Different Worlds

“I will give thanks to You

    as I learn Your regulations,

which are based on your righteousness.

I will obey your laws.

    Never abandon me.”

Psalm 119:7-8

If you’ve ever spent time in a foreign country, you know how much goes on in normal life there that seems strange.  You’ve stepped into “their world” and it may take a while for you to even realize how different that world is.  For example, you may rent a car from the airport in London, but you quickly notice that the steering wheel is on the “wrong side” of the car, and everyone there is driving on the “wrong side” of the road. Unless you make a very quick course adjustment, you’ll soon find yourself on the “wrong side” of the law. But it’s their world,and YOU are the one who needs to make the course adjustments.

God’s Kingdom is completely different from our world on this earth.  But it’s HIS World, and guess who needs to make the course adjustments when you enter into it!!

The first few years that I stepped into the desert world of the Saharawi, I was not thinking about how their world operated.  I was operating in my world.  I couldn’t understand why they did the things they did, especially because I thought myworld, myways were better.  I would usually end up standing before some leader there in tears, because nothing had worked out the way I had planned.

Guess who needed to adjust the plans???   I had come with all the details worked out of how this would go. It was a GREAT plan!   But it was as if, in showing my plan to God,  He patiently looked it over, then kindly crumpled it up and tossed it over His shoulder.  With a wink and a smile, He took my hand and proceeded to walk me through the Plan He was already unfolding.

I not only had to look to Him for His Plans, but I had to become a “learner” of the Saharawi’s world….how they did things….what they valued….how their world worked.  And after many years of frustration, I began to discover the wisdom and realities of their world.  Life became much less stressful and much more fruitful.

God’s regulations are perfect.  Period. He put it – and us – together in the first place.  He knows how it – and we – best work out on this globe and in His World.  To run around in this life, doing what we think is best . . . what we want life to be, how we want things to go, will most likely not go well.  As we live in His Kingdom, we must be willing to learn. Life in His Kingdom is SO different from the kingdoms of this world.  We don’t know how to do it. We need to posture ourselves as “learners” of His Kingdom.  His ways, His Laws, His regulations will be absolutely perfect, as He is Perfect.  And as He kindly gives us understanding, insight, patience, and countless “2nd,3rd,4th, gazilian” chances, we begin to understand the incomparable benefit of following His Ways.

Notice how this verse ends. . .  a plea for what matters most:  “Never abandon me.”   There is no comparison of this world to His Kingdom.  He promised to never leave us….never abandon us.  Stop fighting what He has set up for our good.  Hold tightly to His Hand, as He holds to ours, and trust Him as He shows us, step by step, how His Kingdom works….the Kingdom into which He has invited us.

Your Name

“ . . . the sheep respond to his (their shepherd’s) voice.

He calls His sheep by name. . .

The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”

John 10:3-4 

Like it or not, we are the “sheep” in the Bible.   For most of us, that’s an unfamiliar reality, and not an image with which we can truly connect.  Thankfully, sheep haven’t changed much throughout world history, and we can still learn and see what that imagery entails.  Most of us flash back to the children’s song, “Mary had a little Lamb…”   which she did!

I was struck recently by another Mary who was in Jesus’ earthly adult life.  She had quite a story, and would not have been the kind of woman anyone would expect to see in Jesus’ life.  She had followed Him, literally, after her first encounter.  She had watched Him and the way He lived, interacted, loved, and taught in daily life.  She had heard so many of the things He said…to His followers, to strangers, to huge crowds, and all levels of society.  She had watched and listened, and was often part of His circle of friends.  She had learned so much from Him. He had changed her life.

She had also watched Him die.  She was there.

In the following days of utter shock, she went to the place where Jesus’ body had been laid.  Sitting quietly nearby, her mind and heart must have been consumed with her shock….sorrow….life-shattering loss.  She was weeping.  Then, Jesus came.  Mary saw Jesus standing there.  So absorbed in her own thoughts, her own deep sorrow, she did not recognize Him.

Then, He said her name.  “Mary.”   And she knew.  She knew His Voice.  No more was needed.

We, like sheep, can be so familiar with “the flock,” with the quiet security of our pasture, our safe place that is “home,” and the care we experience every day from our Shepherd.  It all can blend together to be “normal life.”   We, like Mary, can become so absorbed in our present realities, be it pain or joy or sadness,  routines. . . or just “life.”   We easily miss the fact that our Good Shepherd is present.  That Reality can simply become a part of everyday life.

And then, He says  your name.

In all of the daily life, through the blur of familiar activities and routines, He speaks your name.  Do you hear it?   Are you familiar enough with Him that you recognized That Voice?  Have you spent enough time with Him that you know His Voice?  Do you recognize when He says your name?  He has things to tell you. . . personally . . by name.  He wants you to know His thoughts toward you.  He wants you to know His Presence in your life.  You . . . by name.

Schlepping Thru the Desert

“Your clothes didn’t wear out,

and

Your feet didn’t swell . . . “

Deut. 8:4

I bet you’re thinking…”WHAT??!!   Is that in the Bible?”

Well, not the schlepping word exactly, but I have been focusing on the incredible stories of the 40 years journey of God’s people in the desert. I’m contemplating the former Hebrew slaves of Egypt, God’s people, “schlepping”  through the desert, learning Who God is, who they were, what it meant to be free, and what it meant to become a nation. (‘Schlepping’ is an old Yiddish term that just seems appropriate to use in this context.  It’s kinda walking, trudging, dragging along on foot.)  They could have completed their “desert experience” in a year, but their desert “classroom” period lasted 40 years…..  They had a lot to learn.

A million people, having lived as slaves for centuries, had a lot of hard work to do to begin living an entirely new life as a nation… as free people.  It would have been a tremendous challenge just to change their mentality in becoming free after centuries of forced slavery.  But to become a nation . .regaining their identity as people, as a nation  . . . yikes.  That’s a LOT of emotional, mental, and relational adjustment.

But these were God’s own.  He was there from the Beginning.  His Plan had not changed.  The desert years were His Time with His people.  The former slave nation needed to learn what it was to be God’s People. . . to learn what life as a nation and as a Family would be.  He gave them the “Family Rules” – 10 of them . . . the guiding principles for how they would live with Him and each other as His Family.

Imagine your entire extended family traveling through a desert together.  Even for a day, much less 40 years!   The bickering, the whining,  the “pit stops” in the middle of nowhere,  an extremely limited food selection – SAME THING EVERY DAY!  No shade.  No map.  No Kwik Trip. “I’m HOT!”…”Yeah….Live with it!” No showers.  No air conditioning.  Every day the same. . . pick up the blanket, drag it along, find the sandals, find the kids, eat the manna, spare the water, check on Gramma,  drag the “stuff” you’d grabbed on your way out of Egypt.  Argue again about “why did you have to bring that!? You carry it then.”   “I’m sure we passed that same rock 3 months ago!”   “Who’s reading the map???”   “Is there a map?”   and “If Gladys tells me that same story one more time . . . I’m gonna smack her!”

All of this going on day in, day out.  Weeks…months….years….  And they were going around in a massive circle, basically.  Lots of grumbling about that, too !!!

But recently, re-reading that ancient story, I noticed a sentence I’d never caught before.

Deut. 8:2  “Remember that for 40 years the Lord your God led you on your journey in the desert . . (:4)Your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t swell these past 40 years.

(Note:  SWELL … not “smell.”)  

Those little details spoke volumes to me.  God’s kindness and attention to details that matter to us is so sweet . .so personal . .so practical. . . so loving.   I can definitely relate to the detail of swollen feet from schlepping through hot sands every day.  Trying to find a stable surface to put my hot, swollen feet and ankles up against to try to relieve the effects of gravity was a constant longing.   Without enough water to drink, it seemed a dream to use precious water on my feet. . . or clothes.

For many of us, the thought of wearing the same thing EVERY DAY sounds horrible.  But despite the circumstances, their clothes lasted.  Miraculously.  40 YEARS!   (I realize that for most of us, even if we’re crazy about a piece of clothing, we don’t get excited about it lasting for 40 years!)

God, Who was caring for a troublesome nation He dearly loved, had all the major, national needs covered for all those years.  Despite their complaints, rebellions, and failures, He still attended to the details of their everyday struggles.  It gives a glimpse into His love and intimacy toward His People…His Family.  He was “in the details.”

As we schlep along through our days, may we take note of all those kind details that He cares about in our daily lives, too.  And be grateful.

POPULARITY?… NOT !

“MY SPEECH AND MY PREACHING

WAS NOT WITH ENTICING WORDS.”

1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-5

Paul would have never been asked to give seminars or conferences on “How to Grow a Church” or  “Who Put the ‘P’ in Popular” or  “Laugh Your Way to…. Anything.”   He was hardcore.  He had been busy hunting down Christians,  terrorizing and killing them.   Then came the day he was literally knocked off his horse by the One Whom he had been so viciously working to destroy the memory of. . . Jesus.  And everything changed.

Paul was the guy who made things happen.  He was brilliant.  He knew how to powerfully influence people (especially successful at hunting down and killing Christians.)  He had become a famous man in his country, having not only his own Jewish identity, but he had learned well the mentality, beliefs,  culture and even literature of both the Greeks and Romans who had gained power in his nation.  He understood how they thought and how they lived.  He had moved into places of power within the “New Order” of government that now controlled his nation.

At the height of his success, he encountered Jesus, as dramatically as he was living his life.  Literally blinded by “The Light” and knocked off of his horse, he was called by his birth name with a question that went straight to his heart: “Saul!  Saul!  Why do you persecute Me?”  From that moment, everything changed….even his very identity . . . now Paul.

The passion and brilliance with which he had made his mark on his nation . . . hunting and killing those who followed that “dangerous” Jesus, now turned completely around.  All of his knowledge of how his world “worked” was now put into operation to introduce and influence that world to come under the Lordship of Jesus in their lives.  The passion with which Paul had fought against Jesus now was turned to presenting Him, literally, all over the map.  It became what he lived and breathed.

His was not a popular message.  When Paul wasn’t traveling throughout his world of many nations, he was often in chains . . . imprisoned . . . alone.  He experienced a lot of forced isolation, in very tough situations.  Still the words flowed, often on paper.

If Paul was with us now, I wonder what he would think of us . . . Christ followers.  How we think, what we believe, what we talk about, how we live our lives as followers of Christ.   What ignites our passion?  How do we live out our faith in our current world…tasting an isolation we’ve not known before?  Our town?  Our neighborhood?  What consumes our thoughts?  How abandoned are we to speak about the One we have personally encountered?  The One we have come to know.  How do our lives reflect Him?  How uncomfortable are we willing to become for His Cause to be presented in our world?  What has it cost us?

We have this time of global “isolation” to deepen our own faith, for the purpose of telling others, as did Paul.

Let us not waste this season in our lives.  May we listen more closely, think more deeply, pray more often, and not hold back on introducing the Light of Jesus we’ve encountered. . .  to a very dark world.

 

 

Show and Tell!

“The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky displays what His Hands have made.

One day tells a story to the next.

One night shares knowledge with the next.”   

Psalm 19:1-2

Did you realize how much celestial communication is going on all around us . . . day and night?

We’ve got the heavens shouting about God,   the sky showing off His artistry,

Each day telling stories of its day to the next,

And each night passing  to the next night all that it knows!

And I’ve just been enjoying looking at the moon, stars, clouds and birds!  (with thoughts of  how it might affect my plans…)

Our world is full of people who wish they could know God….hear from Him,  understand Him.   We tend to point people to read, or study, or take in written and spoken words to gain knowledge and understanding of God.   All of that is good.  Helpful. Enlightening.

But God has also designed a way of communicating beyond spoken and written language.  It’s something that is  accessible to every human being on this globe.  If we only focus on words, we are missing a galaxy of communications that God set in place to help us know Him.

So the next time you are thinking about God, or wondering about what is happening on this earth, or are struggling with questions about life, don’t forget to step outside . . . day or night . . . and look up.  Listen to the Conversations going on in the Heavens.  It may not involve spoken or written words.

It may simply go straight to your heart.

 

 

The Song

“No one could learn the Song

Except the 144,000

Who had been redeemed from the earth.”

Revelation 14:3

I have always loved music.  My mom often had music playing at home, and drew my sisters and I into singing and piano lessons.  It has always been a major part of my daily life,  surrounding myself with classical music, preferring instrumental over words.  It is a beautiful cushion of sound day and night.

Songs have been written throughout the ages, throughout the earth, throughout the nations and peoples who have walked Earth throughout Time.   Languages, melodies, rhythms, expressions, and sounds as varied as the people and places from which those songs have come, have covered the world, impossible to number.

But there is one Song yet to be sung.  It is “The Song of the Redeemed.”

The Song:

  • Is not written, not studied, nor learned from listening;
  • The Song begins when the unimaginable happens….at first it begins as a Whisper in the darkest night. . .
  • It comes unexpectedly . . .
  • It cannot be copied, or recorded, or planned.
  • The Song comes from deep within….from the Spirit of God into the heart of the crushed,…devastated….when all that was is no more.
  • When the Life that was has ended, or becomes a mere shadow, the whispered Song begins…
  • It flows quietly, no words necessary, out of the shadows of the broken heart.
  • Without any score nor recording to follow, the Melody begins to trickle from the wounds deep inside…inexplicably….quietly.….awakening New Life from the depths of mourning.
  • You will meet a stranger and detect the Song in them. There is no explanation, except that it has been written with the Pen of deep sorrow…sorrow that has somehow become unexplained Hope.
  • It is God’s Song . . . Who Was, Who Is, and Who forevermore shall Be.

His Spirit has come.  The Song is there.  We are learning to sing.  And someday, when we see Him, the Great Choir….all those who have been redeemed throughout Time….will assemble, each one singing their own unique melody and words. And as the Song of the Redeemed swells, all the Universe will begin a New Day, which will last for eternity.

 Inspired by and Borrowed from George Matheson (1842-1906)

Scottish Preacher, Author, Hymns Composer

Echo

Come.  Follow Me.”

Mark 1:17 

Think of a time when you heard an echo.  Maybe you were in the midst of mountains.  Maybe you were on a quiet lake.  Wherever it was, it probably stopped you…grabbing your attention…and fascination.

How often do little kids “echo” what they hear.  It’s usually delightful….not exactly what the original was, but recognizably an echo.  But it can also be embarrassing.

An “echo” involves an original sound, which travels to another surface, causing the sound to bounce in other directions, extending far beyond the original.

Jesus, while on this earth, created an original Sound….”Come, Follow Me.”  It began with one listener, then repeated to more and more listeners, and went on to echo throughout Time…generations, nations, and worlds.  It continues to echo globally….one hearer at a time.

An Echo is not selective about the hearer.  Anyone who is listening can hear that simple invitation. . . whether an echo through sound, or written words, or through the life of anyone who has heard the Echo and chosen to not simply absorb the Sound, but reflect it.

From the time I was a little girl, I heard the simple Message, “Come… follow Me.”  It echoed through the lives of my parents, my grandparents, and many, many people who passed through my life.  But some of the most amazing Echo experiences have been when I’ve heard the Echo reverberating from the lives of people with whom I don’t even share the same language…yet their lives echo the Spirit of God that carried the Sound to their hearts.

I want to be an Echo. . . simply reflecting what came to my ears and went to my heart.   Not complicating or changing the Sound…not muffling it…not selective of who, when, or how the Echo catches their attention.  May the delight of that Sound be reflected  . . . echoed . . . through my life to the world around me.

WHAT A MESS!

“I will climb up into my watchtower now

And wait to see what the lord will say to me

And how He will answer my complaint.”

Habakkuk 2:1

Habakkuk (imagine the nicknames!) was living in a very messed-up world.  A string of wicked leadership had left his world, and his people, under oppression, lawlessness, and immorality.  People were living in fear.  What had this done to them as a nation?  Would they ever get past what life had become?  Their “new normal” was far from what life used to be.

Habakkuk, a Prophet of God, needed to get away.  He longed to get perspective…. God’s Perspective.  He had poured out his complaints to God, and needed to hear back.  People looked to him for answers, for help…anything they could grab onto to get through these very tough times.

But first, Habakkuk  needed to hear from God.

I was married for 36+ years to a “prophet”….who had courage to speak Truth, whether popular or not.  When times were especially troubling, he would head out the door wearing his rattiest old hunting jacket, an old holey pair of jeans, hiking shoes, and his favorite old hat.  One look at him told me that he was going to the woods, and into an old tree stand.  What was designed to watch for deer became his “watchtower” to get perspective…a higher view of realities.  God had placed him in the role he carried, and he needed to be attuned to His Voice.  He felt closer to God up there, more focused, and tuned his ear to hear whatever God had to say.

Habakkuk headed to the watchtower.  It had been built so that any danger to the people of the region could be detected as early as possible.  From its higher view he could see  any threats to God’s people that were undetectable from the ground.  For this prophet of God, it enabled him to see many things more clearly…to identify the nearby dangers, and gain clearer perspective.  Demanding and fearful voices of those under his care were not usually accurate.

Habakkuk waited with expectation to SEE from a higher perspective what God would say, and to HEAR the Answer …. What was TRUE….in the midst of all the mess.  He waited for God’s Word to him first, personally.

After my husband went “Home”, I moved into the 3rd floor of my youngest son and his wife’s old Victorian home.  The day my furniture was to come, I took time to walk to each window and pay attention to the full view.  As I slowly moved from window to window, I realized that from that place I could see most of the key points of Bill’s and my story together.   The park of our first “date” where he kept throwing me into piles of Fall leaves….The university parking lot where passionate new Believers would gather to pray before going out onto College Avenue to talk to a lot of troubled  youth about finding new lives;  the “Office” we used for the growing street outreach that had been birthed from his heart … the Salvation Army space where young people crowded in every Friday night to celebrate their new life with Jesus…The first church building the thriving new group of young Believers would use to gather for weekly Sunday worship.  The park beside the river which had been the favorite one for our 3 boys.  And the beautiful old cemetery along the river beside  which he had often spent time praying…and which had become his final earthy resting place .

As I moved from window to window….memory to memory, God was right there with me…reminding me of the Story He had written through our life together.  He had set me in a place that would be a constant reminder of His faithfulness…still actively with me each day…each moment…always.

My unexpected “watchtower” was truly a place of God’s Peace, His Presence, and His Perspective throughout that very tough season.   He was there.  And now I live beside that river, bordering the park where our family played together, adjacent to that same old cemetery.  From my 3rd floor window I can always see that steady river, flowing north, reminding me always that the course of this life goes on (often in uncommon ways), and that God surrounds me with His Love and Presence.  He sees….He knows….I can rest in that.

May we look up for God’s Perspective in our troubled days,  and listen.

FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM – Part 2

JOHN the Baptist

 “You yourselves can testify that I said,  ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.”   John 3:28-30

[NOTE:   John, one of the 12 disciples, is telling this story…it includes a story of John the Baptist (JB),  and his (JB’s) encounter with Jesus near the beginning of Jesus’ formal ministry on earth.)

 John the Baptist knew who he was.  Before he was even born, his mother Elizabeth, with John in her womb, had been not only Mary’s aunt, but an unlikely mentor to her.  Both miracle baby boys, cousins, had “met” before they were born…still in their mothers’ wombs.  John became a famous prophet, a one-of-a-kind proclaimer of the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus.  John courageously, fearlessly spoke of the Messiah’s arrival on earth.  He grabbed his world’s attention,  announcing the One Who had stepped onto this planet to fulfill the Plan God had set into motion “in the Beginning.”

 John understood who Jesus was.  He also knew who he   was, and lived out his part in the Plan that was unfolding before his eyes.  John embraced his assigned work with his whole heart, mind and strength.  John also understood and embraced his role of being the “friend of the Bridegroom.”  Though he had drawn many followers through his powerful message, John was waiting and listening for Him [the Messiah]… the Bridegroom who was about to step into the spotlight.  

 Then came the day when Jesus asked John to be His “Baptiser”, as John had been for all who had heard and believed his message to repent and turn to God.  John baptized Jesus.  The Holy Spirit of God visited the event, appearing as a dove, announcing that Jesus was God’s ‘beloved Son, in whom He was very pleased.’  John had always known who Jesus really was.  But in that moment, God’s audible Announcement began the turning point of John’s life. 

Jesus, the Bridegroom, had come.  John had been waiting … listening…and preparing.  At that moment in time, John stepped into the role of “Friend of the Bridegroom,” and embraced it with great joy. There was no sense of resentment, competition, jealousy, or disappointment.  John embraced his role, stepping into the background to watch the Groom bring His Bride to Himself.

 John proved to be the perfect “Friend of the Bridegroom”….stepping aside, out of the limelight of the spiritual fame he had been given throughout Israel.  John had been worthy of God’s choice of being “friend of the bridegroom.”  He had the Bridegroom’s trust, as he had powerfully prepared the way for the hearts of the people – “The Bride” – to turn to the Bridegroom when He came on the scene.   John had faithfully set the stage for the Bridegroom to arrive and gather His Bride.

When that moment came, John  gracefully and intentionally moved into the shadows as  Bridegroom Jesus  stepped onto the Stage of Earth with the Good  News that He was ready to take His Bride into the Kingdom of God,  paid for by His own Blood, laying down His life for His Beloved. 

 Are you a Friend of the Bridegroom?  Has He entrusted His heart…His commitment, His Love to be communicated to His Bride through your life?  It is a precious responsibility He has entrusted to mere mortals to be His trusted friends.  As the Wedding Day approaches, are we listening intently, staying near to the Bridegroom, and actively involved in relaying His Heart to His Bride? 

 May we, the Bride of Christ, be ready – “without spot or wrinkle” – when our Bridegroom comes for us.   He has been preparing our Home…..His coming could be at any moment. 

  

“You are . . .”

 Today is my wedding anniversary….February 27th, 1981….the day I became his wife.  But he is not here…I remember alone.

…and then my Groom came.

Earlier in the day a friend had come to my door, handing me a beautiful bouquet of yellow tulips, and a small note.  She told me of how she had begun her day as usual, in her car driving to her job.  Turning on the radio she had heard the words, “You are….” 

Later that day, she again turned on her car radio, and again the first words were “You are…”  Remembering the morning’s first words, her attention was peaked.   Twice in the same day, the first words out of the radio were exactly the same.  “You are . . .”  Each a different context, but exactly the same two words. She turned off the radio, sensing that God was the one saying those words… she was listening.

As she began her drive back home at the end of her work day, she again turned on the radio.  And  for a third time that day, the first words over the airwaves were, “You are…”   Now, her full attention arrested, she asked God directly….was this something she was being prompted to say to God? Something she needed to consider about His Character, or His Goodness, or…?

Then the sentence that had begun three times that day was completed . . . God finished.    “Tell Janet this message from Me:   

               ‘You are beautiful……You are Loved……You are Mine.’”

She stopped the car, wrote down the words, and bought a sweet bouquet of yellow tulips.  She delivered the flowers….and a simple card with the message.  A warm hug, and she was gone.

I contemplated the message for a while….it was familiar somehow.  I knew I had heard these words before, but…..

Then, it came to me!   Yes!  I had heard these words before….decades earlier.  It was a moment in time when God had shown me a picture of myself as a little girl.  A significant adult in my life  had said words to me that made me feel deeply ashamed for twirling in front of a mirror, delighting in the pretty, flowing dress I had been given.  Then, I’d heard the words, “Tsk, tsk, tsk,….vanity, vanity!”  

God showed me that in that moment, so long ago, it was as if a heavy black curtain had been thrown over me.   I could not see out, and no one could see me through it.  It was a curtain of shame …unjustified shame … that I had unknowingly lived beneath for most of my life.

Then, the “picture” had changed, and I saw Jesus standing at the altar…a wedding altar.  He saw me beneath that thick, black curtain of shame.  Effortlessly, as if it was a piece of tissue, He pulled that heavy black curtain off of me, flinging it over His Shoulder as if it was “nothing”.    Immediately, He held a pure, white veil…a wedding veil….and placed it over me.  It was the most delicate, beautiful, sheer white veil I had ever seen.  I could see through it. . . and He could see me, almost as if it was made of the most transparent crystal fabric.  I felt utterly beautiful beneath it….as a chosen bride. 

As He looked at me, He had said,  “You are beautiful.  

                                                               You are loved.

                                                                       You are mine.”

Today, the day of my 39th wedding anniversary, sitting alone in my living room I read those words again.  Those same words that had been spoken to me years ago by my Heavenly Bridegroom, and were now in writing on a simple notecard. Before me were 3 “timer” candles set around the vase of tulips.  As I repeated the simple words, “You are beautiful….” one of the candles came to light. “You are loved…” the second candle lit.   “You are Mine.” The third candle’s flame sprang to life.

 My Bridegroom had come . . . on this day that was the marker of the earthly bridegroom who had captured my heart for 37 years.  My Heavenly Bridegroom renewed His Promise….His forever Love for me.