Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Said The Words I Never Thought I Would

Because we are alone together so much of the time now, Scott and I talk...a lot...about everything. When getting ready in the morning, walking to work, at work, eating lunch together, walking home from work, at dinner, and any time we don't have other plans. Talk Talk Talk. Or maybe I talk a lot and he listens. Either way.

A few weeks ago I was waxing on incessantly about who knows what when the words blurted out of my mouth, "I'm glad it happened to us." Whoa. I stopped long enough to look into his eyes. He didn't react. He didn't even counter with, "You sure about that?" He just listened. He's had years of practice.

I was referring to the difficult season God recently marvelously delivered us from.

Moving our teenage kids from our childhood home and church
New jobs at a different church
Slow disappearance of freedom to use our gifts for God's purposes
Unfounded accusations
Unbiblical leadership
Hostile working environment

Which led to:

Abrupt surrender 
Partial employment
God's 'No'
God's 'Wait'
The silence of God
Inability to provide for self, relying completely on God for daily bread
Learning the lessons of faith without sight and trusting God's promises

"I'm glad it happened to us." and I meant it.
Yep, eight months after the light shattered our darkness, I said it. I didn't expect to say it so soon, if ever, maybe a few years down the road, but I truly am grateful and for so many reasons that I'll save for another day.

The thing about that kind of a season is when you find yourself there, you are presented with a choice. 

1. Get mad, blame God and slowly (or quickly) move away from Him. Letting doubt win, no longer trusting what you believed so dogmatically in the light.


2. Believe God is still with you. Even though you can't see Him. Even though He seems to be saying no to all your prayers. Even though you're in so much pain you can't imagine surviving another day. Go forward, press in and vigorously fight to not allow any space to come between you and the Lover of your soul.

Hard as it was some, no, many days, Scott and I chose number 2 over and over again for three years. Toward the end of the last year I remember saying to a friend that while I wanted it to end so badly and for God to show us what's next, I was afraid of what could happen in my heart when it was all over.

I was worried that once we were being used by God again in ministry, had money to freely earn and spend, and could see more than two feet in front of us, what if I wouldn't need Him as much? What if I wasn't as desperate for Him? I might lean back toward self-sufficiency. That scared me more than staying in the dark.

I'm happy to report to you it hasn't happened. God has abundantly restored all of what He had required of us and I'm still so hungry for His presence, for His will, for more knowledge and understanding of who He is. I can't get enough. It's a daily pursuit that I guard like a vicious dog guards the choicest meat.

Which brings me to tomorrow. The first day of Lent, the next (calendar) opportunity to seek and celebrate Jesus and to grow roots down deep in our faith. 

Not all evangelical Jesus followers observe Lent. I think many are afraid of it and what it could be. I was for a long time but am no longer. Some years ago I realized that Easter was only a one-day (or maybe two if you count a random Good Friday service) holiday and frankly it wasn't enough for my worship-hungry soul. I knew there had to be more to it that I was missing and that God deserved.

I see now that the practice of Lent is a gift and it can be life changing. 

To celebrate Christmas, we can barely wait until after Thanksgiving to begin the consumption of music, feasting, lavish gift exchanges and partying, abundance. Don't get me wrong - we should! We are ultimately celebrating God's greatest gift to humanity wrapped plainly in a tiny baby who would one day provide a way for us to spend eternity with God the Father, our Creator.

But what about Easter? What happened to the Resurrection? I know, I know, we go to church that glorious Sunday morning and sing "Up from the grave He arose" with vigor, meaning it, but have we forgotten about the cross? The suffering? The betrayal? The shame? Have we glossed over the grisly death before ultimate triumph?

I am not sure we spend enough time contemplating our role in that historic event. Lent is the missing piece in our yearly calendar of celebrations. Probably because at its core Lent is not pretty or sparkly or fun. No, it's forty days to fast, remember, lament over our sins and deny self. 
"He must become greater; I must become less."* John says. Yes, to decrease, that's it! Decreasing self and elevating Christ. 

Even Jesus fasted:

"We often think of Jesus' fast beginning when He stepped into the Judean wilderness. But the fast actually began three decades earlier when the Glory of heaven was wrapped in plain paper and given as a gift to mankind.

The Grand Reduction had begun.

Jesus fasted omnipresence and clothed Himself with flesh. He fasted being worshiped by angels and accepted the disregard of man. He fasted the Voice that birthed planets and submitted to the silence of thirty hidden years.

We are duly thankful, challenged and inspired by Jesus' forty-day fast from food in the Judean wilderness. Perhaps we should likewise be grateful, awed, and humbled by His thirty-year fast from praise, power and potential in Nazareth.

It takes a great deal of strength to choose weakness."**

I didn't choose our season of weakness. Didn't volunteer. But something happened to me in it that I'm so grateful for. I learned the value of less. Not always increasing and adding to my life, even spiritually speaking, but choosing to say no, to deny endless offers of self-gratification.

I think we miss something powerful if we hurdle over the 40 days to land on an exciting celebration of the Resurrected Savior.  I don't want to miss it, do you? It's not just a gift, it's a necessity if we want to deepen our faith and intimacy with God. "We thin our lives to thicken our communion with God."**

I hope something has been stirred inside you to consider a 40-day focus. Let's choose weakness. Decrease. Less. You can fast, you can read the teachings of Jesus as given us in the Bible, you can increase your prayer time. There are so many things you can do to fix your gaze on Him and what His life, suffering and death purchased for you that you so freely enjoy.

I challenge you to do so, starting tomorrow (or whenever you read this).  I guarantee you'll be glad you did. Your Easter Sunday mornings will never be more exciting - and they should be.

Because "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
1 Cor. 15:17
That is not us.

*John 3:30
**40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chloe

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Walk on the Beach

So now that the days are lengthening and it is not as cold as it should be in January, I decided to go for a walk on the beach after work. Want to see what I saw?

Fresh cold air and a bigger view than from a window makes space in the soul. 

What's that up there? Do you see it too?
I think we need a closer look. 
Yup! Just what I thought. The Camp Christmas tree is still up and on. January 30. I dig. 
It's a sign, I think, that it's totally normal I brought a certain favorite Christmas playlist out there with me to listen to one last time. 

Out here alone one can sing as loud as one wants. One's children aren't there to say things like: "way off, Mom" or "not the right key, Mom" (whatever that means). 

And then I turned around....
The show wasn't over. 
It never is.
Drives home what I read earlier in the week. "I learned long ago that winter will drive you crazy until you get out in it--and I mean 'winter' both literally and metaphorically. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer."

I am glad I got out in it today. I definitely love winter more literally than metaphorically. What a wonder to know that good or bad God is in every season. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Tribute to my Friend

I've been known to say out loud that I love a great funeral. The kind where the deceased lived a full life, faithful to the Lord for as long as they knew Him. Obedient. A blessing to everyone they come in contact with. An inspiration to anyone who happens to get a glimpse of their life.

I realized something last week. Typically those are the funerals of someone I only knew from a distance or heard of or wish I had known. Not someone close. Not someone who walked into my life and took up residence in my heart.

I had to say goodbye to someone like that last week. She would never approve of me giving an entire blogpost in her memory but I must. Maybe because of it joy will replace the sadness many of us feel at her death or the death of someone else close.
Liliya came into my life many years ago. She was a sweet, quiet young single woman who attended the same church as I did. She came to Bible studies in my home. She joined me in women's ministry. I often pointed her out to my daughter as a role model. She dressed fashionably but always with the most tasteful modesty. She didn't need a man to "complete" her. She was so content in her singleness and it only added to her extreme devotion to her true Love and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Eventually, because we are sermon junkies, we took many a road trip to various women's conferences together. She was the best travelling companion. She always took care of all the details. She got the tickets, arranged the hotels, mapped the route and drove. Yeah, you could say she liked being in control. Don't we all?

She was also tremendously devoted to her family. Liliya lived with her parents and two brothers. She took responsibility and cared for them in every way. Most decisions she made about herself ran through the filter of how it served them first. She was closest to her younger sister and her sweet family. She loved being an aunt to Luba's children. She went out of her way and above normal expectations to bless them. It cost her something. It cost her everything, she devoted her life to serving them be causes of her devotion to Jesus and she wouldn't have done it any other way.

At the funeral, someone said she spent very little on herself, giving the rest to her family and anyone she knew of who was in need. I can testify to this firsthand.

When we moved away from Syracuse four years ago, I wouldn't have imagined that my friendship with Liliya would be one of the sustaining, life-giving relationships God would use to bless, comfort and encourage me to trust Him through a very long, difficult season.

I mean, we were friends and I knew I'd miss her, but I didn't expect her to rise up to be one of my closest confidantes.  It began when I just happened to run into her in Pittsburgh at a Women of Faith Conference. I was there with my new people. At that point, the ground under my feet was shaky and I didn't know what the future looked like for our family but I did know it didn't look good. I felt vulnerable and weak but needed to follow through on leading this trip.

During the first session I got a text from Liliya. "Are you here in Pittsburgh?" Her darling sister, my Facebook friend saw that I was there and told Liliya. "Let's meet for lunch." Have you ever been in a situation where seeing a familiar face caused you to melt into a puddle on the spot?

We made eye contact and she hugged me. She immediately knew I wasn't myself and asked what was wrong. Because I've always known her to be safe, I spilled it all. It was messy. Not every person can handle another's messiness.

After I brought her up to speed and told her how my husband's character was being attacked, wrongfully accused of uncharacteristic behavior and how we were both being deliberately misrepresented to our new people, she looked me square in the eye and said, "That's not our Scott." And I wept. "Our Scott". God sent Liliya to me that day as someone who was familiar yet on the outside enough to speak life-giving affirmations I desperately needed. She went on to tell me all the things she knew to be true about Scott and his ministry.

Here's the thing, the enemy can mess with us sometimes. If we aren't careful and don't have people around us to tell us they are lies, we can believe his accusations especially when they come from those we thought we could trust and eventually fall into despair.

She wiped my tears, prayed with me and sent me back with promise of continued prayers.

We didn't know then that I was walking into a dark, difficult season that would last three years.

Throughout those years, Liliya didn't forget me. Frequently she would send me articles she had read, devotions she thought would lift me up, and messages of love to remind me who God is and how He feels about me.

She would invite me to more women's conferences. I would gratefully decline but would never say the reason was that the expense wasn't in our new much smaller budget. She would insist that she had a "free ticket" and that the hotel was "already paid for". Generous. Kind. Caring. Unselfish.

I would argue that she should invite someone who would be better company. She would insist my company blessed her. What? I didn't believe her.

But here's this one thing about Liliya that is usually ugly in most, but somehow beautiful in her - she's bossy. And stubborn. 

She showed up at my house and picked me up, not taking no for an answer. She would say things like, "God wants you here." "God has a message for you."

One trip in particular, after I got over the guilt of going as her guest once again, I looked forward to one speaker who I'd never heard in person before but had read many of his books. I was so broken and empty but knew God would use him to speak to me. And he did.

From the moment Max Lucado took the stage until he stepped off, I cried buckets in my seat. Liliya didn't say a word. She didn't look at me. She just slipped her arm around my shoulders and kept it there the whole time until I was done and encouraged.

What a gift. God does send us help when we need it. Of course, the 'help' needs to be willing to go out on a limb and be used, even if it cost them something. That's my Liliya.

Never assuming. Always obedient. I croaked those two stories to her when she was lying on her death bed a few months ago. She said, "I was just doing what Jesus asked me to do." Oh to live so plugged in to what Jesus is requiring.

She cheered me on continually and believed with me that God was doing something in my life that would result in goodness. She constantly reminded me that it was a season and wouldn't last forever.  We prayed together that we would marvel at how amazingly He would complete that chapter. 

Neither of us could have imagined that my hard season would end as her worst would start. For many months, we believed she was beating her cancer. So much so that she wouldn't tell her family or anyone else of her diagnosis - she was so sure God would heal it. I was too. 

Almost simultaneously, I stepped into the fulfillment of God's promises to me as her health began diminishing and it became clear that God was not going to heal her in this life, but would grant her ultimate healing. 

We talked of our mutual sadness, mine being much greater than hers. She was completely at peace with His decision. She was eager to say goodbye to the sufferings of this world and step into paradise. She had her eye on the prize - the face of her sweet Jesus. In all that time, she wanted to hear every detail of God's blessing toward us. There was not a hint of jealousy or question of why the good was falling on me and not her. 

In her controlling, bossy, yet beautiful way she made final arrangements for the care of her family. Her only fears were that of losing control of her mind and somehow dishonoring Christ in her last days. For much longer than any of us advised, she resisted pain medications, choosing to suffer physical pain rather than risk sinning. Courageous. 

In our last conversations, I asked her to give me something for this blog. I told her she had a distinct advantage and opportunity to tell the rest of us what her regrets are and what she knows now that we don't yet know. It took her a few days, but when she finally agreed, this is what she said. "All I know is that God is faithful. He is so good and I wished I obeyed Him better. I wish I didn't work so much. (She worked two and three jobs to care for her family's needs.) I wish I had spent more time with people. I wish I had served others better. My advice is to work less and live more. Make people more important than work."

During her last month, every time I spoke with her she would ask me to pray that God would take her. She was ready to go. As I said at her funeral a few days ago, I think her fearlessness of death is startling because she is so young. Most of us want to cling to this life and what we know. Not Liliya, she knew what she was living for. Who she was living for and that eternity with Him would be far greater than "how bad it's getting down here".

Assurance. She knew her Bible. She knew the Lord. She taught us how to live and how to die. My life is richer because of her influence. I'm going to miss Liliya but find myself smiling whenever I picture her in her new home. I imagine her mischievous grin, lightness in her feet, dancing probably. She has her gaze fixed on her One True Love. 

Come to think of it, I'm a little jealous. 

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if you do all these things, you will never fail, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:5-8, 10,11

"And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1 John 3:11,12

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Perfect Winter Day

After a ridiculously warm Christmas week, it finally snowed here in the Adirondacks. It was his last day at home before heading back to college.

It was 30 degrees out with brilliant sunshine. I suggested snowshoeing. It was the perfect day for it.
In case you don't make it up here this winter (which you should), I took some pictures for you.

We started by climbing Oak Mountain right here in town. 

Well, half anyway because one of us was too winded to continue through the steepest part. Must have been the extra layers of heavy clothes. 

But even half way up, we got to see this...

Yes... what I've been waiting for.

He tried to make me feel better saying we still came a solid distance.

Once we, I mean I got my breath back, we decided to squeeze in a hike to the highly recommended Auger Falls trail just a few miles down the road. We were not disappointed. One of us couldn't stop oohing and aahing at every new sight.

What a great path for a winter walk.

We could hear the falls awhile before we could see them.

I'm not sure what we were expecting, but what we saw surpassed all of it.

The sun was hitting it just right.

Reminded me of a few verses from the Bible.

"Have you entered the storehouses of snow?" Job 38:22

"By the breath of God ice is given;
And the broad waters are frozen fast." Job 37:10

"He says to the snow, 'fall on the earth'..." Job 37:6

And one even the those who dislike snow and winter the most have to appreciate: 

"Come now, let us settle the matter, though your sins be as scarlet, I will wash them white as snow." Isaiah 1:18 I get the picture. Amen.

God is absolutely everywhere. You can't miss Him if you're looking, and He has given us all of nature to enjoy. What a gift!

We talked, we laughed, he may or may not have had to help me up once. I even got him to take a few selfies because of his arms, obviously. Every minute spent with Ben Burtis is time well spent.

It was the perfect day. I'm so grateful we got some winter before he left.

Monday, January 4, 2016

It Went Too Fast

I used to like the end of our kids' school breaks. I had no problem with them going back to school. I was ready to get back to routine and schedules. Of course, I knew they would be home for dinner every night.

Now the end of Christmas means all my kids leave home and go back to their own lives, apart from us. That's a whole different ball game. I'm not a big fan (at this moment).  So as usual, I'm fighting the post-Christmas blues. Seems a little tougher this year.

I tried explaining this to a few of my new 20-something friends. "It's because for a month or so I've been planning, making lists, choosing recipes, buying presents, decorating the house, baking, cooking, and so much more. Now they are just gone. Poof! And I feel sad."

The girls all sigh, entering into my emotion, and tell me it's going to be ok. The boys sort of look at me like, "Whoa, you're such a mom. Christmas is over. It's not a big deal."

Well, it is to me and I'm not sure I'll ever like the end of it. Scott has picked up on my mood and surely in an effort to comfort, reminded me that our goal has always been to raise responsible adults who are independent and mature. That was as helpful as you can imagine. But he's right and of course I'm grateful. I just wish I didn't love their company so much. 

That said, I'm fighting the sadness by 1. Not allowing my feelings to get in the driver's seat and boss me around, and 2. Putting my focus on all the joys of the last few weeks. This is where my ongoing list of blessings, gratitude comes in. As I record and re-read each line, I am reminded that the blessings and the positive always outweigh the negative.  

Just a little bonus tidbit you probably already know - late nights and little sleep do not help one discern feelings and thoughts. Rest! (FYI - older kids stay up later, especially when they sleep on an air mattress in your room. Our new place is considerably smaller than our last so every night one of our kids were in with us. One night both boys slept in our room. It was sort of sweet. There was no way I would get away with taking that picture.)

Part of my problem is that I can't figure out where all the days went. It's such a blur.  I look at the calendar and think, "When did that happen?" And "What did we do that day?" "How could it have been a week ago?"

Mind you, this is also the first time I've juggled working full time with family time. It was challenging to say the least. I'm not sure I did it well. I know I was fully present in every moment, but I still feel the time slipped through my hands and as hard as I tried, I couldn't make it last or slow down.

It's crazy inside my head sometimes. I honestly don't know how I would survive this life and all the unruly emotions that come with it if I didn't have a Heavenly Father who knows and understands and invites me to cry it out and let Him carry all that for me. Make that for US. He is so good. 

We have been spending a lot of time together and that is always time well spent. Nothing is as comforting and reorienting as Jesus and the Bible. 

New Years kind of snuck up on me too which was unsettling. I like to know what my new goals and spiritual disciplines will be and get a good start (control freak, much?).

Since I didn't read through the Bible last year, I decided to go that route again. January and Genesis just go together.  I believe we need to read the Bible with both a deep and wide approach. Deeply dive into passages and verses studying and lingering on them as long as it takes to understand and apply each. And wide, by reading the whole volume in a concentrated amount of time to get the whole picture. This is the best way to get to know the heart of God, and that's what I want more than anything.

I invited the women I work with to join me and I'm excited that many of them are. If you're interested too, I will leave the link to the plan we are using at the bottom of this post.

So how was your Christmas? I hope you were blessed with peace, love, and God's presence along with fun with family and friends. I wish I could sit with you and hear all about it.

I guess I'll end this post with some pictures from ours. I didn't take too many because older kids don't really want a picture after they open each gift. But if you are interested, this is what it looked like here in the mountains.
Ally came home first and because Scott and I were working, she drove an hour, by herself, to a train station she'd never been to and picked up her brother. Classic expressions pictured here. Ben does not dig selfies, so he rarely cooperates. She never includes both eyes.
One last shopping trip for these girls. You have to appreciate that any and all good shopping happens -at the very least - 50 minutes away. So we consider it a road trip. Which means a specialty drink (when you can find one).

Some people get and are not turned off by my love of gift giving and receiving. Many sweet friends sent me special gifts - all of which I love and adore (gift and giver). I got this special package in the mail loaded with goodies for me. I sent a pic to Brittany and she said, about the giver, "She knows you so well!" That's the point. And I am blessed.

Guess who insisted on helping me open them?

That watch though! If the goal was for me to feel loved, it worked! Thanks my friend, you know who you are and you amaze me.

Some special friends who mentored us during our first days of marriage, blessed us with this yummy treat. They have not failed to send these chocolates to us every year for 25 years. This is why we are fat, but we are happy!

One of Ben's best childhood buddies came for a 2 day visit. We loved having Josh with us. I always giggle at how close they sit to each other. I hope this friendship lasts forever.

Speaking of Ben, Ally begged him to let her straighten his kinky curly hair. An interesting experiment.

We decided he looked like he stepped right out of a Guitar Hero game.

Next up was another trip to the train station to grab these weary all night travelers. We are big fans of public transportation. We are even bigger fans of kids coming home for Christmas!

We attended a lovely Christmas Eve service and then came home to get to bed early because the grandmas were coming in the morning! Oh and Santa before that.

I went out on a limb and bought some matchy-matchy clothes for the kids, knowing I was taking a great risk. They have become quite picky about my apparel selections. Turns out I nailed it. Listen up young mothers who think your growing kids will refuse dressing alike again - you just have to get the right clothes!

Yes, Ally's shirt says "fries before guys".  For a reason. (Britt's doesn't say that, obviously)

When did they get so grown up?

And thanks to Scott's mom, we have triplets in the house!

This is the photo of a man who is very proud of his two sons. Notice his clone wears the same color.

When the rest of the family arrived, we had a really nice dinner together. Not everyone could come and not everyone is pictured. 

Selfie sticks make sensible people take silly pictures.

A boy and his grandma

My girls

I loved every gift specially purchased for me. Here are a few of my favorite gifts...
Books, of course! I gave Scott those boy and girl skiers because that's going to be us very soon as we take up cross country skiing. It's meant to be prophetic.

Scott gave me the 'wow' gift this year. Something I've always wanted, a personalized photo calendar. It is hanging at my desk at work. I just love it. Each family member is featured on their birthday month. Ahem, even me. Imagine the month of April - two pictures of Angela and no one else. Ew. I don't mean to be ungrateful or insensitive, but people. I guess I'll have to fold that one over when we get there. Can you imagine anyone visiting my desk and seeing a calendar with photos of myself? That sweet man, he means well. 

A few days after Christmas some longtime friends came up for a visit. Our kids were little together. Look at them now! We missed you Jesse. We had so much fun catching up, eating and playing games. We talked about God and laughed loud. Bob asks important, deep questions and I love hearing everyone's answers. It was faith building for sure. 

Scott was working while Donna & I were home staying warm, I mean, getting the next meal ready.

We worked on New Years Eve. A few of Ally's friends came up to work in the kitchen, eat up our leftovers and play more games. They are nice boys.
I hung out at the Front Desk with this fun bunch...

Scott worked all over and with the ones who were going to make sure these fell at the right time. They sort of did as we brought in the new year on Newfoundland time (the easternmost place). 10:30pm baby! This is the way to go for those of us who don't like to stay up til midnight.

And shortly thereafter, it was over.  All but one has left, and we only have 2 more days with him. It's so bittersweet.  So much to be thankful for. We had unending fun watching numerous favorite childhood Christmas movies, playing silly games, reliving memories, talking about important things, and just enjoying one another's company. Gifts upon gifts. Joy and more joy.

After our kids and guests left, the snow arrived. Bad timing. 

Winter is here now. So is a new year. New beginnings. A clean slate for God to continue writing the stories of our lives for His glory. Let's be sure to not try and take the pen away or doubt it's accuracy and intent. He knows what He is doing. We can trust all of it will be for our best.

This is a great passage and prayer to start us off...

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is 
before all things and in Him all things hold together.

And so I pray for you asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and 
increasing in the knowledge of God

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."*

That's enough to chew on for a while. It is the kind of amazing truth and intention that will carry us boldly into the new year, eager to fulfill His calling in our lives. This is my prayer for you and me.

Thank you for reading all the way to the end, indulging me by letting me hold on to Christmas a little bit longer. The sadness has lifted and I'm excited to see what God has planned in the days ahead. I know it will be worth it.

This doesn't mean my Christmas trees are coming down anytime soon or that I'll stop listening to the music in the early mornings. I need a little more time...

*verses from Colossians 1

(I really love this reading plan because you can read the OT in the morning and the NT in the evening.  Is there anything better than getting the Word in your mind first thing and last? No, there isn't. Also, you are given a day off on the weekend to catch up or get ahead.) Please join in. It's not too late.