Coming soon to a blog near you…

January 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm (Announcements, His Perspective) (, , , , , , , )

his-perspective

We’re excited to announce our newest project:  a Pearls and Diamonds column written by men!

Sounds odd?

Let us explain.  Right now we’re collecting participants and sending out e-mail surveys for a series of pertinent topics in Biblical men/women relationships–starting with respect.  The goal is to get godly men talking about what the Bible says and how they personally understand/interpret or feel about it.  We’ll sift through the answers and snag those that are particularly enlightening or helpful to share with you!  We hope to release the results for the first survey on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2009.

In the meanwhile, we’d love for you to spread the word!  And if you know any men who value Biblical womanhood and would be willing to take a look at the surveys every 1-2 months, send us a note (pearlsanddiamondsblog[AT]gmail[DOT]com) with their e-mail address.

Blessings,

lauren-and-abigail-sig1

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Here Lies a Sword

January 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , , )

here-lies-a-sword

Here lies an unpolished sword-still sheathed
Rusted with doubt and the lies we’ve believed
Neglected, forsaken, left unretrieved
While we create fire-breathing dragons.

The monsters we’ve made with our own traitor hands
Have lept to our throats with murd’rous demands
Vicious in depths only hell understands
Are the horrors required by our dragons.

Upon the stone altar our own hands have piled,
Grown cold with our hearts, with our own hands defiled
We treacherously slash out the throat of each child
A sacrifice meet for the dragons.

We loathe the death-monsters our culture has made,
Still, we surrender, too weak and afraid
To unsheathe our Weapon and sharpen the blade,
To advance on those devilish dragons.

Copyright 2006 by Abigail

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New Life, New Experiences

January 26, 2009 at 11:27 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Attitudes) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

42-16297736People like to say that having a baby will change your life.  I believe it-because I haven’t had the baby yet and it’s already changed my life!  To enlighten you, I’ll just list some of the things that I can’t do now that I’m pregnant (13 weeks pregnant, to be precise):

  • I can’t drink anything with caffeine in it (they say a little caffeine won’t hurt, but a little is all I could ever handle in the first place, so I cut it out).  No coffee drinks, no Dr. Pepper…
  • I can’t run-I’d gotten up to running 10 miles a week when I got pregnant, and I could have kept up with that if morning sickness didn’t hit so hard…
  • I can’t enjoy food like I used to-anything could make me hurl!
  • I can’t do sit ups-I still don’t completely understand this one.
  • I can’t quickly pick up a three year old and lift him up over my head-I tried this on Sunday…pulled some delicate muscles or ligaments in my tummy.
  • I can’t walk into my kitchen without bracing myself for the awful smell of last night’s dinner, which can make me gag.  I’ve been using Vitamin C drops or throat lozenges to taste and smell something other than the old food odors my overly-sensitive nose now picks up on.
  • I can’t make it through the day without getting about 12 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours of nap time.  I’m exhausted!
  • I can’t get nearly as much done as I used to-because of less waking hours, all-day “morning” sickness, and lack of energy.
  • I already can’t fit into half of my clothes!

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?  Actually, I’m having a blast.  What I’ve listed above is only half the story.  And it fades in comparison with the joy and excitement that God is knitting together a little baby inside me!  Those things I listed are all things I can’t do, but this article is really about my new experiences with a new life inside, remember?  Here are some of the beautiful things I’ve gotten to do and learn as a result of God’s gift:

  • I’ve gotten to watch from the outside as my body totally rearranges to accommodate my child-God is transforming me into a baby factory!  It really is amazing.  Some new hormones take over and prepare me for carrying and nurturing our baby, as well as for breast feeding when the baby arrives!  I’ve not gained any weight yet, but I sure have grown-my waist is disappearing and my belly has gotten 3 inches bigger already!  I marvel at the fact that for the first time in my life, I’m excited to see my waistline grow!
  • I’ve gotten to see what’s taking place on the inside, too.  Ultrasound technology is pretty cool-we got to see our baby at 8 weeks, and even see its little heart beating!  For my 12 week check up we got another ultrasound, and the baby has grown to be about four times bigger than it was a month ago!
  • I’ve started to swim with a neighbor friend at a local gym.  This has been a fun, new kind of exercise for me-and it’s supposed to be great for my body and the baby!  Plus, my neighbor is pregnant, too, so we’ve gotten to know each other a lot better because of our common situation.
  • I’m learning patience and trust in the Lord because of the “gift” of morning sickness.  Feeling run over and queasy all day every day isn’t my goal in life.  But God has been good to give me precious time in fellowship with Him.  I’m learning to accept the “inconveniences” of pregnancy as gifts from His hand to develop my character-my all-wise Father knows I need it!  And I can rejoice that the very fact that I’ve been sick is an indicator that I have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Getting away from poor eating habits has been a blessing.  Despite feeling sick, I know I’m healthier than before because I’ve made changes in my diet to make sure that my baby is getting good nutrition and not a bunch of junk.
  • I’ve been richly blessed by family members and other godly women who are pouring out on me a wealth of wisdom and love, sharing their stories and how their children were worth every bit of discomfort during pregnancy!  I’m starting to fully experience Titus 2, with older women encouraging me to love my husband and my baby.
  • Having less clothes to choose from in my closet has actually made it easier to pick out something to wear!
  • Our world considers me a Mommy-to-be, with some tissue growing inside that will eventually (if allowed to be born) become a baby.  But the truth is so much more beautiful than that.  Nathaniel has pointed out to me that I’m a Mommy already-I’m already working hard to care for our baby.  And we know from God’s word that our heavenly Father already knows the days that are ordained for our child, that He Himself is forming and nurturing our baby inside of me!  All of the little details of appearance and personality have already been decided and are fully known by our God.  Far from “tissue” or merely a “fetus”, this child inside of me is a new being-a person made in the image of God, whom He loves very much.  🙂

It’s sobering to think of the new responsibilities that come with parenting.  I know we’ll need God’s grace every step of the way!  But it’s a joy to know that we are parents now, taking care of this little one as best we can until we can finally hold our baby in our arms for the first time!  So I guess this season of life is training ground for the years of in-person (hmm…or more literally, out of person!) parenting to come!

We praise God for this gift of new life!

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Coffee Cake Hellivig

January 25, 2009 at 7:33 am (Counter Culture) (, , , , , )

counter-culture

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup oil

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

2 eggs beaten

1 cup sour milk or buttermilk

1 tsp soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup nuts (chopped)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together sugar, oil, salt, spices (except cinnamon). Remove 3/4 cup and add to cinnamon and nuts and reserve for topping. To the remainder of the mixture, add eggs, milk and soda. Beat well then add flour and baking powder. Spread evenly in greased 9 x 12 pan. Sprinkle topping over mixture. Bake for 30-35 mintues or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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Faith in His Faithfulness

January 24, 2009 at 7:36 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , )

flowers-of-thought-2

It’s a new year full of new things. But God is still the same. Abraham is now in Abraham’s bosom. Pondering the life of Abraham leaves me in awe of the Lord and His ways. They are too high. I cannot attain to them. He called Abraham from among complete heathens. I see no evidence that Abraham was in any way seeking Yahweh, yet the Lord appeared to Him and called Him and promised to bless Him. Each step of the way, Abraham hesitated and God had to give a little nudge. Abraham’s journey lasted for years before he actually believed God and was reckoned righteous. How does this work? Amazingly, beyond my understanding, the Lord can and does draw people for years sometimes before they finally trust Him. The human mind can devise all kinds of questions: What if Abraham had died before he trusted God? What if Abraham hadn’t gone to the land of Canaan? Does it matter, all these “what ifs”? The point is that God was in control. He drew, knowing precisely when Abraham would finally trust and obey Him wholly. Did He choose Abraham because He knew he would trust or did He know he would trust because He chose him? Does it matter? Did He choose Abraham? Yes. Did Abraham trust God? Yes. Was He fooled or thwarted? Absolutely not. Never. Faith bore immediate fruit in Abraham, though. God made a covenant with him and told him to circumcise his whole household. The same day, it says, Abraham and his son Ishmael and all his household were circumcised. He’d not even yet seen the child of promise, though he’d believed God. And later, when God told him to sacrifice his son, his obedience was immediate. That’s the undeniable mark of those who are “righteous” in the old testament. They obey God. It is the evidence of their faith in Him and His faithfulness.

He who has shown Himself faithful, since the beginning of time, is truly worthy of my faith.

Lord, Thy arm is full of power
To lead or save at any hour.
Thy faithfulness, as proved in past
The steadfast mountains, will outlast.

Thy promise of my soul’s salvation,
More secure than earth’s foundation,
Causes hope that’s staid in Thee
To grow to touch eternity.


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Complete Idiots

January 23, 2009 at 12:52 pm (A Time to Laugh) (, , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

a-time-to-laugh

Once upon a time I was a children’s writer. I’m not really sure what happened, but that phase of my life faded by and now I co-author this funky little blog for young ladies. Anyway, back in my children’s writer days I borrowed an amazing book by Harold Underdown, called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books.”

My younger sister Lydia was about seven at the time and was my poor, unsuspecting guinea pig for many a writing project. One day I sat on my bedroom floor studying when she finally spilled a question that had been plaguing her for some time.

Lydia: “Abigail, what’s the person who writes a book called?”

Me: “The Author.”

Lydia: “That’s what I thought. And the person who draws the pictures is the illustrator, right?”

Me: “That’s right.”

Lydia: “And isn’t the person who, like, puts it all together into a book the publisher?”

Me: “You’re so good! Yes.”

Lydia: (Exasperated.) “Then what in the world is an idiot?!”

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The definition of “Obstacle”

January 21, 2009 at 6:38 am (Food for Thought) (, , , , , )

food-for-thought

Chew on this…

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

– Henry Ford (1863-1947)

…and tell us what you think.

thess-5

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From Germany, With Love

January 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm (Attitudes, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

from-germanyHer name is Heidi.

She was born near the Rhine, in crumbling Germany. As a young woman, she met and married an American soldier during the occupation after World War II and left her land and her people to follow her husband to the States. That was in 1968. Over forty years ago.

She was bundled in an earth-tone sweater, sporting a knit stocking cap and well-worn sweat-pants when I first laid eyes on her. Dust and muck surrounded her, but she glowed like a new bride. There in the tight quarters of an Arkansas trailer home, early in the morning, with dirty dishes on the table and little boys’ toys on the floor, she glowed with a joy that warmed me deep inside my too-big coveralls.

My younger brother, Josiah and I, have been handling the morning milking for a neighbor. His foreign-exchange wife has been back in Russia for several months trying to iron out the paperwork to become an American citizen, leaving him to manage his school-teaching job with college classes and caring for two little boys and a farm. Amid the chaos and stress of his life stepped his mother, Heidi. To help keep the family afloat while his wife is gone.

The first day I walked into the house and met Heidi, I read Jesus in her eyes. In fact, I could hardly see past Jesus, to actually evaluate her features—simple and honest, well-worn with smiling creases around her eyes and mouth. Her smile flashed like the morning sunshine. Her eyes sparkled with warmth behind her glasses as she filled a bucket with warm soapy water and sent me on my way up the hill to the milking shed. Maxine and Moo-Moo grumbled along behind me, nearly stepping on my mudboots.

Back in the house as we filtered the milk and Josiah tampered with an out-of-order lawn mower, Heidi began to ask about my family and tell about hers. She spoke of the Lord with the same familiarity as she spoke of her husband (whom she missed terribly while away from him every week). She shared how she’d worked with mentally handicapped folks. “They are so precious,” she added, her ready smile lighting her face.

For several weeks now I’ve seen Heidi every weekday, first thing in the morning. I grumble my way into my faded, blue coveralls and rubber mud boots and snag the keys to the pick-up. Milking cuts into my morning—half an hour first thing, gone, just like that. But as soon as I walk through that trailer-home doorway my grumbling melts away as Heidi appears, smiling, welcoming and thanking me in her slightly choppy English. As if I were doing some great thing, when it is she who is sacrificing her entire week to help her son and family. And every day she bids me good-bye and Got bless and tells me she loves me.

And she means it. She’s the most straight-forward, honest person I’ve ever met. She can tell us bluntly what she does and doesn’t like, while softening it with her kind smile and a few words. “I don’t mean to be pushy, but here’s why…”

I think, were I to really step back and cast a critical eye over this aging German woman, I’d describe a plain, grey-haired woman, worn by life and love and work. When I think of Heidi, I smile and think “beautiful!”

Decked out in my floppy felt hat, dirty coveralls and smelly mudboots, I’m hardly the picture of fashion. Dressed in her worn sweater and faded pants, peering at me from behind her glasses, she’s little better. Neither of us cares. And again the Lord has reinforced to me His perception of beauty. I don’t want to be eternally youthful—stunning and flawless. Someday I hope I too will be an aging woman, worn by life and love and work, with smile creases around my mouth and eyes, with roughened hands and graying hair from giving myself for others. And I hope that when that day comes, I will be the kind of woman who radiates the love and joy of Jesus. Someday, I want to be like Heidi.

For now, I’ll take joy in milking that smelly cow.

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Crockpot Enchiladas

January 19, 2009 at 10:12 am (Counter Culture) (, , , , )

counter-culture

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 package of taco seasoning

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup green pepper (optional)

2 cans beans, rinsed and drains

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1 can black olives

1 tsp chili powder

8 oz. cheese, shredded

tortillas

15 oz. jar of enchilada sauce

Directions:

Brown beef with taco seasoning and onion.  Layer into crockpot in this order:  1/3 meat mixture, tortillas, cheese, enchlada sauce.  Repeat layers.  Cook on low 5-6 hours.

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Filled with the Holy Spirit

January 17, 2009 at 6:27 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , )

flowers-of-thought-2

I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love–with a guy I met in the sixth chapter of Acts. “Filled with the Holy Spirit” is tacked onto Stephen’s name like an epitaph. His opponents couldn’t handle him because of his wisdom, grace and enthusiasm. Those would be wonderful charges laid to my case. If only my name appeared on my headstone as “Abigail, filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s a bit daunting to realize that if I am filled with the Holy Spirit, the world will hate me and will likely rush at me with grinding teeth demanding my death. And religious leaders will be looking on in approval. They won’t be gathered around, applauding, wishing me well, taking celebrity shots-they’ll be pitching rocks.

Lord, I stand here, ready, willing
To receive Thy Spirit’s filling.
Overflow me with Thy wisdom,
Grace and power, those that listen

Will be made to love or hate Thee
Since they simply can’t debate Thee.
If I preach Thy precious story
Thou wilt stand and gain the glory.


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The Elijah Syndrome

January 15, 2009 at 6:14 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

elijah-syndromeI woke up one morning recently to realize I was suffering from the Elijah Syndrome. And had been for months. Some might simply label this malady as depression, but the cause and effects of this form of anti-climactic depression so perfectly mirror that ancient prophet’s symptoms that I’m forced to adopt his name and look to his story for a solution.

Do me a favor and take a quick look at First Kings 18-19. The setting is the kingdom of Israel, during the despicable reign of King Ahab and his witch-of-a-wife, Jezebel. With a bounty on his head for predicting a lengthy drought, the prophet Elijah sends a message to the king, telling him to meet him on the top of Mount Caramel for a show-down-between Yahweh and Baal. There, 450 priests of Baal dance and scream and cut themselves in worship to a false deity who leaves them unanswered. Elijah builds an altar, cuts up the meat, pours gallons of water over the whole sacrifice and offers this prayer: “Answer me, O Yahweh, answer me that this people may know that Thou, O Yahweh, art God.” In a flash of heat and light, fire falls from heaven and consumes the sacrifice, the altar and even the trench of water surrounding it. In a burst of spontaneous worship, the people shout “Yahweh is God!” and put to death the false priests of Baal. In a final climax Elijah announces the coming rain and, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, outruns the king’s chariot. Just like that. Victory after victory. Miracle after miracle. God’s power displayed to and in and through Elijah.

You know what Elijah did next?

He fled into the wilderness, threw himself down under a juniper tree and begged to die.

I completely understand why Elijah reacted the way he did. I’ve done the same thing over and over again. Recently it was in response to circumstances in a relationship. I’d spent midnight hours on my face on the floor of my room weeping and praying for two very specific things. Unlikely things. Practical things. But things that I felt certain would clearly demonstrate God’s hand. Then, just like that, both came true, leaving me overwhelmed, shaking and amazed.

In Elijah’s story, it’s easy to overlook the subtle cause of his depression. God had just displayed His power and shown Himself to be true. The next day, what had changed? Nothing. That was the very core of Elijah’s despair. Nothing changed. Elijah had hoped for national revival. Instead, he received a death threat from the queen. In spite of the theatrics God had thrown, the people had turned hard-hearted back to their own ways.

My story was the same. I clearly saw God’s hand in the answer to my two prayers. But those for whom I prayed chose a different path. Nothing changed. And as they walked along life, oblivious to my despair, ignoring all that I had wept and prayed for, continuing as they always had, I fled into the wilderness and begged to die.

Praise the Lord, the story doesn’t end there. An angel appeared to Elijah as he sat dejected and ordered him to eat and drink and sent him off for a mountain-top experience. As he waited on the mountain, Yahweh came to Elijah and asked him, “What are you doing here?” Behold the prophet’s response: “I have been very zealous for You, but Your people have forsaken You and torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets and only I am left! And they want to kill me, too.” Yahweh’s next words, “Go out and stand before Me on the mountain.”

And behold! Yahweh was passing by! A hurricane wind was tearing up the mountain, sending boulders skipping like gravel. But Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind the ground shook and trembled, but Yahweh was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, thunder and lightening flashed and a huge flame of fire raged, but Yahweh was not in the fire. But after the fire had passed, a gentle wind began to blow and that’s when Elijah rose and wrapped himself in his cloak and stepped outside his cave. Yahweh asked him again, “What are you doing here?” His answer was the same. “I have been very zealous for You! But look what they’ve done!” Then Yahweh gave Elijah something else to do. And He told him of 7,000 faithful men.

What a lot of theatrics just for Yahweh to give Elijah another task. But the lesson Yahweh had for Elijah (and us!) was desperately important. God wasn’t in the theatrics. He wasn’t speaking through wind and thunder and fire. Did He cause them? Absolutely. What was the purpose? To get Elijah’s attention. So that He could talk to him. Had God demonstrated Himself on Mount Carmel? Absolutely. Whose fault was it that the people hadn’t listened?

In this question, my own heart was revealed to me. When God’s clear evidences were rejected, I dived into a pit of despair, feeling weighed down, guilty and responsible. Hadn’t I let God down terribly? He’d given me this project, and I’d failed it. Depressed, I let my spiritual health slide-just like Elijah quite eating and drinking, I let my personal Bible and prayer time slide into an abyss of things long gone. “Just let me be done,” I whined. But God had more work for me. As long as I live, Yahweh will have work for me to do.

The theatrics-that’s to get our attention. God clearly answers prayers for many purposes. My response to those answers should have been to fall on my face and worship and press on in confidence that Yahweh is God. He can tear up the mountains with a hurricane. He can shake the earth with an earthquake. He can send flashes of fire to consume the earth or even my sacrifices. Whatever pleases Him. But He speaks to me when I am quiet, in His presence and, most importantly, eating the food He’s provided. As I stand before Him, honest, humbled and without excuses, His word reveals to me what I am supposed to be doing. Simply obeying. And leaving the rest to God. I’m not responsible for results. God displays Himself and people respond. I am responsible for my response to Him. I am responsible to trust Him. To worship Him. To be with Him. To learn from Him. To obey Him. In my obedience, God is most glorified.

The nation of Israel had rejected obedience to Yahweh, but Yahweh was not out of ideas. Nor out of control. His next task for Elijah included anointing a new king and calling and training the next prophet. When Yahweh asked Elijah what he was doing, Elijah’s response was this: “I. They.” He, too, had overlooked God’s displays of power. “I tried so hard. It didn’t work. They didn’t listen.” Yes, Elijah. But did you see what God did? It wasn’t about Elijah and the people. It was about God. Yahweh wanted Elijah to refocus. Elijah served Yahweh. Not the people of Israel. Not his own plans or purposes. “I’ve still got 7,000 men.” Yahweh told him. “Now, quit moping, get up and do what comes next.”

Move on. That’s Yahweh’s order for me. He’s in control. He knows the eternal outcome. Keep seeking His glory. Find others who love Him and will obey Him and pour my heart and life into them. After every dramatic triumph, the deadly depression crouches at the door, waiting to devour. I must remember that the battle is not mine. That victory belongs to the Lord. The results are not up to me. I’m not God. Like a good soldier, I must fall back, regroup and be ready for further instructions-always knowing that the outcome is in the hands of the God of Elijah. The One true God.

Yahweh, He is God!

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Drier Sheets

January 14, 2009 at 7:43 am (Homemaking, The Domestic Economy) (, , , )

domestic-economy

Do you use drier sheets?

Did you know that you can cut them in half and they will work just as effectively? And you won’t have to buy them as often! When you open a new box, just whip out the scissors and cut the sheets in half, that way they’re ready to use for each load!

And when you’re finished with the load of laundry, stuff that leftover drier sheet into your sock or underwear drawer to spread around the good smell.

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Judgment and Blessing

January 13, 2009 at 11:23 am (A Slice of Life, Poetry) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

judgment-and-blessing
Posted by Lauren

Woe to you who call good evil
And call evil good
The Lamb will come
When time is done
And all will be understood.

Woe to you who lead the blind
Being blind yourselves
The Light will come
When night is done
And punish the sons of hell.

Woe to you who wash the outside
Ignoring filth within
The Judge will come
The Righteous One
And do away with sin.

Blessed are you who fall on grace
Believing in the Savior
Your Prince will come
The Mighty One
And shower you with favor.

Blessed are you who follow the Lamb
Making Him your treasure
Your Joy will come
The glorious Son
To be with you forever!

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What you worship

January 12, 2009 at 1:18 pm (Food for Thought) (, , , , , , , )

food-for-thought

Chew on this…

A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

…and tell us what you think.

thess-5

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Who Wrestles with God

January 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm (Flowers of Thought) (, , , )

flowers-of-thought-2

I can’t say that I greatly admire Jacob. I mean, the man had the nerve to wrestle with God, to demand that God bless him before he would let Him go. How irreverent must he be? God could have slain Jacob. He didn’t have to bless him. Why did Yahweh Almighty, God of Hosts, allow a weak, disobedient man to wrestle with Him-and prevail? In those early dawn hours, while Jacob wrestled with God for his very soul, God reached out and marked Jacob His own. The limp that Jacob, now named “One who strives with God”, would carry to his grave would remind him of that night he saw God face to face and his life had been preserved. Mercifully. One touch put his hip out of place. How helpless he truly was in the hands of Almighty God! God delights for us to wrestle with Him, our will and His struggling so that when we demand He bless us, we can see how completely helpless we are. Everything we have is a blessing. Every step we take that we do not limp is a mercy of the LORD. The very fact that our life has been preserved is Yahweh’s compassion and long-suffering.
Lord, when I wrestle Thee I find
That Thou dost show Thyself more kind
For Thou could crush and Thou could kill
Yet Thou preserves and keeps me still.

To come to Thee should bring my end
Yet Thou hast chosen me Thy friend
And wrestling with Thee only proves
How powerful Thy saving love.

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