Acquainted with Grief

She walked over to me that Sunday morning after church.  In a quiet voice, she said, “How do you do it?  How do you get through each day?”

A year earlier, I had lost my older brother.  Five years before that, my husband had lost his sister.  I am acquainted with grief.  She knew that I knew what she was asking.  My friend had lost both of her parents just a few months apart and was having trouble coping with the loss and the pain.  I recall feeling bad for her, because I couldn’t fathom losing my parents, let alone just a few months apart.

As we talked through our hurt and loss, we shared a common bond.  Grief does not discriminate.  It hits everyone who has lost a loved one.  It’s not a club you want to join, but you can’t refuse membership once it’s offered.  Membership is free, but you’ve already paid a great price.  You’re in the club in that moment of loss. With that one phone call.  Or with the knock on the door.  He’s gone.  She’s not going to make it through the night.  The test results are in, and it doesn’t look good.  There’s been an accident, and there are no survivors.

Little did I know at the time of our conversation, that only a few years later I would once again be circled by grief as I lost my parents eleven days apart.  Eleven. Days. Apart.

I am acquainted with grief.  I am acquainted with loss.  I am acquainted with the replaying over and over in my mind of how the scene of death played out for my loved ones. What were his last words?  When was the last time I saw her alive? Those thoughts filled every moment of every day for months on end.

What I realize now is that we really do need each other.  In those times of loss and uncertainty and unfamiliarity as we face a future without those loved ones, we need others who have walked that path.  We need someone to hold us up and to encourage us to grieve.  To live through the hard parts of life without our loved one.  We need someone to be there for us in those times when we can’t hold ourselves together.  When the memories and the loss are flooding down on us, and we feel like we can’t breathe.  When we don’t know if life will ever feel normal again.  We need to tell our story of loss over and over again.  We especially need someone to listen to our story. To hear our hurt and our pain.  To let us know that there is hope.  To let us know that as life goes on, we should cherish the memories we have and hold onto them.

As Reuben Welch said, “We really do need each other.”

Love one another, as I have loved you.  John 15:12

Heart Problems

She said my name with a sense of urgency.  She wanted me to do something that was her responsibility.  She had forgotten about it.  It was now urgent.  Do or die time.  And now it was my burden.  I had now been tasked with the responsibility to make things right.

Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.  Someone close to me uses that phrase.  But somehow I couldn’t say those words.

I could feel the bad attitude rising quickly within me.  I could have used words that would have reduced her to something small.  But that would have made me smaller.  I could have slammed a file down on the desk.  Or stomped off.  That would have caused more problems.  Instead, I stewed.  Boiling on the inside. No one can see stewing, can they?

Words can hurt people.  Actions can hurt people.  You can’t take those things back.  Both words and actions are devastating.  Thoughts and attitudes are just as destructive.  Is my bad attitude harmful to others?  Who is harmed if I think ugly thoughts?  If I don’t act on them?

Bad thoughts and attitudes are destructive to the one who thinks them.  They make a person bitter.  Or rude.  Or greedy.  Or judgmental.  And they spill out onto the next person.


Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to you, Lord, because you are my mighty rock and my protector.  Psalm 19:14


Whatever comes out of the mouth begins in the heart.  Maybe I should put duct tape over my mouth to keep the ugly words out.  Is it possible to duct tape my heart, as well?  Would that keep the ugly thoughts away?  Would that stop the bad attitudes?

Then I remembered.  I’ve been trying to approach situations as if I’m doing everything for Jesus.  If Jesus had been the one asking me to do this thing, would I have created stew?  Would my attitude be different just because the messenger is different?  Is it fair to be willing to do for one what I’m not willing to do for others?

As soon as my thoughts turned to who I was really working for, I felt a shift of my attitude.  I was willing to do this.

It was actually a simple task she asked of me.  It was just scheduled over an event I had already planned.  My schedule had to change in order to accommodate someone else’s need.  I knew that no matter what my attitude was, I would still have to do what was asked of me.  I didn’t have a choice.  Maybe that was the problem.  I didn’t have a choice.

Sure, that person messed up.  I could help them out.  I’m sure they were going to get a talking to later, so why should I make the situation worse by being difficult.  It’s all a matter of the heart.  The attitude.  Whatever is in the heart comes out in actions and words.  Kind or unkind.  Pleasant or ugly.  Good or bad.

There is a choice.  It’s really a simple choice.  Remove the emotions and treat someone the way you would want to be treated.  Sounds so simple, yet sometimes the struggle is very real.

 

What Brings Me to Tears

There are certain events and experiences that bring me to tears.  Events that make me proud.  Actions that show respect to power and authority.  Experiences that are personal and meaningful.

I think of a bride.  Walking down the aisle on her father’s arm.  See the white dress.  The bouquet.  The veil.  The vows.  The kiss.  The anticipation of a life together.   The respect of the sanctity of marriage.  My eyes well up with tears.

I hear the national anthem.  The Star Spangled Banner.  I see the flag rise above the crowd.  People stand.  Right hand over their heart.  Pride in our country.  Thankful for freedom.  Respect for the courage of battles fought.   My eyes well up with tears.

I have served on jury duty.  I have been a juror.  People in the court room stand each time the jurors enter and exit the court room.  All conversations and activities cease.  All eyes are on the jury.  The group of twelve who will decide someone’s fate.   They know the power of this group.  They respect the sacrifice the jury is making to perform their civic duty.  The weight of the decision is in their hands.  My eyes well up with tears.

I have driven in a funeral procession.  Loss of a loved one.  Near and dear to my heart. People standing along the street.  They stop and pay respect.  Remove their hats.  Stop mowing their lawn.  Stand still for someone they’ve never met.  Traffic stops and lets the stream of cars interrupt their busy day.  They respect the loss of a loved one.  My eyes well up with tears.

I think of the man who died on the cross.  For me.  For you.  I think of his sacrifice.  He died willingly.  To save every sin everyone born on this earth has ever committed.  So we can enter heaven’s gates. So we can see Him face to face.  His mercy is new every day.  His love and compassion are never ending.  His sacrifice is our eternity.  My eyes well up with tears.

In Christ Alone.

Soldiers of Christ

I see them differently now.  I didn’t realize I was holding them to my standard.  Expecting them to be the same as me.  I was struggling with the realization that we’re all not the same.

I’ve been a Christian for many years.  I was taught the Bible from my earliest days.  I’ve always had the desire to be good.  I’ve always known of God and his power.  I’ve always known his love.

Some of them haven’t.

We all come from different walks of life.  Different family issues.  Different hurts.  Different life experiences.  Different regrets.  Different brokenness.  We each come from a different place in life.  Alike but different.

We sit together studying the Bible.  Wanting to learn.  Wanting to have a closer relationship with the God who created us.  With the one who loves us.  With the one who gave His Son’s life for us.  We want to be like Jesus.  That’s why we’re there.

We share our thoughts.  Our struggles.  Our learnings.  We laugh together.  We cry together.  We love together.  We pray together.  We realize God has brought us together when we most needed each other.  We are thankful.

We are sometimes silly together.  We eat pizza together.  We play games.   We learn fun things about each other.  We laugh.  We relax.  We’re friends.

Sometimes we learn sad things about each other.  Sometimes it’s hard things we learn.  Life hasn’t always been easy for us.   We all carry burdens.  We carry each other’s burdens.

We are all soldiers of Christ.  Fighting our battles in our daily lives.  Learning to be brave warriors of the cross.   We wear scars and battle wounds.  Some are seen.  Some are unseen.  Sometimes we struggle to keep the unseen scars hidden.  It feels safer that way.  No one knows.  No one sees.

But when a wound is exposed is when the healing begins.  It’s then that the soothing ointment of love and acceptance is spread over that seeping wound.  The hurts are shared.  The disappointments are relived.  The pain is rediscovered.  It is then that healing begins.  Scarred but healed.

It is a safe place.  A place where everyone cares.  And listens.  No one judges.  We don’t all agree on everything.  We don’t have to.  Our common bond is our need for a Savior.  Our strength is our faith in God.   Our joy is sharing the journey together.


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.   And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.   ~Hebrews 10:23-25


We’re all walking the path to heaven.  Each view.  Each bend in the road looks different.  Each of us is at a different mile marker.  But we’re headed in the same direction.  Some will get to the destination sooner.  Others will take much longer.

My prayer is that no one gets off the path.  My hope is that each one continues to learn and grow as we study God’s word.  Heaven is real.  Eternity is forever.  I want to be with each of these women in heaven.  Sharing the rewards God has given to each of us for our faithfulness and commitment to him on this earth.

You see.  Our life on earth is our test.  For heaven.  It’s pass/fail only.  Sixty years.  Eighty years.  Maybe forty-five.  The number of years on this earth seems important now.  But really.  These years are just a blip on the big screen of eternity.  Because eternity is forever.  Forever.   Never ending.

When my time comes, I want to share heaven with these women.

Legacy

I grew up in a Christian home.  I am one of 7 kids.  We grew up on a farm.  My parents were God-fearing, God-loving, God-serving people.  We lived a simple life. It was a good life.  Structure, authority, hard work, laughter, security, trust, faith, values. Those are words that describe our family.  We weren’t perfect, but we were loved.

This is the story of the life and love lived in front of me every single day as I was growing up.  This is the legacy handed down from my parents.

My parents took us to church.  Sunday School.  Sunday morning worship.  Sunday night services.  Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Revival meetings.  Youth revival meetings.  Missionary meetings.  Zone rally meetings.  Vacation Bible School.  Teen talent contests.  Bible quizzing.  Summer camp.  We were in church every time the doors were open.  We were there.

You may think that was a lot of church.  And it was.  But it taught me to respect the Sabbath.  It taught me the importance of meeting with other Christians to worship God.

My dad was the Sunday School superintendent.  He was the church treasurer.  He was a Sunday School teacher. He was a board member. My mom took care of babies in the nursery.  She helped in Vacation Bible School.  She served meals in our home for visiting preachers.  She served at funeral dinners.  She babysat for our pastor’s children. My parents were involved in the church.

My parents the year they were married.

M&D 1954

This is what I know.

I know what it’s like to have my parents take me to church every Sunday.

I know what it’s like to see my dad write out his tithe check.

I know what it’s like to hear my mom pray for her children by name.

I know what it’s like for our family to have devotions together every night before bed.

I know what it’s like at age 8 to go to the altar with my dad and ask Jesus into my heart.

I know what it’s like for my mom to tell me at age 12 that it was time for me to start having daily devotions.

I know what it’s like to see my mother go to the altar to totally surrender her life to God, when she realized she needed a deeper relationship with Him.

I know what it’s like for my parents to help pastors of neighboring churches by filling their freezer with food.

I know what it’s like to see my mom deliver a Sunday dinner to the lonely old man living in a shack down the road from us.

I know what it’s like to see my dad kiss my mom on the cheek after Sunday dinner to thank her for the wonderful meal.

My parents’ relationship was solid.  My parents’ relationship with their God was solid.  They were humble servants of a God bigger than them, and they faithfully served Him.

I am so thankful for the foundation of faith that was lived out in front of me.  I’m thankful for the prayers and discipline that was part of our home.  I’m fortunate for this legacy.  I have been able to avoid many poor decisions and life experiences because of the rich heritage that was passed down to me.

I realize many people won’t be able to relate to my story.  They may be jealous.  They may ridicule me.  I remember thinking as a child that I was thankful to be in a family where God’s love was taught. I realized some of my friends didn’t have that.  They didn’t have parents who prayed with them or for them.  They didn’t own a Bible.  They didn’t know God’s love.

I’ve always been aware of God and his love for me.  I owe that to my parents.  I’ve known from an early age that I needed Jesus to forgive my sins.  I knew I wanted to go to heaven.  I wanted to obey God.  And I made the decision to serve the God of my parents.  They taught me well.  And I’m thankful.

The office where my dad would study his Sunday School lessons and my mom would kneel and pray for her children.

Office

It’s Never Too Late

He turned and caught my eye.  He wasn’t sure if he should look.  But he did.  I wasn’t sure if I should return the look.  But I did.

He was pushing his bike in the intersection when the left arrow turned green.  It was my turn to go.  But he was in the way.  I had to wait.

Maybe he didn’t mean to catch my eye.  Maybe he was just checking to make sure I wasn’t going to charge into him.  Or maybe he was checking to see if I was going to make some obscene gesture.  Or mouth some bad words.  I didn’t do any of that.  I just looked at him.  I waited.

I continued to look.  I saw sadness about him.  Uncertainty.  Unhappiness.  Desperation.  I wondered why he wasn’t riding the bike.  I wondered why he wasn’t driving a car.

I wondered what got him to this point in his life.  Had he made some wrong decisions?  Did he have some habits he couldn’t break?  I didn’t mean to judge.  But I did.

I remember someone else I see regularly standing on that same street corner.  She holds a sign.  Need money.  No job.  Please help.  The thing is.  I’ve seen her there for over a year now.  Once a week.  I sometimes see her walking up to that corner.  I always wonder where she came from.  She pulls out her sign and unfolds it.  Like it’s her job.  I wonder if it is her job.   To stand on that street corner and ask for money.  Perhaps she’s standing on a different street corner every day.

I wonder why she hasn’t gotten a job yet.  I wonder if she’s scamming people for money.  And that’s her job.  I wonder if she really is homeless.  She doesn’t look homeless.

I don’t look her in the eye.  I look away instead.  I’ve been known to put on my sunglasses so I can look at her without looking her in the eye.  I don’t trust her motives.  I don’t mean to judge.  But I do.

Then I remember a man who was judged.  He was hung on a cross and left to die.  Three days later he shocked the world and left the tomb where he had been buried.  He could have saved himself.  But he didn’t.  He could have been the judge and jury of those accusing him of things he didn’t do.  Of things he didn’t say.  But he didn’t.

Instead, he showed love.  As he hung on that middle cross, dying.  One rebel hanging with him cursed him.  The other rebel defended him and asked to be remembered.  Jesus looked over to the man and offered salvation.  Later that day, the man was in heaven.  Meeting up with God.  Because one man, Jesus Christ, cared enough to look him in the eye.  To offer hope and salvation and eternal life.  Instead of judging him.  In the last minutes of that rebel’s life, he was forgiven.  He was given eternal life in heaven.

It’s never too late to receive Jesus’ love and forgiveness.  All you have to do is ask.  

It’s never too late to stop judging others.  It’s never too late to share God’s love.  It’s never too late to offer the hope of heaven.

Maybe I need to start looking more people in the eye.

Words

We were having a casual conversation about a couple of people.  About people who didn’t see eye to eye and tried to stay away from each other when they should be trying to get along.  We weren’t saying anything that wasn’t true.  We weren’t being mean.  We were just talking about other people.  Behind their back.  When we thought it was safe to say those words.

Then I turned and there she was.  One of the people we were talking about.  She was sitting there the entire time.  Did she hear our conversation?  We were saying her name.  Talking our truth about her.  We were whispering.  I think.  Does whispering make it ok?  Am I guilty only if she heard me?

I don’t think so.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.  ~Psalm 19:14

I’m guilty of saying the words.  I don’t want to be guilty of getting caught.

I said the words behind her back that I wouldn’t say to her face.  They weren’t mean words.  They were words pointing out someone’s weaknesses.  What I thought were their weaknesses.  I said the words because I thought I wouldn’t get caught.  And now that the person may have heard my words, I’m sorry.  I feel guilty.

I know how I would feel if I heard others talking about me.  Especially if they weren’t singing my praises.  And we weren’t singing anyone’s praises.

I wouldn’t have given the conversation a second thought if she hadn’t been sitting there.  I’m as guilty as those people who make public apologies because they’ve been caught.  Are they sorry for what they did or said?  Or are they sorry they got caught?  I always wonder.

Now I’m walking in their shoes.

Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you—for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.   ~Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Accept this Gift

I have a friend who has the gift of evangelism.  She is eager to share her love for God with anyone and everyone.  She does it with such ease.  It’s just natural for her to bubble over with the message of God’s love to everyone she meets.  She has a burning desire to see her loved ones, her students, her co-workers, her neighbors have a close relationship with God.

She remembers her life before God.  She knows what she was missing.  She knows she’s been forgiven and made new.  She wants the same for everyone.  She’s a bright light shining in a dark world.

I want to be like her.  I want my love of Jesus to just roll off my lips.  I want to want everyone to know my Jesus.  I want to share with others the gift of eternal life that I’ve been given.   Why do I find it so hard to do?

I have a friend who has the gifts of knowledge and faith.  She journals.  She prays behind the closed doors of her closet.  She spends intentional time alone with God.  And he speaks to her.  He gives her specific words to let her know that he has got her in the palm of his hand.  He lets her know that he protects her and her loved ones when she is fearful.  He has answered specific prayers in just the way he has told her he would.  He has provided her with words of truth and encouragement to share with others at just the right time.  When she had no idea what the words meant to the other person.  She knew the words were from him.  They were bigger than her.  But she was faithful.  At times, she’s seen the results of those faithful words and knew that it was God alone who gave them to her.  They were words of God.  Not of her. She believes the words he gives her and waits for him to fulfill his promises.

I want to be like her.  I want God to speak specific words of encouragement and faith to me.  I want to then share those words with those who were meant to hear them.  I want to see God working specifically as he has said he would.  I want to hear God speak promises and reassurances to me.  But that isn’t the way God speaks to me.  Why not?

I have often wondered if I have gifts.  Why would God create me without gifts?  What was he thinking?   Am I the only person God made who has no gifts?  Or are they just buried really deep within?  I’ve tried to find them.  I’ve compared myself to others and didn’t find their gifts hiding inside me.  I never measured up to them and their gifts.

What if you have God-given gifts and He wants to turn you loose with them?  ~Jennie Allen

If I can see others’ gifts, why can’t I see my own? Am I too focused on my own weaknesses to see my gifts?  I’ve taken spiritual gifts tests, personality tests, strengths finders.  I know what they say.  They’re words on a paper evaluating my answers to too many questions.  Questions that are supposed to be answered quickly without much thought.  Problem is…I like to think.  I like to ponder.   I like to roll thoughts and ideas around in my head and then make the decision.  I’m not indecisive.  I’m just not spontaneous.  Is that my gift?

What is God’s purpose for me?  He said that he knew me before I was born.  He knows my name.  He even knows the number of hairs on my head.  He made me and He planned for me.  He gifted me.

Don’t worry.  I know my gifts.  I just have trouble seeing them as gifts.  I focus more on my weaknesses than my strengths.  Why do I try to hide my gifts while at the same time easily spotting the gifts of others?  Jennie Allen says that we often find it easy to encourage the people around us and recognize their gifts and talents, yet we deny the gifts God has also placed on our lives.  It’s time to celebrate God’s unique work called Me and the gifts he has placed in me.

Can you recognize your gifts?  If not, check out this tool to get you started.

Mean Girls

She used her words to belittle me again.  Others heard her.  One of them spoke up.  Then she mean giggled.  As if that made her words ok.   As if she was joking.   Is joking just truth put to laughter?  She was the only one laughing.

When she wants her way and tries to intimidate you into doing it, she says mean words. Unkind words.  Insulting words. Not just to your face, but in front of others. Making a spectacle out of herself.  Really.  And calling attention to what she perceives as your shortcomings.

She’s an adult. Not a child. Not a teenager. She’s someone who knows better. She does it anyway.  She isn’t always like this.  She can be very kind and generous.  That’s why it’s so confusing.  And the funny thing…she calls me friend.  She trusts me.

The other thing.  She doesn’t do it just to me.  I’ve heard her words when they were directed at others.  Cutting words.  Sharp tone.  Wanting to get her point across.  Because it’s her way or no way.  It’s about her.  No one else.

I’ve wondered what caused her to be like this.  I know part of her story, but only the part she wants to share.  There’s always a part of the story that isn’t shared.  We all do it.  We keep it close.  She does.  I do. We fear judgment and rejection by others.

That’s when I know she needs to feel loved. Not condemned. But it’s hard to turn the other cheek. It’s hard to pray for her. It’s hard to even look her in the eye.  It’s hard to stay silent.  I want to say mean words, too.  I want to get even.  I want her to feel pain.  But I know that’s not the words God wants me to say to her. I know she’s already felt rejection.  I know she’s built up walls.  Self-preservation, it’s called.  It must be a heavy load to carry.

He wants me to be Jesus to her.  Even though she knows him.  He wants me to love her as he loves her.  Even when she’s unlovable.  Even when others come to me and say they notice her actions.  They’ve heard the stories about her unkind words.  How am I supposed to respond to that?  Share more stories?  Compare hurt feelings?  Gossip?  Give a thin smile and stay silent?  Or speak God’s love to them, as well?

I try to see her through God’s eyes.  What does he see when he looks at her?  What does he hear when she speaks unkind words?  He sees her pain.  He sees the scars.  He hears her need.  He hears her hurt.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

I think of Jesus and his sacrifice.  Giving his life for us.  For her.  For me.  For anyone.  For everyone.

And I think of her, because she’s included in whosoever.  I think of her standing in front of God on judgment day.  I want him to welcome her into heaven.  I want him to look her in the eye and say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  I want her to want heaven.

Then I remember another scene from this week.  Someone told me a story.  I thought it was funny.  So I laughed.  They didn’t think it was funny.  They didn’t laugh.  I haven’t heard from them since.  Did I offend?  Was I guilty of the same offense that had been thrown at me?  Was I careless with my words, too?  Intentional or unintentional, words matter.  For they come from the heart.

I want to be welcomed into heaven, too.  So my words and my actions and my thoughts must also line up with God’s word.  My offender is not the only one who needs forgiveness and grace.  I’m whosoever, too.

Years of Plenty

I was talking to a friend at work, and she asked if I had plans for the weekend.  I said I’m planning to sleep in on Saturday, because I was feeling a little under the weather.  “Oh, that’s nice,” she said.  Then she told me that her mother, who is on hospice, fell breaking her rib and puncturing her lung.  She had been at the hospital off and on with her mom for the last couple of days. Yet she still managed to make it to work every single day.  Her husband who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, was going to the hospital the next day for his chemo treatment.  He may have to spend the night. She also babysits her grandson every Saturday.

I felt so small.  So spoiled.  My life is a piece of cake compared to hers. It’s easy to forget about others’ sufferings when you’re not in the thick of it. It’s easy to be focused only on my easy life. I’m sleeping in tomorrow, because I have a cold. She has no chance for rest, even if she’s under the weather.

I often feel guilty knowing that life is good for me right now. My husband and I are both employed. We’re healthy. We’re saving for retirement. We have a beautiful home.  We attend a great church.  Our life is quiet and chaos-free. Life is good. The troubles that pop up in my life right now are pretty trivial compared to what I know others are facing.  I have to remind myself that I have nothing to complain about.  Really.

In a previous post, I mentioned a period in our lives that was very difficult.  We have recovered and life has moved on in a good way.  Reality tells me that we will most likely face difficulties at some point in the future.  We just don’t know when or what it will be.

But. Right. Now. Life. Is. Good.  And that’s a good thing.

It’s hard to need God when you don’t need anything.

One thing I do know is that I still need God in the good times.  It’s easy to get distracted from needing God when things are going good.  After all, I pride myself on being self-sufficient.  When life is tough, I cry out to God for strength.  When life is good, I think I can handle everything on my own.

In Genesis 41, Pharaoh had a couple of disturbing dreams.  God spoke through Joseph to interpret those dreams.  The land of Egypt would have seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine.  In the years of plenty, they were to prepare for the famine.  Joseph created a plan  to prepare for the upcoming hard times.  When I read Genesis 41:47-49, I see words that speak to me about preparing for my years of famine.

In years of abundance:  Gather.  Store the excess.  Preserve.  Reserve.

I can use these same steps during my years of plenty to prepare for times of need.  I have to intentionally stay focused on keeping my relationship with God a priority.  I need to study His Word to show myself approved.  I need to take time to slow down and listen to Him speak to me.   I realize I need God more than ever in the good times.  During the good times, my relationship with God has to be my first priority.

I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3, where we’re told there is a time for everything.  A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. During this time of laughter and dancing, I need to focus on filling my cup with God’s word each day. When those days of weeping and mourning come, and they will come, I can reach into my cup overflowing with God’s love and mercy to scoop out the portion I need for that day.  Now is the time to fill my cup, keep an undivided heart and focus on my first love.