About April

A few years ago my son asked me what was my passion. After pondering this question and prayer, my answer was being an encourager. We live in a fast paced world. I want this site to be a place where the reader can stop and spend a little time at the feet of Jesus.

Walk With Me

So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. 

Deuteronomy 8:6 ESV

Smokey Monm's Day

 

Walk with mama is what I say to Smokey as we walk together.  This phrase was used a lot in the earlier days when Smokey entered my life. I was working with a trainer and one of the things Smokey had to learn was to walk beside me which meant not ahead of me  but beside me. He had to learn to obey my commands.  Smokey is now seven years old and from time to time when we are walking I have to gently remind him to walk beside mama and we have to refresh the commands.

The other day  I had to gently remind Smokey to walk beside me. As I was speaking the words to him, God whispered in my ear his reminder to walk beside him.  How often do we try to get ahead of God?

Getting Ahead of God

I worked with a teacher once that when students became impatient about receiving the outcome of something she would say, “God has a plan and it is a good plan.”  This statement is so true! God does have a plan for each one of us and in his plans things do work out not only for the good but for his glory. ( Romans 8:28)  Yet, how many times have we wanted something, were waiting for an outcome, or an answer to prayer but just could not wait on God. Instead, we took things into our own hands. The outcome of taking matters into our own hands usually end in disaster.  Instead of being blessed we become stressed! Not only do we become stressed but we miss the blessings that God has planned for us in the midst of the waiting and the walk.

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Walking With God

Deuteronomy 8:6 says, Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.” ( NIV) God is telling his chosen people to obey him and walk with him. Yet, they chose from time to time to take the situation in their own hands. They would try to get ahead of God and do what they thought needed to be done.  It was in these times when life for them got messy.

Are we not like the Israelites from time to time? Don’t we try to tell God how we are going to do things? What happens when we try to do it ourselves? Life of blessing turns into a life of stressing. This scripture simply reminds us that we are to walk with God and be obedient to his commands.  Notice the word with.  This means that we don’t take things into our own hands, show God how to orchestrate our steps or give into the desires of the flesh. We are to be obedient to God, pay attention to his commands for us, be patient as he reveals his plan for us, and simply walk with him.

As we read on in Deuteronomy 8:7-9 it says, For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land-a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills, a land with wheat, barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey, a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing.  In these verses, God is telling the Israelites the blessings he has planned for them if they trust, obey, and walk with him. By walking with God and being obedient to him, the Israelites would receive the blessings God had planned for them.  The same is with us. We must walk with our Father and be obedient to him to receive the abundant blessings he has planned for us

In the days ahead as you are walking on your faith journey,  carry these words on your heart and remember to walk with your Father.

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My Child,

I want you to walk with Me. Walk beside Me and tell Me what is on your heart. Once you share what is on your heart, walk beside me and hear My voice. I want you to obey Me, trust Me, and know I have so many wonderful blessings planned for you to receive. 

Walk with Me, 

Your Father in Heaven

 

God’s mighty power comes when God’s people learn to walk with God.

Jack Hyles

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9 NIV

 

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God’s Got This

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Back to School

Back to school commercials. The sounds of band practice as I drive by the high school. Stopping for runners to cross the street as they train for cross-country season. Teacher friends posting pictures of their classrooms they’ve  set up for the new year. And, the list could go on that indicate that it is time for students to head back into the classroom.

Reminisce

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As I see these events take place, I reminisce the days of getting my son, Drew ready for school. From the first time he stepped on the school bus as a kindergartener to the time he graduated from college, flashes of pictures and years go through my mind.  I recall the many prayers said for Drew especially the first time he drove our car out of driveway as a licensed driver.

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Letting Go

Not only are teachers preparing classrooms and parents getting the school supply lists, there are parents who are preparing to take the next step with their child. This step is crossing the threshold of being at home over to the threshold of college days and their child being on their own. It is a very nail-biting time for most parents in this category.  The parent knows it is time to let go but also to be concerned and wary about the things of this world that their child will be exposed to.

 

I know all about the excitement and the butterflies that are taking place in families faced with this new season of life. As the saying goes, “been there, done that and got the t-shirt. After years of activities from late night homework and completing class projects to the countless cross-country events and practices, it was time for Drew to take the next adventure. There were all kinds of questions, and scenarios that would go through my head. Yet, I knew that I had given Drew all the things I could give him and it was time to let him go and place him in the Father’s hands.

Once Jim and I got Drew moved into his college dorm, we said our good-byes. Yes, I held back the tears until we got in the car. Although Western Kentucky University was only an hour drive from our home, it was  the longest hour of my life. As we drove home, I said a prayer asking God to guide Drew. I asked God to place good Christian friends/influences into Drew’s path as he attended college.

Drew

Meanwhile back at WKU, Drew made his way to the locker room at the athletic building. He was scouting out where he would have to be for cross-country training. As he was looking around, a guy who was in his sophomore year approached Drew. He introduced himself ( Mike). Mike asked Drew if he needed anything. Drew told him that he was just checking out the facility and that he was a walk-on for the cross-country/track team. Mike shared that he was a runner as well and would be one of his teammates and showed him some of the ropes.

In this process, the prayer I was saying in the car was being answered.  As Drew and Mike’s conversation progressed, Mike asked Drew where would he be going to church the following Sunday. Drew really didn’t have an answer.  Mike said, “you will be going with me.”  From that point on, there was no question as to where Drew was on Sunday mornings. Not only did Mike keep Drew involved in worship while at college, he gave Drew tips on how to study the scriptures. Drew and Mike began a Bible Study among their teammates. Drew also became involved in Campus Crusade. Prayer answered.  Six years after meeting Mike on that first afternoon at Western, Mike stood as Drew’s best man at Drew’s wedding.

To the Parents

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I share this story/testimony because it is uncharted territory for you and your college student.  These are the years where unconditional love and listening become so important. Yes, during these years, there were many times I had to bite my tongue because Drew wasn’t doing things they way I thought they should be done.  However, Drew learned to figure things out without Mom or Dad standing there telling him what to do. Also, it was the tough times and decisions that God was molding Drew into the man that he is today.  As hard as it is, I encourage you to let go and place your college student into the Father’s hands and trust.  One needs to surround them with prayer and your child needs to know that you will be there in an instant if they need you. Trust me, they will let you know at 2:00 AM that they need you.

To The Students

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To the college student, I share this with you to encourage you, to remember who you are, and that you do represent your family.  I encourage you to seek out friends that will encourage you on your faith journey.  Not only seek Godly friends but continue to respect your parents. After all, they did raise you and got you to where you are thus far. Also, don’t roll your eyes because Mom wants to straighten your bed or freshen up your dorm room on those first few visits. Just let her sweep or whatever she wants to do because this is the only love language in action that she has known for years. As time goes on, she will learn to arrive and simply visit without wanting to fold your laundry.  If Mom or Dad give advice on a certain topic, don’t be defensive but simply listen. Your parents have been around the block a couple of times. Although their ride around the block may be vastly different from the block you are traveling around, there may be some guidance and wisdom in what they are sharing with you. And, realize in a couple of short hours they will be gone.

Into The Father’s Hands

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From the first day of pre-school/kindergarten to the first day of college, it is hard seeing your babies step into that big world. It is a world of unknowns for them and for you. Even though it is a world of unknowns, it is important to remember that you  have an all-knowing God. He has plans for your child’s future. You  simply have to place that future into the Father’s hands and allow Him to guide them.  You also need to place yourself into the Father’s hands and ask God to guide you and give the wisdom you need on this journey as well. It does not matter if it is the very first day of kindergarten or college, God’s got this!

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Blessings,

April

 

 

 

Prayer Keep Our Eyes On The Cross

Over the last couple of years I have written prayers. Some of these prayers were written out of response of how God spoke to me through Bible Study. Other prayers, are simple petitions that were placed on my heart during my quiet time.  From time to time, I will be sharing these prayers with you. 

I wrote the following prayer October 24, 2017.

 

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Father God,

Thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus who came to show us how to love, forgive, and to live as Your Kingdom people on earth. It is when we accept Your Son, Jesus into our hearts we are given the blessed assurance of the day we stand in Your presence. Until that moment we ask that You to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Open our eyes to those You place in our path that are hungry to hear the gospel of Jesus and about the gift of salvation.

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As we enter each new day, may we clothe ourselves in Your mighty armor.  Along with clothing ourselves with Your armor, may clothe ourselves with compassion, humility, kindness, and discipline. If someone speaks out of turn or has bitter words towards us, may we speak with grace. May we be willing to forgive just as You forgive us of our offenses. Most of all, as we walk out the door each day, may we put on the love of Christ. We know we are to walk in the footsteps of Christ’s love. As Ambassadors of Christ, we are to express who Christ is through our words, actions and how we respond to others.

"The cross before me, the world behind me."

We pray that we keep our eyes on the cross and know the Truth that You have written. It is my prayer that Your Word is imprinted on our hearts. Keep our hearts tuned to the Holy Spirit’s leading. May we join in with You and the work You are doing around us.

This prayer is lifted up to You in Jesus’ precious name that is no like other name.

In Jesus Name

Amen

 

 

 

 

Morning Prayer

Father God,

This morning I invite You into my day and into my week. May I seek You wherever I go. Help me to see where You are at work and join You in that work. I know each person I encounter is Your child whether they realize it or not. For those who don’t know they are Your child, may I seek an opportunity to share Your love, grace and what you did for them by sending Your Son.

This morning I pray for forgiveness for where I have fallen short of bringing glory to You. I also seek forgiveness for the times I’ve hurt others.

It is through You I forgive those who have hurt me. No matter what they did or said, I must realize I don’t know all that is going on in their heart but You do. May I give them the same grace as You extend to me on a daily basis.

For those who harbor bitterness, I place them into Your Spirit. I pray you will remove the bitter roots that are there. Fill them with Your spirit and they will have eyes to see others and situations with Your grace.

For those who are hurting right now, I pray You will hold them tight in Your arms and gently dry their tears. Bring them the peace that surpasses all understanding.

This morning, I pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. I ask that You give them comfort. It is my prayer that the loved ones who have left this world knew You and are walking on Heaven’s streets at this moment. It is through Your Son, Jesus we are given eternal life.

Father, there are those who are faced with life changing decisions. I pray they will seek Your wisdom and guidance as to the path they must take. May they know You have a plan and You direct all of the steps to be taken.

For those who are trying to get past obstacles and life just happening. I pray they simply take Your hand and trust You. Help them know it’s one step at a time and one day at a time. After all, You make ALL things beautiful in Your time.

Today, I pray for healing for those whose bodies are broken and need healing. You are the Great Physician and You still do miracles today. Please be with the earthly physicians are caring for these dear ones. Give the doctors and the other medical team members wisdom and knowledge in how to care for those who are physically down right now. I also pray for the caregivers that they will have strength through You to care for their loved ones.

As I go through my day, I pray I don’t let self get in the way of being a servant for You. Place your Holy Spirit and lead me. I pray I will completely trust You.

You have blessings already planned for me today and it’s up to me to seek You and to receive those blessings. I am Your daughter and You are my King. Thank you for loving me and for sending Your Son, Jesus who died for me.

I surrender my day and all that’s on my heart at the feet of Jesus. Again, cover me with Your Holy Spirit as I go through my day.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.

C.S. Lewis

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

Until next time, have a blessed day! Seek God in ALL you do!

April

Letters For the Heart

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This Summer has been at time of reflection for me. I’ve written in previous posts about the twists/turns, the crossroads, influences in my life as well as the trials that come with life. In this time of reflection, I have seen my life divided into multiple chapters of  being molded by my Father in heaven.  It has been a time of grasping the why’s and the how come’s and seeing the pieces of my life fall into place.

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What stirred up this reflection was coming across some old letters/cards from various friends from years pasts. Some of these letters are in an old photo album I came across while Jim and I were cleaning out the attic. Others I just happened upon while cleaning out a drawer.  And, there are those I no longer have but I  have them treasured in my heart.  As I  have read the ones I still have  a memory will leak out of my eyes along with a smile will come on my face and in my heart. What makes them special is the fact that that specific person took time out to write to me, to encourage me and simply let me know they were thinking of me.  Thus, a special footprint of love and friendship has a permanent place on my heart.

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Before social media, cards and letters were a common way of keeping in touch with those you lived a distance away from as well as sending an encouraging note to the neighbor down the street.  Growing up in a Methodist Minister’s home meant moving every four or five years.  I can recall watching my mom sitting down and writing friends from other communities where we had served. As I learned to read and write, she would sit down with me and help me to write certain people from those places as well.

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When I think of letters I think of the Letters of Paul. After his transformation from being a persecutor of Christians to becoming a Believer. Not only did he transform into being a Believer and Follower of Christ, he shared the gospel.  As part of his ministry, he would write letters to fellow Believers encouraging them in their walk with God. He would tell those who were lost about the gift of salvation. He encouraged people like Timothy in their ministry. Not only did he share the gift of salvation and encourage people, he would also have letters of correction written when Believers would begin to lose their focus on the purpose of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

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Just as the old letters I have stumbled on have touched my heart, the letters of Paul have touched my heart in a special way.  There are times when his letters have brought conviction to my heart. Other times, I have experienced healing, peace and forgiveness. Then there have been times when I my eyes were opened to direction just as Paul gave direction to the early believers.

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Once Paul became a believer, he became very passionate about sharing Jesus with others. It is because of his passion that we have these beautiful letters to which I can open my Bible.   These passages are words of wisdom, comfort, guidance and encouragement anytime I choose. As I turn the pages and read, it is like reading those old letters from the past all over again. My heart is touched and the footprints of our Savior walk all over my heart.

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Maybe you have some old cards or letters from years past stored somewhere. I encourage you to get those out and just read through them. They are blessings to be cherished by the heart. These cards and letters may give you opportunity to see how the chapters in your life have fallen into place. I can promise that you will see where God has been at work in your life.

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  Maybe God has recently placed someone on your heart. I encourage you to sit down and write them a note of encouragement. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. After all, there is nothing better than a praying friend.

Last but not least. I encourage you to read The  Letters of Paul. Maybe you have a favorite of his writings that you like to read. As you read, keep your heart opened for God to leave his beautiful footprints of guidance, encouragement and wisdom on your heart.

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

 

Until next time, I encourage you to click the link below ( The Words I Would Say)

 It’s my letter to you.

The Words I Would Say SideWalk Prophets

Blessings,

April

 

 

Butterflies and New Beginnings

In my previous post, It’s In The Little Details, I shared how this one would be about beginnings. The word beginnings has been on my mind in recent days. The reason is the family vacation I take this time each year.

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For the last fourteen years my family has been vacationing together at the Butterfly House at Lake Junaluska.  My mom  began renting the Butterfly House at Lake Junaluska, NC. for it to be a time for our family to come together to enjoy fellowship with one another. Not only has it been a time for fellowship for one another but an opportunity to get off to ourselves and just be still.  Thus, this explains part of my affection for butterflies. Our family has made many special memories in the Butterfly House.

The butterfly symbolizes beginnings for me. I recall my first grade year in grammar school  when my parents and I found a cocoon.  Dad gently took the cocoon and placed it in a mason jar with holes punched on the top of the lid.  I took that cocoon to school to share with my class. My class and I watched that cocoon everyday until one day we arrived to class with a beautiful butterfly fluttering around in the jar. Needless to say, we set it free to its new beginning of a new life in nature.

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Each year I sit on the porch of the Butterfly House and reflect on days gone by and things of recent. I reflect on the new beginnings I have encountered around this very lake. These beginnings include friendships of meeting people from various places not just in the United States but from around the world. I have witnessed the beginnings of men accepting the call to ministry and others being called into the mission field.

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Along with the friendships and seeing other lives being transformed into God’s plan, this is where I experienced my first job away from home. In a sense, a new beginning of independence at age 19. This is also where my immediate family began. My husband’s and my story began here about thirty-five years ago. I have also made decisions that were new beginnings as I have sat on the porch of this Summer home.

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Summer 2016 

 

Last year (2017) marked a new beginning for our family at the Butterfly House. My mom had lost her battle to cancer in December, 2016. As Jim and I unlocked the door to the Butterfly House, we took a deep breath. We knew that it would not be the same as years past because Mom would not be here. The torch had been handed down to me to carry out some of the rituals and traditions that our family had established over the last fourteen years.

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As I had planned for last year’s week for the family, I wanted to make sure things were just right for the rest of the family on their arrival. Beds were made, the table was decorated, themes were planned for the nights I would be host, and matching shirts for July 4th were purchased. All the things Mom had done I tried my best in doing to honor her.  Though it was not easy, our family made it through the week creating memories just as we had throughout the previous years. I admit we did have to choke a few tears back and spent a lot of time in prayer and in song to console our hurting hearts. It was during this week where I think we each learned how to take that next step forward without Mom here as a family and as individuals.

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Butterfly taken outside my kitchen window.

In the midst of leaving our home in Kentucky to head to North Carolina, I looked out my kitchen window. Out my kitchen window was a big butterfly on my butterfly bush.  I took it as a sign from above that all was well and Mom is with us in our hearts. Since our arrival to the Butterfly House this week, I have seen more butterflies than I ever remember seeing in all the years I have come to Lake Junaluska. A reminder that each day is a new beginning and a new page to the story God is writing through me.

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New beginnings can be scary at times.  There are times we may have to choke back a few tears as we take those steps in the direction God is leading us. It is in these moments we must remember that God is the author of our story. He is in the business of transformation and making us into his likeness. Each day is a new day and a new page to the story God is writing through us. May we be like the butterfly and share the beauty of his love and grace with others.  Until next time, may you experience God and the beauty of his love and grace.

Blessings,

April

Because of the LORD’S faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!

Lamentations 3:22-33

It’s The Little Details

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God is in the business of constantly molding us.  Take a moment and reflect on things that have happened in the past or even in recent days. As you look back, I imagine you can see God’s hands all over a situation. Maybe some things have fallen into place and you know that the only it could have happened was God at work. God is good! All the time!

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There are some things that have happened in recent days and weeks where I have experienced God’s fingerprints on my life.  Words and stories share with me from my youth by mentors, missionaries I heard speak and friends have been brought back to the forefront of my mind. As these words resonate within me, I can hear and see God at work in my life. I see him involved in every aspect of these words. Words spoken to me years ago are now coming to surface and I sense God has something on the horizon for me. I don’t know what his plan is for me and I just have to trust him.

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God showed me spot on this morning how he is involved in every little detail of my life. This God moment took place as I was seeking a quiet corner to have a little God time and to write out some thoughts God had placed on my heart. In my search for that perfect spot, I was reflecting on all of the new beginnings that I have had over the years. Not only was I reflecting over the new beginnings but I was reflecting how God has transformed me through these events.  I knew I wanted to write about new beginnings and how God transforms a person in the process. Yet, I wasn’t sure of how to put into words of what was being whispered into my heart.

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I found myself seeking refuge in the very hotel lobby of the hotel I had worked in as a youth at Lake Junaluska, N. C. (we are vacationing here this week).  It was the perfect spot. As I began to pull items out of my backpack, I continued to think about the whispers that God was putting on my heart. All the while, still struggling to figure out where to begin.

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Once settled into this utopia of quiet time, I opened my Bible. The Bible automatically fell onto a devotional on the very topic that was being whispered into my heart. Not only did it fall to the perfect devotional but to the scripture that I needed to read and hear God speak to me. As I begin to read this devotional, scripture and have time with God, I turned on my praise music playlist. Of course, I hit the shuffle button on the playlist thus not knowing what song would be played first. Yes, God had decided which song I would hear first. The song was Tenth Avenue North singing, I Need You, I Want You, I love you. Non-the-less, it was exactly what I needed to hear and fit right into the words God wanted me to read.

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During this morning quiet time, God was engaging in conversation with me. My heart had to tune into him to be aware of his presence and guidance. Otherwise, I would have missed an opportunity for God to lead me to words that will help me share the thoughts whispered on my heart.

God is constantly engaging with us. Yet, are we engaging with him? To be engaged in relationship with God means that we have to be in constant awareness of his presence. It also means that we must seek him in all that we do and in all situations.  When we are aware of his presence and seek God we will experience evidence of him at work in our lives.

The pages that opened for me to read this morning were no coincidence.  The praise song that played first was no coincidence. The whispers I heard with my heart prior to this quiet time were no coincidence, either. God knew my heart. In turn, I was tuned to him and was seeking him and everything fell into place.

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Matthew 6:8 tells us that our Father knows our every need before we even speak a word to him. He is constantly whispering to our hearts.  Isaiah 30:21 tells us that ‘our own ears will hear him.’ We simply have to trust him and be open to his leading us.

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It is when we are in tuned to the voice of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit that our Bibles fall to the words God wants us to read. Our playlist will pull up a song that we need for that moment. Or, something from years past will come to mind and resonate in your heart. These are reminders that God is involved in every little detail of our lives.

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In the beginning of this post, I shared that God whispered words  on my heart about beginnings and transformations being a result. I encourage you to stay tuned. There is more to come. In the meantime, I want to close with this quote from my morning devotional.

He is the story. His fingerprints are on every page, His faithfulness is unwavering from beginning to end.

( She Reads Truth Bible/From the devotional: ‘From Beginning to End page 2198)

Until next time, seek God in all you do. Experience God working in every little detail of your life.

Blessings,

April