Monday, July 14, 2014

CARVED DEEPER


Life isn't easy.

As if that's a new thought.  (Captain Obvious and I are cousins??)

And sometimes it seems like the *hits keep on coming*.

You know what it's like.

Life can arrive so suddenly, so shockingly.

We are unprepared for the curveballs thrown at us.  And often, just when we are reeling from one life circumstance, another one arrives to knock us down.

Been there?

In the first six months of this year, I have pondered much about the process of refinement.  About why it's so difficult.  About why it's so important.

And sometimes in my conversations (rants, wails) with friends, I have often said this, "I'm just being carved deeper."


I got to thinking about that.  About the whole process of sculpting, and I got curious.  So I looked it up.  Here are the stages of creating a sculpture:


1)  The work begins with the selection of a stone for carving.   (Michelangelo claimed that his job was to free the human form trapped inside the block)


"As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world."  (John 15:19, NIV)


2)  The carver usually begins by knocking off large portions of unwanted stone.  (Energy is transferred along the tool, shattering the stone)


"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)


3)  Then the sculptor uses other tools to refine the figure. 


"I will bring [them] through the fire and make them pure.  I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold." (Zechariah 13:9, NLT)


4)  Eventually the sculptor has changed the stone from a rough block into the general shape of the finished statue.


"Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…" (Hebrews 6:1, NIV)


5)  Tools are then used to enhance the shape into its final form.


"But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit.  For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets." 
(1 Corinthians 2:10, NLT)


6)  The final stage of the carving process is polishing. 


"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT)


7)  This abrading, or wearing away, brings out the color of the stone, reveals patterns in the surface, and adds a sheen. 


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)



Can you see the parallels to the process of refinement that God does in our lives?

I especially liked what Michelangelo said – for it reminded me of how God is doing just that – freeing humans trapped inside of their sin.

But, believe me, the process isn't easy.  And many times, it's downright painful.


If you're like me and love The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, then you'll remember a particular scene from "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."  A nasty and spoiled young boy named Eustace has made himself an obnoxious nuisance.  Selfish, whiny, lazy – he causes all sorts of grief for his fellow voyagers.

Until…

Until he finds the treasure trove of a dying dragon.  Thrilled at his newfound riches, he exults that he will never need anyone again.  But overnight, he turns into a dragon himself.

With a bracelet that is way-too-tight, and a heart that begins to understand (and miss) what it really means to be a boy, he tries and tries to scratch off his dragon scalesbut they always come back.

Until…

Until he has a rather startling encounter with the great lion, Aslan.


"'You will have to let me undress you,'" says Aslan the Lion.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. . . .

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.  And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.  Then he caught hold of me – I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on – and threw me into the water.  It smarted like anything but only for a moment.  After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm.  And then I saw why.  I'd turned into a boy again…"

(The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis, c. 1952)


I love this scene, this moment in the story.  For though it makes me wince, and though it makes me squirm – for I recognize myself in Eustace – it also fills my heart with the thrill of unconditional love and undeserved grace.

Yes, the first step in being carved starts by tearing through those crusty layers of sin.  And through the blessing of salvation, we are made into something new.

That's the beginning.

And then, the rest of the process begins.

God has a way of shaping those He loves.  Sometimes He uses a big old chisel and hammer, knocking off huge chunks of *self”* – ever earnestly desiring something better than what we settle for.

At times, after this process of "de-chunking," we might be tempted to think we have *arrived* in the walk of faith.  We might be tempted to think that we are spiritually mature and complete.

Ah, pride cometh before a fall?!

For then, the Lord does deeper work.

He begins chipping away at the deeper stuff, the stuff that's more ingrained inside of us, the stuff that we might not even be fully aware of…

The flaws that lurk and remain.


I look again at the stages of sculpting (specifically #5, 6, and 7):

Enhancing the shape into its final form.

Polishing.

Abrading, wearing away.

Bringing out the color, revealing patterns, adding sheen.


This is what the Lord is after – deeper work, more detailed work, painstaking work, loving work.  

Work that is after the final product – looking like His Son.


You see, there's a big difference between what we think is a *finished product* and what God wants.

For instance, there's a big difference between:

Not being selfish – and dying to self.

Thinking about others – and serving them.

Reading the Bible – and thirsting for God.

Saying prayers – and communing deeply and intimately with God.

Loving God – and putting Him first in all things.

Having faith – and trusting God.

Talking the talk – and walking the walk.


As much as it pains me (both figuratively AND literally!), I do want to look like Jesus.

But it isn't going to come easy – for it does NOT come naturally.


And so, life happens.

Sometimes suddenly, sometimes shockingly, and sometimes when we're already knocked down.

We are promised that it will happen this way…

"Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12, NLT)

"'Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.'" (John 16:33, NLT)

But, if we so choose, we can look at these circumstances in light of what the Lord is trying to accomplish through them.

He is creating a thing of beauty – a sculpture that resembles His Son.

Something that is detailed with all the light and shadows of life.  With all the rough spots smoothed out.  Highly polished and shining in glory.

A living sculpture that is made in the image of The Sculptor.

Sounds wonderful.

Sounds difficult and painful.

But worth it.


So, bring on the mallets, and chisels, and hammers, and rasps, and files, and sandpaper, Lord…

Create in me something beautiful…

Something that looks like YOU!

Carve me deeper.





 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
Lead me
in the way everlasting!



"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.  But when I grew up, I put away childish things.  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely." 
(1 Corinthians 13:11-12, NLT)

"Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." (1 John 3:2-3, ESV)

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.  And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory." (Colossians 3:1-4, NLT)

"...He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you."  (Philippians 1:6, AMP)



How are you being *carved deeper*?



Linked today with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIATELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WORDS OF LIFE WEDNESDAYS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, EVERYDAY JESUS, THRIVE AT HOME THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, WHATEVER IS LOVELY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE


BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

44 comments:

  1. Hi Sharon! I really like this post. As much as I don't like being peeled, or having chunks of myself knocked off, I know it's a necessary thing. Its funny, but most of the time I have no idea how I ended up with so much outer casing.
    Thank goodness that the Lord (Aslan) is interested in helping me shed my skin and get to the heart of the matter...every day! Your sculpting analogy reminds me of the fullers lye, and the refiners fire too. We have to undergo that pain, to get to the shiny and useful parts.
    Great post Sharon. One of my favorites!
    Ceil

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    1. Ceil, I didn't like the idea of chunks or being peeled either. I have been going through it and let me just say it hurts like crazy sometimes. I know in the end it's worth it though.

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  2. I thought it very interesting... your listing out the process of sculpting and relating it back to Scripture. You're so right... life isn't easy and the refining process painful at times, but if we're to have any growth, the process is necessary.

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  3. What a beautiful description of the process God is about, in us. My mom always used to say... "if Jesus had to suffer, who on earth do we think WE don't have to?" Of course referring to the verse that says "Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered."Hebrews 5:8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

    We are pots, he is the potter! The journey is going to involve suffering, as he continues his process in us. I loved this Sharon!

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  4. We are all on such a journey of being shaped.
    It hurts so bad, at times, I can't help but cry.
    But, in the morning comes the rejoicing.
    Thank you for this reminder. He is shaping & molding me.

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  5. WOW Sharon ... awesome piece of divinely inspired work!

    (I just lost a rather lengthy comment that I was leaving you so I'll have to return later and rewrite how this beautifully "sculpted" post reminded me of a book that I'm currently reading "Master Potter" by Jill Austin). I love the quote and the part by our dear C.S. Lewis of removing the scales (tears, knowing the need and the work to be done) ... still in the process of being molded and refined ... chiseling off chunks still perhaps are standing in the way of my process of being polished --as I must not have yet arrived to this part in the work, so I was not able to come up with an answer to your departing question. Perhaps this was the reason, my previous comment was blinked away ... so I ponder more and come back with a response. So thankful that our Divine Master Potter is still at work on me!

    Only you! Only Jesus and JOY!
    HUG --- blessings, prayers and much love,
    Peggy

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  6. Oh gosh... Sharon... I'm so glad I linked up next to you at Kelli's place. Your words and heart resonate so deeply in me today. We have just been hit with a pretty mega curve ball, and we are reeling. YES - we're being carved deeper. Everything you wrote here speaks so perfectly into my heart in the midst of my situation. Thank you. Just thank you. <3

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  7. I remember reading that story about Eustace and it making such an impression on me as well.

    I sure don't like the carving process myself. But I do like the results, and I like knowing that he cares to stick with it, even when I squirm to get out. Thanks for sharing this encouragement, Sharon, to stay under his hand.

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  8. Oh...as painful as it will be, I do so want to be carved deeper. Awesome, awesome, thought provoking post, Sharon!
    Blessings on your week :)

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  9. This is just wonderful and challenging and deep in all the right ways. The deep carvings are the details and the details are what will truly distinguish me as His. And I sure don't ever want anyone to look at me and NOT see that I've been carved by Him, in His image. So am I willing to take the chipping and the polishing. I pray it will be.

    As soon as I read your statement on being carved deeper, it reminded me of this wonderful post from writer Tullian Tchividjian. http://www.pastortullian.com/2014/07/02/christ-is-deeper-still/

    "Spiritual growth is not about climbing a mountain, getting better, and therefore needing Christ less and less. Spiritual growth is about discovering more and bigger caverns of need into which more and more of Christ’s grace can flow."

    Thank you for linking with Unforced Rhythms.

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  10. This is such a beautiful post and your illustration and scriptures cause us to wonder if our carving will ever be completed. Yes, when we are cast into the living water we shall emerge a new creation and worthy of His love. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” At: http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

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  11. Sharon, loved the description of how sculpturing worked along with the verses you included. We truly are a work in process indeed! It is hard to live through the sculpturing at times, but the end product will truly be magnificient as we grow to be more like Jesus! Such excellent way you expressed this!

    betty

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  12. Great lesson and tie into scripture! Well done! Yes, the process is painful, but beauty, true beauty, is God Himself… which means we need a lot of sculpting… Thanks for the reminder and encouragement, Sharon.

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  13. Beautiful description Sharon! Visiting from Soli Deo Gloria. Xox

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  14. Oh, dear friend! HOW I relate to all you said. This "sculpting" is no easy process, but it is the only sure-fire process to be completely purged of self. It seems the more He purges and prunes, the more I see how UNLIKE Him I still am. I loved this post...it was just what I needed and what I can so relate to in my own life right now. If God didn't love us so much, He would just leave us to our own devices. But, He cares enough about us to fit us for the home He is now preparing...Mom always told me, "Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people." It will be worth it all when we get there! God bless you and strengthen you and hold you close during this refining, sculpting season of life. Much love to you.

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  15. Now I'm pretty certain it didn't since I see my last one up there...the gist of what I said -- God is not letting me settle with what my idea of parenting in. He's continuing to press me, carve me, teach me about what it means to walk with intention and purpose in my relationship with my kids and Him really means.

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  16. Sharon, I love everything about this metaphor--especially step 7--when we are abraded it brings out our 'true colors'. Thank God for the gift of his Holy Spirit to shine through us in our weakness!

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  17. I'd rather stand and gleam on the mountain top forming prisms in the clouds. sigh. The carving is just so hard! And it does seem like once the carving starts it takes a while. I'm being carved with over commitment--is the carving harder when it's of our own making? How your points and verses have helped me today. I'm sitting in a bookstore and in quietness, just letting God's truth you're sharing wash over me and give me strength. ~Pamela

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  18. Wonderful words here today, Sharon, as always. Thanks for giving me lots to meditate on as I journey on with my loving Potter.

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  19. Carve me deeper! How beautiful...so much to think about today in this, Sharon. Blessings friend on your journey. God is making something beautiful! ♥

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  20. Friend, I absolutely adore you and everything you share. THIS may be my favorite post of yours. Just beautiful. I watched the first Narnia before becoming a believer and need to go back and watch again. I'm so grateful for you. <3

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  21. Hi Sharon, Spot on again. God Bless

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  22. Wow, excellent post! Thank you, this post is really inspiring....I love it.

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  23. Great post! Really resonated. I love The Chronicles of Narnia and how you used that part of Eustace's story.

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  24. So grateful for the shaping work of God in my life. Great analogy, Sharon. Appreciate your encouragement and your link up to Testimony Tuesday!

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  25. I love your writings. I rarely comment, but I enjoy reading! You have a gift, friend. This could possibly be my favorite! Blessings!

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  26. Freeing humans trapped inside of their sin. I love this thought. Any kind of freedom has to be bought, Jesus did that for us. But for us to walk in freedom requires daily dying, each little chip of flesh that gets chipped off of us is getting closer to Him who lives inside our soul. Soon, when He calls we will shed this dress of flesh and burst out into total freedom, the master carver will be finished with us. He'll present us to the heavenly host and God the Father a finished beautiful work. Good post Sharon, so many application to be taken from it. Good writing.

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  27. His love is what makes all the difference. Hard to resist. Glad too that He never gives up on us. Happy Friday, Sharon.

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  28. Marvelous as usual, Sharon... Love all of this. If you are the Cousin to Captain Obvious, you must be the Queen of Analogies-- because you always share a great one! Thank you for your perfect words over at #EverydayJesus. Blessings!

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  29. Very insightful post. Do you have a seminary background?

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    1. No, no seminary background. Just a love for God and His Word, and a desire to know what He's up to in my life. But thank you, I am complimented that you thought so!!

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  30. Hi Sharon,
    Great post! I like that, "carve me deeper." There were and still are things in my life God wants/ wanted gone; things I just did not want to give up, but God kept chipping away. Now I look at my life before being saved and after, and what a big difference.
    Blessings,
    Ken

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  31. This it his is so good Sharon so very good. freeing humans trapped inside of their sin.

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  32. My iPad does wonky commenting things. Haha! This IS good. Skip all the other weird grammar.

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  33. Wowzers!! What a great post about how God uses us, how He picks us up and refines us. It never ends until the day we are called home to be with Him. I praise God for all the peeling and chunking off He has been doing to me. It hurts at times, it's a deep painful hurt, then after the pain comes the soothing balm of His love and I am healed. I just love that don't you?
    I am a new follower from Faith Along The Way blog party.
    http://www.vibrantcountrycottage.com

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  34. Hi Sharon,
    I loved your post! So good! I loved the parallel you drew between this Voyage of the Dawn Treader passage and sculpting. You have really encouraged me because I am in the process of planning the new first of the month series for my site, uncommongrace.net, on thoughtful books that have been really influential in my walk with Christ and I wanted to include this, but was hesitant since it is fiction, but now I am thinking otherwise! I'm glad it was so impactful for you too! Thank you again for sharing!
    -S.L.Payne
    uncommongrace.net

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  35. This has been my life for the past ten years! Sometimes I feel like I can't take anymore storms or chaos, but God has always been faithful to provide peace, strength and hope. Thanks for sharing this wisdom at the Saturday Soiree Blog Party and hope you'll join us again next week!

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  36. Sharon,
    Just good - I can't help myself, I always read posts in at least three ways (probably because these are what I'm working toward....) I look at the message and application, I enjoy the word-smithing, and I think about scriptural connection. I know, scary but true... This post hit all three. Thank you for the references to creating art and to one of my favorite all-time authors - and especially thank you for the scripture connections. Well done, friend. Well done!

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  37. I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I read the whole series to my now three teenagers. Your post reminds me of the scripture, He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.... He's our refiners fire. Certainly not comfortable, but definitely necessary. Thanks for linking on my weekend blog hop! I wish you a blessed week ahead.

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  38. I've not read Voyage of the Dawn at reader but connected with the section you shared. I wrote something like it in my post today...likening my skin as a covering he wants removed. I love when our posts connect like this. One mind, one heart, one Jesus. Blessings Sharon.

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  39. Beautiful post, Sharon. Love your list of contrasts between what we think and what God wants!

    And that is my favorite scene from The Voyage of the Dawn Trader. Walden Media redeemed themselves, slightly, in my eyes for including it, after failing miserably with Prince Caspian. But I digress...

    Well done, connecting scriptures to the sculpting process! I love it when God shows Himself and His ways through the practical. Have a blessed week, Sharon!

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  40. Sharon~this is your best post! I'm with Beth on this one. And maybe it's the best because it explains so much for me how God works not only in my life but in the lives of other strong, Godly Christians. I've struggled with how everything seemed perfect when I first came to the Lord some 40 years ago but how these awful characteristics keep showing up in me. I thought I was made new in that instant and would never be the same yucky person again. But now I see. There are several steps He needs to take in making me into that beautiful creature that reflects His beauty all the time. This sculpture analogy will stick with me forever! And if I forget it, please feel free to remind me.
    Thank you, Sharon, for allowing the Lord to carve you deeper!
    Blessings,
    Janis

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  41. Thank you for your article. The cowboy sculpture is very beautifully carved.

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  42. Ok, if I ever get to come see you I will for sure come in the daytime...I am scared of those lonely, remote long narrows driveways where the trees and bushes come right up to the car...

    Great post Sharon...love the analogy, the outline...always amazed at how much you put into your post. God has poured much into you my friend and I am so glad pour it out on us who read you.

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"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)