Malformed Pieces

“Uh oh,” she said as she picked up the next tiny plastic piece. “This one won’t fit.” She dropped it into a growing pile of malformed pieces and picked up another one. “Perfect!”

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Usually the repetitive task of fitting the tiny pieces into their places on the sticky grid gave her mind a chance to relax as it daydreamed about problems and goals. But this time as she placed the well shaped piece carefully on the grid, a thought interrupted her wandering mind.

“When you don’t let God trim off your rough edges, you won’t be able to fit into His design as well. Not only won’t you fit within your boundaries, you will bother those around you.”

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She stopped to consider that. “It’s true we all have baggage we bring into our relationship with God, things from the past we hang on to even though we no longer need them just like this tiny piece still has a piece of its manufacturing process attached to it. And I know I fight each time He wants me to let go of something. Maybe there’s a bigger picture to Him wanting to trim me. Maybe sometimes it’s not so much about me as it is about His bigger picture,” she thought, freshly determined to be more cooperative the next time He starts trimming.

She got back to work, still musing on the importance of being trimmed. Then another thought entered. What about all those other pieces in that pile of malformed pieces. There’s more than one reason a piece can’t fit correctly on the grid.

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She picked up the black piece. Totally misshapen.

“Like when we refuse to let God do anything in us. We are still saved – still a piece – but pretty much useless in the design.” She thought about what she had been like when she entered her relationship with God, and she was very glad she wasn’t anything like that anymore. Transformed was a very real fact in her life, unlike that poor piece.

And the tan one?

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“Hmmm,” she thought about the two pieces clinging to each other for a few minutes. “My relationship with Jesus is a very personal one. When I walk with Him, I have to do it alone. It’s just me and Him. He wants me to cling to Him, not anything else. He can surround me with others just like each of these pieces are surrounded by other pieces, but I cannot insist on having someone in the same place I’m in. It just doesn’t work.”

She put the malformed pieces back into their pile and picked up the next perfect tiny plastic piece. As she placed into the design, she breathed a prayer.

“God, form me to fit the spot You have chosen for me. Help me to let go of what holds me back so that I can become part of Your big, amazing design.”

And her heart swelled with peace and contentment, knowing God heard her prayer.

 

(Disclaimer:  I am not promoting this brand of diamond painting. Actually, there’s another brand that I find superior to this one, but this was the only brand that had this specific design and so I went with it.)

The Crab

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move. Which was strange because everything around her was moving. The water. The seaweed. The small broken shells. So why did this movement catch her attention?

Standing in the ankle deep water, she looked up from her search and saw a large dead fish moving towards her. So, that’s why, she thought. It was moving in a different direction than everything else. Instead of moving towards the beach, this fish was moving parallel to the beach.  But how was that possible? The rotting tissue covering the fish made it very obvious that it was dead. Then she saw the small crab pulling it through the water.

Wow, she thought in amazement. That fish must be ten times the size of that crab! And even though moving things through water is easier than on land, moving something that big is still a feat.

Then the crab saw her.

It let go of the fish and made a bee line towards her. She didn’t know crabs could move that fast! She wasn’t normally scared of crabs, and usually just ignored the ones on the beach. But this one seemed intent on reaching her. The thought of it grabbing her on to her toes was enough to send her flying out of the water and well past the breaking waves.

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Once she was safe, she turned around to watch it as it watched her. Satisfied that she was no longer a threat, the crab left. And when she was satisfied the crab was gone, she returned to the water and her search.

But she couldn’t stop thinking about what had just happened.

Why had she run from that crab? She was much bigger than it was. She was much stronger than it was. She was much smarter than it was. Yet, she had had no other thought in her mind at that time than to get away from it.

And from the crab’s perspective, it hadn’t cared how big, strong, or smart she was. It didn’t want her there and took action to make her leave.

That’s kinda backwards, she thought. The crab should have been intimidated by her size and changed directions to avoid her. Or, at least if it was dumb enough to chase her, she should have just used her net to catch the crab before it got to her. Either way, she should not have been moved.

Just like the giants in my life, she thought. Problems come towards me and I run away. But I have Jesus inside me. He’s much bigger than any problem. He’s much stronger than any problem. He’s much smarter than any problem. I don’t need to run. Maybe I just need to remember to use the net of His Word to catch any problems that try to scare me.

As she prepared to leave the beach, she had a completely different thought. What if she was the crab?

Even though that crab should have been intimidated by her size, it wasn’t. It knew what it was and was ready to use all it had to defend what was his. If she knew who she was and was ready to use everything Jesus provides, could she be as brave as that crab? Could she go on the offensive towards threats in her life?

Not yet, she realized as she looked honestly at herself. But one day, as God continues His work in me, I will!

Life in a Swimming Pool

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The pool was filling up. Maybe she should leave now, before it got too crowded.  But not really wanting to leave the cool water, she decided to watch the people around her instead. Everyone was enjoying the water in different ways.

“Marco.” The voice caught her attention and she looked to her left and saw a young girl standing in water up to her chin, eyes closed, calling out, “Marco” every few seconds. Each time she called, several other children moving around her called back, “Polo.”  As she heard their responses, she would turn in their direction and, without opening her eyes, reach out to try to tag one of them. But she never moved from where she was. It reminded her of something she had read in Proverbs. “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” That’s so much like us, she thought. There is wisdom all around us, and if we call out, we can hear it. But we won’t ever find it if we just stay put in one place and make half-hearted attempts to touch it.

Laughter caught her attention. She turned to look and saw some mothers and daughters playing keep away. They were laughing as they tossed a water ball back and forth, no one having very good aim, and teams changing places in the middle frequently.

“Keep away,” she muttered. “I hate that game. Either the players on the ends are too good at tossing the ball high over the middle person’s head, or no one really cares about the game and end up half-heartedly tossing the ball. There’s no good challenge either way.”

So why are they laughing?

She had to think about that for awhile. Maybe the kids are laughing because they’re so little and don’t really know anything about the game. They just enjoy being in the water and throwing a ball around. And maybe the moms are laughing because their daughters are laughing. Is that how God sees us? He takes delight in watching us enjoy His creation?

She watched another group play a game she wasn’t familiar with. Evidently, one person is a shark and calls out “Swim”, then tries to catch the other people (minnows) as they swim from one side of the pool to the other. Most of the time, the minnows would just start swimming as fast as they could hoping to out swim the shark but the shark was able to catch whichever minnow it was after. However there was one minnow who stood out. She would watch the shark intently , wait for the shark to go after a minnow, then move quietly in a different direction, staying as far away from the shark as she could. If the shark happened to see her, she would sink into the water, causing the shark to have more difficulty seeing her. Underwater, she could swim faster and when she emerged, she’d be ten feet away. Time and time again she got away from the shark using this strategy.

Now, that’s a whole like us and temptation, she thought. Most of the time when temptation arises, we either fall easy prey to it, or we try to use out own power to avoid it. It might work now and then, but eventually that shark is going to get us. We should be more like that wise girl. Stay as far away as we can, and, when that doesn’t work, dive deep into Jesus, allowing Him to cover us as we make our escape.

A loud cry from the other side of the pool brought her attention to a man holding a very little girl, trying to talk her into letting him toss her up and catching her. She cried each time he mentioned it. The mom called from the side to quit talking about it and just do it. So he did and the little girl laughed. He repeated it several times, delighting in her laughter. Then he tried to talk her into going underwater with him so he could toss her higher. She refused and began crying again.

So much like us and God, she thought. It’s probably why He won’t tell us all His plans for us. We’d be as terrified as that little girl and refuse every invitation He gives us. Yet, He knows how much we would enjoy it once we got past the fear.

She was intrigued watching a young girl chatting with her friend, totally ignoring a younger girl who kept hitting her with a water ball. How could she do that? She knew if anyone kept hitting her with something, she’d get irritated and angry. But then she thought, isn’t that what Satan does? Constantly hitting us with something to mess with our peace and cause us to get irritated and angry? “God,” she prayed silently, “help me be able to ignore the arrows Satan throws at me as well as this little girl is ignoring the ball being slammed on her.”

There was a man floating in the midst of all this, eyes closed, ignoring everything around him as he relaxed.

Now that’s the right idea, she thought. To be able to rest on Jesus and ignore all the problems around us would be amazing!

She was dismayed to see another group of people enter the pool. OK, now it was just getting too crowded. Regretfully she climbed out of the pool and prepared to go home. As she did, she had one final thought: “This is like how one day I will climb out of the swimming pool of life and head to my heavenly home!” She smiled.  “Only I’ll do so with way more excitement than I feel right now!”

Counting On

Chewing on a brownie, she read the title of next short story in her book. It was an odd little book with the oddest stories. But each had a fascination of its own, so she would read one every chance she had, usually during her morning breaks at work. This one was called Counting On. Counting on what, she wondered as she turned the page.

The little girl loved to count. She had to count. She needed to count. But counting on things didn’t always work out for her. Actually, they rarely worked out for her.

Like when she tried counting on her crayons. She would line them up as she counted them. IMG_20180714_101429188One, two, three… until she ran out of crayons. No matter how big the box, she always ran out of crayons. That was bad enough, but the worst part was trying to keep the crayons from rolling around. It seemed most surfaces had some kind of slant to them, no matter how slight, that caused the crayons to roll at the slightest movement. She could sometimes lay them out on the carpet, but then someone usually came along and stepped on them, smashing them down into the ground.

So she tried other things. But nothing seemed to work. Not her beads – they were worse than the crayons. Not her dolls – there weren’t enough of them. Not her cereal – bugs eventually found them.

Finally she thought she had it! Silverware! They didn’t roll and there were plenty of the forks, knives, and spoons in the drawer! So she dumped them all out on the table and began counting them. It worked like a dream… until people began taking them.

“Hey, where did all the spoons go?”

“I need a fork.”

“Excuse me, mind if I take a knife to butter my bread?”

She got frustrated as silverware was taken from her and then returned to the wrong place, if they were returned at all. It got so bad she lost track of what she had counted and what she hadn’t. Didn’t anyone care enough, respect her enough to care where they took and returned the silverware? The hurt and frustration she felt each time finally took its toll and, crying, she gave up.

But her need to count on something remained so she looked for something else to count. Something that didn’t roll or attract bugs. And something that no one would take from her.

Then one day, while out shopping with her mom, she found the perfect thing – a bag of colored glass jewels! Not only did their flat bottoms keep them from rolling, they came in pretty colors. And not being edible, bugs would leave them alone as would everyone else since they were her own property.

For days she happily counted on her jewels, lining them up and enjoying the colors as she counted. She kept them in a velvet bag on top of her dresser when she wasn’t counting them. Whenever she felt the need to count, she would run to her room, grab the bag, dump them out on her bed, and count on them until her need was met.

But one day they weren’t there. She searched frantically as her need grew, until finally she found them behind the dresser. How did they get there? Did someone touch them when she wasn’t around? Relieved that she found them, she didn’t think anymore about their misplacement. That is, until it happened again. And then a third time. After searching, she would end up finding them in odd places. How was that happening? Was someone messing with them – and her? Or was she doing it herself? Was she having memory lapses? In any case, she knew she could no longer trust being able to count on the jewels. She had to find something else.

And then she found IT!

IT was perfect! IT didn’t roll. IT didn’t attract bugs. IT was her own personal property that no one could take, even if they wanted to. And IT was always with her, even when she wasn’t thinking about IT.

IT was her fingers! She could count on them every time she had the need. And when she ran out of fingers, she would just start back on her first finger while counting higher and higher. She found she could count forever with them, if she wanted. She had finally found the perfect thing to count on that would never disappoint!

Closing the book, she thought about what she had just read. Definitely odd, but it reminded her of something. Didn’t everyone have a need to count on something sometimes? Counting on the weather to be nice for a beach day? Counting on a friend to help with a task? Counting on her dog to provide entertainment when she was bored? And didn’t most things turn out to be unreliable at times? Rain instead of sunshine? Friend cancelling at the last minute? Dog too sleepy to play with?

But, she thought, we also have an IT. An amazing IT.  IT’s called Jesus! He’s always with us, no one can take Him from us, and we can count on Him forever!

She set the book down and, wiggling her fingers with a smile, got back to work.

Run Over By Life

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“Wow,” she thought as she bent down to pick up the shiny penny. “This penny is so damaged. I wonder how many times it has been driven over.”

She looked at the scratches that covered it and thought how much she felt like that penny sometimes. So many times life seems to run over her – her plans, her finances, her relationships, her health – leaving her feeling a little more rough and scratched each time.

“But, just as valuable as before,” whispered a small voice in her heart. “Nothing life does to you can diminish the value you have in My eyes.”

A gentle feeling of peace filled her as she put the penny in her pocket. Her Savior loved her. And that’s all that mattered.

Three Day Quote Challenge, Day 3

Here is my third and final quote:

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I can’t see the future. I can’t see how my decisions today are going to impact my future. I can’t figure out everything I need to do today to make my future a good one. I can’t see how all the details in my life – both good and bad – are going to work together for the future God promises me. But I know the One who can. And I can trust that He knows what I need to know and experience today that will get me to that future. All I really need to do is listen, obey, and enjoy the ride.

And that includes becoming the person He made me to be.

And a bonus quote I just ran into…

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just because it made me laugh.

I laughed again at Dorci Harris’ response: “Oh yes, they can swim. They can float, dive and hold their breath. For years. But only God can walk on water.”  Let’s hope more of our enemies are like the Eygptians who got swallowed by the Red Sea than the ones Dorci it talking about!

 

Thank you again Sue Love at Run With It for nominating me for this Three Day Quote Challenge.

Now I would like to nominate  Faith on the Farm for the 3 Day Quote Challenge because she reminds me of my brother and his family who live on a plot of land with all kinds of animals also. Faith on the Farm is an awesome name and just right for this lovely Christian girl sharing her faith!

Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

For 3 days, provide a quote each day and why you like or chose that quote.

Nominate one or more bloggers each of the three days for the Challenge and then send them a comment letting them know they have been nominated.

(When you receive a nomination, if you’re too busy, you can do it later if need be.)

Bella, part 6 –  A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella woke earlier than normal the next morning, excited to find out more about that church and the two men who lived in it. But before she could get out of bed, a loud crash of thunder shook her room.

“Where did that come from?” she asked, startled. Had she been sleeping through this storm? Is that what woke her so early?

She usually loved thunderstorms, but this one only brought disappointment with it.  How was she supposed to walk to the church now? A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but lightning? No way could she walk outside with lightning flashing around her. She’d be walking in puddles holding her own personal lightning rod! Maybe this storm wouldn’t last long and she could still go later today. She picked up her cell phone from the small table by her bed and touched the weather icon. As she waited for the web page to come up, she imagined what it might be like to go to the church on a rainy day. They wouldn’t be able to go into the back yard so there would be no sitting on the pier soaking in the beauty. They’d have to stay inside. She frowned. Having to maintain a conversation in an ordinary environment might be awkward. Would they just sit and look at each other? She found carrying a conversation hard, even with all her questions, and Jude hadn’t been exactly the chatterbox the last time she was there. If Pastor Toby was there, it might be OK, though. He seemed comfortable with carrying any conversation.

She looked down at her phone. The weather forecast said the thunderstorm should be gone by mid-day but rain would hang around until the following day. Great. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy the garden or lake, and she’d have to chance an awkward afternoon. Or she could put off the visit for another week.

Shaking her head, she got up to get dressed. She HAD to go today. She didn’t think she IMG_20180608_110929626could make it through the following week if she didn’t.  Her mind was so full of questions that she could barely think of anything else. And her heart was tugging for her to return as soon as possible.  It was almost like she could feel their love for her filling her and drawing her to them. She would get ready now, and leave as soon as the storm was gone.

While waiting for the storm to move on, she kept herself busy doing the chores she tended to put off for when she had more time. Well, she had time now so she swept and mopped the floor, washed the baseboards in the bathroom and hallway, dusted – this time moving objects instead of just dusting around them, sorted and put away a couple piles of clean laundry, and cleaned the microwave.  By then, it was lunch time so she ate lunch while checking on the updated weather map. All the yellow and red of intense activity was gone. There was still a blanket of green covering her area, but that was just rain.  Without lightning, rain was safe enough. It was time to go!

She got her large umbrella and headed for the church. The rain was not hard, and there was no wind, so the walk was actually pleasant. The best part was the empty sidewalk. No one else was crazy enough to be out walking in the rain. Or dodging the splashes made by passing cars, she thought, as she jumped just out of reach of another splash.

When she got to the church, she shook out her umbrella and stood it just inside the door to drain. Then she walked across the foyer straight to Pastor Toby’s living room door. The door opened just as she was about to knock on it.

“Bella!” Jude said, his face breaking into a smile so big it lit up his whole face. “I’m so glad you came! Come on in!”

He held the door open as she came in. She looked around tentatively, not sure where to go.

“Have a seat,” Jude said. “I’ll go get dad.”

Bella looked around and chose the big green comfy armchair that was near the door. That way, if things got too awkward, or she felt the need to escape, she’d be right there by the door. She still didn’t know how much she could trust this man or his father.

While she waited, she looked around the room. The wall behind her held several paintings of a garden and a lake. To her left was  a reading nook with several bookshelves filled with an amazing assortment of books, including one extremely large book that almost filled a shelf all by itself, and an armchair with a small table and lamp. The wall on her right had an incredible fire place and several chairs facing it.  Across the room, next to the door that led to the rest of the house, was a desk with a computer. And in the center of the room was a large couch and matching love seat with a coffee table between them.  Everything in the room spoke of comfort and there was such a feeling of peace that she found herself relaxing.

After a few minutes, Jude returned.

“Dad will be right here. He’s finishing something in the kitchen. Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?”

“No thanks, I just had lunch.” Then she added as she realized she was thirsty, “but some water would be nice.”

“Water coming right up!” Jude left again, turning left in the hall, towards the kitchen.  Bella sighed. At this rate, she wouldn’t have to worry about who carried the conversation. She almost got up to follow him into the kitchen but a sound stopped her. Singing. Someone was singing and it wasn’t coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the other side of the hallway, where she imagined the bedrooms would be. And it didn’t sound like either Pastor Toby or Jude. Was someone else here?

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

The Museum – The Reveal

Spoiler alert:  If you want to try guessing the meaning behind my symbolic short story The Museum for yourself, please go there now before you continue reading.

Still here? Then here we go.

The museum represents Christianity. Each wall symbolizes a different denomination. The paintings featured on each wall represents a central focus of that denomination based on my observations when visiting different denominations over the years.

The first wall is Catholicism with their main focus on the Eucharist.

The second wall is Baptist with their main focus on the Bible.

The third wall is Assembly of God and Pentecostal with their enthusiastic worship services. The different languages spoken by the people gathered there represents their belief in tongues.

The fourth wall is the Seventh Day Adventist with their focus on following the laws, especially the Sabbath.

The fifth wall is nondenominational churches – the swirls representing the freedom from traditional denominational boundaries.

The groups of people in front of each painting are the ones that have been drawn to that particular denomination based on likes, dislikes, needs, as well as other factors. Just like people have different personalities, denominations also have different personalities. And when people find the one that fits them the best, the one that meets their needs the best, they stay there.

The people still walking around the room are Christians who are still searching for their church home, and non-Christians exploring Christianity.

 

How close was your guess?

I know some people won’t agree with me, but I believe, for the most part, that having different denominations is a good thing. I think it’s quite possible that God may be behind the formation of many of the denominations that exist today. There are reasons why I believe this, but I won’t get into that now.

I’m aware that having different denominations is confusing to non-Christians. But I believe that’s because of how we Christians have handled it. If we really respected each other, and didn’t try to steal each other’s members – but instead worked together to point non-Christians to Jesus, then helped them find their right fit regardless of whether it’s in our own denomination or not, I think we would be amazed at the result.

Just saying.

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Mary’s Heart in Martha’s Body

She couldn’t go back to sleep. Why did they say that? Did they think her friend loved Jesus more than she did? And here she was carrying the greater load in serving them? It was totally upsetting and hurtful to her and she resented them for it.

To be honest, she didn’t really get that bible story anyway. If Martha didn’t serve, who would? Certainly not Mary, who didn’t even lift a finger to help. Actually, she had always thought of Mary as being lazy and self-centered – she wanted to spend time with Jesus so she did, not caring in the least that she had left everything for her sister to carry. Forcing her sister to carry more than she should have had to carry. If Mary had stayed with Martha to help finish the preparations, they both could have sat at Jesus’ feet.

And she was being called a Martha? Like she would rather stay in the kitchen serving than be with Jesus? Like she didn’t love Him enough to want to spend time with Him?

She still didn’t get it – but what she did get was a revelation of her resentment towards people who forced her into the Martha role.  It wasn’t fair for them to do that to her. The injustice of it hurt her. That and other injustices done to her over the years, especially when she was a young child, kept returning to her as she lay in bed not sleeping.

So she did the only thing she knew to do. She prayed.

“Jesus, I don’t understand all this. All I know is it hurts. But I forgive them for saying what they did and ask that You deliver me from the resentment and pain that has filled me.”

She fell back asleep and dreamed of a barracuda. A poor innocent barracuda that was about to be sacrificed in the name of entertainment. Upset at the injustice, she went to the people in charge and told them it was wrong and that she would tell the authorities about it if they didn’t stop it.

She woke again, puzzled.

“Lord, what’s this about?”

“Injustice. You have been treated unfairly in life.  I can release you from the past, to free you for the future. Just don’t worry about things so much.”

“So I really am like Martha?” she asked, heart sinking.

“Yes, daughter. Sweet daughter,” He said, voice full of love. “You are like Martha in that you get so worked up about things. You don’t need to worry if things will get done.  I’ll make sure what needs to be done does get done. I am here, involved, and I will bring about all that needs to be done. Relax in Me. I will give you the desire to do the things I want you to do. The rest I can handle. Don’t sweat over it. ”

“Do I at least have Mary’s heart? I love listening to You.”

“Yes, you have Mary’s heart. I know your love for Me. But you have been forced into a role I didn’t create for you. IMG_20180511_161925872As you are freed from the past, you will be free to be who I made you to be.”

“How do I get free?”

“Give it to Me -your resentments , your pain. Continually give it to Me. Forgive those involved. Listen for My directions. Practice letting go. I won’t treat you unfairly. As you see My faithfulness, you will be able to relax more.”

As she got ready for the day, she thought about His words. And came up with a plan. When things had to get done, instead of trying to get everything to happen herself, she would say…

“I wonder how Jesus is going to make this happen.”

Then all she needed to do was wait and watch and listen. Like Mary.

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day One

I was nominated for this challenge by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God  Thanks so much for the nomination, Shae.

As you may have guessed, this challenge takes place over three days. Each day, I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day.

My first quote is this…

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“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” by Jack Canfield

I can’t think back far enough to know a time that I wasn’t full of fear. From my earliest days, I was terrified of the unknown. That included people, places, and events. If one of my few friends suggested a new game, fear would immediately fill me. If my family visited a new place, I would be nervous until the trip ended. Joining girl scouts was too scary to stay for long. Making new friends? Impossible. Fear kept me from so many things for so long that it became a intricate part of me. I couldn’t imagine not being afraid. Even after I met Jesus and He had time to work in me, fear remained. It’s been over 40 years now, and I’ve been set free in so many areas. Yet fear still rises its ugly head when I’m faced with something new. Like writing a blog. And publishing my first book. And meeting with a local writing group.

Sounds hopeless?

No way! Fear may still rise up at times, but it no longer incapacitates me.  Quotes like the one by Jack Canfield help me remember I’m not the only one who has to deal with fear, and that fear doesn’t have to hold me back. And best of all, Jesus is slowly teaching me to replace fear with faith.  He doesn’t want me – or you – or anyone – to live in fear.

And that’s the greatest hope of all because what Jesus wants Jesus eventually gets!

 

And now for my nominee… I choose William Pierce aka wordcoaster8550 at Walk With God. I love his artwork and poetry!