The Lip Stain (#jammed daily devo, day 273)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 273: It’s permanent.

“As for the precious thing entrusted to you, protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” 2 Timothy 1:14

“Take it off….” I instructed and pointed a finger back up the stairs from which she came. day 273My little girl loves make up. Loves to play with it, and can apply lipstick better than her older sister, I, and most other grown people. It’s a precious little quirk about her that I really love. But it’s not appropriate for her to wear outside the house less the dance competition stage.

Her favorite trick to play is the lip stain. It’s impossible to wipe all the way off, and she ‘s well aware of it. She wants to wipe it off “the best she can” and then swipe some gloss over it to let a little bit of her color shine through. It’s precious.

Today’s verse addresses our color and shine. What has been entrusted to our care? The gospel. It’s the lip stain that we can’t ever wipe all the way off, once it’s color has seeped into the very part of who we are. There’s no going back, and it’s best to just swipe some shiny gloss over it everyday and let the Color shine through for all to see.

We’re also reminded that it’s not by our own ability the color of the gospel resides in our hearts and shines through the exudent steps our of our walk with Christ.

The original Greek word in context of this verse is enoikeo- to dwell in one and influence him (for good) -Strongs The Spirit doesn’t just dwell in us, He stirs us. Influencing our choices to run in line with God’s love for His people and compassionately stirs the power of the gospel in our souls …our lives …and our conversations.

The Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts the first moment we believe. He translates, interprets,  and communicates our prayers to God when we have no words to break through the agony or the triumph. He helps us do what we are incapable of doing on our own, but purposed to do in this life …spread the love of the gospel. Love on people for Christ. It’s all about love.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for the Spirit! Thank You for the indwelling presence of good and love in our lives. Forgive us for taking His presence for granted, and help us to tune into the stirring of our souls at His whisk. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Tuning,

Megs

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The Full Brim (#jammed daily devo, day 272)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 272: Filled to the brim with grace overflowing.

“Stay awake.” Matthew 25:13

My morning cup of coffee ushered in the new day.  Awake and alert to read from the Life day 272that God left us to ingest, His presence fills my soul to the brim. 

Today’s Scripture warns us to stay awake at the end of a parable that Jesus taught about a wedding. It’s a Real Housewives episode waiting to happen.

Jesus: Or picture the kingdom of heaven this way. It will be like ten bridesmaids who each picked up a lantern and went out to meet a certain bridegroom.

We can all picture what it’s like to get ready for a wedding that we are a part of. There is a lot of preparation involved. Weddings aren’t typically planned overnight. Especially no weddings with ten bridesmaids in them, like the example Jesus gives us in this passage.

Five of these women were sensible, good with details, and remembered to bring small flasks of oil for their lanterns. But five of them were flighty, too caught up in the excitement of their jaunt, and forgot to bring oil with them.  

Five bridesmaids had it together, and had thought and prepared in advanced. The other five were, “flighty.” Too caught up in catching the bouquet and worrying who they were partnered with …what everyone’s hair looked like and if their nails and makeup coordinated. There are people who truly stand by us in life and others who just want to claim a space. The same is true in the case for faith. A real relationship with Jesus cannot be swiftly and sentimentally wound overnight.

The bridegroom did not turn up right away. Indeed, all the women, while waiting, found themselves falling asleep.

The truth about people is fickleness. We rush to get ready and then complain about the wait. Walking with Christ, we must constantly remember what we are waiting for, preparing for, and living because of.

 And then in the middle of the night, they heard someone call, “The bridegroom is here, finally! Wake up and greet him!”  The women got up and trimmed the wicks of their lanterns and prepared to go greet the groom.

Who will be ready the moment Jesus comes back? There’s no way to know when that day will come. If it happened in the next 24 hours …would we be ready? Are we prepared?

 The five women who had no oil turned to their friends for help.

Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Please give us some of your oil! Our lanterns are flickering and will go out soon.

But the five women who’d come prepared with oil said they didn’t have enough.

Prepared Bridesmaids: If we give you some of our oil, we’ll all run out too soon! You’d better go wake up a dealer and buy your own supply.

This is the part of the story that makes us want to criticize the selfishness of the friends that will not share their oil, but it’s my favorite lesson that Jesus teaches within this story. It’s not up to our friends to carry us to the foot of the cross.

He calls us each by our own name. He knew all of us and died for all of us by name on that cross. It’s not our friends responsibly to take us to Him or prepare us for Him. God places people in our lives specifically and purposefully, and we undoubtably need each other …but we must grab the baton individually and seek after Him ourselves.

 So the five ill-prepared women went in search of oil to buy, and while they were gone, the groom arrived. The five who stood ready with their lanterns accompanied him to the wedding party, and after they arrived, the door was shut.

Look what happened to the women who were unprepared. They were out of time. The door was already shut. Jesus won’t shut the door until every name has had the chance to hear the truth and accept Him as their Savior. But once that door is closed …

Finally the rest of the women turned up at the party. They knocked on the door.

Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Master, open up and let us in!

Bridegroom (refusing):  I certainly don’t know you.

People are fickle. They will turn their backs, and then whip around when it’s convenient for them. We can expect that. It’s human nature, and though we’d all like to claim “we’d never…” let’s be honest. Our patience is not godly! For the love… But when Jesus returns, there will be no fooling the One who can read every intention of our hearts.

 So stay awake; you neither know the day nor hour [when the Son of Man will come].

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for the story! Thank You for the love Jesus exuded through parables He preached. Forgive us for thinking we have more time to get to know You. The time is now, and our days are numbered. Help us to live each one fully in Your purpose. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Preparing,

Megs

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The Creative Expression (#jammed daily devo, day 271)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 271: The Expression of our Creator.

“Encourage your generosity.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

No-one wants to talk about the reality of starvation in the world. day 271

But there are people starving and suffering at the hand of injustice and unfairness. People that God loves just as much as you and me. The Bible tells us that there will always be poor in the world and that it’s our job to care for them, the orphaned, and the widowed.

No-one DESERVES poverty. I sometimes fear we are so caught up in conspiracy the we’ve become blind to those who need us the most. Afraid to tap into the talents we’ve been gifted and the blessings we’ve been given to ask God,

“What do YOU want me to do with this?

Today’s verse travels far beyond artistic ability and empathetic ears. It seeks to pierce the  hard crack of our hearts. It’s an exposure of our generosity. An encouragement to give more, not just of ourselves, but of our sustenance.

Giving away money is one of the hardest things believers do, especially when there are bills to pay and more expenses than income. However, helping others with their physical needs and not only their spiritual needs is a fundamental principle of Christian spirituality.- VOICE

 God gave us Jesus. The expression of His love cost Him an only Son. He didn’t just rain money down from heaven to save us. He, in His creative genius, sent us Jesus. Jesus is God’s expression His of love for us, in every way. His forgiveness, generosity, provision, and grace. He gave it all. Jesus gave it all. What are we willing to do for the spiritual freedom and peace that is free to us?

The root of all creativity is the Expression of our Creator.

Let’s not become stuck inside of four walls. God’s people were meant to go. Into their communities, yes. To help our neighborhoods, yes. But also into the world. Are we willing to ask God what His plan for our lives looks like?

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for the blessings we live under in the West, and in this country. Thank You for giving us the means to make an impact in this world in YOUR name. Forgive our selfishness and our irresponsibility with finances that prevent us from giving what You know we can …we want Your will for our lives over ours. Help us to understand how that looks differently for everyone, and to be willing to allow Your hand the final say in every area of our lives’ direction. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Giving Gracefully,

Megs

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The Deep Breath (#jammed daily devo, day 270)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 270: Slower speed receives fast.

“Jesus repeatedly left the crowds, though, stealing away into the wilderness to pray.” Luke 5:16

Breathe in …..day 270

Breath out ….

Desparate to create a little more space for my little rib-kicker, I listened intently to the instructor’s lesson on breathing. Though a natural phenomenon we don’t have to think about to accomplish, there is a way to breath that intensifies and maximizes all other attempted movements and thoughts. Not a believer in meditation, so to speak, I deferred to prayer after the intense stretching and strengthening had come to a peaceful end on the mat.

In those moments, I breathed deeply …not into the thoughts of the instructor or the power of the earth, but into my conversation with my Creator. In the moments that I chose to breathe deeply into His presence, He pulled me in a little closer to His embrace. There is power in breathing into the One by Whom our very breathe was crafted.

breathe- to take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide through natural processes; to inhale and exhale freely. (Merriam-Webster)

There is power in breathing. Great power that we walk through our days not focusing on or noticing… but when we choose to shift our gaze and our focus to a moment dedicated solely to abiding in His presence …sometimes wordless …that’s powerful.

Jesus knew this power. In today’s verse, he steals away into the wilderness to pray. He showed us that our human flesh does not operate on the power of the wind or the waves or the earth or our minds. Our strength, our very breathe, is in held in the compassionate hands of God, who placed us purposefully.

Jesus, God’s Son, who came down from heaven to abide with us, die for us, and save us …needed to walk away and spend time with His Father in prayer. What a rich lesson for us, as we seek our way through this massively painful world, that feels as if it weighs a thousand pounds on our backs some days. It was never ours to carry. Not the burden of our lives, this life, or worry of the future. Christ came to conquer it all, and show us how to cope while we remain.

Breathe. Pray. Believe. Follow.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for prayer. Thank You for giving us the gift of conversation and quiet moments just to breathe in Your presence. Forgive us for passing these life-giving moments by, and help us to slow down and dedicate our breath to you each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Breathing,

Megs

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The Canvas (#jammed daily devo, day 269)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 269: Beads up and rolls off.

“Let someone else praise you…” Proverbs 27:2

Spread out across the driveway, we scrubbed and sealed and patched the long piece of day 269snap-adorned fabric to ready it for the season. Boat canvas. A high-maintenance cover to protect it’s high maintenance counterpart. Every boater knows that all of the time spent to protect and repair that vessel is paid off in the first sunset of the season.

Like boaters protect their vessels, so God protects us. It’s one thing to accept a compliment on a nice canvas job, but when our talents and abilities are given a pat on the back …who do we credit? Our Protection? Our blessings? Or, ourselves? Our own abilities …

“Let someone else praise you …”

We are all after a pat on the back and a job well done. It’s human nature to seek confirmation that we have done good and traveled the right path. We look for evidence that we’ve done the best we can do with what we’ve been given, and seek to achieve worldly standards as a sign of our happiness.

Sometimes, it’s only when we’ve arrived at the top of the world that we realize it’s futility. No compliment or human standard that will ever fufill us. Only Christ’s approval will provide the peace we are innately seeking in this life. Measuring our talents up against His will for them is the only way to travel through life knowing we are doing all we can do. The world’s standards will tell us that we need to achieve certain benchmarks to be happy. One after another we will reach, pass, and move on to the next one …never feeling fully satisfied.

“Let someone else praise you …”

There’s only one way for each life to attain true peace. It looks different for everyone, as individual as we were all created. That’s why comparison is so dangerous. We chase someone else’s benchmark, and all the while miss our own. Jesus died so that we could stop chasing aimlessly. Paint the bottom, prepare the canvas, and then launch her into he water where she will float despite the world’s efforts to sink her …and all of the falsities that fly by our minds eye will bead up and roll off her freshly waterproofed canvas.

That’s what walking with Christ is like. Not prevention from the storms of life …but a way through. Always a way through.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for Your protection and Your guidance. Thank You for Your Living Word, that guides our lives perfectly, and Your Son Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to grant us the grace to interpret it. Forgive us for forging our own way, the world’s way. Bless our lives to seek Your way. For we know it is always bigger and better than anything we could ever ask for or imagine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Water-proofing,

Megs

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The Recline (#jammed daily devo, day 268)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 268: Down but not out.

“The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.” Now let’s be clear: it’s not the one who commends himself who is approved; it’s the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 

Temporary separation stretched into an unknown prison of solitude. Chronic pain day 268…drained. As sanity slowly seeped out of the cracks, frustration rushed in.

We scramble for solutions when there’s no escape. In the painful moments of every life, we look around …in …and up …in search of a solution bigger than we know how to pray for.

Today’s verse reminds us to dig back into those moments in our lives the only way out was to hang onto God. When we talk about making it through a tough season or experiencing healing  …do we remember Who was there to hold us together?

The moment before the results were in. In the waiting room watching for certain steps to come out of the elevator for the last time. Crumpled up in agonous tears of dread, pain, and fear. When our stomach dropped at the news. At the final good-bye until heaven.

Do we remember to boast in the Lord in those moments? Those ugly moments in life when only He knows what’s happening in our hearts. When people marvel at our strength and ask us how we got through it …do we tell them the truth?

“Let’s be clear: it’s not the one who commends himself who is approved; it’s the one whose the Lord commends.”

Whether we are climbing out of a pit of pain or picking ourselves up out of the perilous pain of loss …it’s not our strength carrying us. It’s our Savior. His name explains His powerful ability to pluck us from destruction.

In our careers, friendships, marriages, parenting, and beyond …our accomplishments are no surprise to God. Nor are our failures. Our days are numbered by His compassionate love that looks out for us. Though the wages of sin is death we live on in grace through the Cross.

We are promised pain in this world and must endure the consequences of our sins …but He pulls us through it. Though we don’t deserve it, He made a way to pull us through it all and home to His arms in heaven.

When we are faced with more than we can bear, we can turn to the cross and know that Jesus understands the pain of this world. Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. He requires only what He knows we are capable of upholding.

Belief.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for upholding us when our strength inevitably fails us. Thank You for providing a Way out of the pits of this world. We confess that we are blindsided by life and miss the glimpses of You that are ever-present in times of trouble and heartache. Bless our hearts to soften to Your voice, and to hear You above all else. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Holding-on,

Megs

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The Staple (#jammed daily devo, day 267)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 267: Calm in chaos.

 There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:18 day 267

“How was your day?!” I routinely asked as my two daughters flung open the doors and clamored with chatter. As she set her book bag down and clicked her seatbelt, my older daughter suddenly became serious …

“My head really hurts…”  and that’s when I caught sight of blood dripping down my sweet girls face.

“OH MY GOODNESS, BRIANNE!!!!” I reacted, which sent her calm demeanor into a frantic set of questions…

“What -what is it- is it bad- can you see it?”

When we prayed on the way to the ER, my purpose was to level the emotion in the car with calm. With peace in knowing that we don’t always understand His plan, and reminders that He’s good …His plans for us are good …and He loves us. A love that is so strong that when we cry out He hears every word. He is there, with us.

He was there in the car that day, as our evening was re-routed from dance class to the ER.

It was bad. Staple in the head bad.

When our playlist gets interrupted, we need to steer our thoughts to a solid plan of action.

  1. Take control of the initial reaction. Somewhere in that heart of hers, my girl found the courage to pick herself back up off of the floor after her head slammed into the metal fire extinguisher box, and muster up enough composure to make it to the car pick line. Take control of the reaction and replace it with calm action.
  2. Get to safe arms, fast. In her case, that was mom in the car pick up line right outside. The love we’ve built has bridged a trust in her heart that she can navigate up and over just about anything to get to me, counting on me to rescue her. It’s our goal, as parents, to eventually point that bridge right to God. Run fast to Him before our feelings make us frantic.
  3. Trust our circumstances in the hands of Love. She sat on the ER bed with her legs crossed as usual, and patiently waited for the cottontail atop her head to numb the hurt. When the time came to put the staple in, she just wanted my hand.  When we realize our lives are in God’s hands, we start to understand that He will get us through anything …even if it’s home to Him.

New hardware in place, she looked at the doctor and asked,

“Can I dance with this in my head?”

“Well, sure,” he answered …“when is dance?”

“Right now,” she stated matter of factly, “I’m late.”

(Insert room full of laughter…)

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for brave little ones. Thank You for the lessons that You teach us about Your love through their lives. Forgive us for letting fear kidnap our focus on You when calamity strikes, and help us to breathe deeply into Your love when unexpected hardship happens. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Stapling,

Megs

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The Empty Running Log (#jammed daily devo, day 266)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 266: Slowed to a stop.

“I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.” Galatians 2:2 day 266

The empty pages smelled like a slice of heaven. I couldn’t wait to fill the pages full of miles and routes, splits and workouts. But it wouldn’t be that way this time. This time, the old injuries would resurface and linger.

Today’s verse speaks of running, a hobby fond to my heart and something that is a very big part of who I am. It was only in learning to let it go that I realized I could survive without it. I’m learning, as I walk with Christ, that I can survive without anything …but Him. In Greek (the language the New Testament is written in), “to run” is the work “trecho.”

trecho- by a metaphor taken from runners in a race, means to exert one’s self, strive hard; the word occurs in Greek writings denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome. (Strong’s)

Running taught me how to exhaust myself beyond what I thought was possible to recover from. The wisdom I gained from pushing my limits helped me to learn that I do, in fact, have limits. My injuries are prone to my legs, and sometimes, I can’t outrun them. Sometimes, there’s no telling when they will heal, or when relief will come. Sometimes they seem to be ready for the pounding again, but underneath the surface, the scars often linger too large to hold up under the weight of my fleeting feet.

trechō means “to run” in both a physical sense and a figurative sense. trechō is used several times to picture of the Christian life in the sense of running toward a goal (1 Cor. 9:26c; Gal 2:2; 5:7; Phil 2:16; Heb 12:1). Passivity is not a virtue in the Christian life. -Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

Passivity is taking all of the wisdom God’s given us throughout our trials, and suppressing it. Barreling on with one solution after the next …none of them working. While Jesus waves His hand in front of our faces to stop, passivity is thinking that we can fix everything without Him.

Walking with Christ is hard. We get knocked down, stripped of things that we identify with and once identified us. People leave our lives. Death is an everyday reality. And if we can’t find God in those situations, we have fallen victim to a passive attitude about who God is and what He promises.

He is good. And He knows what’s good for us. His plan for us is good. The way we identify ourselves is not always the same way He sees us. Being open to His version of who were made to be and what we are here to accomplish starts by believing in Jesus. Walking with Him doesn’t always make sense to us, but we can trust that we are being made holy, one stride at at time, until we break the tape in heaven.

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for our losses and our trials. Thank You for the things You strip from us that we think we need more than You. Forgive our flipped perspective of control, and bless us to lift it entirely up to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Running …or not,

Megs

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The Small Steps (#jammed daily devo, day 265)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 265: The Steps that Fit.

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He day 265suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.” 1Peter 2:21 (MSG)

Wobbling, wobbling, teetering and tottering …my first baby girl and I worked so hard for those first steps. Up and down the street to the water’s edge every day. One small step at at time, her whole fists grabbing onto my single fingers. Her chubby cheeked grin said it all. That was heaven on earth …for both of us.

The bond we have with our children begins before we feel their first move, and grows one step at a time through all of the stages and over the years. As time goes by, we fall more and more in love with the precious little human that we’ve been entrusted to raise. Our hearts become bonded for life, through the good memories and the ugly ones …the triumphs and the mistakes.

Jesus wants our fists to grab onto His fingers, and begin that same kind of a journey. Step by holy step, He longs to lead us home to heaven.

Step, in the original language it was written, translates to the Greek word, ichnos. In the New Testament, it is a metaphor of imitating the example of any one. (Strong’s) It takes courage to grab onto Jesus’ and let Him lead, but grace is free to all those who believe in Christ.

“Many believers face intense persecution, but western Christians tend not to experience anything beyond social pressure. Are we merely pursuing comfort, or are we willing to swim against culture?” -The Voice

Are we aware of what others suffer every day in other parts of the world just to get up and let Jesus lead them? To walk with Him, embrace Him, and listen to Him? To follow where He leads …

Swimming against the current is hard work. The current never lets up. It flows the same way every day, and swimming against it is not easy. We are going to have to condition ourselves, strengthen ourselves, and stay motivated to swim. The way we do that is by holding onto His whole hand …drinking in the Living Word that He speaks to us through …and staying in conversation with Him through prayer. Jesus has shown us how, and died so that we may follow Him home. 

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:augFather, Praise You for the steps we have to follow in Your Living Word. Thank You for the life Jesus led on this earth and gave for our grace. Forgive us for turning our backs on the compassionate thing to do, and give us courage to swim against the current. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Swimming,

Megs

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The Windy Road (#jammed daily devo, day 264)

September #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 264: Press into the wind.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the Eternal One is in this place—and I didn’t even know it!” Genesis 28:16

Well, at least I can still feel one side of my face….day 264

Battling through a long run in the dead of winter on a road where the wind is always against me no matter which direction I’m running from, the feeling in my face faded on one side and my toes were threatening to follow. I could feel the icy wind stinging and burning the tops of my legs …and I knew they’d be purple or blue by the time I got back home. Struggling to breath through a mask over my face, eyebrows no longer responding to movements as I blinked, I thanked God for the continuous movement in my legs and breath in my lungs.

Today’s verse comes on the heels of Jacob’s very famous dream. He’s seen the Eternal, and God has made Him a promise for His future and a promise that He will be there. And Jacob is overwhelmed.

Running down that road, miraculously healed from a back that was fused …I was embracing my chilly circumstances. Negative wind chills weren’t going to stop me. Nothing but God could reroute me. And He did. Though I not able to run right now, I look back on that moment …that season …and know that anything is possible for our great God. The God of miracles.

Miracles fill our minds with reminders of His presence …His love …and His grace. Remember them often. Tell of them always. 

#jammed click to tweet jun:jul:aug

Father, Praise You for miracles. Thank You for healing. We confess not noticing the blessings that You are showering upon us even in these minutes that we pray to You. Bless our lives with a full filling of Your presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy No-Doubting,

Megs

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