A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

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Remember the Bible stories about David and his rise to power? As a young teenager, he killed the great giant, Goliath, with a single stone and slingshot. He had many occasions to take the life of King Saul, but knew that wasn’t in God’s plan – so he resisted. He came to power, danced in the streets of Jerusalem, lusted after the wife of one of his trusted soldiers, committed adultery, murder and had a life full of family difficulties.  Still he was a man after God’s own heart.

What exactly does it mean to be attached to such a label? Does it mean that God loved David more than others? Does it mean he was above transgression because of that love? I believe that to be a man after God’s own heart, indicates David’s need for God in his life. It was something of utmost importance to him.

This singer of beautifully crafted psalms, who could soothe the troubled soul, was also a ferocious warrior who fought valiantly for his country and got right in the trenches with his men, even when he became king.  He was one of the greatest warriors in the history of Israel.

David was a human being – not some marble icon created by Michaelangelo. He had the same faults as any other man. He was a sinner, like all of us. He was confronted by God, through His prophet, and repented. He suffered the loss of his first born – yes, God forgave David, but there were consequences to his actions.

As we look at our own lives and think of how we’ll be remembered by others when we leave this life – one of the first thing we hope for is acceptance by our peers. We also think of family members and those we love and how they will be taken care of when we’re no longer there.

David was about 70 when he died. He spent almost a year, hanging on to life, probably losing some of his memory as we do when we age. He had to be reminded of his promise to have his son, Solomon, follow him as king. His last memories undoubtedly included many of the same thoughts we experience when we die, but his final wishes for the continuance of God’s kingdom didn’t die with him. He was in constant pursuit of that relationship with his heavenly Father.

God had a plan for David’s life – just as He does for us. We can be confident, just as David was, that our lives won’t end at death. This is just the beginning of a new page in the adventure of those who are after God’s own heart.

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THE MAN THAT I LOVE

I thank God for placing just the right person in my life.  My husband Paul is 78 today and he’s given me more than I can possibly express in just a few words on a page.  We were only 17 when we fell in love – high school sweethearts – best friends.

Talk about trusting in God’s plan for our lives, He really knew just what I needed when it came to a life partner.  Our love has matured since those early days of our youth.  We’ve struggled through difficult times and extremely good times, but always with God as the head of our family.

Paul taught me about God’s wonderful grace.  Having grown up in a strict, conservative church, I rarely heard about God’s love for me, a sinner.  My husband has a strong faith and has exemplified that through his business dealings, his work ethic, his willingness to serve God and in raising a family.  To say our love has grown through the years would be an understatement.

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband.  You are a blessing beyond measure and I will treasure you until our dying day.

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FEBRUARY WISHES

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

February is a tough month in the frozen tundra.  We are confronted with thoughts of green grass, a little warmer sunshine and melting snow.  Yesterday surprised us with a blanket of white once more.  Cabin fever is getting to most of us.  We’re tired of being afraid to step outside and fall on the ice.  We can’t wait for those early buds to appear and spring to come again.

Each day is part of a perfectly drafted plan – an intricate mosaic of tiny pieces of shattered glass.
With each bump – stumble – crash – disappointment – goal reached – dream pursued, we grow.
Our character is being molded into a final masterpiece – a work of art created by God Himself.
He knows what needs to be reshaped, redefined, restored, revised, redeemed.
Only our perfect Artisan can create something out of nothing.

 

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CAST YOUR CARES

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“Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.”  Psalm 55:22

Some people have a hard time believing in a God who would permit suffering and pain to enter the lives of his followers.  Some even think that He does so because of the evil we do.  So what about those who live according to the law, are obedient to God, put their total trust in The Lord and study their Bibles?  Unfortunately this isn’t a game of us against God, for if it were, we certainly would lose.  We’re all sinners, every single one of us.  No matter what we do, we can never pay for our wrongdoings.  There is only One who can come up with the impossible ransom.

We not only are gifted with the promise of eternal life, but Jesus invites us to cast our burdens upon His shoulders.  He will make them much easier to bear.  It’s really hard for us to allow Him to do that, because we want so much to handle things ourselves. If we remember that His will for us is always for our good, it might give us an inkling of how He works.

When we face life threatening diseases, when our life hangs in the balance, when we wonder if our debts will overtake our assets and we will be left penniless – that is when we need Him most.  When anxiety and depression pursue us – when relationships fall apart – when our guilt overtakes us – that is when we need to turn it over to Him.

God doesn’t allow us to escape trouble in our lives.  Many times He will place challenges before us – not to harm us, but to make us stronger and more dependent on Him.  The one thing we can count on with the greatest certainty, is that God loves all of us equally and unconditionally.  The only thing He expects in return is that we follow Him. He loves a penitent heart – one that comes to Him and lays it all before Him with sincere sorrow.  A repentant heart will be forgiven and become joyful in serving the Lord.

My prayer list grows day by day.  People I love are facing difficult decisions, health issues, money issues and so much more.  Age is overtaking many of my friends, but there are so many who hurt and become desperate at any age.

Lord, Jesus, I ask that you stay close to those who are facing the tough challenges of life.  You’ve invited us to lay all or burdens upon you and you will give rest to those who ask.  Allow all of us to depend completely on you for anything we face today, tomorrow and into eternity.  You are our only awesome God and greatly to be praised, even in bad times.  In your holy name I commit myself and those I care about into your hands.  Amen!

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SATURDAY PRAYER

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Dear, Holy, Father,

You have set before us a new day, filled with sunshine and hope.  As I think about the events of the past week, my heart has been slightly on a roller coaster trekking uphill one day and crashing down the next.  I know that you have purpose in all of it.

There are times when I simply don’t understand – my heart is troubled, broken, sad.  There are days when I see your magnificent glory in every corner of my life.  There is no hiding from you.  You know me inside and out.   You are aware of my weaknesses and my strengths and you have shown me how to make the best use of them. I still have so much to learn.  Your wisdom is beyond my learning, but still I know that you love me and all of mankind.  You don’t want us to suffer.  You don’t want us to lose hope.

Strengthen me this day as you carry me through the tough times as well as the good.  Support me through the shocks of life, the mysteries, the unknowns.  Hold me tightly as I continue this journey you have mapped out for me.  Be with those who are suffering – those who don’t know you yet – those broken and abused – those clinging to life.

My confidence is in you, Lord.  I will be quiet and let you do your will.

Amen!

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HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS

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I’ve always believed in God. I’ve known since an early age that I would some day go to heaven, but at the time I had no plans on doing so. It wasn’t brainwashed into me. I had plenty of questions as a child. I was influenced and even entangled by some intellectual, scientific peers in college who told me my beliefs were nothing more than a myth – a fairytale – something I should forget about if I wanted success.

I’ve heard comments that put this to the test again. “Raising children in the Christian faith is nothing more than child abuse.” or “How can you feel good about your parenting skills when you are doing nothing but indoctrinating your children?”

Of course, I feel I’m firmly planted in my faith, but it saddens me that someone would accuse me of brainwashing my children – subjecting them to a set of rules and regulations that can’t possibly keep – making them feel guilty for doing wrong. How terribly, horribly, uncaring I must’ve been as a parent – engraining all that responsibility and good citizenship into them.

I cannot tell you the number of times I thought there was no hope for me. I put on a happy face and appeared like the perfect mom, but I had no real peace. I was covering my own insecurities with a mask which belonged to someone I didn’t know.

Now that I’m drawing closer to the end of my life, I see many friends passing into heaven. I feel the pain of those they’re leaving behind, but I know the confidence they have in eternal life.  This gives me great joy. I know I’ll see all of them again. I realize that life here is merely temporary and the best is yet to be.

To those who have numbed their minds with scientific theories and unproven thoughts, I beg you to consider looking beyond the grave. Where will you be when you die? Will it all end there? I’m confident that I’ll have another chance once I die – it’s a gift from God and the place I’m going to is the original paradise designed for God’s creation.

You’ll find Him in science, because He created everything. He knows all about biology and every species of life. He knows about design, technology, space, art, nature, music – everything, because He made all of it. He is in the trees, the mountains, the depths of the seas. We can’t hide from Him, because He’s everywhere. He can place an army of angels at our disposal when danger attacks. He can protect us when we suffer, even though we may wonder where He is in that. He can heal broken hearts. He gives chance after chance to those who disobey Him.  He loves us  unconditionally. That sounds like perfection to me – not a myth.

 

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OBEDIENCE

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
If trees could talk, I wonder what they’d say. A gnarly, burled, old tree might have a lot to talk about. It’s been part of the forest for a long time. It’s seen plenty of change over its own existence. Many of his friends have been torn and tossed about by the storms of life – cut down to make way for new inhabitants – or decayed and died of old age. Trees go through many of the same things we do and, if they could talk they’d have many tales of good as well as evil – joys and sorrows, – grief, pain, loss – overcoming all odds – goals achieved and so much more. I imagine the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would have lots of advice about obedience – a word which is slowly fading from our vocabulary.

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WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

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Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a hard question to answer in a world that’s full of ugliness, hunger, pain, inhumanity, brutal death or hardship. It’s especially hard to answer for a Christian, because it may be assumed that we go through life without any of that, or that we are oblivious to it.

I wonder why some people have it all and others just scrape by. I hurt inside when I think of all the blood shed in countries living under cruel oppression. My heart aches when I hear of acts of a deranged mind taking the lives of others. Tears fall when a young person dies. When undeserved pressures plague those who trust in God, I wonder where God is in all of this.

God is in control of everything that happens in our universe. He placed the stars in the heavens and created all life that exists here. He planted each seed to grow and nourish His children. He provides for our daily bread – even when it’s just a crumb.
On the other side of the coin – from the beginning of time, we’ve been disobedient to God. What we deserve is punishment, but God loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer. He provides a way for us. That WAY is Jesus, and the payment he made for our transgressions.

This world isn’t our permanent home. What’s waiting for us on the other side of eternity is where life begins. We’ve been given this time to grow our relationship with God. It’s a time for us to share our love for Him with others – to serve Him, by serving others – to face difficulties with Him as our counselor – to look forward to freedom from all the troubles of this world.

God is faithful and His love endures forever – even in times of trouble. That’s truth we can count on!

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NECESSARY WATER

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

 

Water can be a rushing creek, tumbling over rocks and tree limbs. It can be a raging sea tossing a small vessel in every direction. It can be a quiet lake with refreshment and coolness on a hot summer day. We cannot survive without it. God created the waters and then divided them, revealing the masses of land risen up out of them. He filled the water with life as well. He gives us life through water and keeps our bodies alive by abundantly supplying it for us to drink. Man has polluted much of the water over time, but God continues to replenish and cleanse it, just as He has washed away our sins through the gift of baptism. Without it, we would dry up and cease to exist. Praise God for water!

 

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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IT’S TIME FOR FORGIVENESS

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Anger, frustration, feeling used, being abused, broken hearted, struggling, hatred – all words to describe what many are feeling these days.  For several years our nation has been divided politically to the point of breaking up families and friends.  More and more are taking their friends and neighbors to court because of petty differences.  Success seems to be measured by how much money you can accumulate or how much stuff you have.  When you don’t meet that standard, you feel like a failure.  People are at odds about issues concerning life, death, choice, adoption, euthanasia and other things that were once left in God’s hands.

It’s no wonder that more and more are looking for escape from the trials of daily living.  They choose to run away by drowning their sorrows in drugs and alcohol.  They become dependent on things that interfere with logical thinking in order to blot out all the suffering.

Others get angry and lash out at those who do not agree with them or won’t bend to their way of thinking, while more just get angry.  The workplace is filled with people who are unhappy with their jobs.  Even those in customer service have lost the ability to be friendly.

Our country has been deadlocked for the past three and a half years by bi-partisan politics.  People are walking around looking depressed and unhappy.  Children are suffering from emotional problems.  The elderly feel they’re useless and long to die.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just forgive others?  We pray for that very thing in The Lord’s Prayer, when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We ask God for our own forgiveness, yet we don’t know how to forgive each other.

But it seems so hard to forgive someone who has hurt you deeply, doesn’t it?  We cry great tears of sorrow when we’re wounded.  Think of the One who took the pain of the scourge – the endless beating and humiliation – the torment of being nailed to a cross and scorned.  He was the unblemished sin bearer who took on all our sins so we could be presentable to God – so we wouldn’t have to die – so we could spend eternity with Him.

He gave His life so we could live forever.  The least we can do is try to live, work and love each other for the span of time we have on this earth.  All of our problems will not vanish if we forgive, but a door will be opened for us.  It has to start somewhere.  Why not with us – today?

 

 

 

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SPRING – RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER

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ART & INSPIRATION BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
The ravages of winter have all but covered the once fertile fields of this beautiful, old barn, but life still exists within and without. The memories emanating from my grandparent’s farm continue to remind me of a simpler life – a life without so much complication, worry, derision – just normalcy. I’m certain that farm living isn’t perfection, but it’s a diversion from what we view as the rat race of the every day. Maybe that’s why Jesus referred to the farmers and shepherds of His time. Lots of lessons to be learned – not only about life, but how to live it – not only about God, but all He does through His creation and nature – not only about compassion, but selflessness, hard work and sharing – not what we learn by reading, but by what we actually see occurring in the field. I could easily spend my remaining days in such a peaceful environment.

 

 

 

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DIVIDED WE FALL

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“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.  But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.”  Jude 1:16-19

There are so many instances in time when people have been divided. It can be a disagreement in ideas.  It might come from differences in beliefs or religion.  It can occur when people aren’t open to new concepts – they are set in their ways, stubborn, immovable – they believe they’re the only ones who are right.

Divisions occur with just the slightest crack.  Like a fissure in the earth which has become parched by the sun, this tiny slit can rupture into a fracture growing bigger and spreading like the lines on a road map.  Kind of like my face.  Over years, the pains and joys of living have left their mark on this mask I wear, but I digress.

When we lack nourishment or if we’re subject to too much of it, those little cracks grow into giant, gaping holes.  When we don’t have enough to drink, our bodies shrivel and die.  When our brains are so full of misinformation, they can explode into an enormous cavern.

When we’re divided, we separate ourselves from each other.  We lose our cohesiveness.  We think we’re right and forget that ideas flourish when more minds are working for the same goals.  We miss out on some of the best times of brainstorming, sharing, give and take and blending our thoughts by doing so.

When we’re unified there’s no stopping us.  Sometimes we have to give in and admit that we don’t have all the answers – that we’re not in control – that God is in charge of all things.  Sometimes we must bend just a little to conform with other’s concepts.  Sometimes we have to believe in the human spirit and the God given talents it produces.

A small crack can lead to huge division.  One voice can consume a crowd.  One ideal can be squelched by those who refuse to listen.  We so often want to give up and move to another planet, but that isn’t the answer.  God placed each one of us here for a reason.  We’re part of something greater than ourselves. It’s our job to search for that purpose and do what we’re here to do.

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FEBRUARY FROST

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Sparkling facets of frost, scraped from windshields to get a clear view of the road, but do we take time to really inspect the beauty of it? The tiny patterns etched into ice by the finger of God Himself are just one example of His majestic power.

Each snowflake has it’s own pattern and becomes a kaleidoscope filled with intricacy. We rush through life without often noticing the many gifts given to us through nature. The sun casts a wintry glow upon frozen lakes, the sound of crunching snow crackles beneath our feet. The chill in the air enlivens every nerve in our bodies. All the senses are aroused. It’s winter. Soon it will be gone. It’s time to breathe it all in and enjoy it while we can.

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ONE DAY AT A TIME

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“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
Corrie Ten Boom

As each day passes, I have come to realize that every one of them is a blessing from above.  Not because tomorrow will be any better or worse than today, but because it’s another time of God’s grace for me to share His wonderful message.  Our purpose in life is to serve God and others and each new day will make that possible.

God tells us not to worry about tomorrow – that tomorrow will take care of itself.  If we adopt that truth, we’re opening doors to more and more of those occasions.  God has already determined what will happen today and tomorrow and the rest of our lives.  He’s drawn the blueprint for every person that ever walks the earth. He knows us so intimately that He is aware of our thoughts, our words and what we do.  That shouldn’t frighten us, but give us a solid hope that He is our greatest supporter.  He walks with us all the way through eternity.

Yet, even as easy as it seems, we continue to worry.  It’s in our human nature to do so.  We have been blessed with minds that try to reason things out, to make decisions, to solve problems. The world tells us that we should use those talents to build our portfolios, our work record, our successes in life.  God wants us to use our gifts as well, but with hearts that are not self serving.

Each day is a gift – especially when we grow old – but also throughout our lives.  From the first breath we take until the last, we have a future planned by God.   Today why not join me in taking each day as a wonderful gift from Him.  Thank Him for your life.  Praise Him for His intervention in it.  Trust that He has made it possible for you to live in paradise with Him.  Have faith that He never breaks His promises and His plans for your future are always for your good.

 

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DIVISIONS

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER

Our world is full of tragic news and difficult decisions.
We struggle to find good in all the strife and dark divisions.
The devil uses all these things to tug within our reasoning.
Manipulating all our thoughts, with his own special seasoning.
But God’s power is much stronger. He’s crushed the serpent’s head.
He took the devil’s strength away when He rose from the dead.
That evil creature walks the earth, in shadows and in darkness.
He preys upon our weaknesses. He thrives upon our starkness.
He lurks about like lions prowl and forage for their food,
But never will he find surcease for he can do no good.
The day will come when victory will come from up above.
When God will come to judge us all with justice and with love.
Lord, give me wisdom from your Word. Protect me with your arm.
Keep me within protective wings that shield me from all harm.
You’ve conquered death and so will I, as long as I trust You.
You’ve taken all my sins away. There’s nothing I can do,
Except to spread your Word of truth and love as you loved me.
Now shield me from all evil and set my spirit free.

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NEW DAY, NEW LIFE

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
A baby osprey surveys the life that lays ahead of him,
His eyes are wide with wonder and his vision never grows dim,
The artist captures all of this with pencils in a sketchbook,
Within the lines and colors, he draws so we can take a look.

This little bird, just broken forth, holds the world within his sight,
Soon he will grow and learn to fly and soar to heaven’s great height,
Like every life exists to be something special in this life,
He’ll try and fail a hundred times and take on many a strife.

Yet even he, though small and frail, remains in the Father’s eyes,
The God of our Creation, protects from His throne in the skies,
If He safeguards this tiny bird, much more He’ll watch over us,
We are His prized possession, on that we sincerely can trust.

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IDOLS?

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Yesterday was Groundhog day, in case you didn’t know.  Every year we look forward to the end of winter and look to a chubby little woodchuck to determine whether we will have an early spring.  At the same time, Bill Murray is using the fame he earned in the movie, “Groundhog Day,” to sell Jeeps.  Concurrently, our president is doing a pre-campaign address at the Super Bowl game.  This game is filled with physically pumped up men who play with a small brown ball like the gladiators fought in the colosseum.  People across the country are exposed to feminine pumped up bodies gyrating on their television screens.  Are these the idols of today?

Thankfully, this year’s Super Bowl game was introduced with patriotic splendor as four remaining WWII veterans were introduced – the color guard marched onto the field with the American flag – “America” & “The Star Spangled Banner,” were sung beautifully by fully clothed women.  Are these participants placed on a pedestal?  Are the heroes of wars idols?  Most true heroes, aren’t even aware that they are heroes.

The day was filled with a lot of splendor, glamour, winning, patriotism, food, over-indulgence and a groundhog with absolutely no ability to predict the weather.  All of these things could be considered to be idols if they are revered in such a way as they consume us.

Today the confetti will have been scooped up and discarded.  The stage and instruments will packed away along with sound and lighting equipment. All the uniforms will be off to the cleaners and the athletes will go home triumphant or defeated – all because of a little brown ball.  We may see an early spring or experience another blizzard in April.  Bill Murray may wake up this morning and go through the same thing he did yesterday, but today he’ll be driving an orange Jeep.

Our lives are transitory. The things, people, events, pizazz and even the air we breathe will someday pass away. The only One who remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow is God.  He never changes.  His Word is true and we can find His voice within its pages.  He will never let us down  He loves us unconditionally.  With Him, we are assured of eternal life.

 

 

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SAFE HARBOR

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
Like ships in the night, we pass through this life. We’re tossed and oft crushed by the waves,
We sometimes sail peacefully then there comes strife. It seems not a single one saves,
We enter a harbor protected and safe, it cradles and calms all our fears,
A sweet sanctuary, a place to call home, unbound by sheer terror or tears,
Still waters there greet us, He’s waiting to meet us, the Savior and King of the world,
No more shall we struggle our path is made clear, His cloak of salvation unfurled.

This painting was done en plein air a few years back on a day where the temperature was about 109 degrees.  As I sit here by my window, I am witness to a new falling snow.  This painting is helping to lift me up today.

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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