An Introduction Unlike Any Other

friendship with God begins with

Post One, 2018

The beauty of a true friend comes from camaraderie and the confidence in knowing, “You really get me and still like me.” I remember when my husband and I were dating, I would sometimes remark, “Just wait, when you really get to know me you may not like me as much as I can be ‘fiery’ and my passions can get the better of me sometimes.” He’d laugh nervously, and I always wondered if he was re-thinking his undying love. I’m so glad he decided to marry me anyway, and although he knows me well, he even likes me.

To think of God as one who could be my friend wasn’t something I used to consider because, “My end of the friendship wouldn’t satisfy. God may love me but He couldn’t really like me.” Yet God’s Word says so differently. Why’s it so easy to doubt?

As I pondered and prayed over where to begin examining how I could ever be confident as God’s friend, the thought came to me, “Begin at the beginning.”

If I want to get to know someone, I must first be willing to listen to what they say about themselves. And if I want to get to know God, I must be willing to do the same. Click To Tweet

If I want to know God as friend, I need to discover who he is and why He says friendship is even a possibility. I can’t just take the word of others. Nor can I assume the outcome of my query based upon my own presuppositions or prejudice. I need to take the time to find out by sitting and listening to God and by spending time with Him. If I fail to do so, I will misunderstand Him and possibly assume things about Him that aren’t true.

Do I really want to know God, or do I only care about others’ opinions of Him?

There  have been times I’ve said, “I’ll never be that person’s friend because…….?” Yet later discovered all I presupposed was wrong and we became the best of friends. In the same way, I’m learning to know God as ‘friend,’ I need to spend time getting to know Him. The only way I can do this is by reading what He says about Himself and by communicating with Him about myself. God speaks to mankind first through his Word, the Bible. We communicate to Him through prayer.

So then, what is the first thing God says about Himself?

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God….”

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When we’re first introduced to someone, we often begin by mentioning something important about ourselves, something unique to us.  No one but God could ever open an introduction with, “Nothing else existed before me.” If anyone other than God said such things, we’d be calling the police and moving away s.l.o.w.l.y. So this statement obviously sets God apart. But why did God choose this statement to introduce Himself, of all the things He could say?

Genesis 1:1 is God’s introduction to mankind.

Since God was in the beginning, before anything else existed, He’s set apart from everything else as supreme. That’s an important thing to know about God. There’s nothing above, or even near Him in rank. I imagine for some, this causes red flags! We know plenty of people who think they’re better than us, and they don’t mind letting us know in not too pleasant a fashion. But, let’s give God’s intro a chance and see what comes next.

God goes on to say:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….

The second thing God wants us to know about Himself is that He used His supremacy to give the gift of life! And when He finished, He was so pleased with the beauty, grandeur, and masterful craftsmanship of His creation, He declared, “It is good!” If you want to read the entire account–found in the first two chapters of the Bible, you can find it here in a modern language. (You may also be interested in reading a post about it here.)

God fashioned everything meticulously, in an order that would sustain and produce life with mathematical precision. And after thoughtfully creating all else, at the very last, He tenderly scooped up clay from the ground and with great tenderness formed man ‘into His own image and likeness.’ Then God-breathed, filling Adam with life.’ Within a short time, God, with the same care, put Adam to sleep, removed a rib, and beautifully sculpted a similar but unique form suited well to Adam and gave her life. None other of His creation was made with such intimate care. Why?

God gave us the gift of life for relationship with Him. That's why He made us. Click To Tweet

While God’s Son Jesus walked this earth, he often beckoned those around him to friendship. In the book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible) the Apostle John heard Jesus say:

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 nlt

When you look at the thought of becoming God’s friend, what holds you back? Would you be willing to comment or email your reasons? I’d love to discuss some of the reasons (without names of course) in future posts. Also, would anyone be interested in a closed FB page for further discussion with like-minded people? Let me know what you think.

I’ve created this free downloadable, as these are the things I’ve discovered over the years that have helped develop my friendship with God. Below is what it will look like in your inbox. To receive your copy, submit the form below, and it will automatically be forwarded to you. You will also be notified when new posts arrive. You’ll also be the first to know when there is exciting news, such as when my new Bible Study comes out (it will be a while yet). I hate spam, so I won’t send it. My posts come out about once a week, and any special notices will be sporadic.

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On this journey too,

Robin <3

If you’d like to comment, you are always welcome to do so in the public section. However, if you’d rather comment privately, I’ve provided the avenue below.

Pursuing God’s Heart, Becoming His Friend

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As this new year takes shape, I’m thinking a lot about my word for the year, ‘Heart.’

My goal for 2018 is to pursue God’s heart  by discovering more closely those things that matter most to Him. For me, this doesn’t necessarily mean projects and social interest, although it could include that. It does mean discovering God’s personality and thereby growing in intimacy with Him much like I got to know my husband. I learned my better half’s heart and passions by taking time to listen to him long before I spent time with him in pursuing them. And in spending time with my husband, my priority is on what matters most to him. I can do ‘my thing’ when he’s not around.

HOW WILL I DO THIS?

  • Reading and studying the Bible looking for what moves God to respond, whether positively or negatively, what brings Him joy, what hurts Him, what angers Him
  • Reading and studying the Bible to discover why God would respond to me and call me to friendship with Him, and how I should respond in return
  • Meditating on and memorizing some of these verses, passages to get them stuck in my heart and brain
  • Praying the verses/passages back to God, making them personal to our relationship
  • Worshiping God for who He is and His heart toward me

WHAT PROMPTED ME TO MAKE THIS 2018’S WORD?

I’d have to say last year’s concentration on ‘Perspective’ greatly influenced this year’s longing to not only know God’s heart better, but align mine with His. Last year I often prayed,

God replace my perspective with yours regarding yourself, life, and me. Click To Tweet

As I prayed this prayer, read God’s Word, and pursued God’s perspective in daily life, God answered my simple request. I began to discover two things critically important to pursuing God’s heart and becoming His friend:

WHY DOES THIS MEAN SO MUCH TO ME?

I don’t think many of us mortals can boast that we know God’s heart. Most often, we assume we can’t know it and so don’t even try. But His Word says we can and so this has become the greatest pursuit of my life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be ‘besties’ with the God of the universe? I mean no disrespect, and hope none is taken. God is holy (so far above us) yet His Word says he longs to be our friend.

“And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” James 2:23 (nlt)

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:13-15 (nlt)

 

pursuing god's heart

I can’t think of anything better than to be God’s friend. But, first, I must know His heart to understand what a friendship with Him would look like. Friendship doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it happen without work. That’s just the way relationships are. So, through this coming year, I’m going to be focusing on how I can be God’s friend. And I’m going to take my readers along with me on the journey.

To become God's friend, I must know His heart. Click To Tweet

CHANGES COMING TO THIS SITE

As I take on this task of pursuing God’s heart by learning about friendship with Him in 2018, I will also be making changes to ‘En Courage.’ I’m coming to realize, because of my life’s journey with God in 2017, my passion is more aligned with helping other’s experience friendship with God. Because of this, I will be changing the title and emphasis of this site to more align with my passion. I’m currently working on a new title and categories, along with posts that will represent this new focus more fully. I won’t be getting rid of the old posts, but will be adding them into the appropriate new categories.

What do you think? Does this intrigue you? I’d love your feedback.

Until next week!

Robin <3

If you would like to comment, you may always do so in the comment section. If your comments are more personal or if you’re uncomfortable within this public forum, you may always comment below in order to remain confidential. I love your comments either way!

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2017 Perspective Changes

In this new year, Lord, change my perspective so I see you, me, and life as you intended and not as I've assumed.In Jesus' name,Amen

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2017 Word for the Year…What happened?

Last year this time, I discovered “Word for the year.” I’d never heard such a thing, and found it intriguing. After accidentally stumbling upon blog posts from those accustomed to choosing a word, I began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something. In praying on what He’d have me do, I felt to focus on “Perspective” during 2017.

Why ‘Perspective?’

When life gets hard, I don’t spend a lot of time asking ‘why,’ but I sometimes find myself acting as though God doesn’t care by shying away and scrambling for my own comfort. Life isn’t easy, and there are still many struggles with two of our sons. At first I didn’t know why God chose “Perspective” as my word, but later realized God wanted me to perceive Him, and ultimately myself within suffering, from a clearer perspective.

 

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Embarking on an Adventure…In a Garden…..

As I approached the new year, I felt led to re-read the creation from Genesis one through three. Since creation is the place suffering began, I prayed to see it all from His perspective rather than my own. Upon ‘entering’ His newly made garden, I marveled at all God called “good” –He left nothing out. His new world was beautiful, amazing and safe.

I felt a twinge of jealousy as I ‘observed’ Adam and God walking together in the cool of the day. I allowed my mind to imagine all they must have discussed as Adam navigated his new world and new role as ‘governor’ of God’s kingdom, chuckling at the thought of Adam asking, “What would you name this creature with the long neck, spotted back, and black eyes with long lashes?” With awe I envisioned the God of the universe bringing each animal to Adam, and gleefully anticipating the name he’d choose. I still smile at imagining Adam’s bewilderment of the intricately made wo-man, “What does she mean when she says….?” What must these relationships have looked like in such purity and innocence? No barriers. No shame. It brought God delight to bless His creation well.

As Creator and Sustainer, God deserved allegiance, but rather than demand He offered His lavish best for all who would serve Him willingly. God longed for relationship, and knew purest relationship demanded free will, and so God offered such a lavish gift by placing both a tree and a serpent within the garden. Should mankind choose God’s dominion, neither the tree nor the serpent could harm them. Should they go their own way, God warned death would ensue.

Choosing God's way over ours offers us protection from the enemy's schemes. Click To Tweet

 

I Wept at The Weight of Choice…

For the first time I saw the consequences to God and His world in that one decision. God placed complete purity and innocence for his creation in jeopardy by giving his Adam the right to choose. To say his choice was ‘catastrophic’ is an understatement.

With the choosing, knowledge of evil suddenly altered Adam’s perspective of the One he’d so closely walked with–suspicion and fear indescribably marring the confidence and safety Adam and Eve had known.

  • Animals named by Adam, creatures God called ‘good,’ were now necessarily slaughtered to cover Adam’s nakedness, and to atone for Adam’s rebellion.
  • Not too much later, blood cried out to God from a grave as the first family lay torn apart by jealousy.
  • Within only generations, God would look down on what He’d made and weep as “every intent of the thoughts of his [man’s] heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:6)

I Marveled at The Beauty and Power of Lavish Grace….

  • Within moments of catastrophe, God stepped in, and fashioned a garment with His own hands from the carcass of an innocent animal to cover Adam’s nakedness and atone for Adam’s rebellion.
  • God swiftly meted out needed consequences and boundaries to preserve Adam from experiencing evil’s consequences forever while instituting a massive assault against the serpent–promising One from the woman’s own decedents would one day destroy the serpent and its rule.
  • His very Son would become the spotlessly pure sacrifice, laying down His own life to restore relationship with any who would come and bow before Him willingly.

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My Perspective Changed…

This change in perspective is dramatically changing how I view God, my relationship with Him, and suffering. I’m coming to see:

  • God made us to know only the goodness of His rule. But from the beginning none consistently choose God’s rule over self-rule.
  • Self-rule always has long-range consequences, not only for us but those around us, impossible to see ahead of time.
  • Our choices and their consequences (or the choices of others and their consequences against us) are never too big that God can’t restore and heal.
  • God’s greatest work is to grant us the ability and will to bend our knee to His rule and turn away from our self-rule. Therein lies the greatest freedom, the greatest love, the greatest peace, and the greatest grace. God with us. God for us. Emmanuel.

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Where are You?

Where are you as you face a new year? Are you looking for pain relief? Are you wondering who this God is and why He’s allowed your suffering? I’m so sorry.

May I Pray for You?

Lord, this life is hard. Too many things sideswipe us and nearly take us out. Yet, as I read your amazing story, I marvel that you long for us, within all our mess, to run to you rather than away from you. I marvel that you choose to dwell with us and have taken every measure necessary to grant us freedom within your presence. Change our perspective in this new year so we can see you as you are, and not as we’ve assumed you to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you’d like to speak further, please join the comment section; or if you’d prefer privacy, fill in the section below and I’ll get back with you.

With much love and care,

Robin <3

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Recognition of Healing

This is the third part in a series that began with “God’s Abundance or My Scarcity” and continues with “To Trust or Worry.” Thank you for joining during this busy time of year!

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I sat with two long-time friends in the surgical waiting room earlier this week as a third friend underwent surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. She’d just lost her husband about two months ago, and the worry on her son’s face reflected his fear that mom might be next, all too soon. As I sat, my mind and emotions occasionally drifted to another cancer surgery about eleven years ago that didn’t end well, and I prayed for her restoration.

The three of us women chatted quietly, enjoying one another’s company. Every once in a while one of us looked over at Mike, and then at the clock as time ticked hour past hour, concern etching more than his face. Finally the surgeon arrived and gratefully reported  her cancer seemed contained and she’d taken the surgery well. Mike’s countenance brightened, and our hearts lightened.

I told my friend I’d greet her after surgery, so after my companions left, Mike and I began to converse softly, moving time more quickly from recovery to a welcome glance at her face.

Finally we heard, “You can go see your mom. Her room is on the sixth floor.” The sixth floor…where I met my husband’s co-workers as they shared with me fond memories of years working with him. The sixth floor…where I waited to hear Norman’s last breath. The sixth floor…where I nestled next to Norman for the last time. I hated the sixth floor. Yet, that was where my friend waited for me.

As I stepped off the elevator, sadness seeped into my soul as I turned and faced the well-known small suite to the left of the elevator and across the hall. I stood in the middle of the hallway and stared into the room. My eyes immediately noted a man bent over, familiar lines etching his face as he sat quietly in that chair, leaning his weary head on one arm. The otherwise dimmed room was lit by only one lamp casting a spotlight on his bent forehead. I remembered. And inside I wept once more.

Only this time the sadness didn’t overwhelm, and I realized the healing God has performed over time. It’s too easy to assume healing does eventually occur. Yet, my healing has been long delayed. Only a couple of years ago, during visit to the sixth floor, I needed to leave after about 45 minutes, too overwhelmed with emotion to stay.

Only a year ago, the thought of visiting a friend with cancer was more than I could bear.

I don’t take God’s abundant gift of healing lightly. I’m very grateful. And today, I learned my friend’s stage one cancer was contained and so she’ll need no chemo. And I thank God.

I'm grateful for God's abundance in the face of my scarcity. Click To Tweet

As I faced my friend’s cancer surgery this week, I also remembered past Christmases filled with pain as I wondered what the next year would bring. If this is one of those Christmases for you, I’m so sorry.

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May I also pray for you? 

Lord, we so long for this time of year to be carefree and beautiful. We long to hear the angels sing of a newborn king. We long to feel the warmth of making family memories. We long for our stories to replicate Hallmark. But life isn’t that way. For most of us. Yet, each of us are too afraid to speak out from the depths of our sorrows for fear we’ll upset someone else’s Merry Christmas. May this place, this moment, feel safe for others to grieve their pain.

Help us Lord Jesus to remember that your first Christmas was full of labor pains, rejected families, and outcast shepherds. Click To Tweet May we remember you came for such as us. And today let us embrace your abundance, in the middle of our cancer surgeries, and memories that make us sick inside, and the worries that news may not be so good. Jesus, help us remember that you are 'Emmanuel' God with us. You do care. And if we invite you in, we don't have to face this season, or any season alone. Click To Tweet

Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

With tender love,

Robin <3

Should you wish to comment privately, please use the form below. Otherwise, you are welcome to comment on the public forum.

To Trust or Worry?

Part Two of a Series which began last week with ‘God’s Abundance or My Scarcity

trustPart Two in a series running through December

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Over the course of four weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot on whether I live in God’s abundance or cling to my scarcity. It all began with a sermon posing this question:

Do I recognize and embrace God’s abundant gifts; or do I instead choose to live on my scarce resources?

As I’ve pondered this question,  it’s made me consider the last seven months as my husband was off work with an injury. I’ve never had to deal with anything like this as an adult, and so making decisions regarding money has been a bit of a challenge for me.

There were times during these months when we both felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to make certain choices trusting God to provide. When Gary was injured in April, and we realized his recovery would be long, we both felt I was to stay home and write rather than quickly look for work. Because of this decision, I was able to attend Mary DeMuth’s Writer’s Intensive in July. I wasn’t planning on attending the conference when Gary was injured, nor did we expect one week before leaving for the conference Gary would end up in the ER with a one week’s hospital stay. But when the conference came to my attention, we both felt very strongly I’d miss out on something God wanted to do if I didn’t attend. The conference changed my life, and possibly our future.

There were times those seven months I didn’t know what to do in regards to our finances, and so made decisions I still question.

There were times I made downright foolish decisions and spent money I shouldn’t have for one reason and another.

But isn’t that life?

We all have moments as believers when we sense God calling us to step out into something new and a bit frightening. Doing so doesn’t mean every decision we make during that time will be perfect. Some decisions will end up successful. Some decisions will be failures. 

No matter what, embrace God's abundance. Click To Tweet

I recently read in Suzanne Eller’s book Come With Me,

“Jesus never promised Simon or any of his disciples that following him was a one-time, no-risk-involved, feel-safe-and-comfortable-always venture. In fact, he often assured them of the opposite. We are asked to push out deeper a second, third, fourth time. What is God asking you to do? Have you resisted? Has the focus been on the results or on the obstacles over the joy of walking with Jesus?”

Let’s take a moment to re-read what God’s Word says:

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

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My need isn’t always what I think it is. Maybe God’s abundance for me right now is:

  • Providing His peace that passes all understanding to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus as I step out in faith. (Phil. 4:7)
  • Granting humility so I quickly run to Him for wisdom rather than making quick decisions based on my own desires. (James 1:5)
  • Strengthening me to can ask Him to Him to search my heart, know my thoughts, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. So any failures draw me to Him rather than away from Him. (Psalm 139:23).

My only other option is to worry. And unfortunately, other things tag along when worry becomes our choice.

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Worry is white noise that distracts me from hearing God's gentle voice clearly. Click To Tweet

Worry is a barrier to receiving God's abundance. Click To Tweet

Worry is the grasping for my scarcity because I'm afraid God may be as overwhelmed as I am. Click To Tweet 

What’s going on in your world? Where do you need to trust in God’s abundance for this moment? If you’d like me to pray, please send a message. We can pray for each other, as I too constantly must work through this myself.

With love,

Robin <3

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God’s Abundance or My Scarcity?

My God will supply allyour needPart one in a series running through December

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For the last three weeks, through 2 sermons, a blog, and finally through a speaker at a Christmas dinner, I’ve heard this question posed in a variety of ways:

Do I recognize and embrace God’s abundant gifts; or do I instead choose to live on my scarce resources?

What does God’s Word say?

…His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NLT)

I rarely use the words ‘abundance’ or ‘scarcity’, let alone use them together, and so hearing them multiple times over the last three weeks has gotten my attention and made me consider my life on several levels.

When I first heard a similar question posed three weeks ago, I immediately thought of our finances. My husband has been off work for several months with an injury, and finally went back to work Monday.

As one month turned into two, then three, then four, and now seven, my tendency to worry has increased as finances have gotten tighter. Yet, through this whole time, God has taken care of us. One of the biggest gifts is that Gary and I have had time to spend together as we’ve never had in our young marriage. It’s been sweet for both of us. Gary’s body has healed well. Throughout this time, we’ve been able to use savings, and God has provided in other unexpected ways.  To add to the blessing, upon showing up for work Monday, Gary was made supervisor of a job requiring a lot of overtime, which will help greatly. So rather than focusing solely on my concerns, I need to thank God for how He’s abundantly cared for us. Since several of the gifts have only come within the last couple of weeks, it’s taken some effort on my part to re-focus my thinking, to be honest.
It helps to make lists of God's daily gifts. Click To Tweet
Maybe your situation is different. Maybe you can’t yet see any of God’s gifts and things are getting pretty rough. Or maybe you see His ‘gifts’ but they aren’t what you wanted or expected. I get it. I’m truly sorry.

Can I pray for you?

Lord, whatever situation my friend finds themself in, please give them hope. Even if the gift you provide is different than they longed for, or not what they expected, help them to hold onto your love and good plans for them as they unwrap this gift from your hand. Please. Use this unexpected gift to show them your ultimate best for them. Help them to hold onto you as they wait to see your plan unfold. Please. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let me know if I can pray for you in any way, especially if this post has brought pain screaming to the surface. It may also be helpful to look at Part 2 in the series, “To Trust or Worry.

With love,

Robin <3

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‘Jesus Every Day’ Book Review

Jesus Every Day Book Review@ En Courage www.rlseaton.comWhen at a Bible Study, come prayer time I often hear, “I can’t pray like so-and-so. They  pray so beautifully. You better ask someone else.” Fear so easily grips.

I’ve been sampling a new book out December 1 by Harvest House Publishers entitled, “Jesus Every Day” by author Mary E. DeMuth. Mary has her own blog ‘Restory,’ and is well-known for her prayers. So much that her readers begged her to write a devotion containing them. Her prayers are beautiful, not because they’re flowery and ‘religious’ but because they’re real and exemplify the simplicity of talking to God as though He were sitting across from us while we sip a cup of coffee. Yet because they point us to the One above all and able to answer every need, they are filled with the reverence, awe, and expectation He deserves. They are an exquisite mingling of the need of humanity and power of the Divine in everyday language.

Mary’s prayers speak of life’s emotions and daily experiences. Experiences bringing joy. Emotions crushing our souls. Moments leaving us perplexed. She isn’t afraid to tackle any topic as she’s faced both immense joys and tragic sorrows in her own life. She was repeatedly sexually abused as a child, and faced growing up in a dysfunctional family. She understands first-hand the sorrow of losing a dear friend. She’s suffered the grief of losing a close family member. Yet in all of this, she’s found a heavenly Daddy who knows her, and loves her relentlessly. And she’s learned first-hand God listens to and answers His kids, when they reach out to Him with their simple words.

Her daily devotion takes the reader through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, with a verse or small passage followed by a prayer. Each day is labeled ‘Day 1,’ ‘Day 2’, etc. so the book can be started any day of the year, and runs 366 days. Its simple beauty allows it to easily be given as a gift to a new believer as well as a seeker. For a more seasoned believer, it’s a wonderful addition to any daily Bible reading routine.

As of December 1, I invite you to purchase the book at any one of several venues, some of which are listed below for your convenience. I was given a 30-day sample to read, but was given nothing else for my review, other than the pleasure of reviewing the book. I also receive no benefit for offering you a link to the sights listed below.

Amazon   Christian Book Distributors  LifeWay  Barnes & Noble

(Barnes & Noble has only the e-book available as of this posting.)

Talk with you next week!

Robin <3

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