The Looming Step of Deep Down Hurt

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So for the past month or so, I have really been struggling with some deep-rooted hurt.  It is funny how years can go by and you feel great and then all of a sudden something brings past hurt to the surface.  When something traumatic happens in your life that is very unexpected and life altering, you deal with what you have to but you also do what you have to do to survive.  Often that means pushing something aside because you can only deal with so much at a time.  Then as time goes on, and things settle down, those hurts resurface.  Now, while I know that this is for the best and God uses this to help us to heal,  the process is often a slow and painful one.

It is like that wound that you have that has dirt in it.  You know if you don’t clean it, it is going to get infected and cause more hurt and more pain, but you also know it is going to hurt something fierce to clean it out.  That is kind of how I feel right now and that cut, is the deep cut of rejection and mine seems to be filled with “dirt”!

When my husband left, the hurt and pain were  overwhelming.  I dealt with what I had to and moved on, because 3 kids were depending on me and I couldn’t afford to let them down.  Each step of the way, God has led me to the next step in my healing.  I talked about this a few years ago in my post Another Stair Climbed However, after nearly 5 years of being alone, I thought that I had pretty much climbed that staircase.  That was until Mother’s Day hit this year and the hurt and pain of rejection came with it!

One of the hardest things about walking through a “deathless grief”  is that the person you lost is still alive and can continue to hurt you!  This Mother’s Day that is exactly what happened and the scabbed over cut of rejection was broken wide open!  I don’t want to bore you with all the details, but to say that my “ex-husband” was inconsiderate is an understatement.  He left me feeling utterly trampled and that my friends, is no easy feat!

As the days went by and I noticed that this was still bothering me, I decided to talk to someone about it.  When I went and talked to our counseling Pastor who is also a very close family friend, she reminded me that I had been through a lot and there were things I couldn’t deal with because at the time, I had to survive, but now God was bringing things to the surface to help me to heal further.  There’s that staircase again!

As the weeks have gone on, more things have happened that have broken this cut open even further. Some of it is things that have happened to me and some is things I have watched happen to others that bring that pain back fresh and real.  I have spent more time crying in the past month or so than I have the entire year before!  While God has brought people across my path that encourage me and remind me that I am loved more than I know, I am still struggling with  this deep down hurt.

So, I have been doing and continue to do  the only thing I can do.  I wake up each morning and cry out to God.  I pour over the scriptures and look to God for guidance, for peace, for strength.  I remind myself over and over that God is sovereign over every area of my life and He knows exactly how deep this wound is and how much it needs cleaning out.  I put worship music on and sing when I can and cry when I can’t. I pray often.  I do the hardest thing for me to do and turn to family and friends for encouragement and help.  I wait in expectation to see what God is going to do. While this doesn’t always make the path easier,  it certainly makes it lighter!

The truth is the time has come and I have to climb these stairs of deep down hurt, but Thank the Lord,  I am not climbing alone!

 

 

 

 

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Hope For a Mother’s Frustration

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So today, I honestly just need to vent.  Last night, my daughter went out to a movie with a group of her friends.  When I came to get them, they asked to go across the way to a frozen yogurt shop.  I said go ahead and went into a local department store to wait for them.  When I came back to get them I was just sitting in the car waiting a few doors down from the yogurt shop.  Her and her friends suddenly came out and were coming quickly to the car and when she got in I could tell she was very upset.  

The story unfolded that while at the yogurt shop, my daughter needed to use the restroom, but there was a group of guys standing in front of the hallway that lead to the bathrooms.  She was afraid to go, but her friends encouraged her it would be fine and they would move to let her by.  Well, this wasn’t the case and one of the guys started asking her how old she was and if she would take a picture with him.  She said no, making an excuse about having a boyfriend.  Of course, they didn’t leave it at that and kept asking her.  She hurried back to the table, got her friends and they walked out.  The guys also walked out and were apparently heckling them as they left.

So that would be enough in and of itself to really set me into “mama bear” mode.  But the conversations that took place on the way home, made me even more angry!  Now my daughter, is very small, she could easily pass for 12 even though she is over 16.  She is also a very modest dresser for today’s standards.  She usually wears leggings and long large shirts.  Last night, it was very muggy out so she opted for a tank top instead of a the T-shirt.  it wasn’t an overly revealing tank top, just a normal tank top with Marvel characters on it.  It wasn’t a crop top it was plenty long enough and my daughter does not wear make-up or anything to try to make herself look older.  Yet! She was blaming herself for what happened!  Saying that she should have just worn a T-shirt instead.  

Now believe me, I am all for modesty!  I believe that as godly women, we should care about being modest, and I know that as women we need to understand that we live in a fallen, sin-filled world, where not every man has good intentions.  However, to watch my daughter beat herself up about it was heartbreaking.  Her friends were trying to tell her to stop blaming herself one of them taking the blame for telling her that they would just move.  She then brought up the way she was dressed.  This same friend, who happens to be a guy, and a really sweet young man so I know he said this with the best of intention,  responded by saying well I guess the only think to do to make sure things like that don’t happen is dress like a slob, never look good, and never wear make-up!  

Really! Dress like a slob so that we don’t have to be harassed.  Ugh!  Why is that always the answer that people come up with? Well just don’t dress like a woman, look like a guy and things will be fine.  Really?  somehow, this day in age, I don’t think that makes a difference! 

Anyway, as we got home, and were sitting alone talking, my daughter finally just broke down crying and the first words out of her mouth were…why don’t I have a Dad?  It seemed like an odd comment considering what we were talking about.   Now of course, she does have a Dad, but I knew she was referring to the fact that he wasn’t around and lives hours away.  I told her that it wouldn’t have made a difference either way, because they were just a group of punk guys and her dad would have done the same as me and just been waiting outside for her.  But the bottom line was, that underneath it all, the hurt that she felt was one of abandonment.  One of feeling afraid and when we are afraid as young girls, we look to the arms of a father for safety.  In most cases as young girls, we look to our mothers for things, but in situations like this, we are looking for our father to be the one that is there, intimidating the guy who bothered us and making us feel safe and secure.  My dad may not have been a great father in a lot of ways, but he certainly was intimidating and I remember feeling a certain security in that.  But, getting back to her question, I honestly didn’t have an answer.  I don’t know why her dad just decided to walk away after 13 years of marriage.  I only know one thing and this is the answer to everything that she was dealing with.  We live in a sin-filled broken world.  The hearts of men(and women) are for themselves.  The bible points this out to us in 2 Timothy 3:2-4 where Paul writes

 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—”  Timothy 3:2-4 ESV

The truth is, my daughter does have a father, not just an earthy dad who is around when  his schedule allows it, but she has a heavenly Father.  One who never leaves her side.  One who loves her fully and complete.  One who secured her future before time even began. One who she can trust completely, depend on fully, and One who is the only one any of us should truly fear.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7

Talk about an intimidating father!  These words Jesus spoke not only tell us that we need to fear God, but they also show that He is a loving Father.  Today, I will remind my daughter that she does have a Father, one who knows how many hairs are on her head.  One who holds her future in His hands, one who created her to be the amazing, beautiful young WOMAN that she is.  Today I will again remind her, that we can’t control how others act, we live in a sin-filled world and all we can do, is keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and put all our hope and trust in him.  Will this stop guys from heckling her?  No, but it will teach her to put her trust not in anything that she can or can’t do,  but in what Jesus has already done!  I want my daughter to know that her security is found in the finished work of Jesus and that her Father is the all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, creator of the entire universe.  And yeah, He is pretty intimidating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Longing For Home

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Back in September I began taking a Bible Doctrine Class.  The class was 2 semesters and I finished my final class last week. The second half of the course we went through many different topics from Angels and demons to the power of the church.  The classs ended appropriately with talking about “last things” We spent a few weeks on the return of Christ, Heaven and hell, and the New Heavens and the New Earth.  At the end of each section we have a reflection paper that we have to write that looks back at what we feel really impacted us on the topic we were discussing.  As I sat down to write my paper, reflecting on the last things, the overwhelming feeling I had and the theme of my paper was “longing for home.”

For so much of my Christian life, I was not very eager at the thought of the return of Jesus.  I thought more about all the things that I wanted to do in this life.  When I was younger it was get married as I was married and had kids it was watch my kids grow up and grow old with my husband,  become a grandparent, you get the picture.  However, when my world came crashing down around me, when I found everything that I had tried to build my life upon ripped away suddenly, when I ended up down in a lonely dark pit, it was then that I found what my life was really built upon.  Down in that deep, dark, pit of sorrow, Jesus met me.  I hadn’t hit “rock bottom” I had landed in the arms of my savior.  As He carried me out of that pit, in that moment, He became my everything.

From that day on, Jesus has become the focus of my life in a way He never was before.  I saw that this world and all it has is nothing compared to life with Him.  The funny thing was it was’t just my heart that cried “Come Lord Jesus”  I saw the same thing in the hearts of my children.  Many times, as we would talk about things, I would hear them say, “I wish Jesus would come back.” Or before they went to bed, they would say, “maybe Jesus will come back tonight.”    When our lives seemed completely hopeless, we realized where our hope truly lies.  Our hope lies in the fact that our future is secure.  Our hope lies in the fact that even when this life hands us hardship, when things seem out of control, they are never out of  God’s control and our true hope lies in the fact that one day Jesus will return and He will make everything new.  He will set everything right.  No longer will there be death, or tears, or hunger, or sadness or covenant breaking divorce.

At the same time as doing this course, I was finishing up reading the entire Bible using the Bible in a Year devotional by Nicky Gumbel on the YouVersion App. One of the things he referenced as we read through Revelation was a quote by Bishop Leslie Newbigin.  It stated:

The horizon of the Christian is “He shall come again”  and “We look for the coming of the Lord” It can be tomorrow or anytime but that is the horizon.  That horizon for me is fundamental, and that is what makes it possible to be hopeful and therefore to find life meaningful‘    Bishop Leslie Newbigin via Nicky Gumbel

To me that statement sums up much of how I feel.  My eyes are on the horizon, looking for the return of Jesus! Some people may think this sounds morbid, or fanatical.  Maybe you think it sounds sad, thinking that we don’t enjoy our life and are wishing it away.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We enjoy this life to the fullest.  We are thankful for each day we get.  But, we have come to realize that this life is just a shadow and our true home is with Jesus.  The hurt and pain that this life brings only serves to catapult us into a deeper longing for home, a deeper longing for Jesus!

As I studied about the return of Christ and specifically about the New Heavens and the New Earth it made me further long for that glorious day.  The thought of getting to walk with Jesus in a tangible way, to physically see Him, to audibly hear His voice speaking to me.  Oh how I long for that day.  To see everything as God created it to be before sin reared  it’s destructive head.  To live forever, in the presence of God, to have a new glorified body free of the toils of aging and sickness.  To be at peace, true, unbroken peace.  Oh how I long for home!  Come Lord Jesus, Come!

 

 

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Looking At The Cross

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The other night, I was woken up in the middle of the night and a conversation that I had earlier that day was really on my mind.   Someone  had mentioned that they didn’t believe that people who harm children should be forgiven.  They felt they did not belong in heaven and so should not be granted forgiveness from God.  Honestly, I have heard this before and I have to admit there was probably a time in my life where I felt that way as well.  Deep down, I think we have all felt this way at some point.  We get ourselves into trouble when we try to compare ourselves with others and think that our sin is less and that we are better.  We equally get into trouble when we think that we ever have or ever will do anything to merit God’s grace and the salvation that was bought for us with Jesus’ blood.

The truth is WE ARE ALL SINNERS!  The Bible is clear on this point.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

NONE of us deserve God’s forgiveness.  What we ALL deserve is punishment, death, and eternal separation from God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

We are forgiven not because God just said, “Hey, don’t worry about it, you are forgiven.” We are forgiven because someone else paid the price for our sins!  God himself.  God provided the means for us to be saved through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  We have been saved by God’s grace alone, through  faith in Jesus Christ.  There is no work we can do, no good deed good enough to save us.  We are saved only through faith in Jesus.  The Bible is equally clear on this point.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Most the time I don’t think we realize how sinful we are.  However, the closer we get to God, the more we understand just how sinful we really are.  The apostle Paul is the perfect example of this.  Towards the end of his life, he makes this statement:

This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”–and I am the worst of them all.”  1 Timothy 1:15

Did you catch that?  He said he was the worst of all sinners!  Was Paul suddenly a far worse sinner than ever before or than anyone else?  NO, he was just in a place of close relationship with God where he understood just how Holy God is and just how sinful he was.  We can’t compare ourselves with others to see how good we are, because that isn’t the measuring stick for goodness  We can only compare ourselves with God because only He is good,

So what should we do when we think that there is someone who doesn’t deserve God’s mercy? Well, we should look at the cross.  Looking at the cross shows us so much about who God is and so much about who we are.

God’s love and justice meet at the cross.

At the cross, we see the punishment we deserve,  we see what it cost for us to be forgiven, and we see just how much God hates sin.

At the cross we see ourselves as we truly are; sinful, selfish, hateful, adulterous idolaters and we are humbled.

At the cross we see just how much God loves us, we see what true obedience looks like, and we see what it means to give all of yourself.

At the cross we see that no matter what our past may have held for us, our future is abundant life, beauty, and an eternal relationship with God because of what Jesus has done!

At the cross we come, we repent of our sins, we accept God’s free gift of salvation, and we go forth as new people.

As we approach Easter, what better time to take a fresh look at the cross.  What better time to assess where we are at and ask for the Holy Spirit to help us to become more  like Jesus, because we know we can not do it without Him! What better time to give thanks for the greatest gift we were ever given and the one we least deserved….so come, look at the cross!

 

 

 

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Love That Endures Forever

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This morning as I was spending time doing my devotional, one of the readings was Psalm 136:1-12.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;

 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
 and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;”

As I finished reading through this it struck me to how many times the Psalmist reminded us that God’s “…steadfast love endures forever” If you finish through the rest of the Psalm you find that 26 times the Psalmist says this phrase.

It got me thinking about this.  Specifically in my own life.  I realized suddenly as I sat there, that deep down, I worried that God would stop loving me.  This actually kind of shocked me because I didn’t think that I felt that way, but reading scripture and asking God to speak to you through it has a way of bringing out thoughts that we really didn’t even know we had.

Coming from a background of abandonment I guess it isn’t too unheard of for me to feel this way.  When you are left by a parent, who is supposed to love you all your life, and instead walks out and denies you exist….that can really make you wonder about love.  When your husband, who is supposed to love you till death parts you, suddenly just leaves after 13 years of marriage stating he doesn’t love you…that only adds to your doubts. But honestly, the funny thing is that I really never realized I felt this way until this morning as I read through those verses.  I wonder if that is why the psalmist wrote it so many times.  It is as if he realized that we would all go through hurts in this life that would leave us feeling unloved and then question who God is and if God would continue to love us.

Now as I thought about this, I said I don’t doubt on a daily basis that God loves me…but I realized that if I was honest with myself  it is just this very quiet foreboding sense deep in the back of my mind that one day, he just won’t love me anymore.

I didn’t doubt on a daily basis that my husband loved me…but I always had a future fear that one day he wouldn’t love me anymore.  Now I don’t entirely know why that is, but as I have studied and learned more about my family of origin and my thought process through my life, I realized that being abandoned as a child really had an effect on how I view most of my life and up until that moment this morning, I didn’t think that it had transferred to my thoughts about God…but deep down it had.

If you were to ask me today, “do you believe God loves you”…I would say yes…and I really do believe that! But after that thought came to my mind, I could no longer deny that it was there. God revealed something deep inside me this morning through reading His word.  As soon as the thought came to my mind, I cried out to God.  I asked for him to help me…to forgive me for even thinking that way and to help me to know that He is NEVER going to stop loving me.  And as usually He answered through His word.  As I looked at the verse of the day…it was Romans 8:39

nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a great reminder.  The truth is, things in this world are going to bring us to a place where the people we count on to love us are going to let us down.  It may not be as drastic as what I have experienced or it may be far worse, but the reality is that no human will ever be able to love us the way only God can and the way only God always will!  Does this mean we shouldn’t trust that people will keep loving us?  Of course not, what is does mean is that our life, our heart and all that is in us needs to be ultimately built on God…when He is our foundation, when we are firm and secure in His love, we have a confidence because we know that no matter who on this earth stops loving us, He NEVER will.  AS we go throughout our day, let us be like the psalmist, reminding ourselves that ” the steadfast love of God endures forever”

 

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Beneath The Surface

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Behind my house is a small stream. In the winter time when the weather gets very cold it freezes and allows us to walk on the surface, play ice hockey, or just slide around on the ice.

Recently, we had a huge January thaw.  The weather turned unseasonable warm for a couple of days.  Since we had a lot of snow that melted in those 2 days, our tiny stream turned into more of a rushing river.  Then, as quickly as the warm weather came, the frigid temps returned and the stream refroze very quickly.

However, the other day when I was hiking and went down to the stream, although on the surface everything was hard and very icy, beneath it I could hear rushing water. I followed the sound and found a place where the ice was not as thick and I was able to break it and beneath, was a rushing current pouring over the rocks.

As I sat there watching the water through the hole I had made in the ice, it reminded me of our lives.  Sometimes, things around us look frozen in ice…like nothing is changing and our circumstances look grim.  However, if we take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit, we can hear the “water” rushing.  If we ask God to help us look beneath the surface, we find that the rushing power of His presence is at work all around us.

We have just finished 2 weeks of fasting and prayer at my church.  During that time, God continually kept bringing me back to one theme:  Keep your eyes fixed on Me. Stop looking at what is going on around you and look at me.  Even the things that look like failures, don’t look at them that way…look at me…I am at work, I have a plan, LOOK AT ME!

As a friend of mine was praying with me, she brought up the story of Peter walking on the water….throughout the week, other people also referenced that story from Matthew 14.

In case you aren’t familiar…

“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way[ from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.  But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind  he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter was able to walk on the storm while his eyes were on Jesus.  However, as soon as Peter looked at the storm raging around him he fell in.  But that isn’t the end of the story.  Even though he was looking at the storm, Jesus saved him…and then it tells us when they got to the boat and got in the storm stopped.  That means that Peter must have walked the rest of the way back to the boat on the water with Jesus.

From my time at the stream, to my times in prayer, to the people in my life who pray and do life with me…I have seen clearly that God wants me to remember something, God wants all of us to remember something….

No matter how things look on the surface, His power is always running strong beneath, and even when we fail to keep our eyes on Him, even when we allow fear to overtake us, He doesn’t leave us there, he picks us up and helps us.  Because He NEVER leaves us.

 

 

 

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Contentment

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Content makes poor men rich, discontent makes rich men poor”  Benjamin Franklin

I came across this quote the other day.  It really struck me as to the truth of it.  Especially as we head into Christmas week.  As a single-mom, when holidays arrive, it is easy to focus on what we don’t have and on what I can’t give my kids, rather than on what we do have and what I can give them.  I talked a little about this in my Father’s Day post this year.

As I read that quote this morning I immediately thought about what Paul says in Philippians 4.

“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.”  Philippians 4:11-13

So many times people use vs. 13 to talk about how they can do anything with Christ’s strength and that is true, but what Paul was really talking about is in the verses that precede vs 13.

Being content with what you have is not easy.  In fact Martin Luther said

Contentment is a rare bird, but it sings sweetly in the breast

This day in age, contentment is hardly seen.  Everyone is always looking for the next best thing, the newer this the latest that etc. you get my point.  Add to that having something or someone very precious taken from you and it can be hard to focus on what you have.

As I was wrapping presents yesterday, I was going through many different emotions.  Mainly gratitude at the way God provides for my children and I, but even in the midst of that gratitude was the sliver of discontent pricking me.  The sliver that says, “this isn’t enough, you are not enough and you never will be. ”

When that happens, I need to stop and remind myself that nothing on this earth will EVER be enough unless we have allowed Christ to be our center, He IS enough!  He is all that we need and when we have Him we have everything.  I believe that was what Paul was really talking about in Philippians 4:13.  I can be happy in little because Christ is enough and He gives me the strength to remember that, especially when the discontent I feel is more about me not feeling like I am enough for my kids vs. that what they have isn’t enough.

So no matter what you are putting under the tree this Christmas, whether plenty or little, no matter how much you feel like you are not enough, remember that you don’t have to be enough because Christ is!  He gave up all the riches of heaven to come to earth and be born into a life of poverty and in that He made us rich.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”       2 Corinthians 8:9

After all Jesus is who Christmas is really all about. So be content in that knowledge and may that contentment sing sweetly in you this Christmas!

 

 

 

 

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