Worship Wednesday – Take You at Your Word – Cody Carnes & Benjamin William Hastings

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.Proverbs 30:5

God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?Numbers 23:19

“My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6

How amazing is it that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God!!! [Romans 8:31-39] Or that there is NO condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus! [Romans 8:1] And we don’t have to be afraid. [2 Timothy 1:7] Nor is it for us to do good works to be approved of God. [Ephesians 2:8-10]

The promises of God and the truths of God abound in His Word. It is our choice to take Him at His word.

This can be a battle for us when we find ourselves in the throes of life in a broken world. As I write, folks come to mind – brothers and sisters in Christ facing overwhelming circumstances. The family of a 5-year-old who is in aggressive treatment for a brain tumor. The wife and children who lost their husband/father to a sudden death a year ago, marking this difficult anniversary. A family broken by a deep rift now coming up on four years with no resolution. Way too many friends in floundering marriages.

When we look at these situations, we are tempted to doubt that God sees us, that He loves us, or that His word is trustworthy. He doesn’t promise healing this side of Heaven. He doesn’t promise His children won’t suffer (in fact, just the opposite). He doesn’t promise justice (again, this side of Heaven) when we are wronged.

However….and a big however…He does promise He will always be with us. He does promise that not only does He love us but He is Love itself. He does promise grace, comfort, strength, and mercy.

Last week, at Movement Church, our worship team introduced the song Take You At Your Word. It is written by Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King. Although the song has been out for some time now, I’d never heard it. In the lyrics, you’ll hear many of the truths in God’s Word. Powerful!

When I pray for and sit with friends and family in tough situations, one Scripture passage often comes to mind. Jesus had experienced rejection from many who followed Him to serve their own interests. He turned to His disciples and this conversation followed:

Jesus asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave too?”

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”John 6:67-68

This is where I hope to always plant myself. In hard times and easy. In burden and blessing. The world cries out against God when it sees suffering. As believers, we may sometimes cry out as well, especially when we see those we love suffer or those who are lost or languishing under the weight of a circumstance not of their own making.

Peter has given us testimony of the way forward. Jesus, only Jesus, has the words of eternal life. Life itself. He will get us through whatever we are currently facing. He alone gives us power for this life and provision of the next. In Him. In Him. Step by step. Enough light for each step forward as we keep our eyes on Him.

We can take Him at His word.

Worship with me.

Your word is a lamp unto my feet
Your way is the only way for me

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road but the mercy’s wide
‘Cause You’re good on Your promise

Come on

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

Come on

You spoke and the chaos fell in line
Well, I know ’cause I’ve seen it in my life

It’s a narrow road that leads to life
But I want to be on it
It’s a narrow road and the tide is high
‘Cause You parted the water

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

You’re good on Your promise
Yeah, I know
You’re good on Your promise

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Thank you, Lord

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I say sing it again

You said Your love would never give up
You said Your grace is always enough
You said Your heart would never forget or forsake me

Hallelujah

You said I’m saved, You call me Yours
You said my future’s full of Your hope
You’ve never failed so I know that You’ll never fail me

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

I’ll take You at Your word
If You said it I’ll believe it
I’ve seen how good it works
If You start it You’ll complete it
I’ll take You at Your word

‘Cause You’re good on Your promise
Oh, You’re good on Your promise

I’ll take You at Your word

Let’s go

Hallelujah*

“The great enemy of the Christian is the sin of unbelief—the sin of refusing to accept what God says and the sin of refusing to do what God says. The great friend of the Christian is the joy of belief and the joy of obedience. Where is God asking you to simply take him at his word?”Tim Challies

*Lyrics to Take You At Your Word – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Benjamin William Hastings, and Aodhan King

Take God At His Word – 21 Bible Verses About Taking God At His Word

Where Is God Asking You to Take Him at His Word? – Tim Challies

What It Looks Like to Take God at His Word – Colin Smith

Monday Morning Moment – Family of Origin – What’s Your Story?

[My mom, two of my brothers, and me]

Memories of childhood can be sparse…difficult to pull forward into the present. It’s hard to accept that some of those memories, as we re-engage with them, are still colored by the fears of a 7y/o or the anger of a 15y/o. Even though we now, as adults, can reframe them. Those memories don’t have to keep us as victims. We are grown now. We can look at them again from a different viewpoint…and heal.

I’ve been immersed for a few years now in examining family of origin stuff, generational trauma, and how those experiences (both the bad and beautiful) are passed onto our children. Some close friends and family have said to me that exploring the past is not helpful. Being present in the present is the way to live. I agree for the most part, except the past is still with us in the present. I don’t want the past to mess with my present…or the future of my children and grandchildren.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending an Allender Center conference on our family of origin story. What a treat to sit under the teaching of these wise therapists and hear how to engage the memories of our childhood. This is not at all about blaming parents for mistakes they made raising us. However, it is about confronting what we continue to carry with us from those days. We often say, “They did the best they could…or knew to do.” That may be true. As I look at my own parenting, I sometimes didn’t do the best I could or knew to do. Sometimes I did wrong to my children. It is part of life along with the beautiful, so we reckon with it and wrestle with it, for the sake of the good that is possible.

L to R – Adam Young, Cathy Loerzel, Dan AllenderAllender Center Conference

We can learn from our mistakes and our parents’ mistakes on a path to healing. In the conference I attended, Allender, Loerzel, and Young all called for three components necessary in engaging our family of origin stories:

Curiosity, Kindness, and Community – We don’t just leave the past “in the past”. It is always with us. However, to heal from the hard of our past, we must gaze into our memories with curiosity and kindness and within a trusted community. Sometimes memories seem few and spotty, but as we engage them, recalling them, they will come more to our consciousness. The adage, “If we don’t learn from the past, we’re bound to repeat it.”, is truer than we think.

I have appreciated taking a deeper look into my own family of origin (thanks to the helps and guidance of these therapists, Dr. Curt Thompson, and others).

Here’s part of my story. Consider examining your own. You might be surprised at the freedom that comes.

My parents grew up in the American South at the end of the Great Depression. They knew poverty. I know next to nothing about my paternal grandparents, but my mom’s parents were very much in our lives. That’s grandma in the picture below surrounded by some of her grandchildren. Grandpa rarely made it into a picture. He was a loner and alcoholic who clearly experienced terrible disappointment during those years of under-employment. 5 children, all boys except mom who was the middle child. Her role in the family was a buffer for her dad’s anger, and the boys all left home as soon as they could get into the military.

[My 3 brothers and me in the front of pic]
[Grandpa and Grandma Byrd, my mom’s parents]

My biological father didn’t work. He grew up on a farm, but when he and mom married, he just couldn’t quite hold down a job. Mom worked long days, but instead of my father caring for us, she had to hire babysitters. He didn’t want the responsibility. I don’t know much more. They divorced when I was 5 or 6. I saw him only once after that.

[My biological father]

Abandonment and neglect were part of my mom’s childhood and part of mine. She loved us and did what she could to feed us and house us. While we were growing up, we didn’t feel particularly poor. I did somehow experience food insecurity and fear which led to a life-long struggle with food and fear that I hoped not to pass on to my children.

Generational trauma has become a fascination for me in recent years because of the therapists above and others and because of its frightfully common occurrence. It is a concept that winds its way through human history (“sins of the fathers revisited on their children to the third and fourth generation”). We know from personal experience that we learn habits and responses from our parents (and they learned from their parents). We have the capability, as parents ourselves, of continuing healthy expressions of care for our children. We also have it in us to stop the succession of wrongs we have endured in family relationships…if we are attuned to them in our own parenting and grand-parenting.

How God Visits Sins on the Third and Fourth Generation – John Piper

Therapist Adam Young podcasts on these processes regularly. I’ve learned much from him as well as Dr. Curt Thompson’s podcasts. Young talks about something he calls “The Big Six – What Every Child Needs From Their Parents”.

  1. Attunement – our parents’ ability to read how we were doing/feeling
  2. Responsiveness – our parents’ willingness to respond to our upset (whatever it might be)
  3. Engagement – our parents’ desire to genuinely know us (at a heart level, whatever age)
  4. Affect regulation – our parents’ ability and willingness to soothe us, whatever our emotional state was at the time – scared, angry, shut down, etc.
  5. “Strong enough to handle your big emotions” – our parents’ ability to stay with us when our emotions were potentially uncomfortable for them; not taking these big emotions personally but welcoming them rather than shaming them.
  6. Willingness to repair – our parents’ willingness to own and right any harm they may have done to us as children (whatever the age).

Attachment: What It Is and Why It Matters – Adam Young

Why Your Family of Origin Impacts Your Life More Than Anything Else – Adam Young Counseling [Podcast]

My siblings and I grew up much loved by our Mom. She did what she could to give us a safe and secure childhood. One of her struggles was having had a childhood that leveled its own share of hard. She brought that forward without knowing. She knew abandonment and didn’t want us to experience it. I believe this is one of the reasons, ironically, that she divorced my biological father. We wouldn’t have to experience up-close his own lack of care for us. Never knowing him or his family, I have wondered in recent years what affected his own neglect of us.

You can tell it’s all very curious for me. I hope you are curious as well. Not to blame a parent but to understand your experience growing up and the impact of attachment in your relationship to your parents and their relationship with theirs. With the hope of setting a foundation of deep love and care for your children and theirs. It doesn’t have to be the situation of where “hurt people hurt people”.

Would you consider journaling your family of origin story and processing it with trusted individuals? Curiosity, kindness, and community – Be curious about your family as far back as you can take it. Treat those memories…those family members…with kindness. It’s very possible those memories will have greater meaning as you explore them as an adult. Where they were painful, repair and healing are possible…if we don’t just try to stuff them somewhere out of sight, out of mind. In community, our stories help us to understand each other and ourselves…and find the beauty and freedom there in the discovery.

Even Hollywood gets it right sometimes. In the TV show FBI (S6, E2, “Remorse”), the last line of the episode is so pertinent. A father (who struggled with alcoholism) talking to his teenaged son (who had begun drinking and was repentant):

“Mistakes are just part of the game. What’s important is what we do next.” Owning your part. Asking forgiveness. Treating each other with kindness, not contempt. Repentance and repair.

I’ll come back to this another day…hoping to learn from your journey as well. Thanks for stopping by.

[Mom, our step-dad, and our 3 kiddos – much loved all the way around]
[Dave’s parents]
[4 generations with Dave’s grandmother, mom, and our first-born]
[Another 4 generations pic with Dave’s dad, Dave, our son, and wee grandson]
…they grew up so fast.

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Sin and Trauma – Don’t Trip Over What’s Behind You – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Sins of the Fathers – Neglect and Abandonment – It Stops Here. – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Abuse – Where Does It Begin and How Do We Respond? – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Trauma and an Early Morning Exercise Toward Flourishing – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – As Adults We Still Need to Feel Safe, Seen, Soothed, and Secure – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Mom – a Lifetime Full of Love Notes – Her Birthday Just Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Mildred Jane Byrd Stephens McAdams – Feb. 2 1927-Nov. 2 2002

[Today is Mom’s birthday – 22 of them now in Heaven. This blog adapted from the Archives. ]

Our little family has never lived close to the grandparents. This was not easy…for any of us. Before I married, I lived close to home, and Mom was my best friend. She died 22 years ago, and I still miss her every day. To people who knew her well, I would often say  “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was a consummate encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

Mom pictures for website 012

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me with the move. New Haven, Connecticut would be a 2-day drive from Georgia. At that time, it was the farthest I had ever lived from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music books on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.

My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I have kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There is a lifetime of notes between Mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by little notes like these.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave from visits with them, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is sadly almost gone, and it is for us to pick up these traditions, or traditions like them. Passing them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as ever. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out with words of kindness and encouragement. Written or spoken, they are love notes to the heart.

[Thankfully, our grown-up children continue to show love to their parents with words – both written and spoken.]

Thanks, Mom. After twenty-two years, many may have forgotten you for now. Many more won’t know of you this side of Heaven. Your life may have seemed small, but it was larger than life to me.

Thank you. Thank God for you.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Sunday Grace – A Valentine’s Day Reflection of the Deep, Deep Love of God – Deb Mills

Worship Wednesday – Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Cody Carnes & Chandler Moore with Maverick City

Photo Credit: Heartlight

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.Psalm 18:2

“And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”Deuteronomy 31:8

I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.Psalm 37:25

Last week, during a trip to see family and friends in my home state of Georgia, I was reminded often of what a firm foundation we have in Jesus. Spending hours in the car, driving from one house to another, the local Christian radio station had Cody Carnes’ song was played over and over again.

Now does this just happen? Firm Foundation was released over two years ago, but I must have heard it on the radio this week like ten times or more.

It came repeatedly to my attention during the perfect week. My family is hugely important to me. Within our large extended family, there are struggles, like with any family. Mom/grandma/memaw was our spiritual and emotional rock. She held us tightly together despite our big and sometimes disagreeable personalities. However, she has now been with the Lord over twenty years.

Now it is up to us to hold together and believe that God is for us…each of us, and all of us together.

We can’t just make that happen in our own strength, and we don’t have to. We have a firm foundation.

Believe me, if I could take away some of the pain in my family, I would. Praying, encouraging, trusting. God is kind to allow us to be in the battle for our loved ones, but it is not enough. The foundation we build our lives on is crucial. We can’t do that for each other…it is between each of us and a good God.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation reminds me of another worship song. A great old hymn entitled “How Firm a Foundation”. Some of the lyrics are in the graphic below. Powerful and true!

Blog - How Firm - biblevisuals.org
Photo Credit: Biblevisuals.org

If you listen to Cody Carnes’ Firm Foundation on YouTube, read the comments. Testimony after testimony after testimony of people who have been in terribly hard places yet they stood firm in their faith. Crediting God for being with them, sustaining them, comforting them, fortifying their hope.

He won’t fail us. That is His promise. He will never leave us or forsake us. Again, His promise to His children. Rest in that. Lean into Him and each other.

Worship with me.

Christ is my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking
I’ve never been more glad
That I put my faith in Jesus
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Yeah)
He’s faithful through generations
So why would He fail now?
He won’t (No, He won’t, no, He won’t)
He won’t (He won’t, He won’t, He won’t)

And I’ve still got joy in chaos
I’ve got peace that makes no sense
So I won’t be going under
I’m not held by my own strength
‘Cause I build my life on Jesus
Hе’s never let mе down
He’s faithful through every season
So why would He fail now? (Sing it out)

He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail
He won’t fail
He won’t
He won’t

No, no, no, no, He won’t fail
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail (One more time, say it)

Christ is my firm foundation (Testify)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (I’ve never been more)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it now)
That I put my faith in Jesus (Yeah)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (He’s faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (So why)
So why would He fail now? (I need you to shout it out)
He won’t (Sing it out, say)
He won’t (No He won’t, no He won’t)
He won’t fail (No, no)
He won’t fail, no, no (One more time)
He won’t (Yeah-ayy-ayy-ayy, ayy-ayy)
He won’t (I’ve never seen You fail, no)
He won’t fail (No)
He won’t fail

I have a testimony
I have a story to sing
This is my story to sing my song
I have a testimony, you wanna see my testimony?

Rain came, wind blew
But my house was built on You
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (I feel somebody’s faith rising)
Rain came and wind blew
But my house was built on You (This is the reason you made it, ’cause)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through
(One more time, oh, rain came)
Oh, rain came and wind blew
But my house was built
on You (This is the reason I’m standing)
Oh, I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
Yeah, I’m gonna make it through (My house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (One more time y’all, say it)

And Christ is my firm foundation (Ayy)
The Rock on which I stand
When everything around me is shaking (Oh, woah-oh)
I’ve never been more glad (Sing it out)
That I put my faith in Jesus (He’s never let me down)
‘Cause He’s never let me down (Faithful)
He’s faithful through generations (Oh, yeah)
So why would He fail now?
He won’t
He won’t
He won’t fail (Say it)
He won’t fail
He won’t (Oh-oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh)
He won’t (No, no, no, no, no, no)
He won’t fail (Woah)
He won’t fail

Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Never seen the righteous forsaken
And He won’t start now
Rain came, wind blew
My house was built on You (This is how I made it)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it through (Oh, rain came)
Rain came, wind blew (It tried to knock me out, it tried to shape me up)
But my house was built on You (But my house was built on You, oh-oh-oh)
I’m safe with You
I’m gonna make it (Yes, I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through (I’m standing strong on You)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause my house is built on)
‘Cause my house is built on You (‘Cause you’re gonna make it through)
I’m gonna make it through (‘Cause I’m standing strong)
‘Cause I’m standing strong on You (I’m gonna make it)
I’m gonna make it through
‘Cause my house is built on You*

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blog-Firm-foundation-they-Lord-will-not-forsake-his-faithful-ones-Psalm-37-28-heartlight.jpg
Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to Firm Foundation (He Won’t) – Songwriters: Cody Carnes, Austin Davis, & Chandler Moore

Worship Wednesday – How Firm a Foundation – Illustrated – Deb Mills

Blog - How Firm a Foundation - buff.ly - Laura Kranz

Photo Credit: Laura A. Kranz

Monday Morning Moment – Birthdays and Seasons – the Punctuation of Life

Photo Credit: ArborMaxTree

Hello, Dear Ones. As I write, Keith Jarrett‘s Shenandoah is playing in the background. Have a little sit with me, and let’s talk about birthdays and seasons. My birthday has just passed, and it was truly fine. Full of reflection of past years and wonder at the possibility of another calendar year added to my life.

Grateful.

Oh…there was a momentary pity party. A singular evening-long regret that I have not always stewarded friendships very well. Not sure that will be changing (sigh…) which then took me again to gratitude for the friends who have stuck with me through all these years. What treasures you are!

This birthday has unfolded…with cake, cards, family, and some of those faithful friends showing up anyway.

Life is such an amazing thing. In every season. As we get older, so many things change but our hearts don’t really age. We still long for closeness with those we love; we seek out purpose in our days; we pray to finish well. All the things.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

A few hours ago, I had birthday lunch with a dear friend who is coming up on her 80th birthday. We both lamented that if birthdays punctuate life, then those celebrations ahead could barely count into double digits. Those times with family. Those opportunities of looking back and ahead. This beautiful woman with a heart full of love wondered aloud if she was/is doing what she was supposed to do with her life. I am so glad she trusted me with that, because it was my joy to remind her of the huge ripple effect she has across so many lives. All the good quietly overflowing from this servant of a woman. Continually.

My heart is just encouraged thinking about her…and inspired by the possibility of living life well at 80.

Another friend gave me a beautiful photo calendar. Every page has a picture of this tall, proud maple tree in our yard. She had taken a picture of the tree through all the months of this year – in all its glory, in every season. If that maple tree could talk, it would not lament one season over another one, I don’t believe. Oh, it may remember most gladly the leafy summers or its deep red Fall foliage, but each season has its own sweetness, its own beauty.

As happens, I find, one experience flows into another, deepening the lessons we’re meant to learn. Facebook Memories today took me to a blog I read 10 years ago written by Amanda Hill. She wrote about “glory days” and reflected on seasons, using the example of the towering oak eventually ending up in bundles of firewood. Here are the last few paragraphs – so worth your read:

I am not good at letting go.  I hold onto old pictures and handprint wreaths and have all kinds of problems letting friends slip away through the years.  I want to hold onto them like warm blankets, safe and folded, loved and cared for, put away in a cedar chest.  I want to hold onto a better time or a better place when secrets were yet unearthed and I was an oak who protected.  I want to go back to a time when I didn’t believe anyone could really chop me down.

And yet sometimes we have to be stripped down to be built up again.  Ripped into bundles and packaged differently and oftentimes devalued in the world’s eyes to realize what our true worth is.  A piece of wood cannot again become a tree, but it can light a glorious blaze of sacrifice…

Photo Credit: PxHere

This is a worthy calling as great as a tree standing tall, for “we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Don’t look backward. Let the past slip through your fingers like fine sifted sand, knowing that God will reshape, and reuse, and redirect into something magical. Your glory days are ahead.  Brilliant blazing bursts of light that will dance and spit and pop with fire.

Burn bright. It’s what you were born to do. Amanda Hill

I’ve embraced this birthday with peace and even joy. Thankful for the life that’s been given to me. All of it.

Every birthday. Every season. With still many adventures ahead.

Our kids grew up with “Calvin and Hobbes” (1985-1995) created by Bill Watterson. Last week, on the Facebook page Everything Calvin and Hobbes, an essay was posted detailing Calvin, as an old dying man having his last visit with his friend Hobbes. It reminded me once again of all the seasons, before children and after, and relationships that weave together to make this wonderful life in all its hard and good. Thank You, God.

Thanks also to any of you still reading this ramble. Wish you could come by to share the last piece of my birthday cake.

Photo Credit: Calvin and Hobbs, Facebook, Everything Calvin and Hobbs, Lizzie Friden

Worship Wednesday – Broken Things [Beautifully Restored]- Matthew West

Photo Credit: Heartlight

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3

We hear the word broken almost daily – in descriptions of our world, a government, a system. Also on a more personal note: a marriage, a family, a friend. Maybe we’ve even used the word to describe some part of our own selves. Broken doesn’t have to be forever. My parents grew up in the Great Depression’s years of deep poverty. You didn’t throw anything away. Broken could always be fixed. In fact, even when not restored, sometimes broken things could still be used…well enough.

I heard this song, for the first time, today. Broken Things by Matthew West. It got me thinking about my own brokenness. Some things are obvious – weaknesses, timidities, and flaws of all sorts. Other things in my life I’ve probably done a good job of concealing, or deceiving myself that I have.

It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is what we do with our brokenness. Those things in our lives we consider broken are not a problem for God. He is a master re-shaper of broken. He turns those parts of us into some beautiful and good and even glorifying to Himself.

Matthew West describes the message behind the song Broken Things:

“We all have brokenness in our lives. Whether it’s a broken dream, a broken relationship, or just a broken piece of ourselves that we carry around. But God uses broken things. That’s what this song is about. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for a heart that’s willing to be used.

Photo Credit: Quote Addicts

Worship Wednesday – From Bitterness to Brokenness – Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Thomas Watson

Reflecting on brokenness takes me back to the account of Job’s life and losses. God allowed His faithful servant Job to experience such awful pain and sorrow that few (if any) of us will ever know. So devastated was Job, he was left only with a grief-weary wife and a few friends who taunted more than comforted him. Yet, Job did not turn from God. He cried out to God in his deep confusion, angry at times, grieving, complaining, trying to sort out the reasoning that brought him to the darkness of his life. God did not remove Himself from Job, nor did Job remove himself from God. In fact, God rebuked Job’s friends and told them to seek Job’s prayers for themselves to prevent God’s judgment on them. He also blessed and restored Job. [Job 42]

Some of our brokenness we can understand – consequences of our sin or that of others on us. Brokenness can also seemingly be without reason or justice. Job landed well in God alone. God was always his resting place, his sanctuary. Job knew the answers lay with a loving Father. He did not allow pride, pain, or shame keep him from the Lord. May we follow his example.

May we surrender the broken things of our lives into the hands of a God who won’t shame us for them but will restore us to be used of Him mightily here and to be kept for His kingdom forever.

Where else would we go?

Worship with me in the healing truth of Matthew’s West’s Broken Things:

If grace was a kingdom, I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made
Oh, but I heard a whisper as Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

[Verse 2]
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
Oh, it’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose, tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours
I’m all Yours

[Outro]
Grace is a kingdom with gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
*

*Lyrics to Broken Things – Songwriters: Matthew West, A.J. Pruis, Jason Houser

What Does the Bible Say About Brokenness? – Got Questions

God Uses Broken People – 4 Reasons God Uses the Weak to Do Amazing Things – Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira

Scorning Its Shame – Adam Moran

Scorning the Shame – The Disciple-Making Parent

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Lanny Henninger

Monday Morning Moment – Staying Curious & Leading Children to Be So

Photo Credit: UVA Today

We were born curious. Little children asking “Why?” over and over again. Wanting to know, to understand, to shine light on this great big world of ours.

“Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.”Arnold Edinborough

As we get older, we get comfortable with what we know. Our sense of wonder too often flattens into the daily routine. We have occasional forays into a trending pursuit, or we hunker down for a time to develop a new skill. Can we call those activities and intentionalities curiosity?

Curiosity comes out of a desire to understand those around us and the world we share.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”Roy T. Bennett, Compassionate Curiosity – Asking Good Questions

Curiosity communicates caring. As we fix our gaze on another person and ask the questions needed to actually get to know them, we show genuine interest. That interest draws the other person into a space of belonging…of belonging with us. Curiosity about the world, beyond the person, fills us with wonder.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”Albert Einstein, —”Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”

What happens to us as we grow up? Do children lose their sense of curiosity and can it be regained? Yes and yes. Be curious yourself about the children around you. Have they already shrunk their worlds into a small group of friends and a few preferred activities? Do they find people intriguing and nature wholly fascinating? Are they open to being a part of a larger community…one that is multi-generational and multi-cultural?

Recently I came across an Instagram post by Ian Simkins. As you swipe left, across several screens, Simkins talks about the curiosity of children and what happens as we get older. Before I can really impress upon my grandchildren to be more curious, I have to practice it myself.

Jeffrey Davis, a researcher and business consultant, gives us a compelling look at curiosity as a key to belonging:

Curiosity is the proactive facet of wonder that spurs us to question the way things are and our desire to learn or know. Curiosity propels us to become more engaged in new experiences, seek novel perspectives, and—especially important—connect with other human beings in more enriching and meaningful ways.

As much as we’re wired to crave belonging, we’re also wired for bias...which is why we naturally gravitate toward people who look like us, share similar views, or come from similar backgrounds. It’s also why we pursue things that are comfortable, familiar, and reinforce our existing beliefs.

In short, our brain unconsciously sizes people up as friends or foes to keep us safe, inadvertently closing us off from the connections we so desperately need. But when we allow wonder and curiosity to take the wheel, we can break out of our bias boxes, and often, we’re much happier for it.

  • Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
  • Lead with questions out of genuine curiosity.
  • Share experiences of wonder.

By leveraging wonder and igniting your curiosity, you can build more authentic connections, deepen your relationships, and improve your mental and physical well-being.

Photo Credit: Walt Whitman, QuoteFancy

I want to challenge us to stay curious. To show genuine care for others. To practice life-long learning about our world and the people who populate it.

Then, we can model curiosity and care to our children…coaxing them into the wonder that surrounds us. Taking it all in with gratitude…because we don’t necessarily deserve the goodness in our lives, but we have it just the same…curiously. Wonder at that for a bit!

Curiosity: Why It Matters, Why We Love It and How to Get It Back – Christy Geiger – Excellent resource and fast read. Don’t miss this one!!!

Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity – Emily Campbell

Curiosity and Compassion: Your Super Powers for Emotional and Mental Well-Being – Kelly Hine

Curious About Curiosity? Professor Studies How Children Learn – Anna Katherine Clay, UVA Today

Why Curious People Have Better Relationships – Jill Suttie

Be Curious, Not Judgmental – a Leadership Lesson From Ted Lasso – Connie Whittaker Dunlop

Curiosity as a Moral Virtue – Elias Baumgarten

Why We Should Be Curious About Each Other – Lisa Bortolotti and Kathleen Murphy-Hollies

Photo Credit: Slideshare, The Art of Powerful Questions

Worship Wednesday – These Days – Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Faith Chapel

“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:11-13

For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.Philippians 2:13-15

Singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp‘s song These Days first came to my awareness last week when it was playing on our Christian radio station (WPER). I searched for it on YouTube after stopping the car, and it wasn’t even posted yet. Nor could you find the lyrics anywhere. It was that new. Finally, it’s now posted. For such a time as this. The lyrics, simple but profound, stopped me in my tracks. He sings of us being born “in just the right place, at just the right time”. He encourages the listener not to be afraid because “maybe we were made for these days”.

When you think about it, of course, we were made for these days!

It’s how God does things. In the US, 2024 is an election year. No matter what side people politically align, everyone is squaring their shoulders in some sort of aggressive or protective maneuver. We measure the events of our world and the people attached to those events and we make the judgment: “You’re either for us or against us.” We as Christians may enlarge that to “for God, or against God”.

There is much more at work here…but much of it lies under the surface, or maybe even in the heavenlies.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

What is going on in our world today changes absolutely nothing about God’s promises, His claims, and His calling in our lives. He means for us to trust Him and to walk by faith in Him.

I’m often drawn to Paul’s passage to the persecuted church in Rome (Romans 5:1-5):

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Whatever news reports come to our attention, whatever doomsday commentary seems true, whatever terror feels too close by, we as followers of Christ are to respond in faith. Not in ourselves, or our country, but in Christ alone. We reach out in compassion to those in need, we pray for our country and others, we encourage one another with what is true, and we walk in faith, daily obedient to His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

Jeremy Camp gives the story behind his song: “I remember writing this and just thinking about what’s going on in our society — a lot of the chaos that’s going on and a lot of the fear. A lot of people are feeling like, ‘Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Why was I born at this time?’ [Like] Esther, back in the Old Testament, where it says she was born at ‘such a time as this’ to stand up for her people, God has given us a purpose and a reason for being here. I really do want to encourage you God has you here for a reason. He doesn’t make mistakes. He has a plan and a purpose for you. You were born for such a time as this to truly be a light in a dark world.”for K-Love Radio with Lindsay Williams

Worship with me.

These days my heart’s always on the run

These days the world’s spinning out of control

Ooh-ohh

These days are fast and they’re furious

Feels like the worst is ahead of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Sometimes it’s hard to feel at home, but

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

What if the beauty isn’t crushed?

It just needs the hope that’s inside of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

What if it’s more than a destiny?

What if we’re part of a masterpiece?

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Until our father brings us home

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

To stand when it gets hard

To love with open arms

It’s something to embrace

Maybe we were made for these days

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days.*

Postscript: Even in the hard, God gives us reason to rejoice and live in a deep peace and steady hope. In YouTube’s recommendation column (beside Camp’s song above), I discovered Lauren Daigle‘s song “These Are the Days”. Very different to Jeremy Camp’s song, but…still thought-provoking and riveting. In Lauren’s story about the song, she wrote the lyric in the excitement post-COVID of returning to the stage, but greater still, Christ’s return being on the horizon. In her song of jubilation, this lyric stands out: “If it’s not good, then it’s not over!”. It reminded me of Hastings’ lyric in last week’s Worship Wednesday: “Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

We, as believers, have more reason than ever, in hard and confusing times, to wait on the Lord. To look, in readiness, to our Deliverer and our Conqueror…to the exquisite Lover of our souls. Hallelujah!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all. – from David’s Psalm 103

*Lyrics to “These Days” – Songwriter: Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Monday Morning Moment – Hall-of-Famers and What Makes Them So

[One of the W-3 Huddles – staff retreat for Holston Valley Hospital’s W-3 cancer nurses]

What is it that distinguishes an individual or group and sets them apart from all the rest?

I’ve had the privilege of working with such folks from time to time through my life. In the late 80s-early 90s, it was a group of nurses in Kingsport, Tennessee. We had moved there as young marrieds after Dave finished his Ph.D. for him to start work as a research chemist at Tennessee Eastman Chemical Company. I left my job as professor in the nursing program at Yale University to find my way into a tight medical community. People were kind, but it would take awhile for me to prove that I had something to offer.

The nurses on 3rd Floor Wilcox Hall of Holston Valley Hospital, in those days, were a rare collection of capable and caring women. We all know the adage about working smarter, not harder. They worked both smart and hard. I was honored just to help in whatever way I could as they shouldered heavy patient loads with stressed families to care for as well.

They were funny, scrappy, no-nonsense, determined, and loving. It’s been almost 30 years since our days together, but I will never forget them (and others of whom I don’t have pictures).

L to R: Nurses – Nan Ritchie, Kay Mitchell, Debbie Seymore Shields, Chris Blue

Just this weekend, I was on a long, refreshing phone conversation with Kay Mitchell. She, Kathy Visneski, and I worked closely together during those W-3 days. Kay was nurse manager, Kathy a nurse educator, and I was clinical nurse specialist. We dreamed, planned, and executed programming, support, and training for some of the best nurses we would ever know.

Kathy and I led a support group for cancer survivors and their families. Part of its success was the trust these folks had in the care they received during the times when the cancer was new and raw, and for some, when it would finally take them. The W-3 nurses would be wholly there for them in every season.

[in conversation during Take Time…to Help to Heal cancer support group]
[an activity from the Take Time…to Help to Heal support group]

Love Your Neighbor – Cancer Support – How It’s Done Well – Deb Mills

In our phone call, Kay told me a story. A few months back she had a knee replacement surgery. Years of nursing, like with many professions, are hard on our knees. As she was “ambulated” – being walked in the hall shortly after surgery, she was in the company of nursing friends who’d come to see her. Friends from the era we shared. Like Kay, they had gotten older (it is odd how we get older but still, with each other, feel the full vigor of life shared in the workplace). It must have been a sight, this nurse “patient” and her friends filling the hall, walking slowly together, in conversation and encouragement. A physical therapist observing them captured the scene with the word, “Hall-of-Famers”. These women who were known and, as it should be, revered.

Kathy Visneski & Dr. Chip Helms, Radiation Oncologist
L to R: Nurses Chris Blue, Ruth Couch, Kathy Visneski, Volunteer Sherry Weaver
Amy Thacker, Chemo Nurse
Sherri Rogers, Nurse Manager

So how do people become “hall-of-famers”? What made these women…and other men and women like them…notable? Remembered with tremendous fondness and honor.

Here’s what I think. It was their servant leadership. Whether staff nurses or nurse managers, they led with excellence and a serving heart.

The phrase “servant leadership” is not new, but it is more than just a prescriptive or descriptive style of leading. Such a leader, as described by Collins and Collins, is “‘compelled by an unshakeable desire to serve’. Leaders who lack that core belief are not servant leaders but rather using servant leadership practices among the many in their toolkits. Notice we are not describing a servant but a servant leader. Servants generally don’t have a choice, but a servant leader, through humility, chooses to put others first…Leaders who do this well focus on where they can bring the most value to others…When we see someone step up in a difficult situation despite the probability of failure and commit themselves wholly because it is the right thing to do, we are more likely to join with them for the long journey. The unconditional nature of serving may be the most defining quality”..of these women.

“I saw this picture today that captured so well the amazing nurse Chris Blue. I was so blessed to have had the best role models as nurses! Chris Blue, Nan Ritchie, Joan Bishop, Jane Faries, Evelyn Parker, Kathy Visneski, Deb Mills, Amy Thacker, Ruth Couch, and Cynthia Wright to name a few. This picture captures the care we provided on good ole W3! Beyond blessed. So glad my roots are strong that started with this group. Brought back some amazing memories!”Teresa Bailey, 2020
Teresa Bailey

Hall-of-famers. Steadfast. Hard-working. Resilient. Intelligent. Caring. Full of life and love.

Who are the hall-of-famers in your life? Maybe you share your workload with some of these wonders. Please comment, if you’d like, about your experience with hall-of-famers. Maybe you are one…or on your way to becoming one. Thank you.

[A note I sent to our nurses and other cancer nurses in the region in 1994, the year we left East Tennessee]
Kathy, me, and Kay…some years later.

Worship Wednesday – Seasons – Benjamin William Hastings

[Some of our raised beds, winterized, resting and waiting their replanting]

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”Genesis 8:22

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

[I’ve written about seasons many times. If you have time…catch them again here.]

It’s winter here. Although our garden is quiet now, the promise of Spring is still visible.

[Japanese Maple seeds]
[Daffodils coming up]

[My beloved irises pushing through. Mom’s favorite flowers, thus they are mine as well.]

Most all my life, I’ve had the pleasure of living in four-seasons places. Except for Egypt when all the seasons we knew were hot and then a little less hot. Still the beauty surrounded us there…different yet still a witness to our Creator God.

Seasons aren’t just studies in the growth cycles of plants, trees, and produce. They also mark periods in our lives. Some more fruitful than others. Some more filled with wonder and joy. Others remembered with some measure of regret and disappointment.

God is not surprised or taken aback by any of our seasons. He was there for all of it, and He loved us through every season.

A few weeks back, I heard the northern Irish singer/songwriter Benjamin William Hastings for the first time. He was one of the songwriters on “So Will I”. His song “Seasons” is a beautiful description of what it is like to be patient in our seasons, both with ourselves and with our God.

“You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

Whatever your present season, keep tilling the soil of your life (and that of your children), keep counting on God’s promises, keep trusting Him for the harvest. “Like a seed, believe that my (your) season will come.”

Worship with me.

Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh, how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
So like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

So like the low winter sun
So it is with Your love
As I gaze, I am blinded
In the light of Your brightnеss
So like a fire to the snow
I’m rеnewed in Your warmth
Oh, melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

And I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

[Bridge]
I can see the promise, I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting

Well, You can see my promise even in the winter
‘Cause You’re the God of greatness, even in a manger
For all I know of seasons is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second, instead, You sent a child

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come
For one day, I’ll see my tree
‘Cause I believe there’s a season to come

[Outro]
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
And from Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia, ooh-ooh-ooh
*

[Our tall maple tree and the waning winter moon]

*Lyrics to Seasons – Songwriters: Benjamin William Hastings, Ben Tan, & Chris Davenport

Worship Wednesday – Abandoned (in the Best Possible Way) – Benjamin William Hastings – Deb Mills

YouTube Video – Brandon Lake – MORE (Music Video) ft. Benjamin William Hastings, Leeland

Your Work Matters to God: Staying On Course Through Life’s Seasons – Deb Mills