Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Take Every Thought...

to make it obedient to Christ...
2 Corinthians 10:5

You might, as I have in the past, read these verses and decide this is impossible. But, it has been impressed upon me, over and over again, just how important it is to control our thoughts - this is why God commands us to do just that.  It is in the battlefield of the mind that we win or lose the day.  If we battle depression, low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide, we can be sure our thoughts are at the root of the battle.  

I believe it is because the stakes are so high for us and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God is so specific in commanding us to capture our thoughts in this way.  God knows that this is where the enemy gains a foothold in our lives and can destroy the future He has planned for us; our hope in Him; our joy in life; our peace; our sense of being loved, even our desire to continue living.  God knows the depth and danger of allowing our thoughts to rule over us rather than Christ.  Clearly, this is an area of enormous significance in our lives.  We ignore this scriptural admonition, truly, to our own peril.  

God directs our thoughts to those things that are healthy and life giving in our lives.  He doesn't leave us alone to figure this out - He makes it very clear how we should control our thoughts.  

You may be thinking, well that's fine for somebody else, if they can do it, but, I have a lot of stress in my life.  I just lost my job, my husband left me, I can't pay the rent, I am grieving the loss of my true love, I am seriously depressed, I want to give up... and on and on.  These are real issues that many people are dealing with.  These are the times when controlling our thoughts is vitally important.  If we allow the enemy to control our thoughts, he will.  We will find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into depression, feeling helpless, all alone in dealing with the problem, ready to give up, potentially, even suicidal.  We cannot allow our minds to run off on their own - someone will control our thoughts - either God or Satan.

I have a good friend and Christian Counselor who often asks me "Who told you that?"  In other words, ask yourself where that thought came from - is it from God, or is it from Satan?  It is essential to identify who is speaking to you through your thoughts. God will never reject you, never give up on you, never put you down, never, never, never lead you to thoughts of suicide.  If you are entertaining those kind of thoughts, STOP.  Take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ!  To not do so could give the enemy of your soul power in your life that God never intends or wants for you.  Satan is called the Father of Lies, the Destroyer, the Deceiver, the Thief...  He will lie to you about you or anyone else in your life, he will destroy everything that matters in your life, including you, he will steal your joy, your hope, your faith in God, your future...

God speaks love into your life, not hate; life not death; hope not despair; peace, not anxiety...  If you are not in the Word of God, do yourself a favor and get into it.  You will find life and healing for your soul.  It is through the Word of God that you will renew your mind. (Romans 12:2)

If you are not sure where to begin in this area, I encourage you to ask God to help you identify your thoughts and to "take them captive to the obedience of Christ..."

Challenge your thoughts - do not just accept them blindly - you have control over your thoughts - exercise that control!  If you are having destructive thoughts, ask yourself where they come from - is that from God or from Satan?  Be ruthless about rejecting any thoughts that are not from God about you or your life or, about God, Himself.  Please don't take this lightly.  Your life could depend on it, especially if you are struggling just to hold on another day.

I plan to do a mini-series on what the truth is that God speaks to us from His Word, vs. the lies the enemy speaks to us.  In the meantime, I pray God leads you to His Word, illuminates your thoughts to be His thoughts for you, and helps you in the battle to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ..."2 Corinthians 10:5

Friday, September 23, 2016

In My Father's House...

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions:

if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

John 14:2-3

Reading these comforting words of Jesus, I thought of how often I am all tied up in knots with worries about the day or what might happen if... Yes, my heart is often troubled. Is yours? Are you facing a trial that you are dreading, wondering how you will ever get through? Have you experienced the unimaginable loss of someone dear to you that leaves you wanting to run away from life? Are you unable to picture your life without your dearest friend, loved one, child, spouse... Are you being threatened with the loss of your livelihood, or even worse, your life, for following Jesus?

These are frightening times we live in. As Believers, we are in the crosshairs of the enemy, who hates us because of the One we serve. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world are paying the ultimate price, in this life, at least, and are suffering persecution and martyrdom for their faith. Is it worth it? What does Jesus say to us as we face these trials and are tempted to cower in fear, to lose hope to walk away from our faith?

Jesus boldly calls His followers to faith - "You believe in God, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME!" None of these things come as a surprise to Jesus. He knows we tremble and shake and want to run away. He knows we are suffering for His name sake. He knows we are hurting, grieving our losses, dreading the trial ahead. He claims us as His own and boldly calls us to identify with Him, at all cost. 

Jesus doesn't pretend none of it matters, none of it hurts. No, He simply tells us there is a tomorrow we know nothing about. It is in "the Father's house." Jesus tells His disciples to look beyond what is terrifying them, depressing them, pulling them down. He comforts them, telling them lovingly that He is going ahead of them to His Father's house - where there are many "mansions". He assures them (and us) that He is going to "prepare a place for them, that where He is, we might be also..." 

Jesus is revealing His heart for His followers, here.  He knows they (we) are struggling, we are sometimes doubting what we know is true, we are hurting, we are being tempted to give up. He wants to reassure us, like a big brother who loves his little sisters and brothers, He is going ahead to prepare a place for us!  At the right time, He will take us there to be with Him.  I love how honest and real Jesus is in these verses.  He knows His disciples.  He knows their tendencies to give up. He knows their every weakness.  He loves them anyway!  He comforts them with His loving words.  

He is going to prepare a place for them (and us)!  Where, Lord.  We don't see it?  We are so limited in what we can see, and Jesus knows it.  He assures them, "if it WERE NOT SO, I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU..."  How I love that!  He is saying, you can trust Me - have I ever lied to you before? I'm telling you where I'm going, what I'm doing and why.  You can take it to the bank - this is the truth...

I have needed to let that sink in a bit, to say the least!  Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Universe, is preparing a place for me and you!  He wants us to be with Him!  If that is not one of the most amazing truths of the Word of God, I don't know what is!  He promises to come back for us! He promises He has gone ahead of us to prepare for us!  He wants us there with Him, in His Father's house!  He could not promise us anything better.  Whatever we are suffering in this life, it has a limit.  It cannot go on for eternity.  Only God's love, expressed through the love and truth of our Savior, goes on forever.  And He has wrapped us in that love and promises to take us to be with Him in the center of the Father's love, in His house, where He has prepared a place for us.  Oh, that we might grasp the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for you and me...  May you be comforted by the promise of Jesus Christ, as you face the trials of this life:  He is coming back for you...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Springs of Living Water...

gushing out of you...

When I was a little girl, my favorite aunt came to visit from New York.  There just wasn't much of anything that happened in my family that surpassed the excitement of a visit from my Aunt Helen. I could tell you a lot about her, but, one of the things I remember most about her visits was the time my mom and dad took her "downtown" to see what they considered to be one of the seven wonders of the world, right there in our own home town of Chicago!  After all, she lived in New York, and don't you know we were always trying to "one up" New York! 

As I remember it, we all piled into our old jalopy to drive downtown to see Buckingham Palace - I mean Buckingham Fountain!  I was quite young though, and I was sure we were going to see Buckingham Palace - right there in our very own Chicago!  Surely, New York didn't have anything that even came close to that!  Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was just a water fountain! Granted it was a rather spectacular water fountain, but, it was "just" a water fountain.  Water was squirting out miles high from many different portals, all bathed in multi-colored lights that made it even more lovely to watch.  I sat in silence trying in my little girl head to figure out how that water was squirting everywhere from some mysterious place within.  How does one make water flow like that?  What's the secret?!

That is one of the pictures I have when I think of what Jesus promised us in the scripture quoted above.  That is quite a promise.  If you have ever had the experience of running or hiking a long distance without readily available water, you know that feeling of being desperate for a drink.  Our bodies are made to be hydrated.  We can't go for long without the simple, God given gift of water.  I remember hiking a long distance, running out of water.  By the time I got home to refresh my body, I was physically shaking all over, becoming disoriented and almost too weak to turn the faucet to get the liquid that, to me, was now more precious than gold.  

The truth is, I have often been dry and desperately thirsty.  Grieving a loss of someone or something I love with all my heart, leaves me parched, weak, trembling and disoriented.  I struggle to know who I am in God's world.  Does He still care for me?  If He does, why is He doing this to me?  Doesn't He know how devastated I am by this loss?  Doesn't He know, I am lost without my loved one or the dream I have clung to for so long?  What is He doing to me?  Why is He doing it? Does He see me?  Does He see my broken heart?  Does He see I am D E V A S T A T E D?

This is grief pouring out of our hearts.  We are confused by it, disoriented by it, devastated by it, angry about our loss, struggling to pick up the pieces to even want to go on.  I believe it is important to pour out our hearts before God - tell Him everything we are feeling - He can handle it because He does so love us, He wants us to come to Him, not just with our highs, but when we are at the bottom of the pit, also.  He will meet us there.

The link I am including in this post is a short story of a young couple who went through the tragedy of losing their beautiful four year old daughter in a car accident - every parent's worst nightmare. The dad is a pastor.  It's so important to realize that, just because a man or a woman is following Christ, even in pastoral ministry, they are not exempt from the suffering of the rest of the human race.  This man tells his story honestly - his rage at God for taking his baby.  His wife tells her story of the pain she went through - in a different way, but, just as real.  We grieve differently, don't we?   And that is okay with God...

The story of their pain and their loss ends with the promise that He will make streams of Living Water flow out of us from within - He will turn our mourning into dancing - He will restore to us everything the enemy has stolen... In my own struggle with grief, that is not something I ever wanted to hear, and didn't always believe.  But, I offer this to you who are grieving whatever you have lost, because I have learned that He makes good on His promises.  They are not frivolous, empty words.  They are the promises of our Good and Faithful God.  

Tuck this promise of God in a corner of your heart and let Him work it down deep within your spirit.  Watch and see, He will make springs of living water flow out of that very same heart that is broken right now.  You are in my prayers, always.  May God, our loving and gracious Father, heal you through and through...


Sunday, June 12, 2016

I Called On Your Name, O Lord...

"From the lowest pit
You have heard my voice.
Do not hide your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help."
You drew near on the day I called on You,
And said, "Do not fear!"

Love Letter to my Grieving Friends, Sisters and Brothers in Christ, in America and overseas...

It is a heartbreaking reality today that the enemy is running wild and persecuting, torturing and murdering innocent men, women and children all over the world.  Surrounding us daily are the horrific images of women being burned alive in a cage, for the concocted sin of refusing to be sex slaves to their captors.  It is worth noting that these poor victims of their lunatic captors were murdered in front of spectators, including their helpless husbands and children.  On another front, we watch in horror a parade of young men, chained to each other, unable to defend themselves, as their psychotic captors murder them one by one, These were young men, full of life and love for their wives and families.  And, for Jesus Christ, for whom they gave their lives. What can we say of the innocent little children buried alive, decapitated, or used for the sexual pleasure of their pedophile masters?  The inhumanity and cruelty of these mad men defies description. 

Today, I awakened to the news that fifty men were murdered in a nightclub, with another fifty who are fighting for their lives.  The shooter was an admirer of ISIS, who hated gays and took it upon himself to end their lives.  Whatever their life style, these were men whose lives belong to God. This is said to be the biggest mass murder in America since 911.  Many predict there will be more to follow, since ISIS has invaded our shores.

We watch in horror as these unspeakable crimes against humanity unfold.  It seems as if history is replaying itself, taking a page from the brutal persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust over 70 years ago.  How can this be happening in our "modern" world, so advanced by technology and scientific achievement?  According to one headline I read today, we are witnessing the "return to the Middle Ages." As I considered all this today, I found myself searching God's Word for comfort and reassurance that He is with us.  God's Word doesn't gloss over the evil in this world.  Not hardly. No, we are repeatedly warned, we have an enemy - he is real, he is everywhere, he hates you and me and he is out for blood.  He will stop at nothing to devour you and me.

We have a powerful and evil enemy who is more and more having his way in the world around us. It is foolish to put our head in the sand, and pretend we don't see what we see.  God has given us His Word to warn us, to prepare us, to comfort and encourage us.  

My heart for you who are suffering, persecuted, tortured and brutalized by the enemy is this.  We hear you. We see your suffering.  We love you.  And even if we didn't, God, who loves you, will never abandon you in the hour of your need. The same God who wrote these words about the enemy also says this about Who it is we serve...

I wonder if the evil is growing around us, because the enemy knows his days are close to the end. God will consume him in the fire.  Whatever apparent victories he has are temporary.  We are kept in the hand of our God, no matter what it looks like.  You are precious to our Savior.  You are loved.  You are safe in His hand.  He will bring you home.  He will bring you through.  You will be as a diamond in His hand.  Please be assured of the prayers of your sisters and brothers in Christ, for your faithfulness, your protection, your victory in Christ.  You are ever in my heart and in my prayers. May God, Himself, be your Comfort and your Strength in every trial you endure...

Sunday, May 15, 2016

And I'll Say of the Lord...

You are my Portion
My Deliverer
My Ever Present Help in Times of Need...

You've all heard of me, I would guess.  The story of the woman healed by Jesus from an issue of blood.  That's it in a nutshell, you know.  I was sick and He healed me.  He did that for a lot of people you know.  But, I am not a lot of people.  I'm just me.  And I want to tell you what I remember about that day.  Because, to me, it is unforgettable.

It's true that I had been sick for many years.  More years than I can remember, really.  My health had deteriorated to the point of no return.  I had been to all the experts to find a cure.  They took my money and sent me away the same way I came in - carrying my illness with me.  My illness had taken over my life.  It controlled my social life (I didn't have one).  It controlled my physical life. Bleeding for so long was literally killing me.  It would end it all for me, I figured, fairly soon.  It controlled my emotional life.  I had given up.  I was in despair.  What hope was there really, for any kind of healing?  The experts all agreed.  I was a hopeless case.  Some of them whispered that they thought I was "imbalanced".  Just a bit crazy.  I suppose that made it easier for them to write me off... 

The worst part of it all, though, was the shame.  I carried it everywhere with me.  I heard the whispers, even when there weren't any.  The voices of mockery and derision pumped through my heart as surely as did my blood.  I couldn't turn them off, I had listened to them all of my life. But, really, I knew they were true.  All I had ever heard was the voice of ridicule and shame. I know my illness was diagnosed as bleeding.  But, the bleeding on the inside was deeper and more killing than anything physical.  I was beginning to contemplate how I could end all of my pain...

Just as I began to make a plan of my own to "heal" me, once and for all, He came to town.  Isn't that strange that He showed up, just when I needed Him most?  You would almost have to say, He knew me...  

Anyway, there He was, on His way to heal someone's daughter.  He was known as the Healer.  I began to wonder if He really was.  Maybe He could...  I argued with myself, back and forth, first believing and hoping, than talking myself out of it as too much to hope for.  After all, I had been sick my entire life.  How could I expect Him to heal me, just like that?  In the end though, I felt something strange pulling me toward Him.  It felt like what I remembered from so long ago.  It felt like hope.  I don't know where it came from, except, maybe, from Him?  

Whatever, once I felt it, I couldn't contain myself.  I ran out the door and to the square where he was surrounded by people everywhere.  I wasn't supposed to be there.  I was "unclean".  I didn't want this holy man to see me or know that I was breaking the rules.  So I crept up on Him as quietly and inconspicuously as possible and just reached for the hem of his garment.  When I felt it touch my finger tips, everything changed instantly and I knew it.  I was healed!  I could barely contain myself. Everything changed!  I mean everything.  The bleeding, of course, stopped instantly.  But, even more than that, I heard His voice calling me to Him.  I saw Him look at me with those eyes that went right through me.  He knew me.  And He loved me.  I was transformed by His love for me.  I could hear His voice speaking His love to me over every other voice I had ever heard.  My heart exploded with His love.  Out of the fountain of His love, I was washed all over with crystal clear water that made me clean and alive as I had never been before.  Yes, I am that woman.  The one He healed.  The one He loves...

I want you to know, what He did for me, He will do for you.  Are you bleeding all over?  Have you been carrying your wounds around your whole life?  Have you given up?  Are you isolated and ashamed of who you are?  Jesus has come to be with you.  He wants to heal you.  He loves you.  He sees you.  He is able to do what all the experts can't.  He can wash you clean and give you the gift of life and life abundantly.  Reach out for the hem of His garment and be amazed at what He will do for you.  He has never lost sight of you. He sees you struggling.  He is strolling through town, just waiting for you to come.  What are you waiting for?  Run to Him.  He will catch you in His arms.  And you will never be the same...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

On the Way, I Lost it, I Lost it...

"I have come to seek and save that which was lost..."
Matthew 18:11

A tiskit a taskit.
A green and yellow basket.
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I lost it.  
I lost it. 
I lost it…

I see a little girl running.
The street lights are on – it’s time to come home. 
It’s time for dinner. 
Daddy’s home.
Something smells good. 
It’s so cold outside.
Why isn’t it warm inside?
I am so hungry…

On the way, 
I lost it… 
I lost it…

Why did I run into this place, thinking it was home?
Why did I call him daddy?
I try to turn and run, but it’s too late.
I am trapped and it is all my fault… 
I never should have expected to find love here. 
I don’t know where it’s hiding, but, I can’t find it here…

On the way,
I lost it. 
I lost it…

It’s so dark. 
So cold. 
So hateful.  So killing.
I ran to him a little girl.
But, I have never seen her again...

On the way, 
I lost her 
I lost her...

Search for me O' God, and find me.  
For I am lost in the depth of my heart…
Shelter me from the harm of my pain and the fury of my anger.
Breathe on me Breath of God and fill me with new life.
Wash away the filthiness that sticks to me like tar.
Be to me the love I lost and never found.

Are You the One who looked for me?
I hid behind the door and watched You search for me.
I so hoped You would find me, hiding, wanting to be found.

You never gave up.
You called my name. 
You spied me watching You in the dark, afraid to answer. 

You ran to me.
You ran to me. 
How can it be that You wanted me? 
That You ran to me?

I once was lost
And now I’m found…
Lord, My Safe, Safe Place,
Keep me in the Shelter of Your love


Monday, January 18, 2016

70 x 7

The Impossible Commands of Jesus...

Te adora semper et semper
Is not love forever and ever?
My heart never thinks of you
 That the scars don't rip open and bleed anew.

I have hated you so long,
I have forgotten
Once upon a time
 You were my favorite love song.

You were my heart beat, my laughter,
 my love, my happy-ever-after.
I painted my heart upon my sleeve
And never imagined you would leave.

But something I will never understand
Tore the bottom from all we planned.
Love turned to hate, and hate to death.
The death of a love we said was forever.
Te adora semper et semper...

I have hated you,
I have loved you,
I have wished you the worst
And prayed for the best.

It hurts to remember all that we lost
The beauty, the love, the years it has cost.
To hold onto my anger
and give into my heart.

Where does love go when lovers do part?
It's buried down deep
Beneath all the pain
Never to speak of or remember again.

But I hear a voice whispering to me
Let me show you the Way
To open the door
To set your heart free.

Forgive him, forgive him, forgive him again.
Seventy times seven is just to begin.
That's impossible I argue,
You don't know what You've asked.

I know that it hurts, He answered my heart
For your freedom and his, they ripped Me apart.
I purchased forgiveness for you and for him
You cannot receive it and refuse to forgive.

Give this to Me, I'll take it forever
You cannot love Me and hold on to this too.
I understand what you've been through.
I suffered with you.

I'll teach you the meaning of love that is true
Follow Me.
Lay down your heart on the altar for Me.
And I will be faithful
to love you forever.

Te adora semper et semper...

Note:  A poem about the breaking that happens when we Follow Jesus.  Especially, in the command to forgive when the pain is great, the wounds are deep and seem to be unforgivable.  I am always amazed at those who dismiss the Bible, as if it is irrelevant in today's world.  Looking at this subject alone, tells me how relevant it is to my life and yours.
I cannot follow His commands on my own - can you?
It is only by His grace and His mercy that I am able to stand at all, on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Without it, I would never obey a single thing He calls me to.
With it, that is a different story altogether...

Wishing you the grace of God to follow Him wherever He leads...

Friday, January 1, 2016

My God...

Looking back over 2015, I want to take a few minutes to bow my head to the God of All Creation, who listened to my prayers and answered them.  How amazing is that?!

All Praise and Glory be to the Name of the Lord, the God who is Faithful, the God who loves us and desires a relationship with us.  I am so grateful that, through it all this past year, the ups the downs, the good, the bad, the sweet things and the bitter, the God who loves me was in it all.

Thank You, Abba Father -

I lost my brother this year.  Letting go of someone we love hurts.  It is never easy.  I'm pretty certain that I didn't handle the moments and hours of letting go of my brother very well.  I fell into a family squabble that was pretty painful.  I struggled to grieve "appropriately".  That is a misconception, now isn't it?  Grieving is different for each of us.  For some it's short, for some it's long.  For some it's deep and cutting.  For some, we try to keep it on the surface to avoid feeling the pain too much.  But, through it all, I know that God knew what I needed and provided for me and still does.  I am not at all sure I have finished with this in my life.  I think this is some of the unfinished business that will carry over from 2015 to 2016.  The only thing I know for sure, is that I can't do this on my own.  I am constantly grabbing onto the hem of His garment, asking to be healed.  I mean, constantly...  I am so grateful that He doesn't brush me off and tell me He already handled that.  Instead, He turns around and looks for me and calls me daughter.  No matter how long my healing takes, I am grateful that He understands and loves me into complete healing...

Around the same time that I said goodbye to my brother, a sister that is very dear to me, but has been very distant, came back into my life.  We had not been close for many years.  When we began to reconstruct our relationship, I discovered she was out of work and desperately trying to find a good job.  Anyone who has looked for work these days knows how trying it can be.  This precious sister, ten years my junior, was met with rejection after rejection, to the point of deep discouragement and fear for the future.  As we talked, I began to speak to her about God's plan to give her a future and a hope.  I stepped into her life as someone who prayed God's will and plan into her life.  I prayed that she would see His hand clearly working on her behalf.  I prayed that she would not just find a job, but a really good one that would provide for her on many levels.  She had been looking for many months prior before I began praying for her, and was trying so hard not to be despondent.  She is highly educated and qualified, so that was not the issue.  But, I believe God was using this situation to show Himself to her as her Provider, her Always Faithful God.  After just a few months of praying for her, God offered her two extremely good jobs on almost the same day!  Not only was she going to have a good job, but, she was going to have a choice!

As we closed out 2015, my sister was in the second month of the job she chose.  And I?  I stand amazed at the goodness of My God, who not only loves my sister, but, went after her, sought her, and answered every prayer for her provision and care.  How good is a God who doesn't stand far away and tell us we are on our own, but, comes right into the middle of the mess we are in, dries our tears, soothes our fears, and answers every prayer over us?  Thank You, Abba Father, for what you have done for my sister.  I love you for it all...

As the summer wore on I found myself in need of new housing arrangements.  I lived in a very small apartment that I had known for awhile was not sufficient for me, for many reasons.  But the expense of moving stopped me in my tracks.  I was really torn, wanting to move, but, feeling locked in because of expenses that were beyond my reach.  In the middle of my struggling to come to terms with all of this, of course, I prayed for God's direction.  Out of the blue, one of my children who has been an incredible blessing to me, time and time again, called me and said she had received unexpected funds and wanted to send some my way to help me make the move.  I was blown away by the timing of her call, her complete selflessness on my behalf, and the extravagant generosity of my daughter and her husband.  Without her support, I would not have been able to make the move I made in November. As 2015 drew to a close, I found myself in a lovely new apartment that is truly home to me, in a way that my old place was not.  I look around and think that I must pinch myself to be sure I'm not dreaming!  How God blessed me with this lovely new home, and with the love and generosity of my sweet daughter and her husband.  God amazes me with answers to prayers I never really thought I would see....

There are many, many other blessings God has given me this past year, in answer to my prayers and to the prayers of others for me.  God is so Faithful and so full of love for each of us.  He calls me to pray, to trust Him, to bring my needs before Him, because He loves me.  Sometimes, He uses me to pray someone else into the blessing He has for them.  Sometimes, He uses someone else to do that for me.  God is not trembling on the floor of heaven hoping we don't ask Him for something He can't do. He is the Mighty King, Master of Everything, Jesus My Lord...

I thank God today for all that He has done for me in 2015.  Answered prayers, jobs to be gained, homes to be found, children to be loved, and a heaven to be won.  For all these things, and so much more, dear Lord, I thank You...