Category Archives: Faith

Posts about faith in God and what it looks like

The Practice of Grace

Building a home isn't easy.
Building a home isn’t easy.

 

    The reality of homeschooling can be overwhelming at times.  I won’t lie about that.  I think that’s true for all of us who homeschool.  Simply put, it’s enormous responsibility.  Add in the ‘extras’ of being a mom, wife, cleaning and cooking and you wind up with quite a big load for one person.  Now, imagine doing ALL of that with a chronic illness.  

Daily pain and discomfort is a reality for some of us.

I consider myself one of the fortunate ones.   My asthma is well controlled for the most part.  My fibromyalgia and IBS is managed by diet and vitamins.  Most days my goals are met.  My housekeeping goals are broken down to 1 to 2 loads of laundry per day and one housekeeping chore.  Needless to say, it has become important to conserve my energy.  Most days I keep up with it all:  Housekeeping, cooking, homeschooling, being a mom and being a wife.  It all goes fine until there’s a cold or virus.

A virus brings the normal misery and then some.  First, there’s the usual symptoms, then there’s the fibro flare.  Pain, radiating from the small of my back, then throughout my body bringing with it fatigue and sensitivity to cold and heat.  I won’t lie.  It’s absolute misery.  It brings a halt to all but the basics.  The basics in this house?  Homeschooling:  the 3 Rs, Home:  basic maintenance (picking up, laundry and floors), Cooking:  Anything that is quick and easy.

Unfortunately, the fibromyalgia doesn’t affect my vision.  So, I see all the dirt piling up.  The floor in desperate need of cleaning.  The bathroom.  Oh, my.  The bathroom.  It would be so easy in this moment to believe that I am just terrible at this whole mom thing.  It is so easy to give in to the despair and the depression.

But this is where the PRACTICE of Grace comes in.

Because, you know, you won’t be any good at something you don’t practice, right?  So you tell yourself the things you would tell your BFF if she was in this SAME POSITION.

It’s okay.  It’s not like this is an everyday event.  This is temporary.  You will fix it when you feel better.  You’re allowed to be sick sometimes.  You’re not Super Mom.  You can do it, but just not all at once.  You’re not a bad person or a bad mom just because the floor is a little dirty.  The kids are happy, isn’t that what really matters?

My house at better times.
My house at better times.

I continue in this same uplifting self talk, until I feel better about my situation.  As a mom, it is so very important not to let myself slip into despair.  The cost to my house is huge.  Despair will tear down what I have built up.  It is the thief who is here to destroy.  Despair has a cost that a dirty floor doesn’t have.  The two just can’t compare.

Grace is a practice.  Just like we have to practice drawing or piano, you must practice Grace for yourself and others.  The dictionary defines Grace as being goodwill and mercy.  It is important to be merciful on ourselves, as well as our kids.  Practice Grace today for yourself.  Be merciful to you.  Be kind to you.

 

Becky

 

 

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An Authentic Response to Despair

I’ve been in a quest for authenticity.  Within myself and how I respond to others.  I desire to respond in truth and love.  I want to put my whole self out there.  I want others to know I’ve been there.  I’ve been in the depths of despair.  I’ve visited the pinnacle of pain.  I’ve built the bastions of bitterness.  I’ve camped out at the Altar of Anger.   And there are days I still do.  So, I desire for us who are in Christ and of Christ to put aside the pat answers:

“The Lord never gives you more than you can handle.”

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

“It must have been God’s will.”

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And respond instead with the truth and the times in our life when we’ve been in pain.  I had a friend share with me tonight that she’s in despair.  Instead of giving a pat answer I shared with her my painful thoughts during my times of despair:

“Lord, this is too much.  I can’t handle this.”

“Lord, you’ve made a mistake.”

“Lord, I’m angry with you!”

I told my friend that I absolutely believe we are given more than we can handle at times.  I told her that I didn’t believe any of my thoughts were sins.  After all, He is God!!!  He made me.  He created me!  He knows me better than ANYONE!!  He made me the way I am and then put me in a situation that caused pain.  Who better to express that pain to?  Who am I supposed to share my bitterness and anger with other than the VERY ONE WHO MADE ME?  I have said it before and I will say it again.

 

My God is big enough to handle my emotions.  

He is big enough for my pain, my fear, my doubts and my anger.  I share them with Him first.  We are not doing anyone any favors by pretending we have all the answers.  I certainly don’t.  I don’t have any idea why my friend is going through her trials.  She, quite frankly, has been through enough.  God already know how she feels.  Why try to hide?  Why go to someone else?  He already knows.  Because He knows her heart.

I believe shared pain is better than pat answers.  I’ve never lost a child.  But I cannot imagine what I would do if someone were to tell me that it was God’s will that my child had died.  The loss of any loved one is a terrible thing.  I can only imagine what the loss of a child is like.  The last thing that person needs is a pat “christian” answer.  “I don’t know why this happened to you” is a perfectly acceptable thing to say under painful circumstances.

We all need to know we are not alone.  We need to build a community.  In our homes and in our churches.  We need to shed the mask of who we are not and reveal who we really are.  To promote unity.  To build confidence.  To shed light.  If we really desire to be the light of the world then we must be authentic.

Love,

Becky

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From Brokenness to Redemption

Sometimes I wonder how I got here.  Sometimes I wonder about God’s ability to use me.  He insists He can use all of us.  Even me.  I can’t help but scratch my head at that.  It’s beyond my ability to comprehend.  Redeemed?  Me?  But…Lord, why?  My sins are multiple and compounded:

A judgemental attitude.

Affair with a married man.

Child out of wedlock.

Covetousness.

Anger issues.

I could go on and on.  I open my life and show my brokenness to the world and instead of the judgement I expect I get love.  I get love and support.  It’s simply beyond my comprehension.

How do you get from brokenness to redemption?

Have you ever arrived at a destination not remembering how you got there?  This is like that.  I remember bits and pieces, but I marvel that I’m here.  I’m amazed.

I’m simply amazed.  It’s unbelievable what He can do.  He can repair the broken.  He can lift the fallen.  He can give strength to the weary.  And he’s done all that for me.  As a young mom I said to myself nearly every day:

You don’t have to be stellar.  It’s okay just to survive.  Just keep going.

Motherhood is HARD.  If anyone ever tells you different they are LYING to you.  Motherhood is hard for all of us.  For those of us with a child that has Autism it is slightly harder.  I’ve fallen apart so many times over being a momma.  Each time, God knits me back together again.  Until the day I realized I couldn’t do it without Him.  I simply can’t do this motherhood thing without Him.  It’s impossible.

Let’s face it.  I can’t do LIFE without Him.  So my failure is His glory.  That’s how it works.  And suddenly you wake up one morning and you’ve been redeemed and people tell you that you’re inspirational.  You’re like

Wait!  What?

Because all you remember is the brokenness.  You still remember the pain of the sin and loss of trust.  You still remember being on your knees, crying, telling God you couldn’t do this.  You still remember anger and a hand raised.  You remember all of the brokenness.

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That’s the miracle of redemption.  Sometimes it’s a storm when life gets hard, but mostly it’s a soft, gentle rain.  A knowing.  A voice whispering in your ear

It’s okay.  I got this.

You wake up one morning and you realize it.  It just hits you.  People understand brokenness because they’re broken too.  

Wow.  Who knew?

It’s not behaving like a perfect Christian that saves souls.  It’s showing them our brokenness.  It’s showing them how much God can restore.  What He can do if you rely on Him.

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So how do you get from brokenness to redemption?

Only with the power and love of a risen savior.

Becky

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Don’t Discount the Cost of Sin

As a parent of a child with Autism, my son makes frequent social mistakes.  Sometimes terribly personal social mistakes.  D frequently walks down the middle of a hallway, forcing others to jump to the wall to avoid running into him.  He has no filter and at times calls people “fat” or “old.”  As his parent I have to call him on his mistakes, autism or no autism and I do.  I explain why his behavior is wrong.  I tell him he needs to apologize.  Most people are kind people.  Frequently, they say the words, “It’s okay.  It’s okay.”  Probably thinking they are doing us a favor.

They are not.

Since his behavior wasn’t socially acceptable, then it wasn’t “okay.”  By giving him an out you discount the cost of his behavior and make it more difficult for me to teach him appropriate ways of dealing with the world.  D is like all of us and would much rather have an excuse for his current behavior than change.

This mama doesn’t give excuses.

I’m not in the excuse-making business.  Not even for myself.  I got pregnant with D on purpose and without his father’s consent.  I almost lost the relationship as a result.  I didn’t, but there’s always, always a cost to sin.  And I don’t mean on judgement day.  There’s a real, personal cost to sin.  For all of us.

For D, discounting the cost of his poor judgement means it’s more difficult to make connections with people.  His ability to make connections with others is crucial.  It’s generally the reason we are successful at business, have friends, and stay in long-term relationships.  My dream for him is that he finds someone that loves him as much as I do.  That dream is lost if he doesn’t understand his mistakes and doesn’t try harder.  So no, It’s really not “okay.”

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There’s always a cost to sin.  The cost to D is loss of a dream and a good job.  The cost to me was the loss of trust in my relationship to his father.  If I discount the cost, then I’m in danger of repeating the sin.  We always want to make everything okay, but it encourages us to sin when we do that.  We WANT to believe that we live in a gray world, but God sees sin as black and white.

Sometimes the cost of our sin is manifested in others.  Choosing poorly in relationships can mean absent fathers and broken-hearted children.  Sometimes it means bitter fights and custody battles.  The sin of poor choices affects ALL of us at one point in time or another.  We ALL make poor choices at times in our lives.  But, I believe, that if we acknowledge our sin then the chance of repeating that sin is lessened.  The  problem is that it’s easier to discount it.  Make excuses.  Blame genetics.  Make it about someone else.

Don’t make excuses.  Don’t discount the cost.  Acknowledge the full weight of sin.  Count ALL the cost of it.   So that we can grow in our faith and encourage each other.

 

Becky

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Nightmares on Marion Street

D has nightmares.  He used to have night terrors, which were a horrible thing for a parent to experience.  In those days, D would sit straight up from the bed and begin to scream.  No amount of soothing him would help.  He would scream solidly for 1 to 2 minutes, then stop just as suddenly as he’d started and lay back down and go back to sleep.  They scared me and panicked my husband.  There was nothing we could do.  He no longer has those, but he does still have nightmares.  They will occasionally keep him up for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at night, because he is afraid to go back to sleep.  I understand that.

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I also had nightmares as a child.  I also roamed my house in the single digit hours of night, afraid to return to sleep.  As the years went by and the nightmares remained, unabated, I began to get desperate for them to stop.  I tried everything I knew, which wasn’t much, but included trying not to sleep.  Of course, I was a child and it was impossible.  Finally, out of sheer desperation I prayed to God to stop my nightmares.

It worked.

There were no nightmares that night.  So I did prayed again.  And again.  The bad dreams stayed away.  If I ever stopped praying, they returned.

He has always been faithful to me.

 

So, tonight I count on His faithfulness.  I call on it.  I claim it for my son.

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Tonight we prayed this simple prayer:

Dear Lord,

We know you are God, and we know you love us.  We know you can do anything you want.  Tonight, we are asking you to keep the nightmares away.  We know you can do this because you are God.  Please remember our brother and our memaw.  Please forgive us when we make mistakes.  Help us forgive others who make mistakes against us.  

In Christ’s Name We Pray.  Amen.

Becky

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A Time to Plant and a Time to Reap

It’s spring and my husband and I (well, mostly my husband) have made a small backyard garden.

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We plant in spring so we will have a garden full of vegetables in the summer and fall.  Then winter will come and everything will die and we will replant again next spring.  Happens every year.  A lot of people plant gardens in the spring, and we accept God’s timing in that.  Spring is for planting.  No one tries to plant a garden in the winter.

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But somehow, it’s harder to accept God’s timing in our life.

I didn’t meet my husband until I was 37.  There was a time that I would lament that I met him so late in life.  I would tell him that I wished we had met earlier, like in our 20s.  He, in his blunt way, would deny this idea and say, “No, you don’t.  I was a jerk.”  Over time I have begun to realize that God’s timing was perfect.  God has been working on my husband far longer than even he realizes.  I simply couldn’t meet him until he was ready for me.  If I had met him too soon, he would have been a “jerk” and it wouldn’t have worked.  I met my husband when God intended me to and, in return, I have a full, bountiful life.  Just like my garden will be in the summer.

 

So many of us don’t accept God’s timing.  We plant our gardens of life in the winter.  Then the frost comes, and we don’t understand why everything is so devastated.  If we had only waited for God’s timing, we would have a bountiful harvest, and instead we have reaped despair and heartbreak.

Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31

If I had insisted on rushing the Lord (trust me, I tried) and not waiting on His timing I would have married a “jerk” or even more tragically, married someone God didn’t intend for me to have.  I cannot imagine what my life would be like, because having a child with autism is stressful enough.

I abide in the Lord and He has poured His bounty into my life.  My cup runs over.  How amazing that He has been so faithful even when I have not.

Becky

Having A Contrary Heart

I have a confession to make.  I have a contrary heart.  I mean really contrary.

Deep in the belly of the whale contrary.

I set up curtains there.  It’s a home away from home.  That’s how much time I spend there.

When I was a teenager I was busy telling the Lord what I could handle.  A child with Cerebral Palsy?  Okay.  One with Down’s Syndrome?  Sure.  Just not Autism, Lord.  I can’t handle that.

I couldn’t handle leading a ministry at church either.  Nope.  God didn’t want me to date a young man from seminary because I wasn’t meant to be a pastor’s wife.  There’s no way I could be a role model.  Nope.  Not me.  God knows I’m not role model material.

It took me until the age of 45 to realize He wasn’t listening to me.  I wasn’t listening to Him either.  Funny thing that.  Do you know that if you’re busy telling God what you’re not then you can’t listen to Him telling you what you are?  Because, you know, you can’t listen when you’re talking.

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Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.  Psalm 4:4

Declarative statements are all fine and dandy in a court of law, but they sure don’t work with God.  He asks us to be still.  Be quiet.  “Meditate in your heart” sounds nothing like talking.  It’s a whole lot of not talking.

I did a lot of talking.  A lot of telling God what I couldn’t and wouldn’t do.  Just like Jonah.  And like Jonah I’ve spent time in the whale.  I know what it means to be sitting with the sun beating down on your head, wondering why God doesn’t do something!  Why doesn’t He say SOMETHING?!  But if you’re busy grumbling about your situation you can’t hear God saying:

Move, silly.  Just get out of the sun.  My shade is over here.  

You know, it’s not at all comfortable to be in a place God doesn’t want you to be.  I’m sure Jonah didn’t think the belly of that whale was a 4 star hotel.  It wasn’t at all comfortable for D to be in public school.  “But homeschooling is DEFINITELY not for me, Lord”

And that fast, I’m back in the whale.

I’m sitting in the sun.  His shade is 3 feet away, but I’m.  Not. Moving.  I have a contrary heart.  I’m hardheaded.  Sheer stubbornness.

I’m satisfied with coal because I’m not digging for diamonds.  It’s too much work.  I have to stretch myself too far.  It’s not comfortable.

By the way, God isn’t concerned about my comfort in the least.

Getting up in front of people isn’t the least bit comfortable for me, but now I’m leading a ladies’ bible study.  I’m comfortable at work but I’m a stay-at-home mom.  Autism scares me and I have a child with Autism.

Perhaps you have a contrary heart too.  Perhaps you like to spend time in the whale.  You don’t have to stay, you know.  It’s up to you.  This is all you have to do:

Cease striving and know that I am God;  Psalm 46:10

Be still.  Meditate.  Listen.

No Special People Here

I’d like to state for the record:  I am NOT special.

There’s nothing extraordinary about me.  I’m an ordinary citizen.  Just like you.  Well meaning people tell me all the time:  God only gives those special babies to special people.  Nope!  Because I’m not special and He gave one to me.  D is special, but I am not.  Before D came along I was just like anyone else.  If I saw a child meltdown in the store, I, too, assumed the parent was lacking in discipline.  MY child, when I had them, wouldn’t do that.  I wouldn’t allow MY child to speak to ME that way.  Yes, that was me.  Judgmental and self-righteous.  The Pharisee and Sadducee kind of religion.

If I am different now, it’s because of the experience.

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I have more patience than most.  Before D, I prayed for patience.  Not anymore.  Thanks Lord, I have enough.  I have to have more patience.  D requires more patience.  D questions authority.  It’s just the kind of kid he is.  D is a boundary pusher.  D wants to know why.  And falling back on the old standby:  “Because I said so”  doesn’t work with D.  I have to give short explanations and then stick to my guns.  And be patient.  Because D WILL try to convince me to do something for him by making sure he takes a really looooong time doing it.  He once sat around for HOURS trying to convince me to turn on the tv.  Did I mention how smart he is?  It’s not bragging.  I keep trying to convince his dad he’d be easier to raise if he wasn’t.

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I have more determination than most.  Once again, I have to have.  If I didn’t stick to my guns, D would run my entire house.  D is a smart child who “wants to be a grown up.” He would like everything his way.  Once, he tried to convince me to call the school board and explain to them that he doesn’t want to do school and that’s that.  D would like to eat whatever he wants and weigh 200 lbs.  D would like to watch tv 18 hours a day.  D would never, ever do a math problem again.  The only thing preventing those things is me and his dad.  So, I am determined.  I do the hard stuff.  I make sure he does school.  I make sure he goes to church.  I even occasionally drag him to the store.  Not because I enjoy it.  But because D needs a normal life.  D needs to know how he is expected to behave at church and at the store.

 

I have lots of sympathy for other moms.  Whether they have children with special needs   or not.  Why?  Because it’s HARD.  This is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Harder than I ever thought it would be. The sleep deprivation.  The exhaustion.  The feeling that you’re spinning your wheels and nothing ever changes.  It’s MESSY.  My two boys drag out every single toy they own every day.  I kid you not.  There’s stuff everywhere.  Bedroom, living room, dining room area and even in the hallway.  One of my mom friends were complaining about her house so I sent her pictures of mine.  She hasn’t complained since.  It’s DESTRUCTIVE.  My boys tear up everything.  A likes to tear up pages of books to get D to yell.  There are marks on our wall behind dad’s rocker/recliner, where the boys have run and jumped on the chair making it bang against the wall.  (Yes, I know I should stop them, but I pick my battles.)  Our vertical blinds in the living room get twisted, shoved aside and pulled out, and are crying out to be replaced.  It’s LOUD.  My two are really loud.  They have screaming matches, where they try to outscream each other.  Yes!  I’m serious!  A cries and laughs really loudly.  He was loud as an infant.  D has a leftover whiny noise he makes he gets annoyed.  We are working on those things, but it takes time.

Is there any wonder I have my own meltdowns from time to time?  Yes.  On my knees, crying so hard I can’t see or breathe.  I have been broken.  Numerous times.  Crying out to God.  Asking why.  So when I tell a broken mom I know how she feels, I do.  When I tell a mom with no support system that I want to help I’m being sincere.  When I tell you that you can trust me you can.

So, am I special?  No.  Am I different than who I was?  Absolutely.  I had to change to survive.  But it doesn’t make me special.  It doesn’t make me any different than anyone else.  The essence of being human is to change.  Life changing events happen to lots of us.  It changes us into better people.  Nothing special though.  Still ordinary.

 

Opening Our Heart

“Your babies are always welcome in our home.”

I told a friend this recently.  I was blessed to take her kids for a few hours so she could get some rest.  I was happy to do it.  I’ve actually always wanted to be THAT mom in the neighborhood.  The one that when the other moms are missing their kids they’d call because all the kids in the neighborhood would be at her house.  I love that.  A big, messy, happy-kid house.  I haven’t given up on that dream, but it’s put on hold for awhile.  Our neighborhood isn’t conducive to the concept and Daniel needs friends who understand.  He has a few now, thanks to our wonderful church.  It has truly been a blessing to us.

I know how being alone feels.  I was isolated and lonely.  I missed friends that I worked with.  I missed having adults to talk to.  I tried mom’s groups but it was too complicated.  It’s hard to understand unless you have a child with Autism or know someone who does.  I would get on Autism forums and read the litany of complaints from moms just like me.  Finally, it struck me that we are isolated because we isolate ourselves.  No one knows about what we go through because we don’t tell our hard stories.  Our heartbreaking stories.  The stories that come near to breaking us.  I decided that those stories needed to be told.

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Social media is fine for lovely pictures of happy times.  I take those.  I cherish those times, but it’s also important to tell the other times.  Not so happy times.  Meltdown stories.  Aggression stories.  People are not going to understand until we tell them.  We have to open our life and our heart.  Risk judgement and condemnation.  I’ve thrown caution to the winds.  I tell my stories.  I take the risk.  The response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Lots of people pray for us.  It gets us through the worst times.

In return people open up to me.  They tell me their stories.  Their bad times.  The exhaustion.  The pain.  The loneliness.  They know I can understand.  I know how bad things can be for us moms.  I get it.  I understand.  I’ve had meltdowns of my own.  I’ve been so exhausted that all I could do was cry.  I’ve been, literally, on my knees, praying for a miracle.  I cried to God that I couldn’t do it.  He responded that I could.  I didn’t have a choice, so I did.  Now, I reap the blessings of helping others.  I’ve run the race of endurance.  I still endure our bad days.  I still wait for our miracle.  I still pray.

The God who invented you knows all about you.  He loves you no matter what.  Others can love you too.  But you have to let them in.  Open your life to them.  Open your heart to them.  If they reject you, then you can be just like Jesus and shake their dust off your feet as you move on.  But you’ll never know until you try.  You will never know people’s reaction to your story unless you share.

Be bold.  Be courageous.  Open your heart.

 

Becky

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Guarding your heart

“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap;”  Luke 21:34

I love social media.  I really do.  It gives this occasionally lonely homeschooling mama a chance to feel like she’s actually among adults for a change.  I have certain blogs I keep up with along with certain people I respect and admire.  I even keep up with headlines of local and national news, but just enough to stay semi-current.

What would He see if He looked in your heart right now?
What would He see if He looked in your heart right now?

I have to be very careful though.  Between fibromyalgia and a child with Autism I can get depressed easily at times.  I try hard to stay upbeat most of the time, and I think I succeed.  I have occasional pity parties that I deal with using time limits.  Time limits are a wonderful way to deal with the stray negative emotion.  I tell myself I’m going to be sad/angry/depressed for x number of hours then I’m going to get over myself.  And it works!

One thing I’ve discovered is that my brain works like the old saying of how computers work:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.  I’m strongly affected by the images, news, memes and other things I see online.  So I’m very careful about what and who I like on social media sites.  I tend toward pages like Proverbs 31 women, Beth Moore and other online christian authors and bloggers.  I steer clear of most news outlets and political pages and other superfluous negative pages.  I have even been known to stop following friends who post numerous negative memes, articles and pictures.  It’s not personal.  I love my friends and would do anything for them.  But I guard my heart and mind.  I’m very careful with the things I dwell on.

After all, I want the Lord to enjoy what He sees there.  What would He think if He looked at your heart right now?