like a good father brings his children gifts after being away – Shaddai brings gifts – always – a cardinal chattering, an empty water pump, squirrel nests – and they all contain letters, messages from Him to me.

Mountain top edges and a before unseen, unused one-lane road below me in the forests are exposed. I peer hard to make out the road. There is a letter from Him to me in that hitherto unseen road.

The slates of run-rise lightened, the rising light revealed a fierce man swimming in cloud currents, right arm raised to pull the next stroke, left arm pulled through the clouds, stretched to the thigh – swimming his race, from sun up to moon-down – face fierce in its determination – another letter from Him to me in those clouds.

Light pink suffused upward from the mountain tops then deepening to shades of blush and purples.

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Pink mists rose like Hope and Faith to greet a loving Father

Mountain tops rejoicing in flaming silver and purples.

I met Him there, in the silent, color combustion of morning waking. I waited, despite wavering surety. I hoped despite what I didn’t see. Sometimes I have to wait to find.  This once illiterate heart found His gifts and read them.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8)

After a year of counting the Father’s blessings, the love letters of encouragement He sends me, I think it’s time to teach these boys to men how to find and read the gifts, the blessings He sends us from sun-rise to moon-down.

It is attitude changing.

Relationship building between this God- Father and I. I see Him more everywhere, Him with me, me with Him.

These boys, they need that real relationship, that God-with-me/me-with-God relationship. Not just a morning-and-evening praying relationship – but one that sees Him everywhere all day long – sun rise and moon down long.

In the darkness of the challenges, those gifts, those blessings – contain messages of encouragement and revelation.

It may be one of the most important reading skills to develop.

Dear Father,

I pray that my sons’ hearts look for, find and read the messages in the gifts you have for them throughout the day. I pray their hearts grow in faith, love, trust and relationship with you – that not a gift from you is left un-found, a message unread – whether it is something as simple as a cardinal swooping ahead of them on a road, the smell of sweet grass on a soccer field, cirrus clouds in a robin’s egg blue sky or something more serious. I pray that you will open their hearts and their minds to become not only literate, not only fluent but voracious readers of your messages. I pray these messages change their attitudes to hope and faith attitudes, enabling them to find joy, contentment and peace in the midst of challenges – to give hope in seemingly hopeless situations. Waken them each morning, Father, waken them to listen like one being taught. Open their eyes and unstop their ears to the sound and sight of you. I pray they experience you walking beside them, boy-man to God, that they turn their head and smile broadly at what you two share together. Your word says, “All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace” (Isaiah 54:13) I believe that Father. I trust in that. I thank you that because Jesus died for my sins, I am your daughter and, as such, can petition you directly in regards to my sons. Because I am your daughter, you will teach my sons and great will be their peace.

(Gifts 985-990 listed in the post above)

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If you have kept up with me this last week (here and here), you will know it was a week where blessing seeking, finding God’s love letters had to be intentional. Not only sought after, but accepted. Part of me was tempted to push away blessing, to push away His sweet love letters.

329) Wednesday, I almost cancelled lunch with my sweet daughter-in-law and lovely Grandbaby Girl. I thought it traitorous, almost sacrilegious to find an hour of joy when my friends were suffering so, when my boys were grieving so and my heart ached so. I went, inwardly debating all angles.  Immersing in hour of listening to my DIL talk was such a beautiful thing. There was blessing there – because I had little voice for things, I gained greater blessing – hearing my DIL’s voice, her ideas. I needed that .Grandbaby Girl’s smiles, finding happiness in my arms – my heart needed that, too.Yes, sometimes looking for these blessings, accepting these love letters from the Father needs to be intentional- all types of encouragement and lifting up would be missed if we decided they were not appropriate when He leaves them for us. Only heart-ache would remain. God doesn’t want us to shove away blessings, especially in tragedy.“If your heart is broken, you’ll find GOD right there;if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath” (Psalm 34:18, The Message)

330) Stouffers 4 Cheese Lasagna, 2 loaves of wheat bread, blueberries, strawberries and grapes in a lime green bowl, carrots and broccoli in a blue bowl, carried to friends. My heart needed to give comfort or it would burst.“We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

331) Being told how my 11-year-old son, in the midst of tragedy, ran for help with his friend, and then gathered 3 little siblings in the midst of sirens and EMS, comforting his friends big and small, praying for them, ensuring they didn’t see things their hearts weren’t designed for. The knowledge that in crisis, he walked out his faith, well, thank you God!
332) Neighbors standing in a circle praying
333) Bed-time prayers with unprompted inclusion of hurting friends – that they pray like that, believe like that:
As I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my Soul to Keep
God Bless . . . . .(list)
Give me peaceful sleep and restful dreams
That the Angels encamp about us and protect us
That I love you more tomorrow . . .And each added prayers for their friends here“We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part” (2 Cor 1:8-11, The Message)

334) Finally having time to plant 15 burning bush and 3 forsythea rootballs – that in the 3 weeks since the UPS man delivered them, we kept them alive.
335) Boys helping, carrying dirt clods to the mulch pile
336) A scratched up place for zinnia seeds.
337) The Hope of red, purple, pink, yellow zinnia’s cut and placed in mason jars throughout the house.“He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6)

338) Soldier son’s second interview for a job,
339) knowing there are people who care enough to be references
340) a call back for the 3rd interview contingent on reference responses
341) Having children who connect with all age groups to care enough for tears held back or released
342) Teachers who take good care of my son’s hearts
343) A window view at work of blue skies, big trees and shrubs cut back sprouting new growth.
344) A husband who tells our little one, “Life here is just a part of our journey. When we go to heaven, we continue living another part of our journey.”
345) Hot and Spicey Chinese Soup and egg rolls with hot mustard for a cold that keeps threatening
346) Coffee with my husband, outside early Sunday morning watching the red cardinals, mocking birds, doves, blue jays live out their backyard relationships.
347) The Hope of a Volunteer Cherry Tree, pulled out. A weary husband who says, “Maybe we should just let it die” as we hunt for a place to put this last transplant that we didn’t expect. The space available is rocky with Tennessee red clay. “Let’s plant it and give it hope. Otherwise, it won’t have a choice. Maybe it will choose to live,” I answered. He wrestled with the Tennessee red clay mixed with rocks and scraped out a place for it to live if it would.May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13)

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feetwaterc16_edited-1“Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty [the Aramaic text says “Almighty God”], who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb” (Genesis 49:25) Joseph’s Blessing

Spring Break in winter doesn’t make sense – but here it is Spring Break, and we are taking another trip back to the Great Smokey Mountains.The boys have been anxious that I would submit them to another 4 hour trip to Cades Cove. They’re dreaming of slick tracks, car racing, spin outs and game places – and living in the cabin’s hot tub, if at all possible.

It was one of those mornings where I woke up ready for the day, instead of feeling like I was already behind. I read a bit of Ann’s 1,000 Gifts and A Beautiful Mess. Which inspired me – to not only include a hiking trip to a waterfall, but a  Blessing Lesson.

A Beautiful Mess said,”There is no relationship between pleasure seeking and happiness.”
From there, I shared Ann’s message from Luke 17 – where Jesus healed 10 lepers and only one came back to praise Him and thank Him. Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole.”

Ann explained, “Our very saving is associated with our gratitude. . . . And the Leper’s faith was a faith that said, “thank you.”

God healed all 10 – but only one was made whole – inside and out. If their illness had created broken attitudes, broken tempers, resentment, hopelessness, knowing how to immerse themselves back into society, to stop living the outcast and live belonging – all healed – only one made whole because he lived thankfulness.

We talked about recognizing the blessings – not just the big ones. My boys know the big blessings of God in their lives – stories of healing, protecting and holding. Recognizing the little blessings of God in our lives, they are just as important.

So we went to our hike, to our waterfall – where part of me wanted an oxygen tank, maybe a helicopter to just carry me to that mountain top, a leg-wearing journey where I felt my physical weakness – and it was so worth it – hopefully, all of us gathered blessings.

The blessings I found were Love Letters from Shaddai, God of the Mountains.

Love Letters were written on the landscapes.

The high mountain trails warned me today’s journey might be hard and wear on me physically – but that it would be worth it. I asked for it. I wanted to do it. I wanted to take the boys. Do you have dreams? Things you want to do? Today, symbolized the journey of those dreams, those things I want to do. His love letter told me to keep going; it would be worth it.

He left me a letter in a big tree, its root-ball pulled from the ground. He wanted me to know that if I have strong roots in Him, I will not be overturned.

Tree Seeds, all over the path, held another love letter from Shaddai. Each seed was a message that He created me to grow strong, bloom and pass those seeds on to others. I am awed by the amount of seeds. Do our lives produce seed like that – everywhere, for anyone who comes across our path – an abundance, a more than enough – like this tree – does He expect that of us? Are there that many opportunities for us?

Another tree fallen down left me sad. He had a letter for me there, too. Shaddai told me nothing is wasted. Not even brokenness. Not even death. Someone had carved steps out of the tree, making a foot-wide step-bridge to help others reach the waterfall.

Shaddai, He said He placed stepping stones along the path, some challenged, some awkwardly placed, some easy to step on – but all His stepping stones provide a path to a Holy Spirit immersion.

So many roots, all reaching for the water. The roots, they work diligently toward that source – become stronger because of it. Shaddai, He wants me to be like that – to work my way, rooted in Him, filled with His Holy Spirit Source. He knows I cannot sustain myself, I need His Holy Spirit source like a tree needs water.

All day, we worked toward the waterfall.

All day long, I kept seeing water, symbolizing the  Holy Spirit. Everywhere I found  love letters on post-it notes from Shaddai: in the water trickling over footpaths, in playful streams, in dangerous, swift currents – and in the mighty waterfall.

“Was it worth it,” I asked one couple, as I desperately wanted a water bottle and an oxygen tank.

“Yes,” said the young husband.
“No,” said the young mother. “I expected it to be bigger.”

We passed another couple, an elderly couple – which brought us up short. How did they manage to get here? I was ready for a helicopter ride out.

“Was it worth it?” I asked.

“Yes, it was worth it. It always is,” He answered, his wife, holding 2 light walking staffs, nodded in agreement.

Our boys had reach the falls about 30 minutes before we did.

“You need help, mom” one asked as he watched me maneuver the slippery path, the uneven rocks and roots. He must have been pretty worried about me.

You know how people say that when a new mother holds her newborn child in her arms, that the labor of minutes before – “All is forgotten” in the holding of the child?

In reaching the waterfall, all was forgotten – the soreness, the need for oxygen and water.

My boys seemed a bit surprised to see their mom manage her way out to the big rock.  In return, I am always surprised about how little they know about me, how one-dimensional their view of me isl. I have no idea what theythought when I took off my shoes and socks to immerse my feet in the soul-piercing cold water.

I looked at the waterfall, at the pool below the fall, and the clear, bubbling water so clear you could see to the bottom – and I thought, I don’t want a Holy Spirit Trickle across the footpath of my journey. I want to immerse myself in a Holy Spirit Waterfall. I want to be that brave and courageous to live Holy Spirit like that!

 

Today, I climbed the mountains and found love letters from Shaddai.

Gifts 245- 257

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