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A Yes That Remains

Soup bubbled on the stove. Butter, sugar and eggs waited in a mixing bowl to become cookie dough and veggies sat on the cutting board.

The minutes ticked away until Andrew would walk in the door. I felt ahead of the game that night. The house was only a category one of disasters, much less than most evenings. The kids were relatively content.

I glanced at my phone and saw the big scary word “UNKNOWN” as it rang silently.

Everything was on schedule and I didn’t want to ruin it. I stared for a moment. My normal “just leave it” inclination vanished and I quickly answered before the caller hung up.

On the other end of the line was a voice so familiar and yet different.

“Would you and your husband please come and adopt my baby?”

My heart pounded something fierce. So opposite to the first time this happened when tears spilled down my face and joy exploded and there was no way my answer would be no.

In the days that have followed I have had to do many difficult things. I’ve had to reopen my heart and remind myself of the promises I’ve made to God that are not at all dependent on my circumstances.

The sting of defeat felt all to real again. My mind told me I know better than to do this privately.

And in the midst of doing many hard things faithfully day after day, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit whisper something of great importance. Something that I feel with great urgency to pass along to you.

a brave yes that's painfully familiar

Your brave yes is not always found in the adventure or first time experiences. Your brave yes will often be found in the known, perhaps memorized and the painfully familiar. It’s a yes that still shows up when you’ve been hurt. That tries again when you’ve faced defeat. It’s a yes that remains even when everything within you wants to scream a fear filled no 

This kind of brave yes is a call to remind ourselves of the Apostle Paul’s encouragement:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 NIV

And to dig down deep when we are hurt and feed our soul with the truth of this verse:

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”

Romans 12:9a NLT

It’s a reminder that those who have gone before us have lived a life that cost them much and so we have the freedom that we do:

“They make firm commitments and follow through, even at great cost.” Psalm 15:4b TPT

You just might have been looking for the next big step of faith and it hasn’t come because there is a big breakthrough waiting for you on the other side of faithfulness.

Or perhaps you were obedient to the step of faith and it didn’t work out the way you hoped, but the real test of faith is in the will you try again?

You could be asked to forgive when all your want to do is hold on.

You may be discontent in your marriage and all you want to do is quit but this is your moment of yes to see it through to victory.

You may be hurt and want to recoil but brave love says communicate.

You may be fighting to stay consistent in your parenting, wanting to give in, and this is your chance to sow deeply into the lives of the ones you’ve been entrusted with, even when it’s unimaginably hard.

A brave yes will rarely be glamorous and exciting, even when others may think it is from the outside. You know that blood, sweat, and tears accompany anything worth fighting for. You won’t feel like Wonder Woman blocking arrows as you head across the battlefield.

But these days are important.

This yes matters.

Stay the course. I can feel that a big victory is coming.

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Can I save you some time? (Here’s some books you can order from the library and read with your kids!)

IMG_9070Reading has always been a big part of my life and a part of our little family. My own parents instilled a love of reading through many different ways. I remember laying on my mom’s bed in the afternoon while she read a book like “Milly Molly Mandy” out-loud to us. Or in the evening reading the Little House On The Prairie series or a classic like Wind in the Willows as a family before bed.

Those were some of my most favourite memories and my absolute favourite part about being homeschooled as a child. We devoured books. A good story was guaranteed to spark the imagination of four young girls ready to act out an adventure.

As much as reading was a priority with my own kids, last year I felt time was always against me. Getting to the library was challenging with my work schedule and reading the same old books became boring and our stories were relegated to the few the kids pressured me to read in the mornings and then at bedtime.

For me this became a red flag that my life has too full and I needed more margin. But that’s not what I’m here to write about today (I will leave that for another time!).

Now that I’m homeschooling I read an absolutely ridiculous amount of books with my children, and I love every moment of it because I have dedicated a good amount of time to choosing great books. IMG_8807

But truthfully, it’s quite time-consuming.

I was thinking today that it might be nice for some of you busy parents to see my favourites from each week so that I can save you some time and you can go straight your local library and pick them out. No sense both of us spending a crazy amount of time on it!?

This isn’t just for parents. I’ve met a grandparents who pick out books from the library to read with their grandchildren at home and my own sister always gives my kids a story with a special note on the inside cover. Reading is a great way for anyone to form a special bond with a child in their life!

Here’s my tip to save time at the library: I order all of my books online. We still go to the library once a week but I find that it frees me up to be present to read to the kids, help them start an activity or keep my youngest entertained so that the older two get the amount of time there that they really want. Or if we can’t make it, I’m still guaranteed to have new recruits coming in every Friday morning!

Our family has fallen in love with old stories. They are completely unpredictable and sometimes the oddest things happen! But they never fail to pull at our hearts, teach us a lesson and make us laugh.

Now that my daughter is flying through “Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons” and I suddenly almost have a second reader on my hands, I want to continue to prioritize cultivating a love of reading more than anything. Not just so they will read great stories all the time, which does have value, but because they will be more apt to enjoy learning when the struggle of whether or not they want to read is out of the way. IMG_8957

And if I’m completely honest, the chances of them reading their bibles of their own accord and seeking out meaningful devotion books are much higher when they are confident readers. Even in something as basic as reading, we are sowing into their spiritual lives.img_9299.jpg

So who’s willing to say if they are interested in this? Would you like to hear what books we are reading every week and you can skip the research phase, order the books in a click and pick them up between hockey and dance? Let me know in the comments if you think this will be helpful to you!

Here are my favourite five from last week (and number one will be from today because it was just that good!).

  1. Kermit the Hermit, By Bill Peet
    A crusty old crab goes to great lengths to bless the boy who saved his life from a dog. I had to choke back tears at the end of this one! kermit the hermit
  2. Apple Pie For Dinner, retold by Susan VanHecke
    Granny Smith wants to make a pie but all she has is plums! This story tells beautifully that by giving generously of what you have, what you need will come to you. (note: This went along beautifully with our Five In A Row book “How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World”, if you happen to be interested in the material we are using.)
    apple pie for dinner
  3. Nora’s Ark, By Natalie Kinsey-Warnock 
    In the Vermont Flood of 1927 a family opens their home to a variety of people and creatures and learn the ones you love are more important any thing, or flooring.
    Nora's Ark
  4. Follow that map, By Scot Ritchie
    A fun and engaging way to learn basic map skills that includes an interactive story where you help find the children’s lost puppy!
    follow that map
  5.  Mousetronaut, by Mark Kelly 
    A tiny mouse gets to go to space, and just might save the mission! We are currently reading as many inspiring and exciting stories about space as we can right now as my daughter is very eager to become an astronaut!
    Mousetronaught

Maybe you can save ME some time! What books are your kids loving?

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Through the portal.

This one is going to sound a little sci-fi esque to some of you, but it’s been sitting in my heart for a while.

I’ve heard the common verse about “in your weakness God’s strength is made perfect”, many times and honestly I’ve never really grasped the full magnitude of what it meant. I found it comforting that he would work through my weakness, but I really didn’t get the power of it.

That is until I read this verse in the Passion Translation and the word portal was used.

So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:10

I instantly saw a picture of a person standing in an empty room. It was dimly lit and I could tell they were confused, broken and unsure where to go next. Where they were in that moment, was nothing. Looking at them with human eyes you would see they had no prospect of anything because there was simply nothing.

I could not see any doors or windows so the chance of rescue from their place seemed unlikely. As I watched I saw the person bravely open their hands. It wasn’t a big gesture, nor did they do it with a lot of expression. It was like a last resort, the very beginning of surrender.

Suddenly there was a zap of blue light and the person was sucked up through a portal that opened up on top of the ceiling where the blue light had flooded in.

The person was gone. The picture I was seeing zoomed out. I saw a multi layer complex, we could call it “life’s problems.”

I could now see that where the person had been standing was, as I was described, an empty room of weakness. This is the room where brave is not felt, fear runs wild and it looks to the naked eye like there is no way of escape. All seems lost. Your circumstances seem hopeless.

But from my vantage point I could see that the person, in their beginning moment of surrender in the middle of their weaknesses, had been translated up to the next level and they were standing in the place of the supernatural strength of Jesus Christ.

That place of weakness because a portal, a doorway, a entry point, to God’s great strength.

Weakness Becomes A Portal

They stood in the confidence of bright and vivid colours while the King was on his great white horse and an army moved out to begin the battle. The person simply stood, strong and secure beside the great King.

Below that level of weakness was just simply normal life where we can wonder at times whether we live in our strength or God’s strength and we don’t always see with such clarity. There can be a lot a of gray.

But standing in the room of weakness, there is no confusion. Without God, we are nothing. But in the tiniest act of surrender, God’s strength was able to rush in like a flooding light and lift the person up to the next level of victory.

I felt him whisper:

Don’t fear your weakness. I’m breaking through. I’m taking you higher. You will see my power like never before.

This was such a vivid encounter I decided I wanted to try pressing into the portal of power.

A opportunity to stand in my weakness came soon enough.

A tantrum. A freak out. A moment where I wondered how I could mother for another moment. My confidence zapped by a debilitating encounter with the anger of a child.

I put the child in their room and stood in the hallway.

I whispered weakly:

Lord, I know there is a next level of strength available. I don’t know what to do here. I’m really weak at being a calm and collected mom. I need your strength, power and solutions.

I closed my eyes and waited to enter into the portal where there would be a trading of my weakness for the strength of Jesus.

I didn’t try to do anything in that moment. I breathed in the Holy Spirit and I waited.

Suddenly the wisdom came. I knew what I needed to do. I prayed with authority that confusion would leave my relationship with my child and that we would be able to move forward in understanding.

In that moment I knew I had moved from my weakness to God’s strength.

Everything changed in that moment. The situation was dealt with in minutes rather than the hours these tantrums would escalate into.

The trouble for me is, I don’t always recognize when I’m trying to operate out of my human weakness instead of my super-powered-Christ-strength.

And when I do realize I’m acting out of weakness, I’m not always humble enough to stop and go through the portal to the next level of supernatural living.

But as I saw in the picture, God is just waiting for us to open our hands a little. When we give him even the smallest invitation, he is coming like a flash of lightning to lift you higher. And without weakness, we wouldn’t get to experience the full glory of his strength.

He wants to strengthen you. He knows that in todays’ world we need that instant access to a way of life that blows away hopelessness, despair and apathy.

He is calling us to come up higher. To a place where strength, wisdom, courage and power are given for second guessing, trembling hands, and empty threats.

I need this kind of life. It’s not a life where everything is always resolved quickly, but it is a life where we stand in strength and let go of that feeling of never being good enough for the battle. Because the battle is not ours. It is the Lord’s. And all you have to do is take the first step of surrender.

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When the bus hits.

IMG_0084Not really looking, I just stepped into the street. I didn’t see the bus coming. My eyes looked up just as it plowed me over. As I saw my body begin to explode I snapped to reality from my daydream.

I sat on the pretty gold wingback chair, staring out the window at the playground on the artic tundra.

Cold rain fell, as it did nearly everyday after she was taken.

Tears fell down my face.

That’s what has happened. I whispered to God. I stepped out in faith and I’ve been hit by a bus of heartache. I trusted you that this would happen the way you said.

This morbid picture began to reverse, like an old VCR rewinding through a movie. Suddenly I was back on the pavement about to step out.

“That’s what you think happened. No, this is what happened” I felt Him whisper.

I stepped out again. The bus hit me. My body stayed intact and my heart exploded and spread to the corners of the nation.

“What you think has destroyed you has expanded your heart.” 

I stood in that mental picture God was revealing to me and saw my heart scattered all over. And in the moment I knew it was not broken in sadness, it had been multiplied during the explosion.

In that vision I could see that my capacity to love had widened and my ability to meet the needs of others was increased.

My journal was nearby and I quickly wrote down what I had seen in my mind’s eye. While it didn’t bring me excessive comfort right then, I had enough wisdom to know this would carry me through the coming weeks.

It reminds me of a verse that God gave me years ago when I was in a bad car accident, and they are the words that Joseph spoke at the end of his life with the hindsight to see God’s redeeming work, even though he was sold into slavery, falsely accused and served jail time.

He said:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Genesis 50:20

What was meant for evil in his life he was able to confidently say God used for the saving of many lives!

Dear one, I know the road is hard. I recognize you may be facing something so mammoth it feels impossible to see how this can ever be turned for good. But this is God’s heart for you today:

What you think has destroyed you has expanded you.

The trial that you face is increasing your ability to forgive. It’s widening your scope of compassion and deepening your capacity to love in a way you thought you never could.

And though it hurts more than anyone else can properly understand, if you continue to keep yourself open to Jesus and allow him access to your heart, he WILL use this to impact the lives of more people than would have been if you hadn’t walked through this.

Please, don’t harden your heart in this challenge.

What you feel has destroyed you is actually expanding you.

Surrender it. Don’t hold on to it. Don’t try to understand it. Don’t aim to rationalize it. The enemy may have intended to throw a big ole wrench into your life, BUT God. But for the grace of God Almighty, your trial would have been purposeless, and instead he makes it a powerful platform to display his power and his goodness.

Let it sink deep. This pain is expanding you. You do not go through anything that he cannot use.

I pray this knowledge comforts you, as it has comforted me.

We’re coming out on top.

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Radical Motherhood

I think I’ve made it through the worst.

The worst of the flashbacks, the bad dreams, the gut wrenching pain, the shock and the inability to grasp that what I believed in my heart would happen did not come to pass.

If you are unfamiliar with our adoption journey that left us broken-hearted, you can start reading here.

I believe for the first time I am understanding what James is talking about when he says

…when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things. And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

James 1:2-4

I’ve said these words before in a little trial and it seemed easy to believe. But to come out the other side of this heart ache with eyes to see that God is redeeming our hearts and deepening us in grace is nothing short of the power of Jesus. Apart from him, I couldn’t even get off the ground and dry my eyes.

I will say that I believe without a doubt that we followed every prompting of the Holy Spirit and we were obedient in every aspect when we went to Nunavut. And this great test of my faith has produced some life changing revelations.

God allowed me to spend my first eight days, when we were waiting for baby to be born and before my husband arrived, in the heart of the struggle in the city. At first I was terrified to leave my place and then God promised to protect me and give me courage because there were things I needed to see.

So I went alone, with no cell service, out into the world. As I walked to the grocery store I was angrily sneered at by someone saying: So you’ve decided to come up here and see what real life is. My heart raced. He wasn’t interested in my answer so I walked on.

I stopped at the RCMP to ask if there was anything I should know while I staying there since the newspapers were full of stories of how crime had skyrocketed, especially rape.

They told me the biggest thing was not to stay down by the water. I thanked them for the advice and walked back to my condo, about ten steps from the water.

Across the street from me was the burnt shell of a truck, destroyed from a domestic dispute a few days before that ended in lighting each others vehicles on fire.

Each day I wanted to hide, and each day I ventured out again.

More than anything I wanted to hear people’s stories. I sought them out as best I could.

I sobbed when we saw a baby on a mother’s back, wearing only a tee-shirt in the cold rain. She tried to stand up but was too drunk to do so and nearly fell right on top of him. This was too common.

I met people who are working to help change the social landscape. Each one in their own way moved with compassion by what they see around them, whether they grew up in it and now aim to help, or whether coming in from the outside. Many struggling to cope with the devastation they deal with on a daily basis.

Every single one willing to sacrifice comfort to see hope restored.

I listened to as many of the children’s stories as I could. Multiple ones with a murdered parent, others severely neglected, others in a sense orphaned to alcoholism.

Each child beautiful. Each one longing for their home to be safe.

This simple truth has become the bright diamond in this fire of disappointment.

Children crave home. They want home. They need home. I can provide home.

Coming back to my own home, I am not the same. I am wrecked for family and ruined for the cause of the home, our place of peace.IMG_8420

I have moved beyond accepting my responsibility as a mother to receiving a call to radical motherhood.

A type of motherhood with the heartbeat prayer: let your kingdom come in my home as it is in heaven.

A radical motherhood that is not perfect, but sold out to the cause of raising kids who know they are loved by Jesus, and by their parents.

A radical motherhood that will actively sacrifice time, energy, sleep, career, appearance, status, finances, and basically any other thing that gets in the way of cultivating a peaceful, loving, Christ-centered home.

A radical motherhood that makes room for more. For me, that’s more babies. More laundry. More cooking. More prayers. More stories. More hugs. More songs. More mess. God bring me more.

A radical motherhood that does not stop with ones own children, but whose brave heart bursts open, expanded to those who have not been loved as her own have been.

Home is where our hearts grow.  I saw the effects of so many children without home and it compelled me to commit to doing it wildly well. I repeat, not perfect, but on purpose.

I’m not talking about homeschooling, I had committed to doing that before this revelation.

I’m not talking about staying home full-time. I own a brick and mortar business, I can’t call myself a stay at home mom.

I’m talking about a heart that is so surrendered to the glorious call of mothering that this responsibility can and will trump all others when it needs to, because no one on this planet needs me more than them. 

Stepping into the grace of radical motherhood draws out a confidence that is driven by a deep trust that Jesus has called you and me for such a time as this and we are anointed to be MOM.

May you explode with confidence that you are called and equipped for the task at hand. You are powerful to step out in brave love and your mothering is changing the world.

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When Your Brave Is Shaken

IMG_7951 (1).JPGWhat do you do when your brave is shaken and everywhere you look are reminders of the last time you were courageous?

How do I move on when obedience turned to heartache and faithfulness turned to unimaginable pain?

When you have signs that say to “be brave, take risks, have courage and seek adventure”, and you have to take them off your wall because the reminder causes you to choke on your own breath and you want to go to sleep and wake up to find that everything is fixed and the nightmare is over.

I go a few hours forgetting of the weeks I spent in the arctic. And then I grab something out of the pantry and find the baby bottle cooler.

Tears. Again. How did this happen?

The statements of “something better will come” mean absolutely nothing when you have spent every single cent you could gather and moved out in faith and came up empty-handed. People don’t just jump into another private adoption again. We waited years for that moment. Saying it wasn’t meant to be feels like saying to someone who had a stillborn child that they weren’t meant to live. You wouldn’t do it.

My heart is gaping and I can’t comprehend why things have happened the way that they did. Other adoptive parents have comforted me with the words: there is no pain like losing a child who is still out there.

It’s unique, it’s crushing and it’s confusing. I know every single reason why she was going to be adopted. They swirl in my mind everyday and I wonder if she’s safe.

I cry, I pray, I move on. I find a sleeper, I cry, I pray, I move on. I find a blanket, I cry, I pray, I move on. I hear my daughter explain the situation to a neighbour child. I cry. I can’t move on today.

Today it hurts. Today it cuts deep. Today I am tired from gathering my courage to go out and move on. Today I just throw my red eyes, aching muscles and shattered dreams at the feet of Jesus and breathe Psalm 56 in and out, over and over.

When I am afraid to step out, feeling like I’ve lost confidence in my decisions, I go back to square one and learn to trust.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, then to trust and obey.”

I have to get back to basics. I can’t over think it. Just trust and obey.

You’ve kept track of all my wandering and my weeping.
    You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle—not one will be lost.
    For they are all recorded in your book of remembrance.
 The very moment I call to you for a father’s help
    the tide of battle turns and my enemies flee.
    This one thing I know: God is on my side!
 I trust in the Lord. And I praise him!
    I trust in the Word of God. And I praise him!
 What harm could man do to me?
    With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes.
    My heart overflows with praise to God and for his promises.
    I will always trust in him.
 So I’m thanking you with all my heart,
    with gratitude for all you’ve done.
    I will do everything I’ve promised you, Lord.
For you have saved my soul from death
    and my feet from stumbling
    so that I can walk before the Lord
    bathed in his life-giving light.

Psalm 56:8-13 TPT

When grief clouds the heart, scripture has to flood the soul. God is on my side, I will not be afraid of what comes.

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As for me, I will always have hope.

Road to Nowhere

“I’d rather have a heart that’s open and gets broken, then is closed to what God would do.”

I said those words after answering a young woman’s desperate pleas for us to come adopt her baby, having no idea the journey we would go on. I hoped that our hearts that were wide open to adoption wouldn’t end in this kind of pain, but that was a risk that we decided to take.

The risk to love. The risk to rescue. The risk to answer the cries of “please help me.”

The kind of love that pushes you to travel over 2,500 kilometres, spend 24 days away from your other children, sell your second vehicle, and with grit and determination trust God to make a way where there is no way and watch him lay out the path before you.

You know what I’m talking about, you risk takers for Jesus. He breaks your heart for something and you can’t rest until you’ve given him your yes and stepped out in faith.

Yesterday I shared that things have not turned out the way we had hoped.

Today, I dropped my husband off at the airport here and I’m leaving tomorrow. As I walked away from the airport I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

I felt the Holy Spirit whisper “Well done.”

We did it. We came and did what we were supposed to do. It didn’t end the way we hoped, but we were faithful to walk out every step. We answered a desperate plea for help and our whole family felt the Holy Spirit and we acted on that.

Our kids chose to be brave. We chose to be brave and with a big declaration that wouldn’t be held back by fear, we look a leap of faith.

We loved when we had the chance to love and we prayed when we had the chance to pray. To the best of our ability we spread hope.

When our hearts broke and everything within us wanted to run away, we stayed to fight. We waited out the ten days that we had committed to and we prayed, cried and refused to allow circumstances to steal our belief that God is good.

We came well, and we leave well. I’m proud of us.

None of that was on our own strength. I had absolutely no ability to even stop myself from vomiting the first few hours. But when the peace of Jesus Christ came in, I was ok. I was in pain. I cried. But I was held. Deeply covered by the shadow of his wings. I have never experienced such a tangible level of the perfect peace of Jesus.

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!”

John 14:27

We will not hide our hearts in hope that we never feel that level of grief again. There is a truth we can hold on to when everything has fallen apart and we don’t know which step to take from here.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11 NIV

All of His promises are STILL yes. And although the details can get jumbled up and it looks for a moment like the enemy has got in the way of our destiny, this cannot be because:

“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.”

Romans 8:28 TPT

Even what it unexpected and painful to us, God can weave it into his master plan of bringing good into our lives.

And while this week hasn’t felt “good” and it’s held more tears than I have ever cried, I know that not one tear is wasted:

“They may weep as they go out carrying their seed to sow, but they will return with joyful laughter and shouting with gladness as they bring back armloads of blessing and a harvest overflowing!”

Psalms 126:6 TPT

Our story is not over and therefore I have great hope and perfect peace. I have waves of grief that crash over me, but I am held in a divine peace that is too miraculous to describe. Even in my breakdowns God whispers “a double portion restoration”, and I know I will be mom to at least five kids.

I’ve got questions too, but I’ve also got the great Comforter and he is constantly reminding me that:

“Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!””

Luke 1:37 TPT

And as Mary said in response to God’s promise:

“This is amazing! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” 

Luke 1:38 TPT

Come what may Lord, my heart is still open. I accept whatever you have for me, in great confidence that you will finish the good work you’ve begun in my heart and in my family. Our story is not over:

As for me, I will always have hopeI will praise you more and more.

Psalm 71:14 NIV

 

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