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Crazy for Communion

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“Brooke, guess what Dad and I get to do this morning!” I worked to gain my daughter’s interest on the way to church.

With her eyes cast downward and her thumbs tapping the cell phone screen, Brooke obliged me and answered without any attachment, “What Mom? ”

My excitement made me resilient to her hollow reply.  Instead of shutting down because of her aloofness, I pressed in determined to cue her curiosity.

Leaning forward, I reached my arm over the top of the front seat to where she was sitting.

Then, in an attempt to transmit my physical feeling of enthusiasm, I lightly pinched the tippy top of Brooke’s shoulder. I was hoping it felt more like a tickle touch, rather than being an uncomfortable sensation.

My strategy was successful! Brooke looked up and turned her head to the left, giving me her full attention. “We get to serve communion today!” I cheerfully revealed what I was looking forward to.

“Mom, you like doing that?” she quizzically asked.  “YEEESSSS, I love serving communion at church!”  I quickly responded.  I imagine my smile served as a second indication of my  positive emotion.

As Brooke squeezed her shoulders into her neck and narrowed her eyes at me, I could tell she was listening, but couldn’t anticipate what I might say. I quickly stepped into the opportunity to share and began by explaining that for me serving communion wasn’t a job, but rather it was a JOY!

“Mom, you are the only person I know that would get excited over serving communion.” Brooke stated, chalking my affirmative attitude towards sharing the Eucharist with others to my list of out-of-the-norm characteristics.

I chuckled, well aware that some of my actions and inner thoughts fall outside of the category of common.  However, my honesty vs. her opinion opened the door for discussion.

And, that is when I dove in deeper explaining to Brooke, in the words of Pastor Joseph Prince …

… Holy Communion is not a ritual to be observed, but a blessing to be received.  

“Brooke sharing a taste of The Holy Spirit, even if it is for a split second, even when  it is with a stranger is completely satisfying to me!”

I continued to retell of my experience sharing the Lord’s Supper with all those standing in line. “Brooke, men, women, married, single, young adults, adolescents and even two year old’s approach to share in the Lord’s Supper.  And, I get to be the person that pours a little bit of Jesus into them.” I went on to state my case.communion

Increasing the emphasis, I leaned forward and jutted my chin out. Then, I pinched my thumb and fore finger close to my nose so that Brooke would get the point I was trying to put into focus. “Understand, it is so much more than merely standing in front of folks and sharing wine with them.” I unwrapped the routine for her.

When I speak the words, “The blood of Christ shed for you.” to each person that passes by I get all giddy on the inside. I’m happy for the person that arises out of their seat and walks toward and accepts the blessings that are found when living  in close communion with Christ.” I outlined to Brooke, who much to my delight was now engaged in my story line.

“But more than that Brooke, I am bright eyed and bushy tailed and blessed beyond measure when given the opportunity to bestow the Good News of Jesus Christ onto another individual.” I shared the stirrings of my soul. “It is an incredible privilege to participate in another person’s walk with Christ. And, when they are receiving His blessings for themselves, it is an incredible party to be a part of !” I ended my passionate observation.

As David put our car in “park”, I began to accept that Brooke understood what I had to say. And, regardless of how strange I sounded, she was beginning to agree.

I  believe Holy Communion is the feast of the soul. a source of deepest joy for ourselves. So, if ever you are in the line where I get to serve, know that I am celebrating with you, for you and alongside you!!

Serve the LORD with joy. Come before him with a joyful shout!

Psalms 100:2

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve others and to bring The Good News of your kingdom to those around us. For you have taught us by doing so, we in turn will be blessed. Thank you for allowing us to be in communion with you, for by doing so we are given the bread of life and washed clean of our sin through forgiveness. 

Amen

 

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And Yet …

Enjoy and allow the spirit of Christ to rest in you as you read this devotional written by my wonderful friend, Karen Rewerts. 

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This morning, I was reading my devotional and I came across this verse:

“I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Ps. 13:6.

You know how much I LOVE music and singing, and I thought, “How beautiful!”

This was the King James translation, so I decided to look up the verse in my NIV Bible, and it said,

“I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.”   

Isn’t that wonderful?!

As I re-read the verse, I realized this was the last verse in Psalm 13 and I thought, “This is a short Psalm.” So I decided to read it from the beginning and it starts with this:  “How long, Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will You hide Your face from me?”

Whoa.

Who goes from “How long,” to “I will sing,” in six verses?

As you might guess, it was David and for four verses, he cries to God.  Not only that, he demands that God look at him and answer him. Then in verse five, he says, “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”  Then comes the beautiful verse 6.

David.

David the shepherd boy.

David who killed Goliath.

David the King, chosen by God to lead Israel.

David of the lineage of Jesus.

David, the special man after God’s own heart.

YET…David was human.  David was not perfect and in fact, David did some downright horrible things. And David suffered.  He cried out to God.  He felt terribly alone.  He wrestled with his thoughts.  He was so sad.  David demanded relief from God.  Read Psalm 13 and you’ll see what I mean.

For all David went through, (and he didn’t even know Jesus,) he still chose to trust God.  He chose to rejoice.  And he chose to sing.  Whatever we deal with in this life – this beautiful, tragic, crazy, stressful, amazing experience – we can trust and rejoice and even sing because we know that God is faithful.  We know that God loves us.  We know that God has been good to us.  We know that God is worthy of our song.   And praise God, we have resurrection hope through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Thanks for letting me share.

Karen, thank you for sharing!

Your lesson is livable and your writing is relateable. As well, your love of Christ is contagious! 

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Moving from Grief to Grace …

About a year ago, I met Susan B. Mead.

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Susan B Mead

Quickly, I was captivated by her outgoing and gregarious personality.  Humor sparkled just about every sentence she spoke and a smile grew across her cheeks constantly!

We were gathered together, along with some other ladies for a work session and work we did do! Susan is smart and she was charged with and eagerly shared her professional experiences concerning writing, public speaking and internet blogging. I was all ears and leaned in to receive what she had to say.

Truly, I enjoyed our time of learning that had been laced with laughter!

Indeed, Susan provided a wealth of knowledge I needed.

As our session drew to a close I scooped up my notes, packed away my computer equipment and began to say my goodbyes.

And, that is when this organized exchange of ideas suddenly shifted to a time of inspiration and appreciation!

The last few minutes of time spent at the gathering allowed for more intimate conversations. The attendees mingled with one another and met on a more personal note.

It was then, I learned that Susan and I shared the same painful loss. For her, it was a beloved 21 year old son whose life was lost to a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol. In turn, I exposed the circumstances surrounding the loss of Samantha, my precious 12 year old daughter.

We agreed, the death of a child, regardless of how it happens just plain HURTS!!!!!!!

Thankfully our conversation didn’t end there. Instead, I poised myself as the learner and listener again, leaning in to receive what Susan had to say. She was further into the painstaking ping pong process of lamenting and living.  As well, I figured I could use a tip or two about how to go on.

No longer did her language focus on web page clicks and FB friends.

Instead, her previous instructive tone turned into exuberance as she sang the praises of her Savior, glorifying the God who had saved her from the dark depths of grief and despair!

Her testament was real! She spoke of anguish and heartache! But excitement and a sense of awe overcame her as  she extolled the saving grace and mercy she received from Jesus Christ.

I invite you to hear the same healing message as I did on that day!

Be blessed, allow yourself to be carried and let peace prevail as you read Susan B Mead’s devotional –

Moving From Grief to Grace

March 31, 2015

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Grief hits each one of us and can come from so many different directions.

A romantic relationship gone awry. The loss of a cherished friendship. A puppy put down. Empty arms and a broken heart due to abortion. Infertility. Abuse. The death of a loved one.

Dreams with a hope and future dashed in an instant. I know. I’ve lived it, too.

A phone call changed my hopes and future as Matt, my older son, wailed into the phone about my younger son, “Kyle died last night!”

 

– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/moving-from-grief-to-grace/#sthash.gpXF27IO.dpuf

 

Today, Susan’s high spirit and happy heart are offer hope and healing to all who are hurting! 

Thank you Gracious God for your everlasting promise to move us from grief to grace!

What I Have Been Reading …

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Immediately, the title caught my attention!

All at once, I knew I needed to read it!

As I sat on my neighbor’s sofa, my sparked curiosity steered our conversation off course.

In the middle of a casual “Q and A” visit concerning the holidays and how they went and where they were spent, I abruptly interjected, “Jan, have you read this book?” 

“Yes, I have!” my enthused neighbor responded.  “It was  so good, I finished it two days!” she added.

Her quick confirmation of quality and content served to solidify my desire to delve into the written work.

Relief  washed over me as  Jan extended her hand and said, “Here, you can borrow this copy.”

Gratitude was my next emotion as I realized a trip to the bookstore wouldn’t be required. Instead, I tidied up the loose ends of our tete-a-tete and hurriedly headed back home. 

As I said goodbye to my friend, I had a very good idea how the next few hours of my time would be spent. Yes, there was a sense of urgency to pull back the cover of the paperback book I had just borrowed. 

Actually, my spirit was begging me to settle down and see what author Nicki Koziarz had to say.

You see, my personal circumstances  were unfolding in such a way, I felt desperate for the message she promised to deliver. The month of December is notoriously loaded with trauma triggers. Add on another huge and unexpected life event and I felt like throwing in the towel. 

Honestly, I was running on empty, until a copy of 

updated-5-habits

was placed in my hands.

Praise God for meeting  me right where I was!!

He knew I needed a helping hand!

He knew I needed to hear His voice!

He knew my resolve would be refined through the story of Ruth!

And, indeed it was!

From page 1 to 191, this book is overflowing with lessons to be learned, wisdom to be received and encouragement to be felt. And, all shared through a fresh perspective of the Bible.

Nuggets of sound thinking like:

“A committed woman learns to choose what she wants most over what she wants now.”

“Momentary feelings will always try to convince us to forfeit out faith.”

“Sometimes discouragement is brought on by our own decisions of disobedience.”

are plentiful and poignant.

As well, “The 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” laid out by Nicki are relatable and sure to bring about results.

As stated on the back cover, “If you are in need of an honest conversation on how not to give in to the temptation to give up”, this book is your best bet!  And, it gets even better because there is a Bible Study offered  as well!

I love how Karen Ehman, New York Times best-selling author of Keep It Shut and LET. IT. GO., Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, wife, mother, and recovering quitter puts it –

If you are a quitter who longs to quit quitting, this is your God-sent solution!

Amen and I agree!

Be blessed as Nicki’s thoughts breathe words of resolution and refinement into the areas of our lives where we are tempted to throw in the towel!

( When the time is right, when I feel whole and healthy, I think I will be able to reveal my next “Assignment of Refinement.” However, for now I’m choosing to surrender, keep silent and listen to  what Jesus has to say.)

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Meeting God at the Guild

scwg

The Southern Christian’s Writer’s Guild meets monthly at Mandeville City Hall. The group’s mission is  “Writing to Honor God.” Their enthusiasm is rooted in 1 John 1:4:

“Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too.”

The Message Bible

Never in a million years did I think I could, I would become one of it’s members. (I think it was the word “Guild” that got me going) However, about six months ago, I sent in the required registration fee. Since then and even before I became a paying part of this organization, I have attended almost every meeting.

Being new to the craft of writing, the advice, experience and encouragement the group offers is extremely beneficial. The scheduled guests speakers are always engaging and their stories have proven to be interesting. Meeting published authors is inspiring and hearing how their written words went from private to public propels me to remain committed to my personal literary projects. As well, sharing stories of struggle with fellow newbies like myself serves to let me know I am not alone.

Yes, gathering with this group of learned and lettered book worms has been a good thing, my writing has been challenged and critiqued, friendships have been formed and tips and tricks of the trade have been revealed to me.

However, at this month’s meeting instead of learning something new concerning publishing, I left with something exceedingly more valuable. I left with the power of a testimony!

Lisa Maggio’s story of a harrowing horse ride followed by miraculous healing awed and amazed me. So much, I knew I needed to share!

So here it is! Be blessed as you receive what Lisa has to say!

 

Lisa is an author, a dancer, and a public speaker. But, most importantly she is a compassionate Christian. Visit Lisa on her website, DancingAsOne.com.

Oh, and by the way. the SCWG is an open entity that welcomes Christian writers of all genres. The Guild meets on the second Saturday of every month at Mandeville City Hall, located at 3101 East Causeway Approach, Mandeville, LA.  70448.

If you feel called to connect with others concerning the craft of writing, please attend the next meeting, February 10th, 10 – 12.

And, who knows in addition to hearing helpful hints, you might leave with the power of testimony tucked in your heart!

 

Enlightened thru Isometrics

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“Now plie and hold, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!”

“And, now pulse, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!”

“And, again, plie 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!”

“And, now pulse, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!”

Finally, my Barre instructor called out “And, down, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!”

All at once, I released my death grip from the ballet bar and went into full rest mode!

Sweaty, with my hip sockets searing in pain and my shoulders stuck in place I  wondered how in the world I had been influenced to attend such a difficult exercise class.

Yes, like so many Americans at the start of this New Year, I have committed to increase my exercise. However, I didn’t foresee that my current level of fitness would falter under a new set of circumstances. Honestly, this “Total Body Barre” class kicked my butt!

So much that the next day, I opted out of group exercise and decided to simply take a walk.

Physically, I was working, walking at a brisk pace trying my best to burn calories.

However, it was my mental work that would matter the most.

long-walks-editedFor quite awhile, I have used long walks to have great conversations with God, and this day was no different. As my feet pounded the pavement, I prayed for others and I prayed for myself.

Two miles into my walk as my muscles started to cry out because of the previous day’s challenge, I noticed my attitude changing from holy to hurting.

As a result of my achiness, I shot off a snippy question to my Savior, “God, if you are in everything and about everything, I sure would like to know what you have to say about that Total Body Barre class that kicked my butt!”

I chuckled and reigned in my testy temper, “Elizabeth, you are such a goofball, God doesn’t have an opinion or time for that!”

Totally aware we can approach God with any situation, but as ridiculous as my questions was I certainly didn’t expect an answer.

However, a few steps later, The Holy Spirit, the gift that God gives us so that our hearts and minds know Jesus Christ laced its teachings with my thoughts.

“Elizabeth, there are lots of truths that can shine through that exercise class, ” the Holy Spirit stirred inside of me.

“Really?” I silently replied.

“Yes, think about this!” the Spirit insisted.

Elizabeth,

… when you are holding the plie, I want you to realize there is strength in staying still!

… when you feel unbalanced, you can reach out and take hold of the rod for stability!

… remember concentrating on your “core”, the “center of who you are” is the most                     crucial. After that is strengthened , the other parts will fall into place.

… remember keeping the pain in perspective is important, trusting the burn will be                    followed by  blessings.

The longer I walked, the more I learned! The wider my stride, the more I was reminded.

There were other motions, the Spirit mentioned.

But, none of them where more wonderful than the revelation concerning the warm down!

 

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Heading back home, I thought about our final pose, first position, elbows up, arms out and then we ended with a sweeping bow. The movement was beautiful and for a nano-second I felt like an authentic ballerina.With one elegant move my body was relieved.

And, that is when the Spirit remind me, “Elizabeth, it is all about grace, My grace. In all things, I AM the good. I AM God and my grace will get you to, through and lead you to triumph over everything!

 

Once again, similar to the conclusion of that grueling Barre class, I ended my exercise with an ah-ha moment. However, this time is was my spirit that was refreshed as opposed to my body being rejuvenated.

Guys, God is the good, His grace covers us in all things and because of His gracefulness towards us we can know victory and triumph over anything!

And, he can and will show up in the strangest places and spaces to teach us.

Honestly, who knew I could be so enlightened through isometrics!

 

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Not Writing but Recording …

After many months of writing it was neat to wrap up 2016 with my very first radio recording.

After reading one of my blogs entitled “From a Woman Who Never Thought She’d Smile Again“, Vickie Petz Henderson from “My Journey of Faith Radio” invited me to do an interview on her show.

Yes, I was nervous, but agreed anyway. Once again, by stepping away from my comfort zone, I was blessed with a rewarding experience.

God continues to stretch my faith by asking me to step away from what feels safe.

Actually what I thought would be a prickly and painful step backwards, actually turned out to be an awesome and inspiring look at how I have been carried and comforted.

Thank You Vickie Henderson for the opportunity to share my testimony with your listeners!

My Journey of Faith Radio

my-journey-of-faith

 

Vickie Petz Henderson – Facebook

 

 

Stepping Away from Safe …

“I don’t know why you are going to do this?” my husband asked with a leery tone attached to his question. “There is a hundred other things you could do that wouldn’t be so tender!” he quickly worked to win his argument.

“Because I think I’m suppose to try.” I attempted to reassure him. “If it hurts, I will leave and come home.” I added, closing any room for his rebuttal. I knew he was trying to protect me from pain, but something in my soul told me to not let his fear stifle the call to serve.

I was anxious as I parked my car and walked to Room 101. A space I had been in so many times before, but not much since Samantha’s accident. You see, located at that end of the breezeway are the children’s Sunday School classrooms and as of late I didn’t have a reason to wander down that way.

But, this past Saturday morning was different. I was following a nudge in my heart to volunteer for Christmas with Christ at our church. This is a special morning for children of our church and community to spend time with Santa as he shares the true Christmas Story.

I knew there would be pancakes to be eaten, pictures to be posed for and Christmas crafts to be carried home. More importantly though, I knew prayers would be prayed, a celebration would take place because of the birth of Christ and time would be spent instilling this life saving message into the lives of little ones.

I was assigned to assist with The Living Nativity, that is gathering the gaggle of kids, helping them get dressed and placed on stage at the appointed time.  No problem, I had done this type of volunteer work when my own children had participated.

And, there lies the glitch. The memories and personal moments of past Christmas’s was interwoven with the present, one year Sam was an angel, the next year a sheep. This event was steeped in deep reflection for me.

sam-as-an-angel                                              sam-as-a-lamb

As I walked into the room with racks of costumes, I wondered how had I found the courage to be a part of it again? Honestly, I wasn’t perfectly positive about being there. Instead, I wondered and kinda worried about the outcome. I have learned its best to not place myself in situations that will exasperate my loss. Surely, this would qualify as such a spot.

Nonetheless, somehow I had arrived with hands willing to help in an environment that had the potential to hurt.

As I opened the Tupperware containers filled with shepherd’s fabric and baby Jesus wrapped in a blanket, I silently questioned, “Am I in the right place? Should I volunteer else where? Will the reward be greater than the risk? Would I be lulled here only to leave with a limp?”

I knew God didn’t work that way. That he doesn’t beckon us to try a new thing only to beat us down. Instead, he calls us to be brave, to step out in faith and to trust Him with everything!

So, with a lump in my throat, I bent down and asked the little girl with shoulder length blonde hair that stood next to me, “”What part would you like to play?” Without hesitation, she bleated out, “I want to be a sheep!”

Game on!  I reached for the woolly bodysuit and black socks trying to ignore that my heart had skipped a beat. Just as quick as I tied the string underneath the little girl’s tiny chin, another excited child asked, “Can I be an angel and wear those feathery wings?”

As I pulled the satin sheath over the little girl’s head I raised a question to Heaven, “Lord, did you have to move so quick with me?” I was  suggesting to the Almighty that a moment to get warmed up before I was knee deep in memories might help. It was obvious He didn’t agree with my request for starting off slow. Instead, I had to dive right in and get my hands and my heart dirty with helping out.

Once things began to get busy, there wasn’t much time to think about myself. Instead, I worked to respond to each request, ” A shepherd? Of course, here is a robe and wear this tassel around your waist. A donkey? No problem, don’t forget to attach your tail! A wise man? Absolutely, this is a perfect crown for your head.”

After the costumes were complete, I helped usher each precious child down the center aisle during the appointed time in the story as they found their special spot in the makeshift stable surrounding the Christ child.

nativity

It was then, looking down the aisle at the children and the completed Nativity scene that I knew why God had me there.

He was reminding me that the Glory of God is greater than any hurt I may have, that instilling that truth into the lives of others is better than any tear I might shed and that we have no way of knowing how much healing has happened until we step away from safe.

With peace, purpose and a positive outcome I escorted the children back to our classroom.

As they hurriedly disrobed from their Christmas costumes, I silently gave thanks for being given the courage to ease away from a comfort zone, for being given a fresh perspective that allowed me to receive the  grace of Jesus Christ and for being given the opportunity to help impart the true Christmas story into the precious lives of little ones.

I know it won’t always happen this, that I walk away from a set of circumstances with a deep sense of satisfaction as opposed to a sentence of sadness. However, when joy wraps it glow around the darkness of dread, I know Who is responsible for this special gift.

And, these are the blessings I am receiving to see me through this Christmas season.

 

A Season that Stings …

There is no denying that Christmas is a tender time of year!

For many who live with the scars of loss, the season of celebration evokes painful triggers of the past. During a time when memories are held in high regard and traditions take center stage, those that have a hole in their hearts are at an exceptional risk of getting hurt.

I can attest to this because I was caught off guard just the other day. Even after all these years I hadn’t prepared for what would happen. I’m learning you simply can’t guard your heart against every single situation that might sting.

So as I wiggle through the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you the gifts that God is giving me to get through!

Be blessed as The Ball Brother’s remind us what Christmas is all about:

The Ball Brothers – It’s  About the Cross

The Perfect Punchline

 About four years after Samantha’s accident, I was asked to share my story in front of a group of ladies gathered for lunch. With a normal amount of trepidation, I accepted the invitation and immediately went to work.

For weeks my mornings were spent filtering through topics and praying about what God wanted me to share. There was so much wisdom gained to sort through, truths that were revealed to me that I could retell and healing that had happened to give others hope that hours of silence were necessary for me to discern what I was suppose to do.

Eventually, the swirl of possible subject matters to cover changed into confirmation of the wisdom I was to impart. So, I went about recording my experience with written words. Erasing, replacing and adding explanations defined my actions as I polished and punctuated  what I planned to say.

Paragraph after paragraph I wrote, weaving my experience together with the teachings of speechwriting1the scripture. The more I recorded on paper, the more I realized how much my life was healed and made whole by the Holy words written so long ago.  There were many influences that provided support while I recovered, but none more powerful and
moving than the passages left by the Holiest of Priests. Surely, they saved me from the graveyard of grief.

My speech was almost complete, yet it lacked the final punch that would bring it full circle. I ached to emphasize to those in attendance how powerful God’s word had been to my healing, how it told me the best way to respond to my own emotions, how it guided me when dealing with others and how it confirmed that throughout human history God’s people suffered, but were always saved.

So I sat down and scoured The Bible for a passage that supported my experience, to see if what had happened to me, that is finding hope in God’s word, was meant to happen. From past experience, my faith has always grown when I look back and see my life played out as the scripture predicts. I had always heard it would happen, but I sought written Biblical confirmation that the scriptures possessed the power to change a person.

Sitting Indian style curled in a corner of my couch, I scoured the thin pages of The Holy Book. Flipping and flapping and finally, I simply split the pages in half and started reading right there. That is when I found the perfect punch line to round out my written words. I chuckled when I read it because it was right on.

“My son, pay attention to what I say, turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.”

Proverbs 4:20-22 (NIV)

Bingo, there it was with instructions on what to do with the Holy Writ, as well as what kind of outcome we can expect when we obey.

May it be, that by hearing these instructions written by the wise King Solomon that you may be open and altered by the powerful force of God’s written Word. I certainly was!