Outdo Others in Showing Honor

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Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)

Honor. If you study the meaning of the verse above “outdo one another in showing honor” in the Greek, you’ll find a convicting, humbling call for every Christian.

Outdo: (Greek: proēgeomai): to go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader.
 
One Another: (Greek: allēlōn): one another, reciprocally, mutually.
 
Honor: (Greek: timē): deference, reverence
 

A loose paraphrase of this sentence would be: Be a leader in showing others honor, reverence, and deference.

Be the leader of deference (meaning: humble submission and respect).

Be the leader of reverence (meaning: deep respect for someone or something).

Most of us expect other Christians to show us honor and respect. If they don’t, we complain and get bitter or resentful. A lot of times, we expect others to give to us what we don’t give them.

Speaking for myself, on an average day, I’m not jumping up and down to be the leader of Christlike submission and respect. I’d rather be the on the receiving end of it. It’s humbling to die to myself and give honor to others.

I live in a disrespectful culture. Just a trip to town and a short bit of people-watching shows how little people show genuine honor to those around them.

Christ calls us as His children to forsake this disrespectful attitude and pursue humble reverence to everyone.

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:17 ESV)

When you’re disrespected and reviled, reciprocate with honor.

When you’re gossiped about and slandered, respond with humble respect.

When you’re mistreated or ignored, continue to love with Christlike reverence.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3 ESV)

Today, let’s begin to be leaders. Humble, respectful, submissive leaders in honor. Let’s lay down our lives for our fellow Christians and find ways humbly serve them. Let’s walk in genuine love. True love that puts other Christian above ourselves.

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Friends Like Diamonds

It seems to me as if there’s something in the water around here-everyone seems to be getting into relationships, engaged or married! This past Friday I was blessed to witness and celebrate the marriage of a long time friend, Morgan, to a fantastic guy-her Mr. Right, Josiah. I’ve known Morgan since she was five. Now she has not one but two rings on her finger. One of my best friends, Michaela, is Morgan’s older sister, and the maid of honor at the wedding. Both of our ring fingers remain bare-but did that deter us from celebrating, dancing the night away and smiling until our faces hurt? Not one bit. I must’ve hugged Michaela a gazillion times Friday night and we just laughed. I am so grateful that I can laugh with all my friends, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in. Each of my friends is utterly unique-like a unique facet on each and every diamond. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them recently on the hands of my friends!

Romans 12:6 says, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…

Through each of my friends, I have been the recipient of much grace. Each of our unique gifts only enhance our friendships, our relationships with family and everyone we come in contact with. What’s funny is that my dearest friends and I-we don’t even go to the same church. But we all serve, love and worship the one true God and further His kingdom in a myriad of ways. Each of our callings is different-but one thing remains the same, one reason I am eternally grateful to God for MOHL. As God’s daughters, our Christian walks are not meant to be walked alone.

Also like diamonds with many facets are the gifts we have that may have been borne through a difficult time or season in life. Diamonds are mined. Then pounded and broken. Then, slowly but surely, diamonds are refined until they gleam and sparkle in the light. Proverbs 17:17 says, A friend loves at all times, and  a brother is born for adversity. Those friends who have stuck by you in the heartbreaking times, the best times and everything in between? Our gracious God gave them to you so you could be drawn closer to Himself, so gifts and skills could be developed by His perfect plan.

I wrote in the back of my book to two such diamond-like friends, I am forever thankful for all you are, all you give, and how you love. Every person we ever come in contact with impacts us and is used by the Lord for His divine purposes, yes, even those no longer in our lives. But there are those you can count on for a lifetime, who have been there for you all along, thanks to the abundant grace of God.

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Love In Action

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Continuing on with our theme of “Godly Relationships” here at MOHL, I wanted to write a little bit on some of the practical ways we can show love to others.

Romans 12:9-13 reads as follows:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Wow… there are a lot of things written to us as believers just in that short passage.

Something I really want to point out from those scriptures is that a lot of those commands relate directly to the attitude in our hearts. It says that we ought to:

1. Honor others before yourself. This could mean a few different things, but I think mainly, it is really seeking to put the needs or wants of others above your own. Do you know of someone who is struggling with finances and they have no way to keep warm? Give them a coat to wear. Do you know of someone who is hungry? Bring them some food! Even giving a bright and cheery smile to the cashier in the store who has had a long day can bring some sunshine into their lives. You might be the only bit of happiness and joy that enters their life that day. You never know how God can use even the smallest things to encourage others. This goes into point #2.

2. Never be lacking in zeal and spiritual fervor for the Lord. As we continue on the paths the Lord has placed in our lives, He will lead us through the valley and the desert both. Sometimes, it feels like we have never been closer to the Lord, and everything is “going our way”. We’re in the valley…joy-filled, at peace, and excitedly going down the path of the Lord’s will. Then, He may choose to bring us through a dry, desert time. It seems as if everything is a struggle, like the Lord is far away and doesn’t hear our desperate pleas of asking for peace from the conflict, whatever it might be. Having walked through a time like this recently, I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it was to have dear sisters constantly sending me scripture verses and praying for me. Do you know someone who is struggling in their spiritual life? The Lord may be calling you to be a witness to them as they walk through this time in the desert. Diligently seek to pray for them, look for little ways you can encourage them. Perhaps a note in the mail or some favorite scriptures written out on notecards and given to them will help them on their journey.

3. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. This part speaks for itself in many ways. Be joyful in hope… We have a great hope in the knowledge that one day, the Lord will return to take us home to be with Him for all eternity. We have a great hope because He chose, in His divine providence, to take on the weight of our sins and wash them clean. He took the punishment, that we rightly deserve, that we might be white as snow, and have this great hope! What a mighty, faithful and loving God we serve.  Patient in affliction… Our pastor was just teaching this past Sunday about how trials are brought into our lives for our good. We often do the most growing as we learn to further rely on the Lord, and less on our own efforts. When we are completely broken, we realize just how small we are, and just how mighty our Lord is. We may not understand in this life why He sent specific trials into our lives, but we can rest once again in the greater Hope- that the Lord works together all things for the good of those who are His own according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Faithful in prayer… once again, this part speaks for itself, but in many ways, how often are we guilty of telling someone that we will pray for them and then forgetting or never getting around to doing so? *raises hand* One way that we can really seek to show love to others is remembering to be faithful in praying for them, or over specific requests they may have shared with us. For myself, I’ve found that keeping a prayer request journal is a great way to specifically list out folks or requests that I am praying for during that time. It’s also neat to look back through and see exactly how God answered those prayers!

4. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Building somewhat on #1, sharing with fellow believers who are in need is one of the greatest ways that we can show love to others. One specific way my church tries to do this is by taking meals to families who have recently had a baby, lost a family member, are sick, etc. Having been on both ends of this, I can say that it is a blessing to both parties. Taking a meal to someone is a way of acknowledging to them that you know they are struggling with something at the time, and it is a very practical way of showing love to them. It truly blesses you knowing that you are lending them a helping hand in their time of need. When my family has been on the receiving end, it is so nice to not have to worry about cooking on top of everything else going on at the time, no matter what the circumstance is. There are obviously several other ways to help folks in need…I just used food as an example because here in the South, food is a big deal. :) As far as showing hospitality, the definition of hospitality means: “The friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” What better way to show hospitality to believers and non-believers alike than to host them in your home? Whether just for a meal or for an extended stay, oftentimes, one of the best ways we can be a witness to others is to have them in our homes, so that they can see the way we live, and Lord willing, to see the love of Christ in us and through us.

What are some different ways you can show “love in action” to others around you?

 

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Friends Are Flowers

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I have no two friends alike. There are a scant few I’ve known for the same long amount of time. Others I’ve known for a comparatively less amount of time but am inexplicably close to. Each of my relationships-friends & family-has had their share of ups & downs. As all the beautiful flowers & even the bright dandelions in the yard now that spring’s finally sprung-each of our relationships, present, past & future-serve a purpose.

This purpose is God’s alone. One we may never be able to see, even looking back, until we reach Paradise. When I was younger, I wanted so much to have a whole big crowd of friends to do things with every week & be invited to their birthday parties & sleepovers. As I grew older & saw that many of the girls who went to school together every day were a little inclusive, my shyness morphed partly into being overly sensitive & feeling slighted at the littlest thing. All the while in these formative years I made friends in other avenues, wrote letters back & forth, made up stories & plays & make-believe. And I am blessed to say two of these friends I slightly took for granted at a young impressionable age I am still close friends with. And next year I’ll stand beside one as a maid of honor.

My friends & I  have had our misunderstandings & issues we’ve needed to air. For my long distance sisters, it’s increasingly bittersweet to not be able to visit or see each other in person for special events & moments. But because of each & everyone of my friends, I have been challenged. Encouraged. Embraced even across the miles. I’ve been taught. I’ve been accepted & loved for just who I am. My friends are the hands, feet & heart of Jesus to me.

Think back on the times of utter happiness & the heartbreaking times when your friends were there. When they spoke God’s truth to you even if you didn’t want to hear it but God spoke through them. If you have broken friendships in your past that left scars on your heart, thank God for how He drew you closer to Himself & how He brought your current heart-sisters into your life.

Thank our gracious Lord for those friends who continue to love you unconditionally continuously.
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A thought or two on Godly friendships

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For many, many years, I prayed that the Lord would send me Godly friends.

Over the past couple of years, the Lord has been so very gracious and answered my prayer in abundance. He has sent specific people into my life at the most perfect moments.

When it seemed as if my family and I were the only ones walking along a particular path, He sent a special group of friends to me that I “met” online. I’m still writing back and forth with several of those ladies, and each one of them hold a special place in my heart. There were many times when I would be having a particularly rough day, and I would have a letter or email from one of them in my mailbox or inbox. It literally brightened my whole day! These ladies have shown the love of Christ to me in incredible ways, and while many of them I haven’t yet had the privilege to meet in person, I pray the Lord will allow me to meet each one of them if it is His will.

Along with these special online friends, over the past year especially, He began to bring ladies into my life that I see in person quite often now. It is so wonderful to get together with them and simply fellowship, or if the situation arises, to stop and pray for one another. There have been a couple of girls in particular who have literally stopped what they are doing right then to pray for me, and made it a point to encourage me if I had been struggling with something. They have prayed faithfully and diligently for us as my family has walked through some rather difficult situations over the past year, many of them making themselves available to help with things as we have had needs arise.

It’s really made me think a lot about the blessing that the Lord has given us through Godly friendships, so I was excited to see that our topic for the month here at Meditations of His Love is “Godly Relationships”. I’m going to focus specifically on Godly friendships today.

In the scriptures, there is a lot of value placed upon having Godly relationships with others.

We are encouraged to seek out relationships with those who are of like-mindedness to us. We, as Christians, should be constantly seeking to encourage other believers to strive ever more in the pursuit of Christ, and in becoming more like Him each and every day. We need to love each other. REALLY love each other. Not the lovey-dovey sort of love portrayed in sappy Hallmark movies, but with a sincere, sacrificial  love. A mirror of the love the Lord showed us when He took upon Himself the burden of *our* sins, that we might live a life unshackled by the chains and bondage of sin, so that we will go one day to live with Him in heaven for eternity. We should seek to show the beautiful, sacrificial love of Christ however we can to encourage and edify other believers, encouraging them to seek the higher things of the Lord.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:24-25

Sometimes, it is difficult to put aside our wants, needs or desires to be a servant to others. To love them, even when they are at their most unlovable. However, it’s not up to us to choose whom we will show love and grace to and whom we won’t.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud,but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” - Romans 12:9-16

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.- Romans 14:10

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” - Romans 14:13

We are to put aside our selfishness and pride, and endeavor to show our brothers and sisters the love and mercy the Lord has shown to us.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” - Romans 15:7

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” -1st Corinthians 10:24

I’m so thankful for the grace the Lord showed us when He chose us to be His very own. I feel overwhelmed with joy and awe that He would choose us, despite our wickedness and sinful natures. I’m awestruck that He continues to pour out His love and mercy. To even further demonstrate how much He loves us, He set apart a people for Himself, and equipped them to minister and love one another so that we might all be mutually encouraged in the faith. What an extraordinary blessing! <3

May we all seek to show the love of Christ to one another in our relationships with others, faithfully seeking to show His mercy and grace in our day-to-day walk alongside each other. Remember to pray for one another, and look for ways you can be an encouragement in someone’s life. You may never know how big of a blessing you are to them while they are struggling.

~Miss Court

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Cynthia’s Loving Others Update!

Hello, dear girls! I hope your spring has been as full of change and growth and love as mine has been. Love is a subject that has been foremost in my mind the month of April. I went to Romania and grew to love so many people there that it was difficult to come home.  Really difficult.
I don’t feel entirely up to broaching the subject of everything God has been teaching me about love, because that would take all day and it’s not ready to be spoken yet anyhow. It’s still too deep and fragile and tender. But I will give you an update on how it’s going with me, loving others…

The subject du jour is the tough love. Loving when it’s downright hard. As terrible as it sounds: loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. I kind of hate to admit that I have any “enemies”. I am a gentle, friendly person who likes to think she loves everyone and everyone loves her. But there are seasons in life when you rub elbows with people who are just downright hard to LOVE.

It seems like you might be morally permitted at least a venting session with your sister over the rank attitude of a certain family member. But being away from these “enemies” for two weeks while I was in Romania, God started teaching me a lesson about holding my tongue. Matthew 15:8 says that “from the mouth proceed the things of the heart.” Through that concept the Lord showed me that this is a two-fold verse: a warning and a challenge. The things that come from our mouth are straight out of our hearts, and yet the things that come out of our mouths need to be exactly what’s in our heart. Do you see the paradox here? We are told that what proceeds out of the mouth is evidence of the condition of our heart. At the same time, we need to be sure we are not speaking empty things that we really don’t mean. 

Upon coming home I took a good look at my heart towards this difficult family member. In truth, I do love her. She is aging, and when she (one day) dies, she will leave a hole. Sure, it’s hard to love her a lot of the time because as she ages, she’s less and less kind in her attitudes and speech. Coming home, I was convicted that my attitude towards her was anything but loving. In the new light I’d gained in Romania still glimmering in my mind, I could see that my heart was foul and soiled in regards to her. My words about her to others were not edifying, respectful, or gentle. I wasn’t even trying to make them so. I thought about those words and asked Jesus to take my nasty attitude. Was it that my heart was full of dirt, or that I was just not being careful with me speech, saying the things I didn’t truly mean. Either? Both? I don’t know. But what I do know is that as I asked Jesus to change my heart and set a guard over my lips, something funny started to happen. As I chose not to speak poorly of her, instead of seeing her faults so glaringly, I started being sensible of my own. I saw how many times I was sullen, withholding love and gentleness. I saw my own faults and foibles and issues. How could I have fallen into such hypocrisy? I had been upbraiding this family member for months over a thing I wasn’t even trying to do myself. Realllllly convicting.

In the past few weeks my heart towards her has healed and changed. It’s still not easy and I’m far from “arrived” when it comes to my attitude. But God has lifted the scales from my eyes and showed me that really, I’m at least 50% of the problem. And when I stop complaining another 50% of the problem dissipates. Just from holding my tongue and saying nothing that isn’t said in love. It was a huge blind-spot, and I can only thank God that He slapped me upside the head with a trip to Romania. :)

Oh Jesus, thank You for this lesson to my stubborn heart!

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When You Don’t Love you…

By: Jessica

This weeks “Live it” challenge was to pick someone (or several people) you struggle to love and then, show love to them.

I must say that when I read the topic and description I was left feeling unsure. But after a few weeks of thinking it over, I realized… 

I find it much easier to show love to others. It’s myself I struggle to love.

Now, before you start protesting about how extremely shallow and self-absorbed that sounds, let me explain. I tend to be pretty optimistic about life in general. And, when it comes to people, I always try to show them a Christlike love even if I don’t agree with everything they believe. I’ve had a lot of practice in showing love to others when you don’t feel very loving. After all, I’ve shared a room with my older sister for roughly 23 years. I’ve had arguments with her off and on since I was little and I can still say that, even when we’ve fought, I still love her.

However, the past four years, I’ve really struggled with a lot of emotions and issues I never thought I would. And through it all, my optimism has wained. I must confess that I now struggle with loving myself. (something I never struggled with before.) I’ve grown a lot over the years and since I last wrote devotional posts (instead of just Sunday posts) I’ve changed and become so much more as a person and gained so much deeper of a relationship with Christ. Though it’s hard during the trials, it’s always worth going through them when you see the growth in your faith afterwards.

However, like it or not, my self esteem took a big hit during those hard times. And before I continue, let me explain HOW I struggle to love myself.

It isn’t a struggle to accept how I look - my outward appearance that God created. I’ve never struggled in the area of image. (at least, not up to this point in my life.) Where I struggle to love me goes deeper than how my hair looks…

It has to do with who I am on the inside.

It’s the kind of love and acceptance that can’t be fixed by a simple complement from a friend or a new pair of shoes. It has to do with me and God. And perhaps… with YOU and God.

Satan likes to work hard on me. Or should I say, all of us. He tells us lies about ourselves. He points out our failures and our shortcomings, And he points out friends/people that seem to be successful so that we compare ourselves with them. He tells us we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not brave enough. He feeds us lies about our life and habits and family and… everything! Satan works on us just like he did on Eve in the garden. He works on us every day.

And a lot of times, whether we admit it or not, we listen to him. We believe what he says because, as we see in the temptation of Eve, (Genesis 3:1-5) Satan’s lies are often rooted with truth.

When I hear his lies in my head, he tells me that I’m not good enough, that I’ve made mistakes, that I’m a failure. And do you know what, all of that is true. But the thing is, I’m not alone. We ALL aren’t good enough when compared with Christ, we ALL make mistakes, and we ALL fail. The bible says that we are ALL, each and every one of us, filthy with sin. (Isaiah 64:6 and Psalm 14:3)

But you know what? I’m forgiven. God has forgiven me for the mistakes I made when I was little. He’s forgiven me for the mistakes I made two years ago, two days ago… And God has forgiven me even for the mistakes I haven’t made yet - the mistakes that fill my tomorrows. That’s what Grace is.

 That’s what REAL love looks like.

Do you know why we struggle to love ourselves? Because in comparison with Christ, we ALL fall short. (Romans 3:23) But you know what else? There is nothing wrong with that. So what if you’ve made mistakes? That doesn’t define you. That doesn’t make you worthless. And most important, that doesn’t limit God’s use for you. If anything, your mistakes and shortcomings are what God will use to most glorify himself and utilize to bless and comfort and encourage others.

Underneath all of this is an quiet, sneaky little problem. It likes to hide itself just like Satan. The problem is “self-focus.”  In all of these struggles and doubts the biggest problem is that it shows we’ve lost focus on what’s really important. We should be looking at Christ and gleaning strength and courage and love from him instead of looking at ourselves to the point of dissatisfaction.

So next time Satan beats you down with twisted words of truth, fight back. Accept your failures and then remember that God loves you. You aren’t alone. God is on your side fighting your battles for you/with you. (Psalm 62:2 & 8) And tell Satan to hit the road because, you may be broken, but God loves you still. Remember, God can use and fill and heal broken pots.

Here is a verse my sister often quotes to me that I’ve found to be very helpful in fighting this.

“Finally, brethren, Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

As of right now, I’m still working on loving and accepting the new me. I’m still coming to terms with my failures. I’m still working (with God’s help) to fight Satan when I get up in the morning, when I’m working in the kitchen, when I’m writing blog posts, when I go to bed… I’m fighting against him every second of every day. I’m a work in progress and I’m fine with that. Actually, I’m kind of excited about it. Because it means that God isn’t finished with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

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I’m Supposed To Love Them?

By Rose H.

I’m supposed to love them? Is this what you caught yourself saying when someone is being mean to you? I know I have said it more often than I would care to admit. Like most of you, I don’t like it when people are mean to me. When people call me names and get ugly, all I want to do is go and hide. Fine if that’s the way you are going to treat me I am out of here. Like every one of you, I’m human and I struggle.

For me the hardest test of love I have ever known was with a neighbor. I had been working for her for several years and had grown to love her as a grandmother. Then two years ago her husband died, leaving her alone. My heart broke as I watched her struggling through her new life. She was so alone and helpless. I went to stay with her for a few days after the funeral. Then it became clear that something was terribly wrong. She started getting things messed up and forgot who I was. As scary as this was for me, it got even worse. In the days and weeks that followed her condition grew worse and I was worried. Dementia was the word that everyone agreed on. It couldn’t be anything else.

A choice was in front of me, although I didn’t realize it at them time. I could choose whether to visit her and do what I could to help, or I could withdraw and hide away from the pain. It hurt me to see her so upset and, no matter how many times I told her that everything was okay, she wouldn’t believe me. But without giving another thought to the pain, I pushed through it and made a choice without much thought. I would continue to go over and help her.

Why? You may ask. To be honest, in the two years since I made this decision, it’s been one of the hardest trials of my life. Why would I choose the pain and hurt that comes with taking care of a woman with dementia? I choose it because I love her. Despite all her roughness, I have deep love in my heart for a woman who is all alone and scared. I want to help her,  to heal her. Sadly I’m not God, and I can’t heal. I can only visit.

Maybe that’s one of the ways we know that I’m my Heavenly Father’s kid … that I love because I see a need and want to help. It’s not rational or explainable. It just is.

So I’m going to continue to visit her. She may not know who I am, but I hope she knows she’s loved.

In our lives God has loved us more than we can ever imagine. How about we pass on that love to those around us. Even if it means listening to a story of the five-hundredth time because she can’t remember she told you the other times.

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