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It Wasn't Me

Life After Redemption

The Theory of Toothpaste

One of the things I love most about myself is my quick wit. I am usually the first to have that perfect crack, the one remark that has everyone laughing. From childhood, I was fed sarcasm until it became second nature; in my early twenties I took great delight in triumph in my ability to annihilate anyone with a few well-placed words. Over the years, I have learned, or started to learn, how to still be the smartass without inflicting damage. I am not always successful, but I try very hard… very very hard.

 

Despite my toughness, I really don’t want to hurt people… especially those that I love and apologizing is so hard when you know that the words that you speak never really go away. You may receive forgiveness… but nobody ever forgets, and trust can be forever shattered. I don’t want to be the raging bull in the china shop leaving a trail of broken relationships behind me… so I fight my nature, and try to be mindful of my words. Engage my brain before I open my mouth, it’s hard to get my foot in there if my mouth isn’t open.

 

BUT… I want to win, have the last word, and be the one left standing not be the one who is hurt and angry. It’s not fair that I watch my words when other people don’t. I don’t always want to be the one who is censoring myself… I want to win! My pastor has this remark about not being able to get toothpaste back into the tube after you squeeze it out. So here is my theory (borrowed theory at any rate) about toothpaste. We have all squeezed the tube too hard and tried to work at least some of the goo back in… it doesn’t really work, but we still try. Some people really like to use a lot of paste, others use very little. It’s a matter of preference I guess, but I can’t tell you how much toothpaste is right for you.

 

I can tell you that like toothpaste, words once said never go away. Once you say something good, bad or indifferent… you can’t really take it back. You can say that you do, but it’s out there and it doesn’t vanish from our hearts. Especially the bad, it really hangs on to our hearts and we always remember the wound. In a conflict, there are no winners. Even if I victoriously decimate you with my words, I don’t win. Oh, I so want to win, I have the words. I can lash out, and end this conversation, triumphantly put you in your place, show you that I am right and you, you are oh so wrong. At what cost? At what point does my righteous (ish) indignation supercede yours? In what world do we live in that this is the way that we interact with on another? It’s me against everybody, and I will take you out before you even have a chance to get close.

 

It is our fear of being vulnerable that makes us cling to the armor that we know, for me it’s words. I can build walls that even I can’t climb and keep myself removed from intimacy and authenticity. Fortunately, for all of us, God is greater than our worst downside. Not one of is a cosmic exception; we are all redeemable and called to be in relationship with our Father. I don’t have to get it right every time, but I do have to hand it over to Him. The rage, frustration, pain all of it… it is not mine any more than my joy. It is all from Him and for Him. Sometimes I feel like I am being turned inside out and all the yuckies are being shaken loose from corners of my soul that I didn’t even know existed. It is not always something that I am prepared for, nor is it always that pleasant. I don’t really want to know that those things were actually a part of me. Awkward and embarrassing, difficult to explain… like He caught me squeezing the toothpaste all over the bathroom counter. Uhh… it seemed like a good idea at the time? I wanted to be right. I didn’t want to hurt.

 

Oh, right… I am sorry Father. Please, please help me. Guard my words, let my words be Your words. When I open my mouth let me speak Your truth, let Your wisdom guide me in the darkness. Let your righteousness overrule my need to be right. Bind my words; hold my heart so that I am not afraid or angry. Heal my woundedness that causes me to strike first, last always. Forgive me my weakness and knee jerk reactions, show me Your hand. Abba, Daddy, Father… You are my all in all. Thank You, thank You, thank You. Amen… so be it.

 

Romans 8:26-28

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

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Half Empty or Half Full?

Are we not all looking at the glass half full? We can be so easily fixated on the things that are going wrong around us that we fail to see the goodness of life. We succumb to our fears of what is unknown or what can go wrong if we don’t have absolute control over our lives. Since, of course, we can’t really control everything anyway, all we see is the flaws, what we are ‘owed’, not an accurate representation of reality… only a perceived reality. A reality where we are not putting God first.

There is a trickle down effect that happens as a result of our actions. It affects our immediate circle and then spreads out to other people. When we are casting our lines out in contact with other people we need to be conscious of what we are using for bait. Are we baiting our hooks with resentment, pain and deceit or are we using God’s mercy, love and forgiveness? What we throw out into the world affects everyone, it passes from us to people we have never even met across the world. We are all connected somehow and when we value our relationship with God, that spreads… not like the plague, but like a rapid flow of blessing that can ultimately span the globe.

We are responsible for what mark we leave on the world. What do you want your mark to say about you? Did you love well? Did you learn to forgive? Did you find joy? Did you feel peace? Did you show these gifts to someone else so that they can learn to share it too? Or did you stay stuck in your generational sins, blaming the world for all that has gone wrong in your life?

My life is my example. I want who I am to be what I do. I want my words to brighten some one’s day, or better yet be the turning point where they can experience a lightness of being that is not contingent on their circumstances. I want to be inclusive and warm. I want people to like me, and I want to like them more than I thought I could. I don’t want to know the ‘WHY’… I just want to know what ‘IS”. The is for me is HIS; His right to rule, His kingdom advanced. I am a passenger on this journey, not the captain. We are on this trip together… so what can I do to make your day easier today?

Proverbs 11:27 ~ “Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor, but evil comes to him who searches for it.”

Identity… unknown.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I have days when I barely recognize myself. Who is this woman that I see? Who am I to HIM? Physically, it is not that my features have changed. But when I look at myself, in my own eyes, I see a familiar stranger. Like, we have met before but I can’t quite place it. I am a changed person. My identity feels like a liquid, intangible, changing element.

Things I know about myself like my past, no longer feels set in stone. I know the gifts that He has blessed me with in my walk, things that He is calling me to use in His name, but the things of my past? My wounds, my scars, my sins, my shame, my LIFE, something is shifting in my heart, coming undone. I don’t feel like I have complete ownership over those things anymore.

The areas in my heart that He has healed, restored and released are transforming me. Who is this woman? I have always been the rebel, the strong one, the survivor. I protested against injustice, when things were askew I was unafraid to rock the boat to bring about balance. I have been the loud voice, the bull in the china shop… shoot first, ask questions later. I was the rule breaker, the non-conformist within my own family, the black sheep. Act first, think on it later.

Now however, I feel courageous because of Him, anticipating His right to rule and lead me to speak His heart. I have learned that submitting to Christ and waiting in obedience is not an act of weakness or of fear. These things are acts of freedom and of victory over ourselves. There is so much value to be gained in these acts, identity crisis notwithstanding. I am FREE. My actions are driven, led, and released to Him, Christ… first, last and always.

Who am I? It remains to be seen. What I do know is that I am transformed… or transforming before my very own eyes. The past year has revealed much to me. I have learned to wait and breathe, I don’t need to rush around and find God’s will. When I wait and am still… He speaks over the din of life. I lift you up in my prayers, may YOU be magnified in His Holy Name!!

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

umm… wow.

I just came back from an amazing women’s retreat this weekend and was humbled at the gracious women that hosted this event. It has been just over one year since my last retreat and I was starting to feel slightly, well more like EXTREMELY, ready to just run away from home. Unfortunately, my church’s retreat isn’t until next spring and I just knew that for me that was WAY too long for my soul to wait.

I needed this, really needed more than what I was currently experiencing. I was so desperate I was looking for women’s events outside of my own church group… like seriously, if anyone was having a retreat in this area I would have totally gone… by myself. Fortunately, one of our sister churches was having a retreat this month… somewhat divinely in my general area. Hmm, uh yeah. I was SO there. I went with one other woman from my church and I only knew a couple of people ahead of time, but I did NOT even care.

I have so much to say, and I don’t even know where to start. I had a plan for this entry, but it seems to be heading different direction…

The theme was Destiny Awakened! woo hoo… can I just have the prophecy now please? I don’t want to sit and wait and listen, just pray it in and I will do it. As this woman spoke about destiny, I could barely restrain myself from charging to the front… tell me my destiny. What does God want me to do? Just tell me. I am such a good student of impatience. But as she talks and I try to keep my backside parked in my chair, I start to get it. Am I ready to know my destiny for five years from now? And will knowing that future impact my ability to get there?

Even if she had handed me the magic envelope of cliff notes for my future, having those answers could destroy me. Would I become prideful and arrogant with knowledge? Or fearful of failure, more so than now? At least now when I fear the future, I don’t have the foresight to see around the corner. I can only do my best with what I have in front of me. The thing around the corner that I am pulling myself towards, that unknown thing, is a distraction from God’s plan for me today. I can’t even SEE what around the corner, but I just have to get there now.

Would I have opened the envelope of destiny? I don’t know, that’s an awful lot of information to process. And I do believe that having opened it, I would have lost that destiny forever. Because one irrevocable action, the one thing you can’t take back, changes everything. We are our own worst enemy. Our impatience to get ‘there’, our ambition, our needs keep us so busy that God gets benched on the sidelines. He is jumping up and down saying “c’mon, let Me in, I can do this, I can help you”, but over the dull roar of our freeway mentality His voice is lost in the crowd. My lists of things to do, my dreams, my hopes make me deaf to anything other than me.

Then suddenly, in my ten-year walk with Him, He starts teaching me to just stand, just stand in obedience. This is my spot, my line in the sand, my toes belong here, stand here no matter what may come, just STAND. In February, God gave me this picture. And it was very difficult at first to get my feet to that line. I didn’t wanna, the enemy didn’t want me to either. So, I prayed… ‘please God. I want my feet there, on that line, the one you picked just for me, but my feet won’t stay, they won’t get there. Please God, can you put my toes to the line?’ And He helped me, one foot at a time to stand. When the enemy would come and try and throw me around, I just focused on my line. All I had to do was stand on my line and he couldn’t touch me.

Since then the picture has grown, from just my feet on the line by myself, no armor… then me by myself, with a host of angels to fight for me if I could just stay on my line… then last week I got a shield so I could defend against the enemy’s attack. Then this weekend, while I was trying to quiet my racing mind to sleep. I turned to God, You are my shield, my protector, my sanctuary shield me from the enemy hide me from his eyes. God surrounded me and I knelt in His protection, so safe and secure and He told me to stand. As I rose up my shield arm came up armed, and the picture rotated so that I had the full picture of what God had just done for me. As I stood with my arm holding my shield to defend, God had armed me completely… helmet, chest plate, full armor and a blazing sword, shiny new armor for me to wear on my line.

It has taken me nine months to get this complete picture, weird. I don’t know if this is my ‘destiny’ of that thing around the corner, but it is definitely what lies ahead, for now. I don’t know what God’s plan A for me is forever, but I know He wants a bountiful future for all of His children. So seek Him with your whole heart. In those areas where you are feeling lost and without direction, look around and see if you have made room for God to play for your team. Make time to hear Him, because He wants to talk with you. He is your friend and father, will you be His friend?

2 Samuel 22:31
As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Moments between Miracles

There was a point in time, in our recent cultural history, where we as women took so much pride in our competency with what we could create with our two humble hands. A hand stitched garment, a meal cooked from scratch without the expedited ‘convenience’ of modern technology.

Somewhere in our technological advancement, our integrity of a job well done has been compromised by our ability to do it faster. When was the last time you prepared a meal and took the time to enjoy the process? It is a rare occurrence for me as well. With mouths to feed, faster and easier does seem better. But the love and joy that I put into a well planned meal, even gourmet (ish) brings so much more than just nutrition to the table. There is a deep consideration, a deliberate focus as you bring flavors into harmony and present your food with flourish.

It’s a different dining experience than if you slap chili mac in a bowl and throw it on the table. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bowl of chili mac… it’s not about gourmet vs. a boxed dinner choice. You can put the same passion into boxed macaroni as you would a five course meal; I know chefs may dispute this, but stay with me please!

It’s about the fruit of the spirit. What are you feeding your family? Or yourself? Frustration, bitterness, impatience? This is just another chore for me to check off in the laundry list of life… It’s on my list of “have-to’s”, not “want-to’s”. Joy certainly has difficulty raising it’s head when you have a hungry toddler squawking at you.

What if you can find the joy lost in those moments? As you fill your pot of water to boil, know that it is your culinary skills that keeps your family nutritionally sustained. The dishes that you lovingly fill with food brings such a comfort to your children; they know they are loved. It doesn’t matter to them that their meals are served on paper plates or fine china… you love them enough to see their needs met, there is a magical quality in that.

This joy is the joy of the Father. It’s the moments between the miracles where our hearts and souls are sustained. In keeping with the culinary metaphor, miracles could be like chocolate cake, amazing and perfect, but we need more than cake to survive. We need the meals in between, moments of grace, mercy and forgiveness. These tidbits of fullness are so sustaining and miraculous n their own right. It’s the moments between miracles where our souls grow and are healed.

Miracles are the catalysts where our eyes are opened and the moments between are when we process and give over to God control of our self-righteousness so that He fills us with anticipation for the next miracle. God is our food. He feeds us with the Spirit and in Him we are filled.


Psalms 51:12
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.


John 4: 32-34
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

Seriously Irked

I am seriously bent this morning. Please permit me my little soapbox diatribe… I don’t normally get all worked up, but I really need to vent. What is it with our societal outlook as women, young or old, that has us valuing ourselves so little? I originally had this theory, with all my philosophizing, that it was a daddy issue. That if you had a skewed relationship with your father, of course you would become needy and codependent, seeking validation from others, but men especially. It may be true, but where does that leave women who don’t have daddy issues? The fortunate few who are loved and treasured like they deserve to be? They seem to fall down the same slope as well. Age isn’t really a factor, I see this with my friends of all ages.

I think we have this hole in our hearts, where we so need acceptance and validation that we will commit almost any act in order to be loved, truly loved. This need for validation spills over into our relationships with women tainting them with insecurity where in our heart of hearts we know that no one would truly love us if they really knew our true nature. This fearful shame drives a wedge between our hearts and we trust no one. We are alone and unloved and if you asked me to jump off a bridge in such a way that there was even a chance that you could change my heart… umm, no way. Thanks anyway.

We need rescuing desperately as women, and we look for heroes in the least worthy of candidates because we think that is all we deserve. I want to know WHY! Why is an illusion of love, the shadow of true love’s full glory all we hope to attain?! Why don’t we want more for ourselves? Why do we feel so unworthy?

I want so much more, I want you to want more, I want my friends to want more, I want the world to want more than a tasteless portion of not enough. Seek Him, seek God, seek Jesus… whatever you are struggling with, whatever you feel your inadequacies are… HE IS THE MORE YOU SEEK. There is not a hint of a shadow of true love with God, He is the full measure, the full portion, the big picture. Be validated in Him, seek Him as the balm that soothes your injured heart. Do not accept that you are less than, you are His creation and beloved are you. Choose. There is no struggle that God cannot mend, nothing that He cannot redeem. You are not the exception to His power and glory, He is mightier than your sins and all can be restored.

Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.


Freedom

What is basic freedom in God? How can you remain unchanged in the face of God? Day in, day out, we show up with no intent to modify our own response to life. Yet somehow, we have a growing expectation that the results will be different this time.

Like going through the drive-thru, ordering a super-sized big, jumbo burger meal, yet we are surprised by the carb-overload cheeseburger, drink AND fries inside the bag! Then we bemoan our increasing waistline and our inability to lower our cholesterol. Seriously, if you want a different meal intake experience, stay away from the golden arches. Convenient? Sure. Nutritionally sustaining? Not so much.

We exist… trapped in a society of drive-thru convenience, sorely lacking anything that resembles authentic substance. Stuck, enslaved to a cultural perspective that we are free to proclaim our own manifest destiny, footloose, unencumbered by our own responsibility to true freedom.

We are as of yet unsatisfied by the results of our own choices. Unfulfilled by what we are consuming to survive. Poverty of spirit is where we seek satisfaction; nothing changes.

Freedom of the heart means relinquishing control over our own manifest destiny and embracing our inheritance as God’s children. Break free from the fear that God will not meet our expectations. He can only exceed the boundaries that we set… that whole ‘free will’ thing coming into play. When you allow God to move you from your own prison walls, miracles will happen.

Remove the lid, let God out of the box and prepare to be amazed. Supernatural freedom…. Be free, released, loved children of God.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Sidebar

So, this is not what I meant to origianlly blog… I have pages to add later but I was tripped up by my inbox this morning and wanted to blather about waning joy and broken pieces. I don’t intend to promote other websites, I can’t stand commericials on TV, so why would I want to add them to my blog? However, this is my sidebar, and I totally blame this woman and her spiritual genius for this sidebar, so she might as well get some credit!
Mary DeMuth, she has a monthly newsletter that you can sign up for on her page, if you are so inclined: http://www.marydemuth.com/.

Waning joy and hope, who hasn’t felt that desert of isolation creeping into their lives. Like life isn’t hard enough and then suddenly you realize that your last trip to an oasis was so long ago all you are tasting is sand. I have been focused so much on the reclamation of joy stolen that I have overlooked some of the importance of its loss.

We leave little pieces of ourselves behind all time, in broken relationships, in disappointments and in death. These are some of the major joy stealers, but sometimes we just hand over our hearts with no regard for the condition in which it will be returned. Or if we can even recognize it when we get it back. If we don’t consider the impact of freely given our hearts away to another, how can we expect others to? Then at the end of a relationship how do we reclaim our passion for life and love?

There is a process, like in most things, of reclaiming what is lost. Unfortunately, in matters of the heart it is difficult to get a full accounting and return, we all prescribe a different value to our pain and nothing is equal in suffering. My bad is bad for me, but not necessarily for another. So pieces get lost, and sometimes they don’t come back. Which is a very Ecclesiastes perspective… the futility of life and all that, so what’s the point?! Considering that I am listening to “Everything Glorious”, I will swing this back around, too much darkness for the morning.

There is a value in brokenness, if you can see it. Rather than scrambling around to reclaim your pieces, let them fall. Give them to God, let Him whittle away the unnecessary and refine your heart so that you can see Him more clearly. My childhood was like a shattered mirror, my own self image was lost until I no longer recognized myself and trying to reclaim the piece was likely to result in more woundedness. Moving past the ‘survivor’ mentality and giving that control over to God was so unbelievably difficult for me… those are my reins, that is my pain, I know what I am doing, only I can push through this pain, there is no one that can manage this for me, only me, only me, only You? You?

Resting in that, not having to take action over my own wounds or healing, was freeing. I didn’t have to DO. God did it all for me. There is no strength that I have today that doesn’t flow directly from Him. And He values that, I still get to overcome, I still get to battle… when He calls me out to act, not before. Suddenly I am not twisting in the wind, but am safe and secure, knowing that I am called to be a daughter of the King and there is so much fullness in that.

The pieces that were broken away, were meant to be. I am not being trite, truly there is much that I lost that I don’t think I really need. Would I be able to give over to God the right to rule without knowing the things of the world that I know? If my life were perfectly comfortable, why would I need to yield anything to an unseen God? For me, with my stubbornness of will, there would have been no point in that. This is not a permission slip to mistreat or be mistreated, I have been both. Only you can reconcile with God, I cannot speak for you pain or loss… only you can do that. But it doesn’t matter if your mirror is merely chipped or completely turned to dust, God is the true restorer. Your pain doesn’t need to be more than or less than somebody else’s… it is yours in all it’s questionable glory. God can heal YOU, whatever your pain. Nothing is too great or too little for Him, be released to rest in Him and see what pieces you no longer need.

Psalms 23:3
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

witticism, unspoken

I know you get this one… somebody says something kind of snarky to you, and you think of the perfect comeback, like three hours later. My problem isn’t usually in this arena. My religious upbringing was very much self-indulgent, anti-organized anything with a heavy influence of sarcasm. I learned how to wield a double entendre with a true master, my mother… but I never realized the impact that a double meant comment could have on others, that wasn’t part of my education until later.

I had moments growing up where I fumbled for a quick reply that came out more like a stutter than a smooth retort. I ended up becoming the butt of my own jokes, despite the fact that in my head I always had the quick reply. Then the pendulm of life swung in my favor, I was the queen in training of sarcastic annhilation. None were safe, I had acheived a miniscule triumph over the stuttering and I was so witty.

It wasn’t until later, when I heard one of my own offhanded remarks from years previous, did I realize that I was contributing to the woundedness of my own friends. Funny for the moment, the words we speak have a lasting echo in our hearts, for good or evil. I was once again speechless. How can I undo my words to a friend? An apology, much overdue, did not salvage her heart towards me. Time and God will heal; but I still get the pleasure of remembering her face when she handed my words back to me and the voice that I knew was mine still rings in my ears. I am so small.

Now, weird things are happening again. I have discovered the balance of sarcasm and friendship, or love. You can be witty, you can be funny… but never when it is at someone else’s expense. I am sure my foot still gets caught in my teeth, but I genuinely try to catch it before it knocks them in. So, now conversations occur, the words pop in my head, but they don’t always leave my mouth and despite knowing the devastation words can cause, I still wonder about God’s hand in the unspoken.

Here’s the example. I meet ‘Dude’, I know only a couple of things about him, one of which is that he did my friend wrong… but there are a couple of other things that should make me more compassionate towards him. I am so not feeling it towards him. He hurt my friend, she’s on my ‘list’… the list in my heart of people I will not allow to be mistreated… so no mercy, no compassion, please can I just annihilate him now?! no. I know, no.

ANYWAY. I meet Dude, he is pleasant to me, we shake hands, he invites me to join them for dinner and proceeds to describe what he is making to eat. It sounds very, um, nice. But there is this voice in my head that SO wants to squish him and his little prideful dinner plans. It goes something like this, “Um, no thanks. Your homemade Italian chicken strips and salad sound delicious, but I have leftovers at home. What? No, I said leftovers. It’s grilled flank steak with a bacon balsamic reduction with fresh marinated beets with feta and a lemon couscous. Are those tears little man? That right, my cooking is SO superior to yours, pathetic poser!”

Okay, the last bit was a little overdone, I don’t remember actually thinking out loud, in my head, that he was a poser of any nature, but you get the idea. I did think the rest though, and almost disdainfully said it… why? And I guess more importantly, why didn’t I say it out loud? Obviously my friend wouldn’t have liked it, but it was bigger than that and I knew it, but for the first couple miles as I drove away I didn’t know exactly why.

As I drove away, I was haunted by this man’s eyes. There was a deep and profound sadness echoing in his there and a shadow of spiritual warfare hanging over his head like I couldn’t believe. Just to clarify, I didn’t see demons floating around him with my eyes, but there was some kind of ‘something’ that has attached itself to him like a noose. And his pride in describing what he was making for dinner, was so tenuous and genuine, that for me to squish him would have been beyond rude, it would have been heartless and so unnecessary.

Like I am somehow the moral majority that I should should crush him for my own pleasure is just cruel and shameful. I am a better person than that, Christianity aside, I know better. Even now two days later, I can see those wounded eyes and they just call out to my heart.

please. please. hear me. i have nothing to give. i am nothing. here is my small portion. let me share it with you. can you see me? i am lost.

Who am I God that I should ride in and forget my own small portion? Are we not all lost? Do we not all desire to be loved and accepted and do we not all fear the same cruel rejection that I myself so nearly handed out?

Those moments where the words get stuck in your head, Praise God. May He bind my jaw against evil. Let the words flow freely that reflect His mercy, not mine. Because mine is not right or perfect, not even close. I prayed the whole way home for this man, and hopefully I learn from the blessing of this encounter.

2 Samuel 14:17
“And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king bring me rest, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”

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