Worship, Create, Dream

Be free to Worship God. Create with abandonement because He is the Creator. Let's discover our Dreams together.


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The Alabaster Jar

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A warm evening with a gentle breeze blowing bits of sand.  The streets are  empty. Lit candles glow  through  open windows show families enjoying their meals.   Laughter carries up and down the vacant cobblestones. Simon the Pharisee  is very delighted. Tonight he is hosting Jesus, the PROPHET whom  everyone is talking about. Almost giddily he thinks,  “Maybe I can find something out about this Man  that makes Him so special.”

Is the Pharisee, really showing an act of hospitality or are there ulterior motives?

 

Another part of town, a colder, darker part of town  contains less laughter. The meals are not filled with gaiety. Joy does not filter through these streets. The normal sound  is chaos from, wailing, unattended babies and  coughing,  sick children. If laughter is heard, it is anything but joyful.

 

The Woman’s small living quarters are in this part of town. While she lived with her mother, her house was decent. Her mother made a decent living. Now the Woman is alone. She makes her living in a sad fashion non decent manner.  Her heart is empty.

 

The Woman heard rumors. ” Could this be the Prophet.The Teacher everyone is talking about.?” she pondered. Gazing at the beautiful alabaster jar, her mind swirls..

  • “ I have no right to even think about going to that house.
  •   I caught a quick glance of Him in the market. His gentle eyes gave me hope.
  •  There will be other men in that house  who will know me possible who have known me. (she shutters).
  •   He looked into the eyes of that sick girl with such love and tenderness. With one touch a soft word,  He healed her.

 

Of course He healed her. She is holy. I AM NOT!

Could she deny the deep yearning and passion  drawing her to go to the house.and give?

 

The Woman looked again at the jar containing the costly oils for her livelihood. The jar was priceless. It belonged to her mother.

The Woman could not dwell on the matter any longer. Fear would consume her thoughts  making the decision for her if she did not move.

Quickly she wrapped a simple  shawl around her head and face  Grabbing the alabaster jar, she left her home. She could not be  bothered as she moved  to the other side of town. The fear of failure and  rejection ran rampant through her body. Beads of sweat from the brisk walk and the heat did not stop her body from shaking. She had no idea what to expect once she reached her destination.

The Woman did not consider how food would be purchased or bills paid after the oil was gone. It was not a consequence to consider now.

As unrealistic as it seemed, the intense draw to give everything to this Man was the only reality that mattered. The Woman would break her beloved jar, if she must.  She would pour out her oil, her love, her all.

 

Everyone was enjoying the well prepared meal. Food was perfect for the special guest.  Jesus was a perfect guest. Too perfect for Simon’s  taste. Nothing was happening. The evening was coming to a close with not even a tiny miracle or odd word.

 

The conversations continued. Without notice, as though covered by a shadowy protection, the Woman was on her knees in front of Jesus. Upon noticing the crumpled figured at His feet, the other men, close to Jesus gasped and moved away. They knew who she was. They knew her reputation.  Simon sneered to himself , “He can’t be as good as they say He is.  He should know what kind of a woman she is.”

Jesus looked sternly toward  Simon and said,  “Silence”.

Simon blinked being caught off guard.

 

Jesus eyes returned to the Woman. Softly and gently His gaze took in her actions, he took in her heart.  Her tears ran down her face. She could not stop crying. Raising to her feet, she broke the seal of the jar and stood over Jesus head. She tipped the jar.   The thick contents poured slowly  onto the head  beneath her.  With eyes  closed and head slightly lifted, Jesus received the entire offering, down His head, His beard, His shoulders. . This fragrant perfume flowed to his feet. The pungent aroma filled the dining area and beyond.

Moments went by. Not a sound.

No words passed between Jesus and the Woman. He looked into her eyes, into her soul as if to say.:  “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.”

 

The Woman unbound her hair to dry  tears and oil from Jesus.  Such deep love she had never known. It protected her from the judgemental statements against her actions.

 

” Wasteful!  If you really wanted to repent, the oil should have been sold to meet the needs of the poor,”  came  the verbal accusation on her pure act of love .  The Woman was not enslaved  by these attacks.  His love without rejection freed her.

 

Simon got what he wanted.  A card to use against this Prophet. He smiled to himself, “Either this Man  does not know the sinners, which means He isn’t a real prophet, or He does not keep the law by allowing a woman of this sort to touch Him. This Jesus cannot be the Messiah.”

 

The Woman rebound her hair as the men resumed their meal.  She gathered her shawl. With one last glance to Jesus, she turned and left the house without the alabaster jar.

 

As she walked down the street, the Woman’s  steps were light, relaxed, peaceful.  She had  no need to protect her face. Everything was  bright.  She looked to the sky. “Do stars always twinkle so beautifully?” She smiled.  Her breathing was deep and full. The Woman felt Joy. The Woman was Free..

glory of the Lord

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In this Lenten season, dare to go deep and experience the intimacy of real people referred to in the Passion stories. My story is a fictional  adaptation of Matthew 26:6-10 Mark 14:3-9,  and Luke 7:37-39. God is releasing people from fears through honest deep, intimate interaction with Him. Take His hand and walk through whatever it is He wants to show you.


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PSALM 19:6

 That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts,warming hearts to faith. – Psalm 19:6 NIV

Doesn’t this just excite you all to pieces? As I look out the window from this delightful coffee shop, I  read this, and  smile.  This describes  God’s  overwhelming heart toward me.  His deep love   revealed through  changes of the seasons , movement in the wind, colors all around. His care is creative.  Can you feel it?img_0718

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I must admit, I am not overwhelmed with the enthusiastic excitement and peaceful contentment of this knowledge all the time. God lovingly takes me  through dark shadows because if  I NEVER WALK through a dark shadow, I  will never experience the wonder of sunlightimg_3389

Receiving stickers, memorizing verses, when when you were young and daily bible  meditations may be your  connection with God.  You know facts or check off something for a to-do list.

When was the last time you read the bible to gain an intimate connection to the gifts  offered?

This is a fictional adaptation of the WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY (John 8 1-11) Receive the gift God has to offer you..

The night  was calm and  sweet. Peacefully lying in the strong arms of a man who showed her tenderness, she felt safe.  Not like others before with their ugly breath, horrid eyes and single desire.

She longed to be delivered from the gross life previously surrounding her nights. Days no  longer existed. Sunlight brought no joy. Shame  labelled  all  her clothes.

This man came to her secretly, but gently. The past few nights brought delightfulness .Could he  actually feel something for her, more than just  a body?

Suddenly, without warning, temple guards crashed into the house. Sun’s rays peeked  into the window. Fear consumed her body although she felt he would be near for protection.   She reached over to feel  the bed’s other side.

It was empty!

 

With anxious questions, she thought,   “ Why  were the sheets  disheveled and the bed  still warm? He was just here.  Where was he?”

Looking around,  no one was in sight to stand between  her and these  angry, hateful men.

Instinctively she grabbed  the bedclothes  before she was  yanked from the room. In pain and disillusionment, tears running down her face, she met the crowd in the courtyard.

 

The  hideous mockery coming at her stood in  complete contrast  to  the peaceful  quiet nights she just previously experienced.  Inside she hoped her lover would still come to her rescue.

“Surely he would not allow the legal punishment to be carried out.”

Clutching the sheets  to cover her shame,  she was dropped  before the temple leaders. In the turmoil, she could make out the  out the forms of two men.  Her life would  be changed forever by the  actions of each one.

One of the two men standing in the crowd she knew from last night.   Will he speak up in her defense? Will he express concern and care for her? Their eyes met. He quickly turned away.

The chaotic noise  from the crowd slowly faded away and she realized the man she recognized  was  the son of the Pharisee leader. Standing next to the loudest accuser  was  the one she gave her very soul.

“Please God,  “ she cried silently to heaven, ” if you exist, may the first rock finish  me.  The pain in my heart has killed me already. “

“What is taking so long?   Waiting for the discussion is far  worse than the sentence itself.”

4…. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?”

                                                                                                             John 8:4 NIV

She could not understand this other man. Who was  this other man?  His eyes were kind. His face was gentle. There was truth all around Him.  He stood and looked at her so  differently  than any other  man. What would he want of her?

This man bent down . He was so  close to almost touch her sheet.

“The Teacher  knows who I am. He cannot come too close or He will become unclean”.

Bending over very quietly, He  scribbled in the sand.

The Pharisees continued  their pestering questions.  On and On!!  Finally the Man stopped His scribbling. Without anger or malice, He stood up and proposed a simple statement:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”

                                                                                                        John 8:7 NIV

He returned to the ground and His scribbling.

The seconds felt like  hours as she shook beneath her cloth protection, waiting for the first rock. The only sounds were  the swish of His finger on the sand and  the heavy  breathing of men.

THUD! THUD! THUD!

Rocks were slowly falling. Feet shuffled  away.

Angrily looking around, the Pharisee leader  watched  the rest of the accusers shake their heads and drop rocks.  Grabbing his robe to keep his cleanliness intact,  he swiftly  turned to leave the scene. With an angry grunt, and eyes blazing, he demanded his son to follow.

The young man responded. As his eyes met hers, there was no love, no concern, no care. Just a look. Hearing another urgent word  from his father, the son walked.

Left alone, she couldn’t comprehend what took  place?

She was not alone. The other Man was still writing on the ground.  She didn’t understand His gentleness nor  did she  trust it. The Pharisee’s son gave her gentleness, but it was a lie. How could she trust any man again?

Jesus stood  and rubbed the dust from His robe. He reached out His hand to her.  He looked  into her eyes.  That  was  more frightening than being grabbed and dragged into the town’s square. This man looked past her eyes and into her soul.

She had felt the pain of shame before. This was far deeper pain.This pain came after her time with the Pharisee’s son.  This pain was new and frightfully disturbing. The multiple men using her had never really taken a portion of her heart. The Pharisee’s son had robbed her.   A new pain coursed it’s way all through her body.

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UNFORGIVING! DECEIT! REJECTION!

She felt  unforgiving toward him. His lies. His deceit.  His cowardice to protect her.

For the first time, she felt unforgiving to herself. How many times had  she allowed the purity of love to be stolen from her?  Or had she allowed it to be taken only to fill her own void? Either way, she felt a deep angst toward herself and her life. Could  she ever feel complete, whole, freedom?

Jesus  would not leave her. He was the only man, the only person who had shown gentleness and compassion to her without any expectation of physical payment  in return. Even the son of the Pharisee used  her.

“What do you want?” she asked. Her voice was timid, laced with a bit of defiance.

Jesus looked around and smiled. The courtyard was  back to its daily interactions, paying no attention to the couple.

.  “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

                                                                                            John 8:10 NIV

Jesus knew the pain in her heart. Jesus knew all the ways she had been torn apart. Jesus knew she would be stuck in her pain forever, looking at men as walking creatures who  lie and cause pain if she did not quit sinning. To stop sinning and be released meant to forgive herself and all involved.

       Jesus looked into her eyes as no one had ever looked before.

                   “Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

                                                                                          John 8:11 NIV

This man was offering her a gift. A free gift. No one had done that before.  It was a gift more wondrous than all the fine robes of Solomon.  She had a choice to say yes or no.  Once she said yes, it was a gift no one could ever take away from her. The warmth and balm of this gift would release her from the pain and emptiness trying to suffocate her life. Not always an easy life, but one forever whole and free.

YES! YES, I WILL RECEIVE THIS GIFT!!

 

 That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts,warming hearts to faith. – Psalm 19:6 MSG

Is God reaching to places in your heart? Is there pain He sees, where you are asking if you will ever be complete and free. He says,  “Come”.

 

   The revelation of God is whole

   and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of God are clear

   and point out the right road.

The life-maps of God are right,

   showing the way to joy.

The directions of God are plain

   and easy on the eyes.

God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,

   with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of God are accurate

   down to the nth degree.

                                                                                       Ps,19: 7-9 MSGJpeg


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Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is Upon Me

 

Walk into the reality of life when Jesus lived on the earth, identifying with the sounds, smells, feelings surrounding the hurt people he touched. Body and soul. 

Jesus stands in the hot, muggy building filled with men and boys twelve years and older on the lower level. A dirt floor.  Mud walls with openings to allow whatever breeze might pass through. Animal skins tacked to the walls to keep the rain out in case inclement weather happens during the meeting.  His eyes move around the room . Long gray robes just touching gritty tired  sandal ed feet. Turbans wrapped tightly covering dusty hair.

The second level of the meeting place is filled with the women, girls, babies and  younger boys.

Some of the young males on this second level are huddled to the side,  anxiously waiting  for the day to come for the traditional ceremony that would officially make them into men finally allowing them the right to sit on the main floor.

The heat rising to the second  level is terribly uncomfortable, but men and women are not allowed to sit together in the meeting place.

The room is dusty, arid, filled with the scent of people who know the harsh reality of putting  a hard full week of work. Fathers tending the sheep in the countryside under the relentless sun. Mothers tending the many children while making meals with little substance.  Hard workers needing this day.  This is their Sabbath. This is their time of rest. Hunger is seen  as their clothes drape on their bodies from  lack of enough physical food. Hunger is seen in their eyes from lack of real spiritual food.  Rabbis have been teaching the eldest men and women for many years. Still, their food lacks substance, lacks nourishment.

Jesus is filled with compassion. His heart is overflowing with love for each individual man, woman and child in this dusty, coughing, baby crying, cramped Jewish house of prayer. He  sees the emptiness within each person.

Inside His heart weeps.

“Is this a result of their own making, their own decisions? The battle to deplete their souls started long ago. It is now time to bring this war to an end.”

Jesus knows their pain.

Jesus walks slowly with no feeling of pretentiousness to the scrolls. He takes  Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus reads these words with love. They come out so tenderly, people are on the edge of their seats. Hope is in the air.  Young adolescent boys are not bored but engaged with this man. Babies are finding no reason to cry. Not only words are coming out.  The room is filled with The Spirit of God.

Silence surrounds the hall as Jesus ends his reading.  With a voice containing authority and deep mercy,  Jesus states to all present, “TODAY THE SCRIPTURE IS FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING.”

Awestruck with intimacy. Movement is impossible. For a brief point in time, each starving  soul is feasting. Connection to God is not just possible. It is  reality.

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Jesus is here today. He sees the emptiness. He sees the feasting on food with absolutely no nutrition. Whether the outerwear is rich colorful finery, drab with holes, or mediocre, the malnutrition of your soul is hurting Him.

These are the words Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah to the people in that meeting place many years ago.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4 18-19 NIV

Allow yourself to read drink in these words and feed your soul. Receive the same love and intimacy Jesus extended as He expressed this the first time.

IMG_1837WORSHIP . CREATE AND ALLOW GOD TO FREE  HIS DREAMS INSIDE YOU TO BE RELEASED.


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Delight

  26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]? https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A+26-27&version=NIV

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I love to watch birds. In fact when visiting relatives in SD this summer, I saw their  bird feeder surrounded by a variety of  beautiful colors and fantastic sounds different than our feathered friends in Duluth. I sat at the dining table  staring out the glass door,  listening, delighting, being blessed in the gifts God was sharing with me.

Worry steals contentment. Ponder slightly on things you allow your mind to worrying about.  Worrying how all the jobs needing to be  finished  will be done completely and perfectly in the allotted time. Worrying what to do with ALL the stuff when downsizing.  What to keep, or should the item go to Goodwill? Or possibly the dump. What if I throw away the item that will later be yelled for to complete a project?   😦

Granted, in the scheme of life, these are trivial worries.  If I cannot  WALK THROUGH THE SHADOW OF DEATH holding God’s hand in these rather small challenges of my life. seeking His Peace and Contentment, there is no way I am going to be able to handle a larger item knowing His Fullness and Grace.

walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6&version=MSG

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Big Worries or little worries-each will take your eyes , my eyes off God’s gentle leading.  Our mind will directly and solely uncomfortably stay on the problem.

Contentment was the topic these last few Sundays at church so it seemed natural to consider asking myself some hard questions.  Am I content? What makes me content.  What makes me stray from being content? ?

When asking God a question dealing with your life, be prepared for serious answers or don’t bother asking.  Somehow, someway, sometime, possibly in a fashion you do not expect, He will answer because of His intense love for you, for me. Isn’t that wonderful?

Earlier posts this summer questioned where my contentment lied. Changes in my home situation and possible lifestyle challenged who is REALLY IN CHARGE.   I could tell from my inner reaction when asked certain answers, not having the answer  and not being OK with that, I realized I was the one who needed to be in charge.

The main point of the messages on CONTENTMENT boiled down to one idea for me.
Contentment is not a Noun or life I fall into. I cannot choose to be content  True, deep lasting Contentment does not  depend on my own resources to achieve it.IMG_2771

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If CONTENTMENT  doesn’t fall on me with the circumstances of a spring day or from my choosing,  how do I get it. People such as Mother Theresa or St. Francis of Assisi appeared to be calm and cool. Are they born that way? No. They needed to go through the same refining fire as everyone else.The Fruits of the Spirit are freely available to us when change and challenge cause contentment to fly south.
Ask yourself what fruit is needed  most in your life when hit in the face with CHANGE. When a CHALLENGE is put square on your plate and worry seems to loom larger  than life, what fruit is God wanting to develop in you to express  His Character. The answer for me was not difficult =
PATIENCE AND PEACE.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) – See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/who-am-i-becoming/#sthash.9x0JlyyM.uzQ2dZfC.dpu

God sees my makeup. God knows my needs.

The birds of the air and the wildflowers are beautiful in sight and sound. They are His creation. He delights in them and meets their needs.

God DELIGHTS IN ME. He came to live in me and with me so I could change and Delight in Him.  Contentment does not rest on looking at my reserves. It is keeping my eyes fixed on Him and walking with my hand in His.

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“Men and women may argue and make excuses but it does not change the fact that in our society we are completely surrounded by the ancient curse; everything is recent, transient and temporal. That is why the Holy Spirit whispers faithfully reminding us of the Christ of God Eternity, walking in the flesh. God Almighty comes to live among us and to save, actually to give us eternity. ”   30 Morning With Tozer.  Daily Devotional Readings

CONTENTMENT  resting in the One Who Loves Me. Not so preoccupied in the world and getting but to RESPOND TO GOD AND HIS GIVING. IMG_0775


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Contentment

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Cousins enjoying the Lake

Contentment=1. a state of happiness and satisfaction

I would like you to come on a walk with me. What is Contentment? A dictionary definition is the one above. In the Bible Paul stated in Phil 4:11-13 “ I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. NIV   Is it possible?

I know the last thing you want to read is anything dealing  with winter, cold or Christmas. (School supplies lists are posted in the stores already. This will challenge the sweet contentment of our youth. 🙂 )IMG_1594
Picture if you will a scene from the movie – A CHRISTMAS CAROL starring George C. Scott. Christmas Day, a small crowded room filled with the large Cratchit family surrounding a wooden table.
Bob Cratchit is holding his cup high into the air asking the family to make a toast to honor Mr. Scrooge. There is no malice, anger or contempt in his voice. The terrible work conditions Mr. Cratchit is forced to put up with, low wages and absence of respect warrant no such tribute.IMG_1697
Mrs. Cratchit on the other hand has small gratification in the same situation. In the movie, she is quite obvious in her disdain for Mr. Scrooge. She sees him as tight fisted and stingy. She would give him a piece of her mind if he were standing there in person. She knows her husband works hard, but does not receive his proper due.

Why the opposite response?

Not knowing the tic-toc in either person’s head I cannot say for sure.  Looking at an article entitled,THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT , from the Current Magazine ( our church publication),  I envisioned  Mr. Cratchit walking  to Scrooge and Marley’s Accounting Office everyday holding God’s hand. If the reality in Mr. Cratchit’s heart knows God is saying to him –“I will never leave you, never will I forsake you,” an honest and sincere toast can be made to Mr. Scrooge, with no strings attached.  Mr. Crachit knows God is right with him. Mr. Cratchit is content.
Mrs. Cratchit is not a bad sort. In fact, truth be told, she handles life quite well. This woman is trying to keep the family running smoothly with the little funds they have. She sees her husband treated unjustly and to top it all off, the youngest child is sick with no extra money for proper care.
Blaming Mr. Scrooge for the lack of food when it would be in his power for a higher wage is understandable. (Don’t ignore your feelings). Having contempt for this man would be easy. Imagine the daily fear of  one wrong step could move them closer to the poor house. (don’t say everything is OK when it is not OK.)

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Even if Mrs. Cratchit had a relationship with  Jesus, possibly she lives as though she is totally responsible to hold everything together.  When a person is suffering, but blames others, is angry and holds a grudge, huge barriers are sometimes  constructed making it difficult to envision how God can meet the needs.

Come back to summer in Duluth, MN.

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Can you see yourself walking as either one of these characters? .
I see myself as both. At times my hand is inside of God’s, my eye’s look into His and everything is at peace, filled with contentment. I know He has my back in the situation that I am going through even though it is  new and not easy.

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At other times because I am not perfect, I choose another path. If you have read any of my previous blogs, contentment has eluded me.  I may not blame, but in weariness, lack of control,  fear, and feeling responsible to keep it together, I am not content.
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God is gentle. He loves me. He opens doors to reflect how my choices are affecting me. He will touch me through the Bible, articles, friends, or He uses His still quiet voice to woo me to a place of contentment.  (happiness and peace)

The secret of contentment for me is a continuous journey. Contentment is never out of reach but always growing deeper as I allow Jesus to love me deeper.     Feel free to share your walk with me on contentment. It is not easy but we are not alone.

glory of the Lord