Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

Count Your Blessings

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

 

We all have Christmas traditions. One of ours is to play the movie White Christmas while the tree is being decorated. I love all the music from that classic movie. Of course the iconic “White Christmas” song by Irving Berlin is one of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time. And I do love that song. But there’s another song from the movie that I love. “Count Your Blessings” was also written by Irving Berlin. He wrote it during a time he was suffering from insomnia brought on by stress. A doctor suggested to count his blessings instead. Good advice.

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings
when my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

 

I think about a nursery,
and I picture curly heads,
and one by one I count them
as they slumber in their beds.

If you’re worried and you cant sleep,
just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

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Worry and stress are exasperated during this “Most Wonderful Time of The Year”. While it should be one of the happiest times, for many it can be one of the hardest. I think of this song often throughout the year when I feel stressed. When I stop and count all of my many blessings it gives me perspective. The problems will always come, but the gifts from our Heavenly Father will come too. So let’s thank Him for all He has given us, for all He has done and continues to do.
The Word of God is clear about what we are to do with our worry. Give it all over to Jesus. Here are just a few verses:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7 (NIV) 
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (NIV)
No matter what you are facing today, stop and take a few moments to thank God for everything He has blessed you with. Write these blessings down and look at them daily to remember how faithful God is. Let’s count our blessings! Our lists should be so long that we run out of paper. If you are in a painful place, at least write a few blessings down. There is always something to be thankful for. Your list will grow as you begin to think about all the good God has done.
Here is big blessing to start you off. Jesus came into this world as a tiny baby to save us. Thank you Jesus for the blessing and miracle of Christmas.
When we thank God for His many blessings something happens. We stop focusing on the problems and stress and start focusing on God. That changes our mood and our attitude. Our faith grows, and our praise gets stronger. That’s powerful!
May your load be a little lighter today. May God give you fresh joy and perspective when you think on all He has done.
Love you all,
Meghan
P.S. If you need prayer leave your request in the comments or on my contact page.
Images by monicore from Pixabay
Faith, Family, God, Uncategorized

It Really Is Grand

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O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

 

“America the Beautiful” popped into my head the other morning as I was walking along the rim of the Grand Canyon. I could hear choirs of angels singing there as well. It’s just that magnificent of a place. It’s hard, almost impossible, not to be moved while visiting the Grand Canyon. All my troubles melted away as I looked out at this exquisite masterpiece made by the hand of God.

If you doubt God’s love, just take a look at that picture. Something that beautiful was made by a loving God for our pleasure. It’s easy to see God as distant, and shaking His fist at us. Like we’re all waiting for the lightning to strike. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We should definitely have holy fear and respect of Him, but we should never doubt His love. He loves you and me so very much. So much so that He sacrificed Jesus, His only son, to save us. (John 3:16) That’s real love.

And, God gave us a beautiful place to live. And, He gave us beautiful places to see and experience, like the Grand Canyon. Thank you God for blessing us with such beauty!

We were in Arizona visiting my in-laws and they blessed us with a few days at the Grand Canyon. It’s been on my list of places to see for several years. I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to such a wonderful place. Not man-made, God-made. I love architecture, but no one, and no thing can beat the Great Architect. His works are marvelous!

Vacations come with expectations. They should be trouble free, worry free, joyful, relaxing experiences. I know, I know. That’s pretty funny, and completely unrealistic. We go to new places with hopes of soul restoration, fun, and enjoyment. And all of those good things can take place during these getaways, but they come with a price. Both from our pocketbooks, and a little from our souls.

Troubles don’t take vacations. I really want them to. In my mind it’s my vacation. My chance to try and turn off my brain. Break out from the routine, and hopefully get new perspective, get some rest, and make some fun memories. Unfortunately, troubles still come along on our vacations. The little stinkers. Don’t they know I need a break from them. Trouble packs it’s bags too. It’s at the airport, in the hotel room, at the restaurant, and sometimes in our attitudes.

But God is there too. Guiding us, providing for us, and making a way through the troubles that show up.

We started off on our road trip from Tucson to Grand Canyon National Park with excitement, and great anticipation. Yeah! This was going to be incredible. Then red and blue flashing lights rained on our parade. My husband was handed a speeding ticket. Wait a minute, that’s not fun. We were all really annoyed. I know, that’s not a very Jesusy-attitude. Shake it off, and keep moving. Hours later my husband quickly pulls to the side of the highway and throws up. That’s not fun either.

Tom was still able to drive because he’s a determined, tough person. We make it to the park and check in exhausted, and Tom was still very sick. Press on. We see the gorgeous sunset and walk the edge of the rim. Pretty, pretty, pretty, even in the dark. It was very cold that first night, so we all bundled up and went outside to watch the best show of stars. Crystal clear skies with no light interruption gave us perfect views of the Milky Way. These are good things in spite of troubles.

The next morning I sneak out while everyone else is asleep and walk the rim. I see the mules getting ready for their ride down the canyon. Amazing creatures. Hard working, and underappreciated. Just me, Jesus, a few hikers, and that magnificent canyon. I breath in and exhale my troubles with new faith, and new perspective. Dylan and I hike a small part of Bright Angel Trail in the early afternoon.

Rain and cold hits as we step out to take the bus for Hermits Rest. Tom notices a flat tire on our rental car. This is not fun. This is not what a vacation is supposed to be. Stinking troubles just had to come along. After several phone calls, and Tom out in the cold and rain, still sick, inflating the tire, we have a solution. We will swap a new rental car in Flagstaff the next day. Press on.

We made it back safely to my in-laws house on Wednesday night, and flew out the next morning. After a flight delay in Tucson, and a second delayed flight in L.A., we landed in Houston last night. Dylan’s bag never made it to Houston, but it just arrived by courier to our house.

Yes, trouble comes no matter if you are on vacation or not, but God is there too. Do you see Him working? He is, whether you are noticing or not. Troubles make us cry out to our Heavenly Father for help. Troubles keep us humble. Troubles stretch our faith. Troubles give God a chance to show up and show off for us.

On your next vacation when the troubles come along too, God will take care of you. Do you trust Him?

The Grand Canyon really is grand. If you’ve never been I highly recommend making your way to that wondrous place. Breathe in fresh air, quiet, and calm. And see what a loving God made just for our enjoyment.

 

He who forms the mountains,
    who creates the wind,
    and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord God Almighty is his name.

Amos 4:13

 

Thanks for reading my ramblings. I am tired but amazed at God’s goodness. He is faithful. God bless you!

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Faith, God, Uncategorized

Do It Afraid

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The room was filled with seemingly perfect looking young moms.

They have it all together.

They are the perfect Christian moms and wives. 

You don’t belong here.

I walked up to the check in table where I was met by a smiling face. After sticking my name tag on my shirt, I took a deep breath, and walked into the unknown.

That internal dialogue went on for many weeks. I can recall walking into that Mom’s Bible Study and hearing the same words each time, You don’t belong here. Yet, I walked in, afraid. In spite of my feelings, in spite of my fear, I kept coming. I was afraid of rejection. A group of women is intimidating. For an introvert, a large unknown group of any type is panic inducing.

Why did I do it? Because the potential reward was greater than the risk. Because God was calling me to it. I needed a mom-community. I needed friendship, discipleship, mom-help.

And guess what? Doing it afraid paid off big time. It was the best group of Christian women I had the privilege to be a part of, as a young mom. It was run like a small church service with weekly worship, teaching, Bible study, small group time, and prayer. There was intimacy, accountability, and a whole lot of fun. We became like family to each other.

When God is leading you somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, trust Him. God is a good, faithful, loving God. He is going to ask you to step out of your comfort zone. It will stretch you and stretch your faith. But, there are rewards and blessings waiting on the other side of the fear. If I never came back after that first visit to the Bible study I would have lost out on so much that God wanted me to experience.

We gotta do it afraid, with God’s help.

This does not mean we stay afraid all of the time. It just means we don’t let our feelings dictate our decisions. God knows we will be afraid sometimes. For some of us, it’s a constant state of fear. He knows. The Bible talks about fear hundreds of times. It’s how we respond to our fear that matters.

There is not a single fear we have to face alone if we’ve got Jesus.

So we can say with confidence,

The Lord is my helperand I will not be afraidWhat can people do to me?

Hebrews 13:6 (NET)

Another big fear I had to confront was writing a book. I was terrified. I avoided writing for years because of my fear. God called me to write, and I ran. I didn’t know how to write, let alone a children’s book, and I was definitely not a good enough Christian. Come on Lord, you know there are better people out there to do this. He was unrelenting in his pursuit of me to write for Him. I could not live with myself if I didn’t do it.

I faced my fear of completing the huge task of writing a book one step at a time, one day at a time. And yeah, it freaked me out most of the time. Honestly, writing still scares me. It’s vulnerable, especially blogging. I have gotten stronger, thicker skinned. I have learned that God will give you exactly what you need. We have to step out first though.

God-sized things require God to accomplish them. We can’t just pull ourselves up by the boot straps and do it alone. Sure, you can do quite a bit that way, and many people do. When we rely fully on God to carry us, way bigger things can be accomplished. It’s quite freeing. It’s not all on me. I just step out with God, and He’ll keep guiding me and leading me. Step by step. Not running ahead of God, and not taking God out of the equation entirely. Just He and I together. That’s my awesome God. He loves us that much!

What have you been afraid to do that God is calling you to do?

Write it down. Pray about it. Step out. Even if it’s one teeny, tiny baby step. You are not alone. God is with you every step of the way. It’s O.K. if you feel afraid, do it anyway. Do it afraid. God is 100% with you and for you. Remember, the Lord is your helper!

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Father God,

Thank you that you are always with us and we don’t have to be afraid. Please give an extra dose of courage to the person who needs to step out and do the thing you’ve asked of them. Bring comfort, peace, and confirmation of your will for them. You are a loving God who cares about every detail of our lives. Help us to trust you more, and follow where you lead.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

 

Why Did I Write A Children’s Book?  by Meghan E. White

It Only Looks Scary by Meghan E. White

 

My interview with Kids Stuff Podcast.

http://kidsstuff.libsyn.com/interview-with-childrens-book-author-meghan-white

 

Photo credit enriquelopezgarre fromPixabay

 

Faith, U.S. Military, Uncategorized

Thank You Veterans!

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My grandpa, Michael T. Whitney, served in the U.S. Navy during WWI. He was just a kid, like so many of that time. Enlisting at 16, he lied about his age, also a fairly common practice of young men in those days. Grandpa was the son of Irish immigrant parents, one of nine children. Maybe the Navy was his chance for adventure. I can only speculate since he died before I was born. I do know that he was on a troop ship, which brought troops to Europe. Grandpa worked in the engine room. That must have been grueling work. There was plenty of danger for him in the Navy during the Great War as German U-Boats sunk many U.S. ships.

All three of my grandpa’s sons, including my dad, served in the U.S. Military. Uncle Tom was in the Army during WWII. He was part of The Battle of the Bulge. Uncle Tom was injured in battle, getting hit with shrapnel on his arm. I remember Uncle Tom’s scar tissue on his arm. I don’t recall if it was his right or left arm, but I do know he couldn’t straighten his arm out. The few times I was around Uncle Tom as a child, I always looked at his arm. It was slightly bent up with a large amount of scar tissue at the elbow.

Uncle Mackie served in the Marines during Korea. My dad, Lee, served in the Marines during Vietnam. My cousin Tommy, Uncle Tom’s son, was in the Army during Vietnam and did two tours. My brother Michael served in the Navy during The Gulf War.

My husband Tom is an Air Force Veteran. My brother-in-law Steve is also an Air Force Veteran. My husband’s Great Uncle James served in the Army during Vietnam. There are records of U.S. military service on Tom’s side of the family dating all the way back through the Revolutionary War.

I just named the few Veterans that I can recall off the top of my head, there are many others throughout my family. I love Veterans, so much so that I married one. I love our current active military. U.S. soldiers have a special place in my heart, and they always will. As you can see, it’s in our DNA to serve, though I have never had a desire to serve, I am so grateful to all who have. Especially my family members.

When my oldest son Dylan was in Cub Scouts they would place American flags at the Veteran’s cemetery in Portland, Oregon for Memorial Day. This was my absolute favorite thing they did when he was a Scout. Each Scout swept off the grave marker, placed an American flag, and saluted. Some of the graves were fresh, as this was in the middle of The War in Afghanistan. Some of the graves were from WWI. It didn’t matter though, they all are worthy of respect and admiration.

A very tiny percentage of Americans serve in our military. It’s a big deal if you have served, you are among a small group. So today Veterans, I honor you.

Thank you Veterans! I am grateful for your service to America.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

 

 

Faith, Jesus, Uncategorized

The Mustard Seed

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He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

One of the tiniest seeds grows a very large plant. Mustard bushes at maturity, can reach heights of six to twenty feet with a twenty foot spread. That’s pretty big considering its small beginning. When Jesus tells his disciples to have faith as small as a mustard seed, he was responding to their question. The disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive out a demon from a boy. (Matthew 17:19) His answer was their lack of faith.

Seeds grow when they are planted and watered. Our faith too grows when we plant it in the firm foundation of God. Jesus tells us that even small mustard seed sized faith will cause Him to move on our behalf. The mountain is just the metaphor for whatever obstacle we are facing. Many times it can feel like an insurmountable mountain. It looks impossible. This is where our faith comes in. Do we believe that Jesus is who He says he is? Do we believe He truly can do absolutely anything?

Our faith will be refined our entire lives. Jesus tells us to start with a tiny amount of faith in Him, and what He can do to help us. He can do anything. Nothing will be impossible with Jesus.

I’m sharing a story that beautifully illustrates having mustard seed faith. I have kept this article for many years after tearing it out of a magazine. It’s edges are frayed and the paper has yellowed. About once a year I read it to remind myself what a little bit of faith can accomplish. Enjoy this wonderful story of one woman’s faith.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

The Mustard Seed By Patricia Anand

My husband and I had enjoyed raising our family in the San Fernando Valley in California. Yet as retirement neared, we felt we wanted to live in a quieter, cooler area. We began house hunting farther north along the coast.

     During the years that I had been thinking about our retirement home, a set of mental “specs” had evolved. We needed a two-story house (for cardiovascular exercise), a den/bedroom downstairs (to use as an office) and a kitchen area that gave me something interesting to look at. We wanted no yard work (after all, we had mowed a lawn for years).  Oh, yes, a crystal chandelier in the dining room, a fireplace and a water view would be nice.

     As I began praying for our dream home, the Bible I had in my hands fell open to Matthew 17:20: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move hence to yonder place,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” I thought, Yes, Lord, that’s right. All I need to do is have faith. On impulse, I went out and bought a pair of pillowcases for our future bedroom, some pot holders for the kitchen, and a crystal lamp finial for the living room.

     I shouldn’t have been surprised when one day our real estate agent led us to a house on a marina that exceeded my expectations. It had main channel water views from the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. Instead of a backyard, there was a large redwood deck! All the rooms were exactly as I had prayed for! The kitchen counters were 37 inches high-a loving Heavenly Father had even provided a comfortable working height for a tall woman.

     We went happily into escrow. Then a period of testing began. We had planned to sell a piece of property and use that as a part of the down payment, but it stubbornly refused to sell. We tried everything.

     One day, in desperation, we talked to the vice president of a small local bank near us. As we explained our problem, the man began to smile. He had relatives in the town where we wanted to move, and he went jogging on weekends over the bridge near our dream house. He knew exactly  where it was and what it was worth. He told us to pick up our “swing loan” check the next day based on our signatures alone. We floated home.

     We have been happily retired for some years now. I often think of the day when the realtor first showed us our dream house. For there, beside the front door, a previous owner had written in the cement: THE MUSTARD SEED.

 

*This Article is from Family Circle 4/3/01 written by Patricia Anand.

Faith, Family, Uncategorized

Wisdom from Grandma

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For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

1 Timothy 6:7

 

Grandma kept everything. I found these in her kitchen cabinet when we packed up her house in California. At the time I thought they were neat because of the old advertising. Over the years I’ve realized something a little deeper, more significant about these old containers. It’s a lesson I learned from Grandma. She didn’t know she was teaching me, but she did. Elva was her name and she’s my husband’s sweet grandma from Arkansas.

Elva lived in the rural south during the Depression. Nothing was wasted or taken for granted. She used to tell us that as a little girl if it snowed in Arkansas they would make ice cream from the snow. My husband and I would laugh. It sounded silly to us. But now I get it. When you have very little, you use what you’ve got. Today if I bought some ice cream I didn’t like I would throw it out. That would have never happened during those Depression years. It would have been eaten up with joy.

I have had those spices in a large jar on my kitchen counter for years. I was cleaning it out the other day after an ant problem. Grandma came to my mind once again. She wouldn’t throw away something as precious as cooking spices. It got me thinking about contentment. Am I content with my stuff? Do I want more, and more? Do I need more?

This is the era of disposable electronics, and disposable everything. Get the newest phone, we need it. Get the newest car, we need it. Consume it, get bored with it, and get the latest version of said item. Buy, buy, buy, and buy some more stuff. The lines have been blurred of needs and wants. What does the Bible say about contentment?

“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:8, NIV)

Paul wrote these words that God gave him. Is food, shelter, and clothing enough for contentment? I think yes. At least I want to think yes. I wrestle with this concept. Is stuff bad? Well, no. We need to eat, and clothing for our bodies, and a roof over our heads. Beyond that, what do we really need? Not much. But what we want, that’s a whole different story. Wants aren’t bad. Stuff isn’t bad. Where does contentment lie in all that for the Christ Follower?

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV)

The verses about contentment and not holding on to our worldly possessions lead to a warning about loving money. We are given a very real warning about the desire to get rich. Some wandered from the faith, pursuing money instead of Christ. This is still happening today. More money, more stuff. Less contentment. The stuff becomes the pursuit. Jesus is taken out of the picture entirely. That’s a big problem for many reasons. One being, all that money and stuff doesn’t go to eternity with us. Eternity. Forever. Not a single thing we have here on earth leaves with us. (1 Timothy 6:7)

Wait a minute. Then why are we so caught up in buying the latest fill in the blank? We don’t take it with us. We use our stuff for the brief time we are here on this side of eternity. Should we be accumulating as much stuff as possible? The whole “you only live once” and “Hey, I’m not taking it with me anyway. I’m going to buy as much as I want, when I want, and enjoy it all now.” Buy the latest and greatest? No. That’s a dangerous path. We already have the warning about that.

What if we were content right now, today, with what we’ve got? Some of us have lots of nice, shiny, new things. Some of us have old, worn out things. We’ve got things we need and things we want. Many of us pray about these decisions. We can thank God for all He has given us and entrusted us with. We can also ask Him to meet our needs.

My pastor used to say, “There are two things we take to heaven. Our character and our relationships.” Words to live by.

We are not to live miserly and hoard our stuff. We are to be generous.

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11, NIV)

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17, NIV)

What did I learn from Grandma? Be content with what you’ve got. It’s just stuff. We came into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. Be generous. Be grateful. Don’t pursue money and wealth. Pursue Jesus. Only He brings true contentment.

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, Family, Jesus, Uncategorized

NOT Perfect!

FE186EB1-15EB-435D-8E31-DE4B49AC82C8I live in a house full of men. I love these dudes with every ounce of me. I love how they view life, and love, and problems, and people, and God. I learn so much from them. My husband and sons give me fresh perspective on situations. I am so grateful for these wonderful men in my life. But, there are days when I ask myself, “Is this a frat house?”

Several weeks ago I was making dinner. I opened the oven and was about to put our dinner inside. To my shock there was old, burned up pizza waiting for me. I couldn’t help but laugh. Frat house living at times. OK, it’s not quite that bad. It did make me think of how perfect this burned pizza was not. Perfect. It doesn’t exist on this side of eternity.

We strive for perfection don’t we? We pursue something that we can’t even attain. Our social media pictures are perfect, or as close as we can achieve. Those selfies. We take about 100 to get the right ‘spontaneous’ one. We want to give a good impression. No one wants to see my messy house, or bad hair day with no make-up, or my burnt pizza. I’m right there with you trying to take the pretty picture.

There’s some danger in that perfect pic though. It’s not possible. We were made by a perfect God and He put imperfections in us. We all have issues and brokenness. The world is broken because of sin. We are holding so tightly to this world, but it’s passing away. Heaven is awaiting for those who have accepted the free gift of Jesus’ salvation. Heaven is perfect. Jesus is perfect, holy, blameless.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26, NIV)

I really want to hold loosely what I’ve got in this world. My husband, my children, money, house, car, and pretty much everything in between. They aren’t mine anyway and I’m leaving this temporary place. God blessed me, but I need to daily give my people and stuff back to the Lord. “They are yours Father. Help me to take excellent care of my family, and use the stuff you’ve given me to glorify you. I give it all back to you. Please forgive me when I hold on too tight and I don’t trust you.”

Jesus is perfect and we are not. So today I give Him my mess, and burnt pizza, and my frat house, and all my broken pieces. He opens His hand and says to me and you, “Give it all to me. I’ll make it beautiful.”

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

It is incredible what God can do with all our imperfections. He will make beauty from our ashes. We just need to let go of them, and give them to Him. Give it all to Him.

My son, give me your heart
    and let your eyes delight in my ways, (Proverbs 23:26, NIV)

As we post our perfect pictures let us remember our perfect savior. He became sin on the cross for us. He was without sin. Perfect. Let us cling to a perfect, beautiful savior. Jesus. And the really good news is Jesus does not require perfection from us. He just wants us. Our hearts surrendered to Him. Imperfections, issues, and all. He’ll take care of fixing what is broken.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20, NIV)

 

Love you all,

Meghan