Become More Than Yourself

Yesterday, I typed up my post in the new editor. The Bible verses ran off the page! I tried again in the classic editor and the same thing happened. After the third attempt, I decided to wait until today to try again. I won’t quit.

Matthew 18:1, “Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit.” The Message

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I like to make people laugh. Not everyone gets my dry humor.

We didn’t have a guitar player for worship. The director decided to cut one instrumental.

I objected, “I get one piano solo and you cut it out.” I didn’t get a laugh.

Instead, the bass player said, “Sounds like someone is doing this for the wrong reasons.”

I burst out laughing. I thought he was funny.

Later, I shared this with a friend who “gets” my humor. I told her I should just keep quiet.

She disagreed, “You can’t stop being yourself.”

Luke 18:14, “…If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Message

I’ve spent more time flat on my face than I care to admit. I’ve also spent time with my foot in my mouth. God loves me anyway.

“You’re an original, and it didn’t happen by accident. God designed your DNA. He made you the way He wanted you to be. He gave you your voice, your smile, your freckles, your curly hair, all those things that make you who you are.” The Word for You Today, January 21, 2019

Does everyone get your humor?

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Hold on Tight

“The movie ‘Ben Hur’ won more Academy Awards than any other movie in history. Charlton Heston, who played the hero in this movie, had to drive a chariot for his role. He was supposed to win the climactic chariot race, but there was a problem: He was having trouble learning to drive the chariot. He walked over to his director, William Wyler, and said, ‘Mr. Wyler, I can barely stay on the chariot. I can’t win this race.’ Wyler looked at Heston and said, ‘Son, your job is to stay on the chariot; my job is to make sure you win.’ …Stay on the chariot. Don’t quit on God and don’t stop trusting in Him. Your job is to obey; His job is to make sure you win. …” The Word for You Today, 1-19-19

 

A chariot race is a good picture of a marriage. Everything goes so fast. You have 4 horses who want to go in 4 different directions.

Those who try to win the race – keeping ahead of their neighbors – don’t survive. Those who survive win.

Those who jump off are either killed or maimed. Sometimes, it’s really exciting. Other times it’s really scary. If you’re married – just hold on tight!

 

Matthew 19:10-12, “Jesus’ disciples objected. ‘If those are the terms of marriage, we’re stuck. Why get married?’ (11) But Jesus said, ‘Not every one is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. (12) Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked – or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.’ ”  The Message

 

* * * * * * *

“Two leading schools of Pharisees debated over what constituted appropriate grounds for divorce. The school of Hillel said that divorce was unfortunate, but that a man could divorce his wife for simply burning his toast. By contrast, the school of Shammai declared that a man could divorce his wife only if she had been sexually unfaithful in some manner …He [Jesus] replied by allowing divorce in only one situation: when the wife had committed ‘sexual immorality’ (19:9). …When ancient divorces went to court, a charge of immorality could determine who got the wife’s dowry. …he considered the innocent party in a divorce, and allowed exceptions for those divorced or betrayed against their will (Matthew 5:32; see 1 Corinthians 7:15).” Chronological Study Bible Notes

 

Jesus chose not to marry for the sake of the Gospel. He knew His mission and let go of everything else.

Marriage is one of the blessings of God. He blesses us with other things but we are to hold them loosely. They may pass through our hands to someone else.

 

Matthew 19:22, “That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”  The Message

 

God’s blessings are not reserved for the saints among us. The same grace and mercy extended to Mother Teresa is given to the deathbed convert.

“God’s rewards are not earned by the time we serve or the energy we expend. They are His gracious gifts to all who follow Him faithfully. Matthew’s parable explains the proverb ‘first will be last’ (Matthew 19:30; 20:16).” Chronological Study Bible Notes

 

How long have you been following God?

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Invite Outsiders, Not Coddle Insiders

I wrapped a small gift for my sister’s birthday. I hope she won’t mind that it’s a day late when I give it to her at church.

There’s a youth worker’s meeting today and that means half of the worship team will be at the main church. I won’t see my son, daughter-in-law, or sister-in-law because of the meeting.

My friends took her parents south for an extended trip. A lot of familiar faces will be missing. I felt a gentle rebuke when I read this verse:

Matthew 9:12-13, “Jesus, overhearing, shot back, ‘Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? (13) Go figure out what this scripture means: “I’m after mercy, not religion.” I’m here to invite the outsiders, not coddle insiders.’ ” The Message

There are many faces at church that I still do not know. And gratefully, there are always new faces!

One thing God has told me is to accept people right where they are. Because God accepts me right where I am. Hurting people come to church and we try to patch them up with religion.

Matthew 9:16, “He went on, ‘No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match.’ ” The Message

God heals from the inside out. They have to believe first. Jesus restores every facet of our lives: spirit, soul, and body.

Matthew 9:35, “Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives.” The Message

Our job is to love people and pray for them. We point them to the Savior, not rescue them ourselves. We cannot be their source.

“…love people and pray for them, but spend your time with those who are willing to be helped.” The Word for You Today, 1-5-19

Did you meet someone new at church today?

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At The End of Your Rope

For many, today is the last day of Christmas vacation. I’m sure some mothers can’t wait for school to start again!

Matthew 5:3, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and His rule.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“Ann Quindlen correctly observed, ‘Love is not leisure, it is work.’ So even on those days when the dog bites or the bee stings, you should be quick to do the ‘walk’ required to give – and receive – love.”

“Hugs – Daily Inspirations for Women”

David has been home for the last four days. Things have not gone as I planned! Routines just have to wait.

Matthew 5:7, “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.” The Message

My upset routines are nothing compared to what Joseph endured.

“…Joseph…resented by his family, repeatedly tempted by his boss’s wife, then thrown into prison for thirteen years for a crime he never committed. Yet at his lowest points God was with him, arranging each step he took and positioning him to fulfill his calling as the deliverer of his people.” The Word for You Today, January 1, 2019

Joseph’s dreams are what sustained him. Do you have a dream?

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For a Person to Succeed

We went shopping yesterday and returned a Christmas gift. I wore a navy sweater with a zipper to make trying on clothes easier. I wanted a black one.

During our Christmas dinner, I realized my buffet area is dark. I desired a candlestick lamp to brighten that corner without taking too much space.

Our last stop of the day was at “Stuff” a consignment shop. I went looking for smaller jeans. I left with a black, zipper sweater and a candlestick lamp. I spent $15.00.

* * * * * * *

God owns it all. We look to Him for everything we need, want or desire. We won’t get everything we want or desire but we will get what we need.

Our job is not our source; He is. He provides the job in the first place. We no longer strive for success. He is the one who causes us to succeed.

John 3:27, “John answered, ‘It’s not possible for a person to succeed – I’m talking about eternal success – without heaven’s help.’ ” The Message

* * * * * * *

“…you may succeed momentarily because of what you know or do, but you’ll only succeed permanently because of what you are.” The Word for You Today, 12-29-18

Proverbs 22 showed me there are things that are more important than riches.

Proverbs 22:1-4, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (2) Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. (3) The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. (4) Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.” New International Version

Has God given you something you desired or wanted?

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Who Believed What God Said

“Most of us, most of the time, feel left out – misfits. We don’t belong. Others seem to be so confident, so sure of themselves, … Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor….” The Message Introduction to Luke

We finished playing for worship and I went to the lobby for a cup of coffee. I got up at 3:30 a.m. to write my post before church. I had breakfast at five and I was hungry!

Someone brought cookies and the tray was empty. But – Kyle, the bass player, brought Victoria’s cinnamon rolls!

I don’t know her secret. I think she simmers vanilla and cinnamon overnight and then pours it over the rolls. Pulling back the foil from the pan is better than a diffuser! And they are so moist – like banana bread.

I was in the coat room – shoving the cinnamon roll in as fast as I could. I heard the sermon begin. I put the last piece in my mouth and turned to go wash my hands.

My oldest son, Luke, walked in. He saw my stuffed cheeks and said, “Busted.”

I couldn’t say a word! Sometimes God shuts my mouth on purpose.

Luke 1:20, “But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time – God’s time.” The Message

Musicians are a lonely lot. We practice before the service and afterwards, we have to pack the equipment up for storage.

We don’t get to talk with people before church. When we finish our work – everyone is gone!

Thankfully, our family had the Christmas Eve service off. It was great! David sat between Derek and I. He sang lead, Derek sang tenor, and I sang alto. I love hearing my family harmonize!

But, when the service was over, everyone got in groups to greet their friends. Derek and Rachel are youth leaders and have close friends in that group.

David and I do not. The couples we are close to were not there. David went to the restroom and I sat back down. I looked around at the familiar faces. I’ve played here for several years and I don’t know their names.

Being on the worship team looks so glamorous. It’s really lonely and a lot of hard work. I’m a witness. I do this every week.

You don’t believe me? I’m not surprised. The Jews didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah either. Several witnessed everything. They told everyone. They wrote books about it – Matthew, Mark, John.

Finally, Luke, who was a Gentile doctor, started gathering evidence. He listened to the story from all sources. He took meticulous notes. Each witness told the same stories!  When Theophilus started to doubt, Luke wrote it all down in a book.

Luke 1:1-4, “So many others have tried…putting together a story…(2) using reports handed down by the original eyewitnesses who served this Word with their very lives. (3) Since I have investigated all the reports…from the story’s beginning, I decided to write it all out… (4) So you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt the reliability of what you were taught.” The Message

Maybe you are like Theophilus. You know the truth about Christmas but sometimes you doubt it can all be real.

Mary had doubts. She didn’t see how God could fulfill the promise He gave her. She chose to believe anyway.

“There are many things Mary didn’t understand about God’s will, but she accepted and obeyed it. And that’s what God is asking of you too.” The Word for You Today, 12-24-18

It’s impossible! Believe anyway.

I don’t understand! Believe anyway.

It can’t be true! Believe anyway.

Luke 1:45, “Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true.” The Message

Believe! Today! Right now! Click on the “Save me, Jesus, Prayer” in the menu above. Pray the prayer out loud. Then tell someone.

Today is now your birthday! Your spiritual birthday! You are born again after praying that prayer. Don’t be surprised if you act like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning!

Did you pray that prayer?

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Whatever They Felt Like Doing

“Have you experienced a sorrow caused by unkindness, when others cruelly mistreat your trusting heart, and you even begin to wonder if there is really a God above who sees what is happening yet continues to allow it? …God has allowed the difficulty to come upon you, in order to bring you closer to Himself.”

“Streams in the Desert,” 12-22

Christmastime is family time. Wherever there are siblings – there will be a rivalry! It goes back to Cain and Abel.

* * * * * * *

The People of Israel asked the Benjaminites to surrender the men who killed the concubine. They refused.

Judges 20:12-14, “…’What’s the meaning of this outrage?’… (13) ‘Surrender…’ (14) But they wouldn’t do it. …” The Message

The Benjaminites fought the other tribes. Everyone wanted justice for the concubine. The Benjaminites saw everyone was against them and went to war.

Judges 21:25, “At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.” The Message

Most of their tribe died. The soldiers that escaped lost their wives and families. The rest of the tribes swore they would not allow their daughters to marry a Benjaminite. They got wives from 2 different sources in Chapter 21.

“When you hold resentment it feels like there’s a war going on inside you. …the more you fight, the more ground you lose. Arguing just drains you of energy and leaves you more hurt and angry. You’re in a no-win situation. You struggle with who’s right and who’s wrong. You spend so much time trying to out-do, out-shout, and out-maneuver others that you lose your peace and joy. …Don’t allow someone’s actions to determine your reactions. …”

The Word For You Today, December 22, 2018

I like that. “Don’t allow someone’s actions to determine your reactions.”

Will you be with your siblings this week?

 

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Shoulder The Task

“In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning…completely dark, except for the light that falls directly on the developing pattern, from one small window. Only one person sits in each small room, …

Sometimes, the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot see…or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty or any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and ‘if we do not give up’ (Galatians 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was darkest.” “Streams in the Desert,” December 13

I’ve been silent for a week. It’s time to share what happened. Here’s the post I wrote on December 6th.

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Confirming the Work

I’m in Facebook jail. Yes, there really is such a thing. (I didn’t believe it either.)

Someone marks your post as offensive and they send you a warning. My first warning came after I shared a post of #MollieTibbetts. I shared several posts of missing children.

My Frugal Fish Facebook page was public. Someone in the “public” reported my posts as “offensive.” Facebook blacked out all the pictures of missing children.

Someone reported another post as “offensive.” Facebook locked me out of my personal page for 24 hours. I could not even see it! Although I could see my Frugal Fish page. Go figure.

Thinking of Daniel, I wrote my post as usual and it automatically published to my Frugal Fish page. That angered Facebook. They blocked me from posting for another 14 hours. I could read it, but couldn’t post, comment, like, or share.

I’m not surprised. Peter told us the gospel would offend.

2 Peter 2:7-8, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The Stone which the builders rejected, this became the very cornerstone,’ and, ‘A Stone of stumbling and rock of offense,’ for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.” New American Standard Bible

Why did I write a post when Facebook told me not to? Because it just confirmed I was doing what God told me to do.

Proverbs 90:17, “And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!” The Message

Facebook let me know they will disable my pages, both Frugal Fish and my personal page if I continue posting from this blog. So, I cut the link that shared to Facebook. I won’t stop writing daily – they just won’t go to Facebook.

My posts will still publish on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Those who give their email to follow this blog will still read them there.

I’m not blogging for money. (It’s a good thing because I haven’t made a penny!)

Each day I read the chapters and God speaks to me. Sometimes, it’s just one verse or a phrase. It gives assurance or direction for what I’m facing today. I will continue until the day God calls me home. It’s what keeps me young.

Deuteronomy 34:7, “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyesight was sharp; he still walked with a spring in his step.” The Message

December 6, 2018

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

God spoke to me each day and I recorded verses and notes. I will not share them all with you, but one post brought great comfort.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gibeon Joined Up with Israel

“In God’s kingdom you don’t achieve success on your own, you receive it from God. …Let others compete and compare! Just stay faithful in what God has given you to do – and when the time is right He’ll come and get you! …When you try to promote yourself, you have to sweat, strain, and struggle, but when you trust God and do things His way, it comes ‘easy.’ That doesn’t mean you won’t have to work hard or sacrifice in order to succeed. It just means you won’t have to strive to get it, or keep it.” “The Word for You Today,” 12-10-18

* * * * * * *

Joshua 10:4, “Come and help me. Let’s attack Gibeon; they’ve joined up with Joshua and the People of Israel.” The Message

These events happened because five kings attacked an ally of Israel. They weren’t attacking Israel – just their ally, the Gibeonites.

  1. Joshua took them by total surprise, 10:9.
  2. God threw them into total confusion, 10:10.
  3. Israel chased them, 10:10.
  4. They ran, 10:11.
  5. God pitched huge stones on them, 10:11.
  6. The sun stopped, 10:13.
  7. The moon stood stock still, 10:13.

The earth paused and all the inhabitants knew it. Descriptions of that day are in the “Book of Jashar.”

Now we see what happens to those who help others attack Israel.

Joshua 10:33, “Horam, king of Gezer, arrived to help Lachish. Joshua attacked him and his army until there was nothing left of them. No survivors.” The Message

I stand with Israel.

December 10, 2018

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The sad and most frustrating thing is, I have no recourse. The one who reported me is kept anonymous. I cannot face my accuser or explain my motives. I am not safe from further attacks. I wish there was a “City of Refuge” in situations like this.

“Cities of Refuge…were not places where justice could be avoided, but places where further bloodshed could be prevented while an investigation took place (20:6).” Chronological Study Bible Notes

I want to fight back but my study of Proverbs 20 reminded me that the battle is not mine.

Proverbs 20:22, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and He will avenge you.” The Message

God spelled out my directions clearly today.

Joshua 22:3, “…you’ve shouldered the task laid on you by God…” The Message

My task? Write the “2019 Relevant Bible Reading Guide” and keep blogging. My 10-Year Anniversary for this blog and being on Facebook was on Sunday. Funny, since they aren’t connected to each other anymore.

God provided the blogging fees for 10 years without ads, affiliate marketing, sponsors, or donations. He can grow this blog without Facebook.

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Yes. Absolutely.

I was late. I grabbed my watch in the dark bedroom and tried putting it on. After three attempts – I turned on the light. The buckle on my watch strap folded under. I pulled it out and secured my watch.

David was already in the van. I tossed my Bible bag in. It turned sideways, and the handle hooked over the lever of the adjustable cup holder. It blocked the space I normally set my purse. I untangled it, put down my coffee, dropped my purse, and jumped in.

The handle of my purse wrapped around my ankle. I couldn’t get it out. Frustrated, I lifted my leg which flipped my purse up on the dash. David burst out laughing.

I untangled it and we set off.

When I arrived at church I decided not to take any chances. I put my backpack purse on. I put my Bible bag in one hand and my coffee in the other.

I had one foot on the ground when I realized I couldn’t move. An elastic loop on my coat caught on the lever that reclines the seat. I put my Bible bag on the seat. I worked the loop off of the lever – while standing on one foot.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Am I cursed?

(I want my mommy.)

“Everyone you meet is hiding something, and it’s not because they’re deceptive. It’s because some wounds are too personal to talk about. …Is that where you are today – struggling with something too difficult to talk about? If so, remember other people are struggling too! …So instead of adding to their burden, try to ease it. You may be the only healer that crosses their path today. And when you help lift their burden – God will lift yours.” The Word for You Today, 12-3-18

I had my first “empty nest” moment last week. Each year I decorated my Christmas tree and waited up. When Derek came home, he would always exclaim, “Wow, Mom. You outdid yourself this year.” Last year he even put a picture of my tree on Facebook!

I stepped back admiring the tree. I thought, “I can’t wait until Derek gets home.” Then I realized, he is home – with his bride decorating his own tree.

We will be alone on Christmas Day. We told our children we will celebrate on the 26th. We remember having 3 Christmases on Christmas Day when our kids were small. It was exhausting.

We finally switched to Christmas morning with our immediate family. We alternated Christmas Day between my parents and David’s parents. We would celebrate with the other set of parents on a different day.

It worked well until our son married. Now, it is a jigsaw puzzle finding a day everyone is free.

Then, I thought of my mom. Her nest has been empty for years. And dad has been gone for almost 9 years. We give all our attention to the youngest members of our family at Christmas. We should take pictures with the oldest members.

We lost David’s dad right before Christmas 2 years ago. We know first-hand the grief of an empty chair at Christmas.

* * * * * * *

The 5th commandment is the only one with a promise. Honor your parents and God will give you a long life.

Deuteronomy 27:16, “God’s curse on anyone who demeans a parent. All respond: Yes. Absolutely.” The Message

I would never intentionally dishonor my mom or mother-in-law. But, I have neglected them. I need to call more often.

As if I wasn’t feeling guilty already, my study of Proverbs 19 added to it.

Proverbs 19:26, “Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace.” New International Version

I let life push my mom to the background. I set down my pen and called her. It went right to voicemail. I can’t keep up with her.

I called my mother-in-law. She had a few minutes but was leaving when the bank opened. It was nice catching up with her.

Later, Mom called back and we caught up. My moms have better social lives than I do. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

©2009-2018 thisyearsbiblereadingguide.com. All Rights Reserved.

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An Ox and a Donkey

An ox and a donkey were 2 modes of transportation in ancient civilizations. An ox could pull more weight and endure longer distances. A donkey carried you to your destination more quickly. They were both needed for different purposes. But they couldn’t work together.

Deuteronomy 22:10, “Don’t plow with an ox and a donkey together.” The Message

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul instructed believers to marry believers. Marriage is like being yoked together.

2 Corinthians 6:14, “Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark?” The Message

An ox and a donkey yoked together is a good picture of being unequally yoked in marriage. The donkey has to go wherever the ox wants because it is weaker. The ox has to carry more of the load than necessary and works himself to death.

Life is hard. Every marriage will go through the fire.

“Steel is the product of iron plus fire. …In the same way, the development of human character requires the plus attached to it, for great character is made not through luxurious living but with suffering. …the very things they now rebel against are the instruments He has used to perfect their character…” Courtland Myers, “Streams in the Desert,” December 2

* * * * * * *

“Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer for the roots of character. The great objective of this life of character, for it is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity.” Austin Phelps, “Streams in the Desert,” December 2

Some of the strongest marriages come from the deepest trials: the loss of a child, catastrophic events, debilitating sickness, bankruptcy. Other marriages implode at the first one. “I didn’t sign up for this,” they say.

Yes, you did.

You vowed: “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death parts us.”

“To cherish” is loving and nurturing someone who can’t love you back. We all have times where our spouse carries everything because we physically cannot. But those times are temporary. We can’t let our spouse do everything permanently.

I’m guilty. We all are.

But then we are like the ox and the donkey. The Bible had another name for donkeys. When we don’t share the load equally, that is what we become.

God designed marriages to be rich. An intimacy that we share with no other. The only one who “gets me.” The one who knows my deepest faults and failures and cherishes me in spite of them.

“When you think about it, you can be rich in one of two ways: either in how much you have, or in how little you want. …Many financial experts say credit is the motivating factor for perhaps 80 percent of all divorces….” The Word for You Today, 12-2-18

The most important thing is that we pull together. We must go in the same direction.

“…hopeless debt is like a deep pit into which one may descend quickly and where one may struggle vainly for many days. It is a pit of sorrow and regrets where the brightness of the sun is overcast and night is made unhappy by restless sleeping.” “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason

Marriage is a 3-strand rope. The third partner is God. He guides us through difficult paths. Sometimes coaxing and sometimes prodding. When we follow God’s leading, we are unstoppable.

I have to ask David – am I an ox, sharing the load in our marriage? Or, am I donkey?

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