Posts Tagged ‘God’

Random Rambles

We officially started school today!

What a sweet student I have!

What a sweet student I have!

Sandhills Sonrise Christian School had it’s inaugural day and it was a success!  Sawyer is such a good student and loves to learn, so teaching her is quite fun.  I’m sure there will be harder days down the road but today?  Today was a good day.

Also, just so we get it out there, Wrex totally laughed at me for getting her a first day of school outfit but I couldn’t resist!

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After Sawyer’s baptism last week, Wrex’s Grandma (and the kids’ GooGoo) stayed with us for a whole week!  She hasn’t gotten to do that in more than a year so it was such a special treat for us!

I love this pic!

I love this pic!

I know I’ve talked about her several times before, but she really is a magnificent lady.  She is leaving a legacy of the fear of the Lord and a legacy of familial love with all of us, and we can’t thank her enough for that.

The kids adore her and she spent more time playing with them than anyone I know!  She even got in and out of Wryder’s little playroom multiple times a day, despite her being “not as spry as she once was!”

Snuggling GooGoo

Snuggling GooGoo

They read every book on the bookshelf and watched a few fun cartoons and ate snacks and did hair and played farm and sale barn and Paw Patrol and Barbies and Uno until she was just plain tuckered out!  She even slept with one of the kids almost every night, which they loved.

Lots of time in her lap...

Lots of time in her lap…

My favorite moments where some of the quiet ones where I could hear her talking to them about being kind or using manners or how to show respect to someone or how to include someone that was lonely.  Wrex has always attributed a lot of his kindness and manners to her and I love seeing her pass a piece of that on to the next generation.

We took her to North Platte on Saturday so she could start her journey home and when it was time to say goodbye, there wasn’t a dry eye in the car…except for Wryder because he had just gotten a toy train from RaRa and that seemed to assuage his heartache.  *ahem*

We sure love our GooGoo and all that she does to pour into our lives and our kids’ lives…  Come back soon, Grandma!

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While we were in North Platte, we had to make a stop at Cody Park!  The kids rode rides with RaRa AND GooGoo!

Fun!

Fun!

So. Much. FUN!

So. Much. FUN!

I’m telling you, she’s the coolest!

We also checked out the Fort…

Love these people...

Love these people…

Here comes Sayble, riding on a pony...

Here comes Sayble, riding on a pony…

and the kids loved the wooden display in the back.

Sawyer was so inspired, that she came home and made a paper version!

Cowgirl, cowboy and horse

Cowgirl, cowboy and horse

Calf by a pond with water, complete with a boat and a DUCK!

Calf by a pond with water, complete with a boat and a DUCK!

I love that girl’s creativity and drive!

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Wryder got a special gift on Saturday, too!  The grands were going to wait until Christmas but decided he was gonna be too big if they waited any longer and let him have them now.

What is it?

What is it?

He got PaPa’s chaps from when HE was a little boy!  His mom had them custom made and he wore them and then Wrex wore them and now Wryder will wear them.

Pure joy!

Pure joy!

In case you can’t tell, he was FIRED. UP.

Is that cute or what?!

Is that cute or what?!

He’ll wear them proud, PaPa!

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While I bought groceries, the kids played at the park with daddy.  Sayble had a BALL!

One of my new favorite pictures of her!

One of my new favorite pictures of her!

That smile!

That smile!

Seriously, she's darn cute!

Seriously, she’s darn cute!

Wrex and I were talking the other day about how her adventures and discoveries and her new tasks and words are still just as exciting as they were with the other two.  It never gets old…

I’ve said it a million times – and I’ll say it again – these ARE the best years of our life!

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This week marks the beginning of the busy fall season for us.  Sawyer starts dance next week, Awana starts this week (Cubbies next), Wrexy’s sales start getting longer and of course, school.  All of these are such good and fun and wonderful things but they can leave us scrambling to get from one place or event or thing to the next.  I’m such a lover of peace…I’m trying not to spread myself too thin.  I want my the Lord and family to come first and to truly come first…not just get lip action.

As I was shutting off the lights in the school room last night, I was uttering little thoughts to the Lord about our school adventure and my heart shouted, “Lord, I just want to be pleasing to you.”  It caught me off guard, yet settled my soul.  Though I care about what she learns this year, more than that, I just want us to be a family that pleases Him.  Let it be so, Lord…

 

A Week Ago Today

A week ago today, Sawyer took a big step in obedience to the Lord and got baptized!

She was first!

She was first!

Nervous smile

Nervous smile

Comforting hug - she needed that!

Comforting hug – she needed that!

Dead to sin...

Dead to sin…

She was pretty nervous when it came right down to it, but she did so well and had a great big smile on her face when it was all said and done.

Joy!

Joy!

It was a joyous occasion and we had so many sweet friends and family join us to celebrate her big day.  THANK YOU to each of you who helped make her day special!

We all had lunch together and spent time feasting and visiting and thanking the Lord for all He has done for us!  (Can you believe I didn’t get a picture of the actual lunch festivities?!)

Let's feast!

Let’s feast!

A timeline of some of the things that have lead her to Jesus...

A timeline of some of the things that have lead her to Jesus…

Sawyer girl, we are so proud of you and Jesus is, too!  We love you dearly and know that the Lord has specific plans for your life.  We pray that you will seek Him with all of your heart, all the days of your life.

The day she asked Jesus into her heart, 2014

The day she asked Jesus into her heart, September 2014

A week ago today was one of the best days of my life to date!  So proud of sweet Sawyer and so thankful for the group of people He has given us to do life with…the day was PERFECTION.

Updates and Upstairs

Oh, sweet friends!  Were you wondering if I’d ever return?!  Life has been crazy and GOOD – crazy good!

To catch you up in one, simple run-on sentence, we had the opportunity to sell our house, rent an upgraded (read: bigger, newer, central air having, more-than-one-bathroom-and-an-actual-dining-room) home that answered all of our prayers…so we packed our things and cleaned out barns and buildings and took way longer than we ever imagined to move in because apparently we have a lot of stuff and like things just so…BUT we are in and feeling settled and LOVING. IT. HERE.  The Lord blessed our socks off and we feel this is exactly where we are supposed to be for the here and now – not much better than that!

And?  Apparently, I have some of the sweetest, most encouraging friends on the planet who want to see pictures of the place so what better day than today to get me back in the saddle of blogging.  I’ve missed it so!

Moving had been on our minds for a while for lots of reasons, one being that we had bought our home on what we had called a five-year plan.  It suited us well and we loved that sweet, little 100 year old farm house but with the addition of two other children, things started to feel a little tight.  (And, I know, that is definitely a first world problem.  We have never felt anything but blessed to live there - remember that awesome story!? – but we felt the Lord prompting us towards something different and we were ready to go!)

We had heard about the house from friends from church.  They told us where it was so we drove by just to see if it was even something was an option for us.  Whoa. Nelly.  It was like dream-home material!

Yes.  Just YES.

Yes. Just YES.

A month or so later, we took a tour, prayed our faces off, sold our home and moved in here!  We LOVE IT.  I’m afraid, no other home will ever compare – truly!  Obviously, there are things we might change if we owned the place but for now?  It’s perfect for us!  The Lord answered all of our requests and desires and then some!

From the moment I walked in, I could SEE us making memories here.  I could see myself in the kitchen, cooking with Sayble while looking out the window at the other 2 playing outside.  I could see Bible studies and card parties in the big ole family room and loud family dinners in the dining room.  I could see kids playing for hours in their big kid rooms and looking out over the pastures from their windows – I could just see us here!

Some people probably think we’re crazy for renting but for us, this was the best option for now, for several reasons. (And just so you know, I don’t feel the NEED to explain myself, but if you don’t know that I’m an open book by now…)

1) We had reached a point with our old home that we felt we had maxed out or profit potential without doing something drastic…and we weren’t up for drastic.  2) Moving is always on the table when you work for a company 3 states away.  While we love this area and home we never have to, it’s always an option.  3) Building costs mega $$ these days!  I don’t know if we built what we’d like and then had to move, if we’d ever get our money out of the place. 4) There aren’t very many farmsteads in the area that AREN’T either a modular or a 100 year old farmhouse and we’ve been there done that.  5)  It was the Lord.  All Him.  I won’t argue.

So, to recap…moving with 3 small children is hard.  Moving with livestock is harder.  Moving 112 chickens is hardest.  We love our new home and can’t imagine life anywhere else!

Here are some pics of the new digs!

We’ll start upstairs.  The stairs come up out of the dining room, up to the kids’ floor.  All three of their bedrooms and their bathroom is up here, which is so nice!  They’re all together and it’s REALLY quiet for them…which means good sleep for them, so good sleep for mom and dad!

Don’t knock the paneling – ha!  We weren’t gonna mess with that!

Upstairs - empty

Upstairs – empty

Upstairs - empty

Upstairs – empty

Top of the stairs

Upstairs after; top of the stairs

Now, why did I start with that picture?!  The bookshelf.  Sigh.  I have visions of it being artfully arranged…but then I remember that I have 3 small children who I want to LOVE to read so I’ve given up the fight on the perfect bookshelf and have gone with the “we use it all the dang time so it’s always disheveled look.”  You should try it, too!

Upstairs after

Upstairs after; truly a happy place!

My brother-in-law got me that dreamy pew last year and I was so happy to have a place for it in our new home!  I started out like this:

Pew before

Pew before

and after a good sanding and a fun color, it’s one of my favorite things in the house!

Pew after

Pew after

The kids’ bathroom isn’t huge but I think it’s perfect for them!  I’ve been so impressed with how clean they have kept it!

Kids' bathroom before

Kids’ bathroom before

Kids bathroom after!

Kids bathroom after!

Kids' bathroom after!

Kids’ bathroom after!

Kids' bathroom after!

Kids’ bathroom after!

Since then, they’ve gotten a new faucet, as this one bit the dust about 2 weeks in, but it’s just a fun, sweet little bathroom – I love it!  (It was the first room that was completely finished in the whole house!  Gotta love small rooms that didn’t need paint – ha!)

Wryder’s room DEFINITELY needed paint.  It’s hard to see in the pictures but the walls were in pretty bad shape as far as scratches and dings.

Wryder's room before

Wryder’s room before

Wryder's room before

Wryder’s room before

Wryder's room before

Wryder’s room before

We painted it a pretty, neutral grey and I love how it turned out!

Wryder's room after paint

Wryder’s room after paint

Wryder's room after paint

Wryder’s room after paint

Wryder's room after

Wryder’s room after

Wryder's room after

Wryder’s room after

Wryder's room after

Wryder’s room after

Wryder's big closet!

Wryder’s big closet!

Sayble’s room is the smallest, but it suits her needs just fine for now!  I love how it turned out…so sweet and cute – like her!

Sayble's room

Sayble’s room

Sayble's room

Sayble’s room

Sayble's room

Sayble’s room

Sayble's room

Sayble’s room

Sawyer got the biggest room.  It was an easy choice for us as far as layout goes…and?  The girl’s got a lot of stuff.  There’s a hoarder gene on the Phipps side and by golly, the girl’s got it!

Part of why she needed the big room was for this:

LOVE LOVE LOVE

LOVE LOVE LOVE

There’s just something about a cute farm house with two twin beds in a room!  I bought those headboards at an auction one day for $5 each.  They are vintage 20’s and just cute as a button and I’ve been storing them for this room!

Headboard before

Headboard before

Headboard after paint - Sweet Caroline, to be exact!

Headboard after paint – Sweet Caroline, to be exact!

Sawyer's room

Sawyer’s room

Sawyer's room

Sawyer’s room

Her room is so sweet and so totally her.  She loves her double beds; she loves the little table for tea parties and such and she loves using the toybox as her desk/office.  And?  She has a huge closet – a must for a girl with a penchant for cute things!

Sawyer's room and a few of her fun things!

Sawyer’s room and a few of her fun things!

Sawyer's room

Sawyer’s room

Sawyer's closet

Sawyer’s closet

And, yes…that is exactly what you think it is!  She has a “secret room” behind the bookshelf in her closet!  We turned it into a toy room for her and all of us love spending time in there.

I wish I had taken before and after pictures of it because we did the works in there!  New carpet, new lighting, boarded the walls…

Sawyer's toy room after

Sawyer’s toy room after

It is so fun and the perfect place to store all of her Barbies and babies and doll house things.  And?  Wryder has one, too.  How did we luck out like that?!

Wryder's playroom before

Wryder’s playroom before

Wryder's playroom after

Wryder’s toy room after

We put in new carpet, painted everything and put in new lighting.  I LOVE this space and he does, too!  I love having the toys out of sight, too, I won’t lie!

Wryder's toy room after

Wryder’s toy room after

Wryder's toy room after

Wryder’s toy room after

And?  Sayble has a little crawl space in her room that we can turn into a playroom for her one day.  But we’re tired.  And she’s still a baby.  So we’ll wait.

Thank you for humoring my little house tour with my awful iPhone pictures.  ;)  We’ll hit downstairs tomorrow.  Maybe, all of my pictures will have uploaded by then.  Oh, how we miss our good internet service!

The Ones I Hold Dear

You know those friends you have in your life that are always, ALWAYS there when you need them?  I feel blessed to have quite a few of those and the past several weeks, there are few that have just captured my heart all over again…

One, is this girl.

Beauty to the nth degree

Beauty to the nth degree

Most days, I feel like I was a better mom when it was just her.  Parents of more than one, please don’t tell me I’m the only one that feels this way.  I just feel like so much of my day is spent picking up after people or taking care of Sayble who eats/sleeps/poops and needs something almost constantly or disciplining Wryder and it feels like my patience and tolerance run out quicker than I’d like…and that’s not fair to her.

I know we live in community and it’s part of being a family and it’s part of having siblings, I just want so badly to do it well…because she deserves that.

The more time goes on, the more I feel like she’s one of those once in a lifetime kind of kids; she’s mature beyond her years, she strives for obedience, she doesn’t push boundaries, she’s quick to forgive, she’s quick to do the right thing, she’s got the heart of a servant, administrator and worshiper, she’s a doer and a fixer and a creator, and one of my best friends on the planet.

Today, she talked to me about how we can choose things for ourselves, but we can’t choose things for others.  See what I mean? 

She constantly chooses to strive for obedience when Wryder doesn’t and she constantly chooses to love me even when I don’t feel lovable.  Lord, help me honor her by giving her more of my best…more of You and less of me.

I love you, sweet girl.  I know I’m not the perfect momma…but I wish I was.  Thank you for thinking I am and for encouraging me to try even harder.

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And this pretty, pregnant thing with a banging bedroom.

Isn't she a doll?

Isn’t she a doll?

She’s probably gonna kill me for this, but I *might* be able to (or at least attempt to) outrun her in her baby-will-be-here-in-3-days state.  ;)

She is one of the busiest, most efficient, creative people I know…but I have yet to call upon her for ANYTHING and she not answer, and answer quickly.  Scared about some weird health thing?  She talks me off a ledge.  And prays for me.  Confess some horrible parenting ordeal or poor choice?  She’s points me back to Jesus.  And makes me feel better with some story of her own.  Call her with a million website/design/Adobe/computer/color/Apple/blog questions?  She answers.  Every time.  And encourages me and compliments and fills in the gaps when I can’t.  And never makes me feel bad about it. 

She is one of those sisters of the heart that the Lord just plopped in my life…and another one of those, “Why in the world would He make us live so far apart??” kind of friends.

I love you, KJ!  You rock at life.  So glad I get to be a part of yours…

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And these people.

Sibs

Sibs

Marrying Wrex was one of the best decisions of my life and besides making a life WITH him, the next best thing I got out of the deal, were these wonderful siblings.  We all got to be together (sans Warner) over Easter and it was so. much. fun.  I rarely laugh more than what I do when I’m with them!

They are fun, funny, ambitious, family-oriented, life-giving, encouraging people and honestly, my life wouldn’t be near as fulfilling if they weren’t in it.  I truly consider them some of my best friends…

My sisters are the best –  I can tell them anything and they are never anything but encouraging!  My brothers are the best – they make me laugh like no other and I get a good dose of sarcasm, general immaturity, sports talk, cow talk, blue-collar talk, good-natured teasing and all-around fun when I’m in their midst.

And?  They all love my kids so. stinking. well.  As a parent, what’s better than that?!

Seriously, you guys…  My heart beats for family and these people make family worth fighting for.  You five have my heart.

He Is

Today is one of my favorite days of the year when it pertains to church.  Being Palm Sunday, all the cute little kiddos parade down the aisles of the church waving their palm branches proclaiming, “Hosanna!  Hosanna!  Hosanna to the King!”

After we all ooed and awwed over their cuteness and returned to worship ourselves, the weight of Palm Sunday really dropped into my heart.  As I was thinking about Jesus, Palm Sunday marked the beginning of the end.  As He rode into Jerusalem to ultimately meet His death, He was greeted with such celebration and splendor with people laying down their branches and coats in submission and allegiance to Him.  Hosanna…

As I think back on my life, I feel like the one name or attribute of the Lord that is most marked  for me is that of Hosanna.  He IS the God who saves.

He has saved me from a life of mediocrity.  I know a lot of lukewarm Christians…or followers that believe the Lord exists but don’t truly have a vibrant and thriving relationship with Him.  Most of my life, those were the only kind of people I knew.  When I entered college, the Lord changed that for me.  Through some incredible mentors and an extremely handsome guy named Wrex, the Lord showed me what a real relationship and walk with Him looked like and I’ve never looked back.  I’m big on living a life of excellence and that has to start with Jesus.

He has saved me from mediocrity in other ways, too.  For me, there were certain areas of my life that I always assumed would look exactly like what I’d seen lived out in front of me, even though I desired something different.  I can admit that I had high hopes for marriage but there was a part of me that was skeptical.  Did the type of relationship I hungered for really exist?  Today, I can attest that it does, indeed.  Because I was obedient to follow His lead (even though that meant hurting someone else), the Lord gave me an amazing husband!  My relationship with Wrex and my kids is something I treasure (and try not to idolize!) and I’m so glad I didn’t settle in my search for Mr. Right.

He has saved me from warped views regarding myself.  I went through a period of my life where I felt like I just wasn’t good enough…for anyone, anywhere.  I wasn’t smart enough for these people, I wasn’t wealthy enough for these people, I wasn’t thin enough for these people, I wasn’t outgoing enough for these people, I wasn’t funny enough for these people…I wasn’t ever enough.  Sadly, I held these people in the highest of regards (at the time) and I can look back now and see how they really reinforced these ugly things I had started to believe about myself simply by the way they were treating me.  It’s taken a lot of years to untangle some of those webs and I wouldn’t even say that they’re all undone, but I do know that the Lord has used some people from the opposite end of the spectrum – people who really “see” me – to save me from those lies and help set me free with the truth.

He saved me from my own stupidity.  Poor decisions, poor choices, flat out disobedience…  Times I should’ve been dead.  Times I shouldn’t have made it out of horrible circumstances.  Times I should’ve had stiffer consequences.  Times I should’ve never been given a second chance, yet time and time again He has shed His grace on me with loving-kindness and patience.

He saved my life.  Literally, my life.  There are memories related to my health and well-being engrained in my mind that still cause me anxiety.  There are times I made poor choices and He was merciful to me.  There are times when I was trying to be tough and probably should’ve gone to the hospital but He was my healer.  There have been times where I’ve just had some of the weirdest, freak incidents and He has spared me every single time.  Even this winter with the tumor on my thyroid, His mighty hand has saved me (literally!) again and again and again.

He saved my life, my whole life.  I am not a slave to death.  He paid the ultimate price through His death and resurrection and I get to LIVE because of that.  Not just in the here and now…forever.

Palm Sunday is the beginning of the end…but it’s also the beginning of the beginning.  The beginning of the new covenant…the beginning of our salvation through faith…the beginning of the cleansing of our sin…the realization of Hosanna…the God who saves.

Random Rambles

It’s FRIDAY!  Do I really need to say anything else?!

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I love to see the gifts in my children become glaringly obvious.  Sweet Sawyer is such a little administrator.  It takes one to know one, perhaps.

Wryder has a crush on a cute little high school girl and the minute he saw her last fall, he’s been telling her (and everyone else) that he was gonna marry her.  He and Sawyer have made plans for him to live in the playhouse with his new wife, with a sled for a bed.  Sawyer has been busy planning his wedding for months and this week, she got their wedding clothes done.

She made notes and designs in her notebook and would check off each piece as she completed it.

Her designs...

Her designs…

Her main construction materials were paper towels and washi tape and they look surprisingly good!

The dress and "gail"

The dress and “gail”

Wryder's tuxedo shirt.  Note the red rose and the bow tie...

Wryder’s tuxedo shirt. Note the red rose and the bow tie…

I feel like we’ve fought their obsession with this project for quite some time.  I do love that they love the concept of marriage and how joyful it truly is.  We must be doing a little something right…

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Sawyer has her first 4-H meeting this weekend.  We are so excited for her and she is so excited for herself!  Wrex and I’ve done a lot of talking this week about the joys and advantages of a slower pace of life.

Everything that he is today – from follower of Christ, to husband, to father, to cattle buyer – all of the things and people that influenced him most, took place before he was 15 years old.  It wasn’t high school…it wasn’t college…it was the things he got to try and experience during his most formative years that shaped his being.

I am so grateful that I get to be a stay-at-home mom…that I get the opportunity to spend more time with them than anyone else…that we get to encourage them and teach them and train them and provide them with opportunities and experiences that will translate into their futures.

We were watching Duck Dynasty the other night and one of the older kids was pursuing his dreams as a musician and just watching his mom’s reaction made me sappy, of course.  There are times when it feels like those days are so far down the road, but we all know they’re not; they’ll be here in the blink of an eye, just like everything else.

It made us wonder what our kids would be doing and pursuing…and we pray with all of our might that at the heart of whatever it is, that it’s Jesus.

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The neighbors didn’t have school on Monday so we loaded up for a midday play date.  Sawyer got to ride in the go-cart and thought that was pretty fun stuff!

Bye, mom!

Bye, mom!

Wryder went over, looked at it, tried the helmet on and then settled for the porch.

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This cute little booger is just joy in every way!

:)

:)

She was a little fussy for the babysitter on Tuesday night and has had a few bouts of that with us lately so we assumed she must be getting a tooth.  Yesterday, Wrex was playing with her and saw the monster coming in on the top.

Lately, she’s really been pursing her mouth and that must be why.  Not sure what explains all the nose crinkling but I LOVE it.

Cute toot!

Cute toot!

Seriously, she’s the cutest thing E.V.E.R.

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We’re hoping hoping HOPING that the guys get our barn and shop finished this weekend.  They’ve been working weekends and the wind hasn’t helped their cause much….or the fact that they don’t ever get here until 10 am.  *ahem*

They have the shop all done but are still working on the barn.  I promise to post pics when they are done.  I know it’s going to look so nice but there’s something I’ll miss about the chippy old barn…

A few winters ago...

A few winters ago…

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Wrex is still sporting the mutton chops.

Yeeeeaaaahhh...

Yeeeeaaaahhh…

Extroverts are so funny.  I spend most of my days not wanting to be seen and he’s putting himself out there front and center, with radical facial hair no less.  Cracks me up.  Here’s to hoping they’re gone by Monday…sure hope that razor doesn’t zip up his face in the night!  ;)

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It’s Fun Friday around here and today is errand day.  We’re gonna run to town and take some checks to the bank for daddy and get some cash for our Dave Ramsey envelopes and take a cupcake to a special birthday lady and get some birthday cards to send to some other special people (PaPa and RaRa!) and if the wind stops howling, we may stop at the park to burn a little energy (them) and calories (me).

Whatever you find yourself doing today, I pray that you choose and find joy in all of it.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Several years ago, I did a study on covenant (and I’ve written about it here before).  To say it changed my life and the way I understood the Lord and His word is a COMPLETE understatement.  It. was. AMAZING and completely fascinating.  (It’s honestly, one of my favorite things to talk about EVER so if you have questions, let’s chat!)

In studying Abraham, the topic of covenant comes up again.   In Biblical times, people would “cut a covenant” as a way of making a binding, holy, irrevocable contract.  To cut a covenant, they would perform a covenant ceremony.

I won’t go into a lot of detail here but we’ll use Wrex and Stef as an example.  Not every culture did every step but as a whole, it looked like this:

  1. Exchange of robes – which symbolized the exchange of identities
    1. Wrex would wear Stef’s coat and Stef would now wear Wrex’s
    2. If they were seen walking from afar, someone would think Wrex was Stef or Stef was Wrex because they were wearing the other’s coat
    3. It creates a melding or confusion of identities
  2. Exchange of belts – which symbolized the exchange of strengths or assets
    1. Whatever strength Wrex brings to the relationship, Stef now has; whatever strength Stef brings to the relationship, Wrex now has
  3. Exchange of weapons – which symbolized the exchange of enemies
    1. Stef’s enemies would now have to come through Wrex first and Wrex’s through Stef – we will fight for each other
  4. Sacrificial flesh
    1. animal split down middle
  5. Walk of death
    1. Wrex would walk through the middle of the split animal in a figure eight pattern; Stef would do the same.  When they were finished, they would be back where they started, facing each other.
  6. Striking of hands
    1. Each person would make an incision on their hand or wrist and intermingle their blood
    2. Some cultures still do this and use gunpowder to create a dark scar
    3. This scar would be a visible sign of a covenant
    4. Circumcision was a sign that you were in covenant with the Lord
  7. Pronouncements of blessings and curses
    1. Wrex/Stef, as long as you obey the covenant terms, blessed you shall be as you lie down and when you wake, when you go out and when you retrun
    2. BUT, if you ever disavow or violate the terms of the covenant, cursed shall you be!  What has happened to this split animal, may it happen to thee.
  8. Covenant meal
    1. Wrex feeds Stef, Stef feed Wrex (think of cake at a wedding)
    2. As you eat this, you are ingesting me…taking me into your life (and vice versa)
  9. Exchange of names
    1. Wrex becomes Wrex Phipps Hedrick
    2. Stef becomes Stef Hedrick Phipps
  10. Sealing of the covenant
    1. Test it/prove it/see if it’s real

So those are the steps to cutting a covenant.  Isn’t that fascinating?!  Marriage is as close as we get to creating a blood covenant (it can still be broken through divorce) so you can see a lot of how those steps pertain to a wedding ceremony…

If that’s not fascinating enough, let’s look at it through the lens of Jesus creating a covenant with us in the New Testament.   So this time, let the parties be Jesus and Stef…

  1. Exchange of robes – exchange of identities
    1. Stef gets a robe of righteousness; Jesus gets a robe of sinfulness
    2. Every time the Father looks at Stef, all He sees is righteousness
  2. Exchange of belts – exchange of strengths
    1. Stef gets every strength and power Jesus has; we can walk in His authority
  3. Exchange of weapons – exchange of enemies
    1. Stef’s enemy?  Death.  Jesus took on death and beat it when He arose from the grave after 3 days
    2. Jesus’ enemy?  Satan – who Stef battles now (Ephesians 6)
  4. Sacrificial flesh
    1. Jesus was the living sacrifice; He hung on a cross and died and at his death, the veil of the temple was torn in two (Matthew 25)
  5. Walk of death
    1. To be in covenant with and follow Jesus, we have to lay down our life and follow His (Matthew 16)
    2. We are dying to self and following Him
  6. Striking of hands
    1. Jesus’ hands/wrists upon being nailed to cross
    2. Circumcision of the heart
      1. I will walk in righteousness and disallow sinfulness
  7. Blessings and curses – this one’s interesting
    1. There are SO many blessings and promises He has for us under the New Covenant through His death (I’ll never leave you or forsake you, I’ll supply all your needs, we are a joint heir with Christ ) – but were are the curses?
    2. Curses are no more.  Our sin was the curse and through Him taking our sin through death, they are no more
  8. Covenant meal
    1. Lord’s supper
  9. Name exchange
    1. We take on His name – christian – one who is of Christ
    2. Son of Man – Jesus is identified many times in this way in the New Testament; He took on our name (man)
  10. Sealing of covenant

This is the one that got me….number ten.  Like, really got me.

To test the covenant, covenant partners would exchange their oldest sons.  That’s pretty serious business, yes?  Bearing we weren’t married and just using my first example from above, Wrex would handover his oldest son to me and I would hand over my oldest son to him.

So, look at it through the lens of the New Testament covenant.  Our Father sacrificed His oldest Son, Jesus, to prove to us the covenant is real…it’s true…it can be trusted.  The things He promises us through it WILL be brought to fruition!  Because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, we don’t have to sacrifice anything in a living sense.  Our sacrifice is spiritual; we must die to ourselves and allow Him to be in charge of our lives.

Now, look at that through the lens of Abraham.  Remember what the Lord had him do?  He asked him to sacrifice Isaac.  Can you even imagine?! 

Isaac wasn’t a young man at this time; he was able to carry a bundle of wood up a mountain (for his own sacrifice, mind you).  Abraham loved and trusted the Lord enough that he was going to be obedient no matter the cost.  If he lost Isaac, he would lose everything; Isaac was the one and only heir to all he had been promised by the Lord…

And so he did.  They climbed the mountain and just as Abraham was about to kill Isaac, an angel of the Lord stopped him.  The Lord had seen that Abraham was serious about this test and the covenant they had made together so the Lord spared Isaac.

As I was studying this last step, I was overcome with emotion.  The sealing of the covenant.  I don’t know that I could do what Abraham did…  I’d like to think I could, but would I?  I began to wonder what in my life IS the sign of the covenant I have with the Lord?  What has He asked me to sacrifice, and what have I sacrificed, as a sign of His covenant with me?  What have I given over that says to Him, I am keeping my end of the deal…that I’m upholding our covenant together?

That really struck me and caused a lot of serious introspection.  Does my life look like I’m in a covenant with the one true God?

The beautiful thing about this covenant is it’s a Suzerain Covenant, which is a covenant not between equals, but a covenant when one person has everything and the other has nothing.  Kinda like me and Jesus. 

All He desires is my loyalty and commitment, which does involve sacrifice, doesn’t it?

We can’t be in covenant with Him and be serious about it and continue on living a life of repetitive sin.

We can’t be in covenant with Him and be serious about it and make decisions based upon our fears or wants or desires without ever asking Him what He has for us.

We can’t be in covenant with Him and be serious about it if we don’t make room for Him as a priority in our lives.

We can’t be in covenant with Him and be serious about it if we continue to water down the truth of the Word and make our own interpretations of right and wrong.

It’s been something that’s been rolling around my head and heart the past couple of weeks and I’m aiming to keep my end of the deal.

I know that I will sin.

I know that my record won’t be perfect.

I know I will fall short.

And I know that the work He did on the cross and His grace alone will cover these things, but I still wanna do my best to live a life that’s signed over to Him…a life sealed with a covenant…a life of witness to the deliverance He’s set forth in me.

Little Plus Little Plus Little Equals Big

Guys, I don’t even know what to tell you about 2016.  We’re entering the second week of February and it’s been a ride already!  I’ve always heard that following the Lord is an adventure and life has proven that very thing, time and time again.

I’ve been doing the Precept study – which you KNOW I love! –  on the life of Abraham.  It starts us right where the Lord calls Abram (soon to be Abraham) away from the place he and his family have known…away from every familiar and comfortable thing…to follow Him to a land that He would show Him…a land that the Lord promises to bless through the many descendants that shall come from the house of Abram.

Intriguing offer – would you do it?  We’d all like to think we would, wouldn’t we?  But sometimes, it’s not so easy.  There are memories and relationships and impossibilities (seemingly, of course) and details to hash out and things to pack and things to mull over and think about and ideas to bounce off of our friends and confirmations to get and and and!   But Abram made it look easy; the text simply says, “So Abram went…”  What faith, yes?!  I feel like I can definitely relate to this part of the story because it reminds me so much of how we got to where we are now…  We had $5000 in a savings account, nowhere to live, nowhere to go and no job waiting for us; all we knew was we were supposed to go, so go we did.

One of the many things that I love about the story of Abram besides his faithfulness to the Lord, is the Lord’s faithfulness to Him.  Even in his sin and his lies and poor decisions, the Lord still acts on His behalf and kept leading Him on in the way he already said that he would go…

It has been such a beautiful reminder for me the past couple of weeks.  I so badly want to be obedient to Him – isn’t it the least that I could do?  Isn’t the blessing that comes from obedience worth the discomfort of a new thing?

In that search for knowing obedience and knowing His will, Abram settles my soul that should I misstep, should I have heard wrong, should I have made the poor choice…He’s not leaving me.  He’s not forsaking me.  Should I willfully disobey, He will HATE my sin of disobedience but continue to love me just as He has done before my birth.  That’s a beautiful thing, yes?

Sometimes waiting on the Lord is strenuous…especially for a control freak person who is very type A and likes to have all of their ducks in a row and have them in a row immediately.  Don’t ask me how I know.  *ahem* 

I’m at the point that I just wanna do what He wants me to do and I don’t even care what that is.  Not a bad place to be, eh?

I look at Abram’s story and it’s wrapped up in such a nice little bow that it makes the obedience part look easy.  The Lord said, “do this,” so Abram did.  He traveled here and built an altar…he traveled there until the Lord spoke again…he went on his merry way until the Lord gave Him some more instructions.  Well, that sounds easy enough – no wonder he was faithful! 

But when you look at the great distance he actually traveled (on foot, mind you) and all he must have encountered – all of the little hardships and happenings and rocks in the road and people he happened upon – he continually had to make choices for obedience that we don’t hear about in the text, even just in the daily grind.  It wasn’t like he magically appeared in the next town because that’s where the text picks up; he actually had to GET there and that alone wasn’t always an easy feat.

Isn’t it the day to day choices for obedience that usually get us?  I find myself begging for Him to reveal what I’m to do in the big decisions…am I good at letting Him govern the small ones, too?  When Wryder poops in his pants for the thousandth time since we started potty training, do I choose grace (obedience) and talk to him levelly or do I raise my voice?  When Sawyer continually guesses at words instead of sounding them out, do I teach her how to do it properly (obedience) or do I lose my cool?  When Sayble is fussy do I stop everything I’m doing and comfort her (obedience) or do I act inconvenienced?  When Wrex asks for my help outside and the wind is howling, so I jump up to help him with a good attitude (obedience) or complain and tell him to make it snappy?  Well, that was all fun to write… *ahem*

I just can’t help but think that if it blesses His heart that we wait on Him before we make the big decisions in our life, how much MORE does it bless Him when we call on Him for EVERY decision in our life?  It’s why we have to stay hooked up. It’s why we have to be in the Word.  It’s why we have to have Scripture memorized and dropped in our hearts.  It’s why we have to respond and not react.  It’s why we have to consciously choose obedience in all the little things just as carefully as we would for the big things…because all the little things?  They become the big things…

Lord, help me to have a heart that chases after you in ALL things.  You are worthy of my obedience in every phase and every stage and every minute…

Hope

Friends, today I write to you with a spirit of gratitude…  I’ve been absent a bit but with good reason.

The week before Christmas, I was sitting in the kitchen talking to Wrex after he had gotten home one night and I was telling him that my neck looked fatter than normal lately.  (I’ve always had a poofier neck and was diagnosed with a goiter when I was in high school.  I have my thyroid tested twice a year and it’s always normal so it’s never been a huge cause for concern…other than me hating how it looks.  Vain, I know.)

As I was talking to him about my neck, I reached up to touch it and I got the shock of my life; I felt a huge lump on the right side of my thyroid.  Huge.  Like golf ball huge.  As soon as I said something, he could immediately see it, too.  I called the clinic the next morning (a Friday) and they saw me that afternoon…and didn’t like what they saw.

I had a CT scan on Tuesday and Tuesday afternoon they called me with the results.  I had cystic masses on both sides of my thyroid and the one on the right (the one I felt that night) had a nodule or hard tissue/tumor on it.  I needed to go to an ENT and get a biopsy…and between the holidays that were approaching, it was going to be February.  Not really the amount of time I wanted to wait….but wait we did…for a few days.  The clinic called back and the doc had showed my scans to a retired ENT and he thought we needed to speed up the process.  Good….and scary.

I got an appointment for the 15th of January in Fort Collins and in the meantime, we were waiting it out. We didn’t feel there was a reason to alarm the masses but we wanted to tell a few close friends who we KNEW would be praying for us…who would really pray…and obviously, we wanted to tell Wrex’s family.  I did NOT want to tell everyone at Christmas and have all eyes on me or kill the mood or whatever but Wrex didn’t really want to call everyone individually.

We kept waiting for a good time to bring that up in conversation – it just doesn’t fit too well anywhere, ya know?!  The day before we all gathered up to go home, Wrex’s dad wanted us to have some time as a family to tell each other what big things were going on in our lives that we could all be praying for each other about.  Hello, open door….we shall enter.

Two days after we got home from Christmas in Nebraska, Wrex’s mom called to ask our opinion or encourage us to go to the Mayo Clinic.  I could hear him talking to her and I just sat in the chair, quietly.  Prior to this, my “adopted-mom” suggested the same thing.  I had received it somewhat flippantly because when I think of Mayos, I think of someone on their last leg of survival and I didn’t feel like I was that far gone.  After Wrex’s mom suggested it though, I told him about the prior recommendation and we both felt like it was confirmation that we should at least look into it, knowing that the odds of us getting seen (and getting seen soon) were probably slim to none.

So, I nosed around online while he was out doing chores and I found a “request an appointment” link.  I filled out the forms, hit send and it notified me that someone would get back to us in 3-5 business days.  That was 10:30pm.  At 8:30 the next morning, my phone rang…and it was the Mayo Clinic…and they could see me on the 11th of January.  We were just beside ourselves at how quick THAT whole process happened.  We felt assured that this was the way the Lord was leading.

I, of course, was worried about money and did NOT want to leave my babies.  We had NO idea how long we’d be gone or what they would find or what they would need to do to fix the situation…  We were praying that it was benign and that we’d be home in a few short days!

We decided to take Sayble with us to ease the load of work for RaRa (Wrex’s mom) who was going to stay with the kids.  We built this up as an exciting time for them to spend a few days with her while I got my neck looked at so we wanted them to truly get to play and make memories without a lot of work.

Wrex’s boss called during the week before we left reassuring Wrex that the company wasn’t going anywhere without him and to take as much time as he needed.  He instructed us that we better be taking the company pickup and that he was buying the fuel.  Wrex told him that he couldn’t allow him to do that and his (sweet ole) boss said he wasn’t asking, he was telling…and that was that.

We left Sunday morning at 5am and Sayble was a stinkin’ ROCKSTAR.  She slept all the way to Kearney where we stopped and fed her and ourselves, was quite content all the way to Iowa where we ate lunch and then slept again the last 2 hours of the trip.  She. Did. AWESOME.

Just so you know, it’s COLD in Minnesota.  Colorado is not cold.  Nebraska is not cold.  Texas is DEFINITELY not cold.  Minnesota?  Is cold.  When we rolled into town, it was 10 degrees below zero.  Yeah.

Rochester is chocked full of hotels, mainly due to the Mayo Clinic.  A lot of them are older so we weren’t sure what to totally expect.  We found a Quality Inn online that had been remodeled on the inside and was more than willing to work with us regarding adding more days to our stay or cancelling some that we didn’t need.  It was $75/night so that for sure appealed to Wrex.  :)

When we opened the door to our room, we got a HUGE surprise and blessing!  We had a suite!  With 3 beds and a kitchenette and two TVs and two dressing areas – it was PERFECT!  I had been so worried about how well Sayble would sleep not being in her own bed and with us in the room and we didn’t have to worry about that all.  She slept like a rock in one room and we slept soundly in the other.  He cares for our every need.

Our appointment was at 1:00pm and prior to it, my phone was going nuts with some of my favorite people encouraging me. I didn’t text anyone or remind anyone that Monday was a big day…they just remembered…and had been praying…and reached out to me in a monumental way…

<3

Wowed…

 

We got there in plenty of time so as not to get lost.  That place is HUGE.  HUGE.  We can talk about that later but really.  HUGE.  In it’s enormity, it’s very easy to find your way around.  We walked straight to our waiting room, checked in and saw the doctor within five minutes.  No, I’m not even kidding.

She assessed my reports, took me to an ultrasound room and ultrasounded my neck herself, remeasured everything, agreed we needed a biopsy and blood work. She ordered everything on the computer and sent me on my merry way!

After you leave the exam room, you check out with the nurses desk where they look at what she ordered and work to get you scheduled.  We explained that we were from out of state and that while we didn’t want to wait another week, we understood that today might not work to get everything done.  Not this trip. She scheduled my lab work for 15 minutes later and my biopsy for 3:00pm!  Seriously, you guys…that place….

I had been working at hydrating myself the week and a half prior because blood draws and IVs don’t get along with my veins.  Before my CT scan, it took 3 pokes for a blood draw and 9 for an IV.  Not. Even. Kidding.

We walked down to the lab, checked in, sat down, watched them call about 15 other people in 5-10minutes times and then it was my turn.  I sat down, she touched around on my arm while making small talk about my day and where I was from, gave me a small roll of gauze to squeeze, poked me with one poke, got what she needed, took the gauze from my hand, wrapped it around my arm, chatted about our kids for a minute or to and sent me on my merry way!  I don’t think I was there 3 minutes.  They. Are. Amazing.  No wasted motions… From the little cubicle type area I was in, you could see a conveyor belt of sorts behind the panels in the wall making it’s way…somewhere…with all of those blood draws.

We ate a snack in the not remotely over-priced cafeteria.  That was the other thing I was expecting…to be gouged…to be leaking like a sieve from our pocketbooks as we paid for little things (like snacks, especially with my blood sugar issues).  Water? $1.  Muffin?  $1.49.  Yogurt? $1.19.  Chicken Caesar salad? $3.99.  It was completely reasonable, thankfully.

At 3, I went back up for my biopsy and that crew was just as kind, professional, joyful and efficient as the rest.  They used an ultrasound to find the cyst and tumor and used it guide their needles as they took sample cells to test.  They also tried to aspirate, or drain, the cyst as much as possible to relieve some of the pressure it was putting on my neck and tongue.  They were able to get about 3-4cc or what he considered to about half.  The cyst fluid itself is a lot like Karo syrup in consistency so that was the best they could do, even with their biggest needles.  The procedure didn’t really hurt at all but was a little sore later on that night.

Just a little band-aid...

Just a little band-aid…

We were all done by 4:00 pm and we just couldn’t help but take a deep breath and smile.  We had had SUCH a good day.  We had NO IDEA what the results would say but we knew we were in the right place no matter what.  We celebrated with some Texas Roadhouse and the College National Championship Football game.  Our follow up appointment was scheduled for 4:00pm the next day so we were just taking it easy…

We ate a leisurely breakfast the next morning and were slowly getting around when the endocrinologist from Mayo’s called asking us to come in earlier.  We had NO idea what that meant but hurried up there.  She saw us right away and gave us the good news that the tumor was BENIGN!  Praise the LORD!  We were (and are!) so thankful!  All of my blood work came back normal so their recommendation was no surgery unless it began to impede swallowing, talking or breathing.  If they did surgery, they would have to take out that lobe of the thyroid and since it was functioning properly, that is not something they wanted to do right now because it would just create a whole new host of symptoms and problems that we’d have to sort out.

After looking over the rest of my chart notes and complaints I brought along, she wanted me to see the neurologist for my sinus/migraines and to see the nutritionist and dietician in the endocrinology department to see if they could help with my blood sugar issues.  She warned us that neurology was about 6 months out and nutrition was about 3-6 weeks out but she thought we should just order them and see what we could find.  Wanna guess what happened?!

Yep.  Neuro appointment that afternoon and nutrition/dietician appointments for the next day.

The neurologist was an older gentleman that has written at least seven books regarding Parkinson’s disease and was so sweet and fun to visit with.  We did some visiting and he did a small exam and gave me a prescription for a drug that the Mayo Clinic themselves compounds that is his favorite when it comes to migraines.  Sounds good to me!

The next day, I got to meet with the nutritionist and while getting news that my thyroid was benign was INCREDIBLE, my meeting with this lady might just save my life.  After talking with her regarding my blood sugar issues, she diagnosed me with reactive hypoglycemia.  I’ve struggled with low blood sugar ever since I was pregnant with Wryder three years ago and NOTHING I have done has been working.

I was told to stay away from sugar, eat lots of protein and very few carbs…which is almost the opposite of what I should be doing.  I was eating a heavy protein diet and not NEAR enough complex carbohydrates and my body was just blowing through that protein as fast as it would a piece of candy.

For whatever reason (that’s the part I wish I knew!) my body breaks down food really fast after eating so I get a woosh of glucose which triggers a woosh of insulin (too much) which sends my blood glucose too low and I get symptomatic (shaky, sweaty, weak, nauseous, irritable, unable to make a decision, dizzy, anxious, etc.) and on a cellular level I’m just as much of a wreck…

For the past three years, I’ve either just constantly been chasing that roller coaster of a glucose curve trying to make the symptoms go away as quick as they came OR I’ve been completely over-eating so that I could try not to feel any of those symptoms.  When I would feel symptomatic, I would grab a cheese stick or a handful of nuts or a spoonful of peanut butter – trying to stay away from carbs.  WRONG!

She laid out an eating plan for me that has me eating 6 meals a day, each about 300 calories with 2-4 complex carb choices during meals 1, 3 and 5 and 1-3 complex carb choices at meals 2, 4 and 6.  I’ve eaten this way for the past 6 days now and man alive……..I already feel like a completely different person.

It’s been a lot to chart and balance…I had to put it all in an Excel spreadsheet and tape it to my fridge, yall!  I know it will be something I have to be diligent about despite all of the other irons I have in the fire.  My wonderful husband helped me on Sunday (and we’ll do the same today) to portion out all of my proteins and naturally occurring sugars and carbs.  I have a fridge full of tupperware with portioned snacks/meals ready to go because I know that life WILL happen and I’ll think I’m superwoman and that I can just go a little while longer before I eat…..and then I’ll regret it and send myself right back into that awful cycle of chasing my glucose…

I know I’m not out of the woods yet and that I have a long way to go to maintain that eating plan but I feel SO VERY HOPEFUL.  Hopeful.

In readying myself for the trip to Minnesota, I did some talking to my brain and prepared myself to see some people who were a lot worse off than I was…and while we saw a few, we mainly just saw HOPE.

During my last appointment, Wrex and Sayble were walking all the halls and underground tunnels and when I called to tell him I was done, he told me to meet him at the little museum on the subway level.  I’m seriously fascinated with the place so I thought that was a great idea.  Here’s what you see right when you walk in….

HOPE

HOPE

The Lord heard our cries and He answered us, friends.  I will never forget this trip or this experience and the ways He has been so faithful to us over and over and over and over again.

I know this was a really long post and I know I probably left out a million details and examples of His faithfulness…  I didn’t know if I really wanted to share ALL of this with the world but I just felt so passionately hopeful and grateful that I just couldn’t help but do so…

More later on the Mayo Clinic in general but for now, it’s snack time!

In a Fighting Mood

It can’t freeze fast enough.  I am so over the flies and bees and wasps…seriously.  I’ve contemplated moving more than once over the past two weeks.

Our 100 year old farm house has plenty of nooks and crannies for them to find their way in and I have constantly been on the lookout for rogue wasps that have made their way inside.  I’m not deathly allergic to the things, but allergic enough the doctor thinks I need an epi-pen…not something I just really want to take a chance on, ya know?

As I walked out to the mudroom the other day, there was another wasp on the inside of the backdoor…whom I promptly hit so quick and hard with the flyswatter that I broke it.  (I’m on number three, mind you.   *ahem*)  We’ve found them circling the light in the kitchen and a couple in the living room.  I’ve found myself asking the Lord for eyes to see (them) because I don’t want to risk me or my babies getting stung by those nasty things.

As I killed that one on the backdoor, I found myself thanking Him that He had, indeed, given me eyes to see.  Every time I’ve seen one in the house, I’ve been able to kill out and none have gotten away or sprung up and surprised us at any point – that is something to be thankful for in my book.

It got me thinking about the Christian life in general…  His word tells us there will be intruders…evil…unholy spirits and presencesrough times and tough times and people that will stand against us (just to name a few).  Just like those nasty wasps infiltrating my place of peace – wasps that come to steal, kill and destroy (don’t argue with me on that one!) – we will have those same experiences in our everyday lives.

BUT – just as He’s given me all I need to rid our home of those flying devils, He’s done the same with every other evil – He has conquered them all!  He defeated death and through the power of His Holy Spirit, we have His authority and the power to defeat the ugly that comes our way.

Ask Him for it and receive it in Jesus’ name!  Don’t lay down and wait for the attacks to subside, stand up and fight, soldier!  Fight for your freedoms…fight for your spouse…fight for your kids…fight for your family…fight for your communities…fight for your country…fight for the voiceless…fight for truth…fight for good…fight for eternity…

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