Where We Live (is all just temporary)

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Oprah Winfrey’s current tour includes our provincial capital city. That is surprising to me. Canadian-American actor Seth Rogen’s character in the movie Like Father demonstrated perfectly how us Edmontonians tend to introduce ourselves to our American neighbours: “I’m from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,”  he tells actress Kristen Bell’s character. Not just “I’m from Edmonton.” Or from, “Edmonton, Canada.” Rogen’s comment when interviewed regarding that line:

“Yes, Canadians do that 100 percent. City, province, country. Canadians are always afraid, and rightfully so, that Americans won’t know where Edmonton, Alberta is. That’s a legitimate concern (laughs).”

I must admit when watching the movie, I laughed out loud at that line. It’s so true! Sometimes when I’ve found myself travelling and answering where I’m from,  I’ll add “It’s close to Calgary. You know, where the Olympics were in 1988.”

The hockey fans I’m chatting with will generally  know of Edmonton with our NHL team and Wayne Gretzky history. And the city and surrounding areas have been homes to Olympic medalists in skiing and figure skating, hockey and curling–all sports so-very Canadian.  Oh, and then there is the West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America and 14th overall in the word. So, thinking this further through, I’d say Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is more than Oprah tour worthy. (Disclosure: I’m not interested in going to Oprah’s talk but would have gladly gone to see Michelle Obama, however the tickets were too high for my budget. So I’m waiting in line for her book from my library–I think I’ve moved up to 98th spot).

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All in all, we may be able to boast about world wonders in our home cities, or not. Where we live may be recognizable on a worldly scale, or just known by those within a 100 km radius or less. We may have to point on a map or show an Instagram post for others to understand where we call home. Or just say the city name like those from New York or Dubai and receive wide-eyed responses of wonder and questions.

Although our countries and cities, attractions and landscapes can shape our likes, dislikes, choices of career and hobbies, our identity is rooted in the One who created all. We need not ever be afraid we are unknown, or that we need to lean on a neighbouring place to be seen. We can be rest assured that in Christ we always know where we come from and where we are going.

For all this is temporary, until we are called home.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Let’s get to know each other better! Tell me where you live and something you like about it.

I’ll start:

I’m from Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada which is just east of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada that is a four hour drive north from Calgary where the 1988 Olympics were held! 🙂 I love the wide-open spaces of the wheat fields, watching CFL football on a summer day, and skating in the winter. On cloudy days and my birthday, I like browsing Williams & Sonoma, Anthropology and Pottery Barn all at the West Edmonton Mall!

Now your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Way

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With my faithful blue back pack that carried my camera within, I walked the familiar path. My plan was to reach the pond on the western side of this provincial park I had visited many times before. At the pond, I’d hear and see the life of spring with whistling frogs and blooming cattails. However, it’s been a cool spring. Rounding a lower and shaded corner where ice capped snow covered the pathway, my hikers slipped instead of keeping me upright. Stubbornly I crouched, hoping I could somehow crawl myself to my wanted destination. Soon I resigned my plans and turned back, discouraged and saddened that I wouldn’t be able to complete the journey I’d set out for myself.

But then when I reached my starting point, I kept on, walking an easterly route I had never taken before. Soon I found myself at the edge of a boardwalk much longer than the familiar westerly one. I unzipped my jacket and removed my gloves noticing how the mid-morning sun shined the wooden slats of the boardwalk and lit the tips of the surrounding cattails. I easily navigated the bends and curves of this newly discovered pathway. I rested on one of it’s benches watching a pair of Canada geese, surefooted even on the frozen pond.

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If I hadn’t had to turn away from that westerly, familiar path, I would never have discovered the place on the other side of this park. Often, I can get so caught up in the familiar, that I don’t see that there just might be another way, even a better way, to navigate my places and situations. Sometimes it may take a complete roadblock or impassable path before I turn to look another way. And then discover something so much better than ever expected.

It reminds me too, how the disciples had thought Jesus’ life and power was the path for them to conquer the Romans. But the path was in the opposite direction, wasn’t it? It was through Jesus’s death that conquered something so much greater than just the Romans-the bondage of sin. The disciples familiar path to conquer with power and war was gone with Jesus’ death on the cross. And, in it’s place became an unexpected but much more better way.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 2:18-19

Is there a pathway you are turning to go His Way?  Or a familiar one you are being asked to turn away from? May you rest in knowing the unexpected path can lead to the unexpected and a better Way….

Happy Easter, my readers! I will be back here again after our Easter celebrations.

 

Your all in all

They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7

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In Hosea 8:7 who are they? They are the Israelites who had sought forbidden relationships with Assyria and Egypt for military power, and had mixed in worshipping forbidden gods along with God. They were no longer being faithful to the One who could provide them all they needed. Harvesting good seed in grounds bathed by sunlight and filled with nourishment, produce a sturdy crop. The Israelites, though,  expended their energy on activities without roots for their souls, leaving them vulnerable. Danger was coming from foreigners–eventually the Assyrians invaded and conquered Israel.

I know I too, can spend time on hollow activities instead of taking the time to plant, sow, and wait. I can Netflix binge, or mindlessly scroll my Instagram and my Facebook accounts to ‘numb’ out. I can seek instant gratification that only leaves me unsatisfied. I can eat those four girl-guide cookies instead of taking the time to cook the nourishing spinach and eggs. I can try to fight my own battles by seeking out who I think will agree with me, commiserate and create an alliance, instead of seeking God first.

But these attempts at self-preservation only pull me apart from God. When I try to become more secure in the world without God, I’m left vulnerable to the pull of all things that only blow away in the whirlwind of time.

When we put our security in God, we become too deeply rooted to be swept away. We are less tempted to engage in that ‘quick fix’ or reach out for things that leave us hollow and wanting. Instead, we grow closer to the One whose faithfulness is everlasting.

“Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow? Samuel 23:5

What things are you putting your security in? Is there something God is asking you to give up so He can be your all and all?

Linked up at #TellHisStory

 

Living Full Heartedly

The Mighty One, God, The Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising sun to where it sets. Psalm 50:1

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Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will honour me. Psalm 50:14-15

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God’s creations are in abundance. Every day the sun rises and the sun sets, warming and cooling the earth, bringing us the light of day and darkened nights. Although God is timeless, He knows we need these cycles of light and dark to refresh and rest our bodies, minds, and souls. He knows what the earth needs to grow our food, and the amount of waters required to quench our thirst. In places though, fresh water and food is lacking. People are thirsty and hungry, and sick. Animals are migrating, trying to find new habitats, some populations dying away to extinction.

Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s abundance in the world among it’s sufferings.

Yet, God calls us not too lose heart. Why? Because He, our Creator, knows that through a heart of gratitude we are delivered from our anxiety and worries. He commands us to call out to Him when we are troubled, so He can provide rest for our minds even when all seems to be in chaos. When we wholeheartedly trust in God’s abundance, hope prevails. Instead of being downcast, we are energized to continue to seek ways to make the world a better place. Through heartfelt love and obedience to Him we honour Him and all His creations.

Where is God showing you His abundance today? How might He be asking you to make the world a better place?

Linking up at:

Counting My Blessings

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A Command to Be Very

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This post first appeared at Inscribe Writers Online

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn it from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Joshua 1:7

The Lord not only told Joshua to be courageous, but very courageous. I wonder if the Lord added the emphasis of an adverb before the adjective “courageous” because of Joshua’s extreme circumstances? His new job was to lead two million people into a new land and conquer it. Even though Joshua had grown to be a strong leader from assisting Moses for many years, I can imagine he may have felt extremely challenged for this upcoming new adventure!

But Joshua did not hesitate, did not measure the pros and cons, or run to his friends for advise. Instead, he ordered and directed the people to ready themselves for their journey to cross the Jordan, to the land the Lord was giving to them. While directing their next steps, Joshua reminded the people of Moses commands and the Lord’s promises, and the people obeyed their leader knowing they were also being faithful to God’s plan. And they too, encouraged Joshua to “be strong and courageous!” (v.18)

When facing new challenges, I can be very hesitant to take the next step. I want to be very sure so the outcome will be successful, on my terms. I can measure my success by my circle of influence expanding, or my finances increasing, or by the amount of ‘likes’ I’m receiving. Yet, unlike the worldly definition of success, success in God’s eyes is for us to be strong and very courageous through obeying and following His word. It’s being faithful to His plan for our lives. He directs us when we turn toward Him. And then we can rest in His promise that we will be successful wherever we go.

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Lord, thank You for always being with me and directing my way. Even though my situations can get tough, and challenging, I know you are with me. May I always keep my eyes on You, may I always turn to You, for when I do life with You, I will be successful in Your eyes wherever I go. Amen

And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Where might God be saying to you ‘be very courageous and strong?

 

Leaving behind behind

I sit here, at this desk in the library, my university course books to my left, my day timer to my right, and my current devotional laid flat and open and and upside down in a corner.

But my eyes too, wander up from the screen, to the street view through this second story location from this place I sit at the library.

There’s a pair walking, a mother and daughter possibly, the elder one’s gait hobbles as if one shoe is multiple soles rather than one. Her arm is linked with the other one, tall, slim, in dark pants and a white sweater.

The temperature has cooled over these last two July days, from t-shirts to light jackets, from outside patio to indoor dining. And in these last two days, the weather pressure has also built a pressure in my face, behind my eyes I cannot shake, leaving me tired. And behind.

It’s not a migraine and my heart goes out to those that do suffer from those splitting head, nauseating symptoms when the barometer fluctuates not in their favour. I believe my symptoms are allergies, from what I’m not sure, as the air is full of many components. And I’ve never been tested.

It’s these possible allergies, the pressure, the irritation of being oh-so tired, that has brought me to this library desk at this moment in the hope the change of place will get me from being behind to on schedule again. An essay is undone, due last week.

Yet, inward focus is still foggy at best, and know my work may not be any good in this time. But I’m trying, trying hard to push through, yet…

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My eyes lift up to the window, a barrier that holds the air outside from my place.

There’s a pair walking, a mother and daughter possibly. The daughter steadies her mother though the linking of their arms. And I wonder too, about another time when the mother held her arms out to her daughter to come to her. Her daughters steps slow, and unsteady, with a wobbling gait that looked like she walked in a pair of shoes with uneven soles.

A passing of time….

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:… Ecclesiastes 3:1

And a ponder, is there really such a thing as a time of being behind? Or is it only a judgement, a label?

What if we left the word behind, behind?

I wonder if we left the word behind behind, if we’d also leave behind the scurrying to just get done so we’re not feeling behind, sacrificing quality and presence in the present.

And then see His presence in the present and be present in His presence when Jesus shows up.

We see in the story of Mary and Martha, (Luke 10:38-42) Mary was in His presence when Jesus showed up at their home. Martha called out to Jesus in complaint that Mary wasn’t helping in the preparations. I’m guessing she called out, too, as she was feeling behind and wanted to finish up as soon as possible too, so she could enjoy the presence of Jesus.

But Jesus? He wasn’t worried about the preparations, or if Martha would be finished on-time. Present in her home, He just wanted to Martha to be in His presence at that moment, the story teaches.

And teaches too, that we cannot ever spend too much time with Him.

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They are gone, the pair, the mother and daughter possibly, maybe into one of the residences in the seniors apartments I see from my place where I sit in the library. And I feel blessed to have witnessed that moment of kindness, of love, of caring, and a leaning in to hold up–all that Jesus is.

There’s still the presence of pressure in my face, my eyes, my head. Yet the pressure of needing to perform to the level to write a university third year essay at this moment has vaporized.

Because Jesus showed up. And I’m on His schedule.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19

2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day

How do you stop yourself from doing, from feeling behind, to get on God’s schedule?

Lynn J Simpson, Certified Professional Life Coach at Inspiring Hope in You

Linking up with #TellHisStory

And Tune in Thursdays

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Securing our steps

Each post this month of April will be a Devotional on the security we have in God. My hope is that God will use these words to encourage you on your daily paths.

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Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park/photography by Lynn J Simpson

My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

The enclosing canyon walls rise high, grey and daunting under a wintery day’s overcast sky. From an observer above it may seem like an impassable fortress, it’s iced floors too slick to journey. Then a group of hikers are spotted, roaming the narrow gorge, ice cleated boots securing each sturdy step they take.

 

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Ice Climber at Maligne Canyon, Jasper, Alberta/ Photographer Lynn J Simpson

When you’re in a place and see only an intimidating landscape with a path that seems insurmountable, you must not stay discouraged. God has promised He will give you what you need to secure each step you take and be your hope and strength as you navigate difficult terrain. When you wait on God, He will direct your way through the ravines as you pass over the landscape. When you hold onto God, He will steady you so you will not be shaken, will not fall on the uneven patches along the way.  No matter the challenge, do not fear. He is your rock and salvation, your encourager and protector, always with you every step of the way.

I’m linked up today with the Fierce-Hearted Women at Holly Gerth and at also Recharge Wednesday with Patricia Holbrook

A death and an invitation

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Matthew 27:51

Have you ever stood, feet bare or protected, in a river’s rushing water? The river’s rocks slippery under your soles, the water colliding with your body somewhere between  ankle and knee? The river’s water pressure as it rushes by you feels strong enough to sweep you away too, taking you unwillingly along it’s travels downstream.

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Yet you stay placed, as the water sweeps by. Your body stronger against the current, your confidence deepening in your stance as moments pass along with the hastening river.

As the calm confidence settles your mind, the once roar of the rushing waves becomes a symphony to you, and the greasy rocks now glisten with polished colours like sun illuminated stain glass.

And you breathe, breathe freely and openly in this place now that the fear is edged out, replaced with the assurance that your posture will hold you from being swept away.

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My friend, I believe, know that is what God wants for you too. He wants you to breathe even when those thundering waves of difficulty threaten to sweep over you, to take you places along the currents you swore you would never go.

Sometimes these threats are pressures from relationships, where convictions and obedience are strongly opposed. That friendship, that mentor, that boss, that potential romantic partner you seemed to have waited for forever, is now asking you to join in to activities that once was the old way of living you turned from when cleansed that day in baptism, in acceptance of His way.

Sometimes threats can be from circumstances we never imagined we’d be in: a divorce, an estranged child, disease, a crime against us, and injustices.

We may even create our own threatening waves from our brokenness leading us to seek solace in things of this world that harm rather than bring life.

Yet Life is where we can turn to–no threat can defeat it.

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We celebrate this weekend the Hope that was given to us, the new way of freely living that opened to us with the tearing away of the veil.

Paul reminds us in Hebrews:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23

This gift of freedom, this forever grace from our transgressions is due to the shed of blood on that cross of an innocent Man by ones who were slaves to their pride and self-righteousness–ones who felt threatened by the freedom that was being offered to them.

But you, my friend, can accept this freedom gifted through His offering to have your heart cleansed with the sprinkling of His grace, and your body washed to purity.

There is no barrier between You and the One who will not let the threatening rivers sweep over you. Will you accept His invitation to draw near to Him, the forever faithful One who will be your help, your protector, and your strength giving you His peace no matter how thunderous the rivers waters rush around you?

Will you, my friend, accept the invitation of an unconditional Love that surpasses all our understanding?

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. Retrieved from Ransom Heart

 

And It’s All So Beautiful

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

There’s a greenhouse just a five minute drive from my home. Not a greenhouse in a traditional sense as it is open year around with a restaurant serving organic greens and gluten-free treats, and gifts galleries that change with the calendar celebrations.

Christmas time fills the floor with decorative trees and already overflowing shelves with ornaments, wreaths, and garland.

Approaching Valentine’s Day more red and white candles, silk and real roses rest on bursting shelves of trinkets, jewels, and framed mottos.

Now, drawing near Easter, pops of pastel colours adorn the interior design with baby blue vases, soft pink stuffed bunnies, and sun set orange ribboned baskets.

I walk past all this splendour into another room unseen from the entry. All my senses refeshen in the humidity that seems to steam from the hundreds of cacti plants that rest on shelves against the walls, stand in tall pots in the corners, and more aesthetically arranged on round tables creating a centre aisle.

And I breathe.

I breathe in this place where not a ribbon or jewel or ornament occupies.

I step slowly scanning the various cactus plants, some barely two inches in length, some warped in their roundness, others gangly in their tallness. Some bodies plentiful with spines, others edged with scattered thorns.

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And it’s all so beautiful, in it’s rawness, it’s unadorned form.

What is it that draws me to this place where beauty and refreshment comes from the misshapen, the undressed? Where symmetry isn’t and where thorns are exposed?

Maybe it is stirring in me that restlessness for that perfect place of ancestry, in a Garden where all was perfect, nothing hidden until tampered by temptation.

Maybe it is stirring in me to remember, to be, to come exposed, scars, wounds, prickles, and thorns, no adornments that mask.

Because we are all so most beautiful, my darling, in our raw, unadorned form.

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You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Songs 4:7

Come surrender your hidden scars
Leave your weapons where they are
You’ve been hiding, but I know your wounded heart
And you don’t know how beautiful you are

I’m tired of hiding who I really am
Underneath these alibis
I want to know who you really are
I want to meet you here tonight
We’re not born with these defenses
We’re not destined for this pain
We hide ourselves and put the fig leaves on
But a mask can never cover up this shame

                                                                                                             Jon Foreman

 

Advent Breathing Spaces

Inspired by Linda Stoll’s blog and timandolive.com, I’ve been posting at my Instagram account a daily photo for Advent. I’ve compiled the first 11 days here for you as well as Advent scriptures. I hope these bring you peace in this season that can seem so crazy at times!

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   HOME: The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.  Romans 13:12-14
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HOPE: God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Cor 1:9

 

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WAIT: Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch.Watch therefore–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning– lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” Mark 13:33-37

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VISION:In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

 

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PREPARE:There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. John 1:6-9
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RENEW: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’ Jeremiah 13: 14-16
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JUSTICE: The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land for ever, the shoot of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified. The least one shall become a clan, and the smallest one a mighty nation; I am the LORD; in its time I will hasten it. Isaiah 16:19-20
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PEACE: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
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SILENCE: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalms 43:5
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PRESENCE :A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalms 27:4
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BELONG: Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe thy righteous ordinances. Psalms 119: 105-106

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