Root To Rock

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The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

On a run, or maybe more like a jog, or if anyone saw me they might actually label what I was doing as something more like a brisk walk (even if it felt like a run to me), anyway however I got there, I came upon all these breathtaking purple irises; thriving right out of a bed of total rock!! I thought, well now THAT is a picture of the beauty in overcoming! 

What we see as “inconvenience” (like the iris seeds may have seen the overhead rocks) may really be what God is using to shield us from stormier winds that threaten to steal His Seed from our hearts. Maybe it’s the inconvenient rock that is actually our refuge and what is holding us strong against greater storms. Maybe the inconvenience we want to complain about is actually saving us!

Jeremiah preached faithfully over 60 years without a positive response to his message! Paul sang faithfully in prison! We are all called to walk by faith and not sight (2 Cor. 5:7) so what is it that keeps us rooted in faith in the storms of life that we can’t comprehend? What prevents our total capsizing by giving into feelings and emotions that can rage on waves of doubt?!

Trust in His Word.

T.otal R.eliance U.pon S.ustained T.ruth

Feelings are not facts but His Word is. Praise God He has given us an anchor for our souls, firm and secure that will weather any storm until we arrive safely in His Kingdom (Heb. 6:19; 2 Tim. 4:18)!

Psalm 61:2-3 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Cling to the Rock Who’s promises never fail.

When life gets “rocky” remember that every delicate bloom to every great mighty oak were all once just seeds/saplings that refused to give up ground when the storms of life raged and rocked their world. By His amazing grace may we bind our roots to the solid Rock that’s not rocking in rocky times and faithfully bloom/thrive where we are planted; for the display of His splendor dear one! 

…For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

© Janette Kieffer

Pasture Turned Palace in His Presence

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See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) 

A way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland… WHAT?! Those things are so unlikely! Who looks for steams in the wasteland?! We look for streams in the vicinity of a larger body of water! And wilderness by definition is wild, there is nothing marked, so who looks there for a way?! We look for ways in a national park with known trails but you don’t go to the wilderness looking for a way just as you don’t go looking for a stream in a wasteland; it’s just impossible. And yet… as believers in Jesus, the Word of God, we do look for the impossible in the I-M-possible! The great I AM (Ex. 3:14) in Matthew 19:26 (NIV) has said, … with God all things are possible.”  

So when we find ourselves a “wasteland” or in a “wilderness” let’s not exhaust ourselves looking for the impossible but rather looking to I AM. He is our greatest provision of peace that flows like a river through any wasteland and is our Way in and through every wilderness; we are never alone! 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) 

I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NIV) 

I wonder how often David, the shepherd boy, had to remind himself of that Truth as he wandered the wilderness, the pasture, tending his father’s sheep while all his brothers were off at battle?! Our God was working a way even as David wandered in the wilderness. David was Jesse’s 8th son and the number 8 symbolizes new beginnings! 

1 Samuel 16 finds king Saul tormented by an evil spirit and he is in need of someone to play the harp to help ease his discomfort. One of king Saul’s servants speaks up and says, … “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.” Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 1 Samuel 16:18-19 (NIV) 

David was just serving the sheep in the pasture faithfully like he did everyday when he was suddenly pulled up to the palace for service! Even from his position in the pasture someone was able to notice that David had musical ability and was brave, not just any brave but warrior brave! They noticed that the David in the pasture spoke well and was fine-looking! Why?! Because David treated his job in the pasture like it WAS a job in the palace. He must have come dressed for success (fine looking) even in the pasture. He must have used clean, encouraging language (spoke well) even in the pasture. He must never have gotten lazy but even in the dead of night made sure every last sheep was never left unprotected, unguarded (warrior brave); even if they were just sheep and he was just in the pasture. He used his musical ability even in the pasture even if he played just to sheep. Why? Because the Lord was with him and God had put a song in David’s heart, even in the pasture! Just as God can make a way in the wilderness and streams in a wasteland… He can turn your pasture into a palace as you abide in His presence dear one.

David’s performance was not influenced by his placement; whether in the pasture or palace David was motivated by God’s presence. David brought excellence in everything because it was his God he was serving through the power of the Holy Spirit; and people couldn’t help but notice something different in Him! That influential difference began in the pasture and moved to the palace. What “pasture” has God perfectly positioned you in, to be His “number 8”, His avenue to ussure in new beginnings to the glory of His name? 

It’s never about placement or performance, pasture or palace, it’s about His presence in you. With God, Who is The Way, streams will flow even in a wasteland. If David had based his life’s perspective on his pasture surroundings he never would have made it to the palace. Allow God’s faithful presence to filter your perspective in the land of your service (even if it’s  in the pasture) and you will thrive on the journey to your Heavenly Palace dear one.

You Will Make It!

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And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12 (NIV) 

“WHEN you… you WILL worship God on this mountain.” The verse above is spoken with confidence, with assurance that the trial will be overcome, you will make it to the mountain top! You will make it and not just barely but with energy to worship! So dear one, don’t give up!! In God’s strength you can make it out of “Egypt” to the mountain top… worshiping (Philippians 4:13)! 

It was in Genesis 13:11 that Lot and Abraham parted ways (which was the beginning of Lot’s downfall). Abraham and Lot were parting to keep the peace. At first it sounds like a good idea right?! How easy is it to come up with excuses to give up, to give in to temptation, to part ways with a job, an activity, a relationship… you name it. When looking for an excuse to give up or give in, we are all sure to find one along with probably some pretty good validating points (just like Abraham and Lot)! 

Instead of parting to “keep the peace” have we first tried inviting the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) to our equation? For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the  barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, Ephesians 2:14 (NIV). Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9 (NIV) 

Even if, even when we have fallen short and done things our own way only to find ourselves rolling downhill, we have a God who can redeem, restore, make strong, firm and steadfast again (1 Peter 5:10) by His amazing grace! Back in Exodus the Israelites journey was not perfect and yet they made it just as God had said! Even though Lot’s life took a turn downhill it was through one of his biggest debacles that Ruth, a Moabite, became the great grandmother of David through whose line our Messiah came! Praise our Redeemer! 

Our God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11) and God sustains and protects His own. Through faith and belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 3:16) we become His child (Galatians 3:26) and ALL God’s children make it to the mountain top! He won’t give up on you, don’t give up on Him. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 (NIV) … If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’” Isaiah 7:9 (NIV) 

Keep on dear one, you will make it, the mountain top is coming so join me in worshiping our Warrior King; the One who has won! “And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory. “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations- to Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous for archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain… Isaiah 66:18-20 (NIV)

Embrace Fearlessness

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But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Luke 2:10 (NIV) 

Someone said, “The birth of Jesus was the death of fear.” What a simple and yet profound statement! Because Jesus came to earth and fulfilled the promise to become our Savior (through His death in our place on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sin) we can choose to live fearless! Jesus became the sure Way back into His perfect presence (John 3:16, John 14:6)! 

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:40 (NIV) All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. John 6:37 (NIV) Dear one, there is nothing but sure hope in those promises for you and for me! Have you taken hold of them in your heart? Are you living out an extension of this invite to those around you? Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. John 1:16 (NIV) …“already given” dear one, we always have grace to give; by God’s grace may He help us give it!

Chesed is a Hebrew word that essentially encompasses love in action. Jesus exemplified love in action as we see depicted all over His Word! His Word comes to life in us by His Spirit empowering us to be love in action. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV) 

Romans 10:21 (NIV) is written concerning Israel but can well be applied to us all; But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hand to a disobedient and obstinate people.”  All day long… ALL day long! WOW!! No matter what we have done, or will do, God knows; and yet still chooses to extend His hand to hold us, rather than to hold our sins against us! Those willing to accept by faith, His Son, Jesus, as their Savior and Lord are set free from death, sin and Satan (Romans 8:1, John 6:36)!

There is no fear in the diagnosis, there is no fear in parenting, there is no fear in finances, there is no fear in the unknown of the future… because the One who holds your future has the victory and your life rests eternally in His good hands as a believer in Jesus. 

Where there is possibility for fear, there is opportunity for faith. Faith grows through trust. We embrace fearlessness through entrusting all we would fear, to God Almighty (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-7). He is ALL-mighty, ALL day and ALL night, and He loves you! There is no fear in perfect love (1 John 4:18). 

… I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV) for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) 

A Flood Of Refreshment

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The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 (NIV) 

Exodus 2:23-25 (NIV) matches 4 expressions of suffering by the people, with God’s compassionate responses. The people are recorded having… “Groaned”, “cried out”, “cry for help”, “groaning” to which the Scriptures record… “God heard”, “he remembered”, “God looked”, and “was concerned”. Psalm 34:18 (NIV) declares, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Dear one, God shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11) and longs to meet you where you are at and be to you the all sufficient provision of everything you need. Yet in the flood of your need that threatens your drowning at times where do you flee for the filling and refreshing of your soul?

Exodus 2:15 (NIV) finds a man having fled to the side of a well after fleeing from a flood of fear. …but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Dear one, if you need to flee, flee to the water of God’s Word, that His Truth would flood your heart, reviving your soul. If we root down in the rule and reign of Jesus Christ and embrace His Sovereignty as our grounding point in all situations and circumstances, streams of Living Water will flow from within us!  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 (NIV) 

A few verses forward from Moses’ seat beside the well finds us in Exodus 2:17 in which Moses is now administering water to others! A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) One thing leads to another and the refreshing word flows to the point that the one who once was fleeing from fractured dynamics is now found flourishing within family! God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun scorched land. Psalm 68:6 (NIV) Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8 (NIV) Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19 (NIV) 

Today, may we run to the only One who can revive, renew, restore and redeem our lives, our hope, our situation, by the well of Truth that flows to us via the living water of His refreshing Word.  

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

“Let’s part company.” – WHAT!?!

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Genesis 13 brings us to the middle of fine living! Abram and his nephew Lot had been richly blessed and seemed to want for nothing! Yet Genesis 13:6 (NIV) states, But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 

The first problem relating to life here and now, is that if we rely on the “land” or anything other than God Almighty to support us, we will end up sorely disappointed at best. What “land” have you trusted to support you that has only proven to have left you wanting? A person, a position, your education, a relationship, business, physical appearance, finances… ?! 

No matter what “land” we have tried, we can choose to land on, and navigate forward in, the promise of Philippians 4:19 (NIV) And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. God is the only One who is able to support us without fail, dear one.

The second all too relevant problem Genesis 13:6 brings to light is that it was their possessions creating the relationship riff! What “possessions” do you have (it may even be possessing a selfish attitude) that is causing or has caused, division in your own life?

As we glance ahead to Genesis 13:9 we see that the solution Abram and Lot come to for having too many possessions that the land will not support them both is to… PART COMPANY!!?? It may seem crazy and even foolish from the outside looking in, but if we take a step back we may find we can relate more than we might like to admit! Why did they not think that their problem might be an opportunity to give generously to others that may be in need?! Why did they not think that giving up some of their possessions so that they could stay together was not a better idea?! Maybe because they were looking to the land for support and that resource was limited. 

Dear one, may we never forget that our God is The Source of every resource and He never runs short!! Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 

We can trust our God who sent His Son Jesus to generously, sacrificially give up His life to save ours! Aren’t we glad Jesus wasn’t stingy with His blood! Good thing He didn’t just neatly check the little tithe box and only give the allotted 10% or we would all still be on our way to hell! Jesus gave and still gives, generously! We are to follow suit trusting fully that if He is our Source, we will never run short of everything we need dear one. (See Romans 12:1)

God bless you muchly ~ “The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV) Don’t “part company” when you can accompany the One who holds all things together. (See Colossians 1:17)

A.R.K. –  A. R.eal K.eeper

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They say April showers bring May flowers but that’s not all April showers bring! April showers bring much mud before they bring any flowers! (With six adventurous children I’m keenly aware of the amount of mud too!) Recently I caught a glimpse of something, or shall I say someones (plural), walking through my kitchen with bare mud caked feet! Now not just ordinary muddy but extraordinarily muddy! My children had thought it so fun to play in a mud thick swashy puddle pit that now covered their lower appendages… to their knees! I actually had my doubts that there was any mud left outside with as much as they were trekking through my kitchen! However with our outdoor hose not yet hooked up, coming inside was the only solution to get clean! This led me to thinking of Scripture and the three Arks within!

The first Ark is the one that saved Noah and his family from the flood in Genesis. The flood that wiped out the wicked sinfulness on the earth at that time. 

The second Ark is constructed as a reflection of the first Ark, but on a much smaller scale. This Ark is seen in Exodus and was the basket used to save baby Moses. Moses was saved from the evil king of Egypt’s scheme to kill all the little boys.

The third Ark is the Ark of the covenant referred to throughout the Bible. This ark protected the stone tablets, or the law.

Each Ark saved, preserved, protected and points to our ultimate Savior, Jesus Christ. He alone can ultimately save us from sin (Romans 8:1), the devil’s evil schemes (John 10:10) and by His amazing grace, even the law (Romans 8:3-4)! You see, Jesus sees your life worth saving! He has always thought that YOU were a real keeper! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)

Like my children had to come inside to have their muddy feet cleaned, we too must come into Jesus, our real Keeper to be forgiven, made clean, set free and saved for eternity dear one! (See Isaiah 1:18; 61:10, Psalm 103:12, 1 John 1:9, John 8:36) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (ESV) 

He sees you as a real keeper, so won’t you come into the One who is able to keep you?! Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25 (ESV) 

May God bless you muchly with many reminders that Living Hope springs eternal dear one.

A Candle Of Contrast

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…Can anything good come from there?”… “Come and see,”… John 1:46 (NIV) 

How often do preconceived notions keep us from life’s greatest adventures? I guess, if we think about it we can’t really know the answer to that question. John 1 holds a beautiful example of living the adventure, that could have been completely missed if they had given into preconceived notions. 

John 1:40 tells us Andrew heard a word about Jesus AND acted upon that word to go and follow Jesus! John 1:41 tells us the first thing Andrew does upon following Jesus, is to find his brother AND tell him the word. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV) Andrew doesn’t stop at just the hearing or the going or the sharing of the word, Andrew brings others to Jesus (John 1:42)! 

Do our lives listen to the Word in a way that produces follow through/action on what we have heard? 

Do our lives present an invitation that is attractive to the outside world to come and see, to experience the Living Hope and joy we have that supersedes our situation and circumstances? 

Do our lives hold up a candle of contrast to the world’s way? “I am leaving you with a gift– peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So do not be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 (NLT) 

Often our doubts, fears and preconceived notions hold us back from life’s grand adventures… we ask, … Can anything good come from there?” … John 1:46 (NIV) Can anything good come from there, here, me, them, that… ?! Dear one, if you hear nothing else today hear this…

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (NIV) Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV) He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15 (NIV) so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) 

Come and see dear one, come see and experience the Word, for you were built to be a candle of contrast in this world; reflecting the Light and love of Jesus! For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Even This

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Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. Exodus 7:23 (NIV) 

Are we in danger of having built ourselves an impenetrable palace? A palace of problematic fear; a palace of pride; a palace of past mistakes; a palace of people pleasing facades; a palace void of any real peace?! Exodus reveals the extreme effort God made to get a message of His Sovereignty through to the Pharaoh of Egypt and time and again the Pharaoh hardened his heart. 

When Pharaoh is first confronted his initial question is, “Who is the LORD…?” (Ex. 5:2) After this all his questions stem from “Why?” When we don’t know Who our Sovereign Lord is the “Why’s?” of this broken world will build its own impenetrable palace around our hearts. The attempt to numb the pain of all the unanswerable questions only leads to death inside the palace just as Pharaoh eventually experiences (Ex. 12). 

Even those who know our Sovereign Lord can be derailed by this world’s brokenness and unanswerable “why’s?” if they allow their focus to drift from His precious promises to their own palace of problems. Exodus 5:9 (NIV) records the enemy saying, Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies. However what the enemy was calling “lies” was really the Truth! Unfortunately his plan worked and Exodus 6 records God reminding the people of His Truth; His faithfulness throughout the generations, His mighty hand to save, His attention to their heartache, His good plan for their future and His promise to save and yet… even this could not penetrate the peoples despair. Why? Exodus 6:9 (NIV) …but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. 

Dear one, do not let the unanswerable “why’s?” of this world distract you from Who you know is Sovereign and good; Who holds all the answers to the “why’s?” in your heart for the day we will be able to comprehend the answers AND even thank Him for the way He worked all things together for our good (Romans 8:28)! That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV) 

“Is God’s comfort too little for you? Is his gentle word not enough? What has taken away your reason? What has weakened your vision, Job 15:11-12 (NLT) 

Tuck this invitation in your heart’s pocket dear one…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) 

…and even this…

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV) 

Don’t let your “palace” keep you from His peace; …he himself is our peace… (Eph. 2:14)

What Are You Building?

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Most of us are familiar with the recorded story of Noah and the flood in the Bible; but let me tell you what, God flooded my heart with something brand new as I studied this passage once more! Check this out!

Genesis 5:32 (NIV) After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth. 

Genesis 6:3 (NIV) Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” So we can rationalize that it was going to take 120 years to complete the ark.

Genesis 7:6 (NIV) Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth.

First of all, obviously our “prime time” is God’s time! Secondly, let’s break out the calculator and do a bit of math on the above three verses. 

If Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters actually came down and 500 years old when he became a father, but it took 120 years to build the ark… wouldn’t that place Noah at 480 years old at the onset of the building project of a lifetime!! What does this all mean? Well… 20 YEARS before Noah even became a father, he was building in faith, what would carry on the faith into the next generations!!!! 

Dear one, what are you building in faith right now?! What are you building in faith that God just might use to carry on the faith, saving others well into the next generations?! (Don’t think you’re too old to start building if you haven’t already! I have yet to meet another 480 year old!!)  

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT) 

God bless you muchly~