Tag Archive | Beautiful

Grading on a Curve

aid1391226-728px-Curve-Grades-Step-1-Version-2[1]Do you remember when we were in school…. how absolutely relieved we were when we found out the teacher would be grading on the curve on some of our tests?    We were Especially glad on those hard ones or the ones we just didn’t study for!!  For some reason, those teachers would have pity on us and decide they would slip us a break …. and level the playing field by taking the highest achiever’s grade and using it as the “A” point …then….they would adjust everyone’s grade accordingly.  They lowered the standards so to speak so each of us would look better on paper.   Even though we didn’t take the time to study…. we still have a grade that would make our Parents proud…. instead of a big fat “F”… we now have a C…. or B … or sometimes even an A!!   On paper…. we look pretty good!

I was thinking about this while I was driving to work one morning.   I wasn’t quite sure why that particular thing crossed my mind since I haven’t been in school for a long…. long time…. and my youngest son has been out of High School for 3 years now….. but then of course…..the analogy came.   This is what I felt God was saying to me …..
….. many people think I am like that.   They think I am like those teachers in school….they think I am grading on a curve!!

Have you ever said…. or heard someone else say something like…..

“Well… Look at Joe over there….  he claims to be a Christian but did you hear him cussing out that Referee?   …….. At least I don’t do that!”
or……
“I am a very good Christian woman…. I may have a drink once in awhile …. when I’m at home ….just to unwind a bit…… but at least I’m not like Sally over there who acts like she doesn’t and still sits on the front row of church!”
or……
“Hey…. at least I go to church on most Sunday’s and not only on special Holidays like Mr. Whats-his-name over there!”
or……

Ok… I know you have gotten the picture I am trying to paint.   I won’t keep going because there are so many more…. “at least I don’ts or do’s” …. floating around out there that we could go on for a long time.

Now… just think… if God was like one of those teachers that graded on a curve, and the only one we had to measure up to was the best scoring Christian we know…..we would all be looking pretty dog gone good.    If God would just level the playing field by lowering the standard and taking the best Christian “scorer” and using them as the “A” grade, it would make things so much easier for us.  How awesome would that be!!!  Now …..we wouldn’t even have to read, let alone study the Word.  We could “skip” church and do those fun things we want or even just sleep in on Sundays…… We would only have to Pray or Praise a fraction of the time and as long as we put forth a little effort … we could possibly be catapulted to the head of the class.   When we look at our Christian grade card now… instead of seeing that big fat “F” … we now are pleased to see an A or B!   See…. We’re not so bad after all!   God must be so proud of us!  Well done though good and faithful servant?!?!?!

Isn’t that what many of us think though?

THIS however…. is NOT what God does.   He has not lowered His standard so we can all have an easy “A”  in Christianity…..but He has raised the standard by telling us we are to strive to be like Jesus….. Not…. Joe…. Sally… or Mr. Whats-his-name!   Yet…. many of us are still “hoping”  He will have pity on us and use those “less than perfect” Christians to grade us on our walk when we get to Heaven.
My Bible says in 1st John 2:6   whoever says he lives in Christ [that is, whoever says he has accepted Him as God and Savior] ought [as a moral obligation] to walk and conduct himself just as He walked and conducted Himself.
God sat the standard with Jesus.   His walk …. His conduct…. is the standard in which we are graded on.   He … was perfect and blameless.   He… is the “A” point… and we are all going to have to do some work to pull our grades up as Christians.   Work… as in reading and studying Gods Word so we can know what Jesus did in order to become more like Him.   Work…. as in Praying to Him to get direction as well as our needs met.   Work… as in Praising Him for Who He is and for What He has done and is doing in our lives. Work…. as in developing a relationship with Him!

Jesus didn’t “fit in” to the way the world thought or did things.  He didn’t even fit in to the way the “religious” people thought or did things!   He stood out!   He was different.   He Loved those the world shunned.   He called evil…. evil!   He taught Truth!   He lived a life that was Holy!  He didn’t do what the world did or go where the world went.  He kept the Sabbath day.    He Prayed to His Heavenly Father.   He healed the sick.   He didn’t condemn the world… but brought Light and Hope!   He gave His life…. for US!!
He… is our Standard!

Now before we get down on ourselves and condemnation tries to sneak in…. God knows we could never meet such perfection while still in this world.   He doesn’t expect us to be perfect in and of ourselves…. but … through the blood of Jesus we have been given Mercy… and Grace.
Phillipians 3:12  Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
The problem is… many of us are taking advantage of Mercy and Grace and using it as a “get out of jail free” card so we can slide in on someone else’s work!  But that simply isn’t Biblical.

We all will stand independently before God someday and give an account of what we did or did not do.

The Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 5:10
For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].

We won’t be able to throw around the names of others to justify our actions ….. It will only be you …. and God!   You will be “graded” on your performance alone.   I am sure He will show you and me what we did… or didn’t do …. good or bad…. right… or wrong.   There no doubt will be tears!   Tears of missed opportunities…. and also of out right rebellion to His Word.   Then, I believe Jesus will step in on our behalf  to remind God of the Blood He shed for this very moment…. to cover those sins and to make us pure in Gods eyes…. and that… is when He wipes away every tear!
Revelation 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”

but….. there is one more Scripture that NO one wants to ever hear…..

Matthew 7:21-23
 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’   And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’

Those are words I wish never to hear!!!  I believe God is sounding many wake up calls for us to get our priorities in line…..to make the necessary adjustments in our lives and to always be prepared for what is in front of us.   Always ready.  The time is short.  Shorter today than yesterday!  Don’t assume you will pass!   Don’t take your salvation for granted!   Don’t compare your walk with the person next to you! Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today!   Jesus IS coming….. and He not only wants you to be in Heaven with Him… but He wants you to be a vessel to bring others with you to Heaven.   Follow His Standard…. !

and on that judgement day……. our diploma will read …..‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace… yep… that is what we call the free and unmerited favor of God.   Grace keeps us from getting what we deserve but….that is

S……. Is For Sorrows Lesson 6

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S….. The last lesson of the TEARS Series.
So… what are some Tear inducing words that start with S.

Sadness……. Secrets…….Separation………. Shame……. Sickness……… Sin……… Sorrow……. Songs……… Sunshine……Stress…… Sacrifices …..

This one seemed to be hard for me to get the “right” one.   I “Struggled” through this one until the week before I was to teach it.   God kept bringing the word “Sorrow” to me and I couldn’t
figure out what would make it different from the others I taught on ….. and then …. it hit me!!!!

When we add an “S” to the end of a word…. that word then becomes plural…. meaning there now are  multiples involved.   Not only does the word Sorrow include……
Trials…. Endings….. Adultery…..Remember…..but everything not covered there as well….

The Dictionary defines Sorrow as:
To feel deep sadness or mental pain.  Deep sadness especially for the loss of someone…. or something loved.

The KJV Dictionary Defines Sorrow:
The uneasiness or pain of mind which is produced by the loss of any good. or of frustrated hopes of good, or expected loss of happiness; to grieve; to be sad.

Related words:
Agony, Distress, Pain, Suffering, Torment, Blues, Dejection, Depression, Desolateness, Despair, Despondence, Distress, Doldrums, Downheartedness, Dreariness, Gloominess, Heartsickness, Joylessness, Melancholy, Miserableness, Misery, Mopes, Oppression, unhappiness, Woefulness, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, Self-reproach, Shame, Self-pity.

For the last 5 lessons, I have given you many things that have caused tears to flow in my life….. but many of you have gone through so many things I can not even imagine how you have withstood them….!   Only through the strength of Holy Spirit…. have kept the Faith and kept on keeping on!

I began to think of my friend …. who has suffered 3 plus years with Lyme Disease.   I have seen her struggle with deep pain that attacks her body and her strength ….. mentally and physically…. and has changed her way of life in many ways.   When things get hard to bare… I have seen her somehow pull that strength out from deep within and she makes it… another day… to fight.

Then I was reminded of A Mother in our class who has faithfully taken care of her sweet daughter that has been in a wheelchair for many years.  I have seen tears and struggles through the smiles they show when they are at church only when you look deep into her eyes.   She is a master at hiding the fear…. the exhaustion…. the sadness she holds within.   God has continued to strengthen her but the sorrows…. are real and the tears…. oh I’m sure there have been many behind closed doors of her home.

I also thought of another woman who herself has been in a wheelchair from I believe MS.   I have no idea how many years she has been confined to that chair, yet you can count on her showing up to church on Sundays…. and Wednesday night services as well.   I know her heart has longed to rise up and leave that chair sitting on the curb…. and yet… she continues to push through her restrictions…. her…. sorrows…. and greets each one of us with a beautiful smile!   Proof…. of her Love for our Savior ….. shines in her eyes… and through her life!

As I walk around the room I see other women in my class who have gone through so many sorrows I have not been through.   Women who have been taken care of by a mother…. and now… are taking care of her mother.   Tenderly and patiently walking near her as she walks with a walker from place to place!
One…. Has just been through surgery on her leg and is Cancer Free.
Another who has had job layoffs…. rehiring…. layoffs….
Family and Children who have had drug addictions…..
One who lost a husband and moved several states away…. trusting …. that God had told her to move to Missouri… without having family to meet here.

And still…. though so many sorrows were listed in our little class room…. there are oh …. so many more that are facing much greater sorrows….. sorrows that I can not even wrap my head around!
Every time we turn on the TV….Read in a paper or on Facebook…. we hear more and more of…
Shootings…. like the Dallas Police Shootings.
Selfishness…. People taking the life of loved ones to get back at someone.
Slander….. Oh… the Political race at its finest.
Scared……..People don’t feel safe
Sadness….
Sufferings…..

The Bible says in Psalm 34:17-19

When the righteous cry [for help], the Lord hears
And rescues them from all their distress and troubles.
The Lord is near to the heartbroken
And He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin).
Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,
But the Lord rescues him from them all.

I thought about that Scripture…. and the verse that says…. “The Lord is near to the heartbroken”…… How near is He really?   Sometimes we feel as though He is a million miles away and He doesn’t see our sorrows… and if He does… He must not even care!    But God reminded me of our Scripture we have based this study on….
Psalm 56:8   You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

Now … let me ask you…. What happens to a tear when it falls off of your cheek?    It falls to the ground…. or on your clothes…. and then it is absorbed.  If it is absorbed…. it can’t be retrieved…. if it can’t be retrieved…. it can’t be kept in a bottle.    Right?   So…. according to the Scripture… if God collects ALL my tears in His bottle… He is going to have to be close enough to catch those tears before they fall of my cheek.   THAT is pretty close….. pretty “near to the heartbroken”…. wouldn’t you agree?

Psalm 30:5
….weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning!

2nd Corinthians 4:17
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.

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At the end of each class I poured a corresponding color of sand into a tall bottle to represent the tears kept in a bottle…
T…. was for  Trials… and Teal was the color of sand.
E…. was for Endings…. and Evergreen was the color of the sand.
A….. was for Adultery… and Amethyst…. the sand.
R….. was for Remember…. and Raspberry sand was what I choose.
S….. was for Sorrow…. and Silver was the last color of sand.

The Bottle was beautiful!
I believe…. That I have Many Tear bottles in heaven!   I believe… they will be even more beautiful than this one… and in my mansion that God
has prepared for me…. these Tears…. in Gods bottle…. will be a beautiful decoration on my mantle!

One last surprise God gave me for this class…. a Poem.   I …. am not a Poet…. I have tried time and time again to write poems and they never turn out….. but when God is in it… it just happens..

                T.E.A.R.S

  Whenever life gets hard
and your tears begin to flow,
Your Father God in Heaven
Can See your every woe.

Not only does He see them,
no matter how things look,
each Tear He catches in a bottle
and records them in His book.

For every trial you’re facing
though the battle is so real,
This test will soon be over
and your tears will turn to Teal.

In life we have beginnings
and endings that are mean.
But every tear we’ve shed for them
are now for Ever-Green.

Your heart in part was broken,
Adultery… the catalyst,
But as a Princess of The King
Royal tears are shades of Amethyst.

Memories, sweet memories
They make our hearts so merry.
Good and bad, the tears you see
are now a bright Raspberry!

Sorrows seem to multiply
They set our hearts to quiver.
But when our God has touched those tears,
They’ll  Shine like Precious Silver.

R…..Is For Remember…….. Lesson 5

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R…. What words could possibly make us tear up that start with the Letter R?

Rejection…… Rumors….. Ripping…… Rain……Rebuke…. Rebellion…..Remember…..Remission….. Repentance….. Restoration…… Rainbow….. Reconciliation….

Remember…… AKA….. Memories….

I was sitting outside a few weeks ago watching my Grandaughter….Payton… run around the yard with her little butterfly net…. catching Lightening Bugs.  She was having so much fun!
I would cheer her on as well as point her in the direction of the next flashing light that would be on for such a brief second…. and off again.   Hurry…. and wait!
My eyes began to be directed toward the landscape across my front yard and into the neighbors across the street when I saw it….. Ohhhhhh how I cried!    Look how beautiful all of those flashing yellow lights were as they lit up my yard!   I began to thank God for the beauty…. for His awesome plan for a little bug with a light attached to its back side… to bring peace… to a dark still summer evening…. like a huge Christmas Tree that twinkles on a winters night…..!  He doesn’t miss one single little detail in His Glorious painting of our world here on Earth!

We began to venture now into the backyard, since her very presence and wild movement from here to there had thinned out the population of the blinking little bugs.  The back yard was a much … much larger hunting ground which meant she ran more…. and I sauntered.    I walked over to a tree that was there and began to reminiscing the day we planted that tree!   Colin…. my youngest was about 3-4 months old and the tree… well… stretched out beside it… they were nearly the same length.
Colin had a nickname of Grunt… (because as a new born he “grunted” as he lay in his bassinet) so…. the tree officially became known as “the Grunt Tree”!    Now…. Colin is 21 and that tree…. well… it is HUGE…. and … Beautiful!

More Tears…..

Life seemed so good then!   I had a husband…. a new healthy baby…..Justin… my oldest was a happy 12 year old.   I had a nice home to live in… and even though my Dad had Cancer….I still had both ….my Mom and my Dad.   Oh…. the “good old days”!

.As I continued to sauntered …. I found myself reflecting on years past…. This very yard had hosted MANY summer memories of not only Lightening Bug catching… but neighborhood Chicago Softball games… Slip-N-Slide…..Rope swing…. Bike Ramps….scrapes and bruises.   Clothes hanging on the line to dry in the hot summer air…. Sun tea brewing on the sidewalk… and sitting in the yard swing…slowly rocking ….back ….and forth watching everything…. and nothing at all!

I looked up…. and there… there in the western sky is that moon!  That same exact moon … and that same exact planet that I have looked at for the past 26 years from nearly the same exact spot I would stand…. gazing at the wonder of how big the sky really is…. and how truly magnificent my God is!!   So much in my life has changed since I first noticed that moon and planet formation in my backyard….. and yet…. THEY never changed!   Still…. firmly positioned in the very place God set them in so many years ago!

Once again…. I felt more Tears slip down my cheek !

After Payton went home with her dad.. I thought if was necessary to record the Lightening Bug experience as my status on my Facebook page.
My Step Daughter Sarah….who was the same age as my son Justin … chimed in!   She remembered those days in that very same yard…. chasing Lightening Bugs… and longed for the simple life we all took for granted at the time.  Times …that went by way too quickly!

One of my cousins commented on the post by reminding me of us doing the same thing when we were kids.    We would get together… have BBQ’s…. Homemade Ice Cream…and then us kids… would catch Lightening Bugs and play night tag while our parents would sit at the table playing Pitch… Pinochle or Canasta!
Not of course a whole new set of memories begin to make their way through my mind and my heart of all the wonderful people in my life that are now …. gone.
My Dad…. all of my Grandparents…. Aunts… Uncles…. Cousins….. Friends!   So many memories… laughter… heartaches…. flood my mind to once again start the Tears to flow!

Memories….
Memories can be good… .they can bring Tears of sadness as well as joy.
Memories are supposed to be a place to visit…. not to live in!   If we try to live in our memories, we will miss our here and now and then years from now…. the memories we would have made will have been non existent… or… they will be full of sadness, anger and regret.

Can we learn from our memories?
Look at Peter….

Luke 22:60-61
Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.  The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, …..
Lets back up….to the reference that set up the memory.

Luke 22: 31-34 Amp  

31 “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has demanded permission to sift[all of] you like grain; 32 but I have prayed [especially] for you [Peter],that your faith [and confidence in Me] may not fail; and you, once you have turned back again [to Me], strengthen and support your brothers[in the faith].” 33 And Peter said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death!” 34 Jesus said, “I say to you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will [utterly] deny three times that you know Me.”

Peter was so bold in declaring that Jesus didn’t have anything to worry about with him, because his faith… his belief in Him was so strong …. so firm…. that he was ready to go with Him to prison and to death!   ….. and yet…. when Jesus was arrested… and put in “prison”…. on trial…. and the chants in the crowd were to put Him to “death”… his flesh got the better of him and he did exactly what Jesus told him he would do!   Not once…. Not twice…. but 3 times Peter denied he ever even knew Him… and instantly…. when the rooster crowed….Jesus turned and looked at him…. which triggered the memory of that very moment … just a few short verses earlier.

The next verse….. Luke 22:62 is the verse I want to focus more on …. it says…. 62 And he went out and wept bitterly [deeply grieved and distressed].     
Peter… was so repentant that he went out and wept bitterly!!!    It hurt him deeply that he had betrayed Jesus…. by doing something that was totally opposite of what he had told Jesus He would do!  The reality of the situation he found himself in made him give way to the flesh.   The memory of that evening…. brought change from that moment forward and we know from the Word what  Peter did to further the Gospel and to do exactly what Jesus said….to strengthen and support your brothers[in the faith].

Judas on the other hand…. had a much different outcome.

I started to read his account in Matthew 27 but decided to back up a few verses to get a running start at this passage starting with Matthew 26 verse 6….    Now when Jesus was [back] in Bethany, at the home of  Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very expensive perfume and she poured it on Jesus’ head as He reclined at the table. But when the disciples saw it they were indignant and angry, saying, “Why all this waste [of money]? For this perfume might have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware [of the malice] of this [remark], said to them, “Why are you bothering the woman? She has done a good thing to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you will not always have Me. 12 When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, wherever this gospel [of salvation] is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her [for her act of love and devotion].”

Now look at the very next 2 verses….. 14 Then one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment Judas began looking for an opportune time to betray Jesus.

Could that have been the “last straw” for Judas…. who happened to be the keeper of the money bag?  Could he have been caught up in a greedy flesh moment that he went to the chief priests to get back at Jesus for being so wasteful… or… by keeping him from an opportunity to line his own pockets with a good deal of coins?

Judas’ betrayal was intentional…. and although I can’t see the word “Remember”  in the verses about him…. I am sure when he Realized what they were actually going to do to Jesus … to crucify Him… His memory of words spoken…  deeds He did for others…. kindness shown to him… like washing his feet during the last supper…. or…. was he remembering the words Jesus said at the very moment Jesus confronted him about his intended betrayal in verse 24!
Matthew 26: 20-21 20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved and extremely distressed, each one of them began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the bowl with Me [as a pretense of friendship] will betray Me.24 The Son of Man is to go [to the cross], just as it is written [in Scripture] of Him; but woe (judgment is coming) to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born. 25 And Judas, the betrayer, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”

The Amplified Bible describes his “remorse” in Matthew 27:3 like this….

When Judas, His betrayer, saw that [Jesus] was condemned, [Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and] with remorse [with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences] he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders,   Saying, I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. They replied, What is that to us? See to that yourself. And casting the pieces of silver [forward] into the [Holy Place of the sanctuary of the] temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself.

The memory Judas had of …but woe (judgment is coming) to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born  brought fear of consequences…. not true remorse and repentance…. and it made him take his own life….which may… or may not have been in Gods plan for his life.

Memories…. God gave us the ability to remember….. and quoting a scene from Lion King…When Rafiki finds Simba in the Jungle and tries to get him to come home…. but Simba is not sure…
He says…. I know what I have to do. But going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.
and then Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick!
Simba says…… Ow! Jeez, what was that for?
 …. and Rafiki replies…..It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.
Simba confirms that ……  Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki then gives the best line ever when he says……
Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.

Memories indeed can be a great stroll through happy days… but it can also be a long …. dark … lonely road of fear and regret….
Its your choice…. God ….has given us a way to set things right in 1st John 1:9….NLT   But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

And then….take what was said by Rafiki….  and LEARN from it!!!

A….. Is For Adultery……. Lesson 4

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Lesson 4 Brings us to the Letter A.
Again … there are many words that begin with A that might make us cry.  I have experienced several in my lifetime… such as:
Abuse….. Accusations…. Adultery…. Adversity……. Affliction….. Alienation…..Annoyances…. Affection…. Anointing …… Anything!!

Adultery….. is the word that kept coming back to me as I prayed over this lesson, even though I kept thinking…… these women don’t want to hear my story ….
and I don’t need to be bringing up old wounds.   But….  That is exactly the A word He wanted me to use, because He had a wider scope on Adultery He wanted to address.

Websters Defines Adultery as:
A Sexual encounter or relationship between a married person and someone other than their spouse.
Cheating…. infidelity….misconduct….two-timing…. unfaithfulness.

Many of us have felt the sting of Adultery.   The thing about Adultery is it not only affects those going through it personally…. but many on the outer edges of those involved  as well.   My life was turned upside down with not only the traditional form of Adultery committed by a spouse… but also a nontraditional form of having a friend who was two-faced and unfaithful in our friendship.

This friend …whom I spent many hours with…. went shopping with… ballgames of our boys with…. even church together…. ended up with an adulterous affair with my husband.   Its not the first in history I know…. many of you have had similar stories and the hurt cuts deep.  Adultery rips and tears hearts and lives apart…. even in a world that is now callous to faithfulness.

18 years ago is when my story began.    I was a fairly new Christian of about 5-6 years.  I was a new Momma for the second time…. and I was attending a Bible Study on Mondays where I was filled with the Holy Spirit.   I had just lost my Dad to Cancer when it started back up…. and needless to say…. really rocked my already shaken life.  Things began to escalate with the uncertainty of my circumstances.   I believed that God wanted to heal my marriage… and yet… I was bombarded with so many arrows flying at my head and my heart as well as my spirit!

My Heart…. was broken!   I tried to hold on to the hope for a year….but I just no longer could keep believing for the miracle of reconciliation.  I began to lose who I was and didn’t recognize who I had become.  To the outside world… it looked as though I was the same happy woman I had always been… but to those close to me… knew I was becoming battle worn.
I finally made the decision to file for divorce.   One thing my Pastor had told me when I finally talked to him about it…. was that the filing of divorce is not when divorce happens….. it happened the first time he stepped out on me.   Not that that made it any easier to file…. but it seemed to be what I needed to push on through.

Many nights… in my little chair…. in my house…. behind closed doors…. I cried.  I felt like such a failure!  I felt as though I had failed as a wife…. why would he have an affair after he told me on our wedding day he could “forsake all others”?    Was there something I could have done differently?    Was I not pretty enough?  Smart enough?  Why?

I felt like I was a failure at being a mom!   I had already been divorced once before and I wanted to just do it “right” this time.  You know… the happy American family…. with a Mom and a Dad… and 2 kids… going to family things together.   I wanted my youngest to be able to have his parents sitting together at ballgames and school functions together…. and now… just like with my oldest son…. we would all show up in different cars…. set in different sections of the gym…. and one of us would go home….. alone.

….. and of course… I felt like I had failed my God!   Did I not pray long enough….. believe hard enough…. have enough Faith?    Did I give up too soon?   Oh…. how God must have been so disappointed in me!
I remember one evening in particular …. feeling ALL of the weight of what was happening…. feeling ALL of the emotions of being Abandoned… and of course those thoughts of being a failure in every area of my life.   I sat in my recliner…. VERY emotional…. TEARS and sobs filled my night of loneliness.  The TV was on…. and an episode of  Touched By An Angel was playing.   I prayed…. God… I am so sorry… I know I have failed you and you are very disappointed in me…. and then…. Andrew…. the “death Angel”…. began to minister to a lady who was dying.   The camera panned up to his face…. and it was as though he was in my room… looking directly at me when he said….
God wanted me to tell you…. that He is not disappointed in you….He is pleased with you…. and He loves you very much!

Ok… NOW the Tears are multiplied…. but this time… they are more of a Thankful kind of a Tear.   I had hope again… and I knew that God had spoke a Word directly to me… through a secular TV show!   Isn’t He AWESOME!!!  God ALWAYS shows up …. right when I needed Him most to remind me of His promise that He would never leave me or forsake me….  No matter how it felt…. His promise was and IS true!
Hebrews 13:5 AMP…… for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!

 

Then….I began to do some digging in my Bible about Adultery …..when I cam across Hosea.

In the 2nd verse of the 1st chapter Hosea God told Hosea….. “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution.   This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”
So he married a woman named Gomer.
I searched the meaning of Gomer and found a definition in Biblegateway that said it meant “completion,” that is, the filling up of the measure of idolatry, or ripeness of consummate wickedness. Her name was indicative of the wholesale adultery and idolatry of the kingdom she represented.
Interesting!
In Chapter 5….  the Scripture says she either must have returned… or maybe never truly left her “old ways”.

Chapter 2:5-8  
She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen,  and for olive oil and drinks.’
“For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.  I will block her path with a wall to make her lose her way
When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think,
‘I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.’ She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has—
the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold.
   But she gave all my gifts to Baal.

This passage of Scripture gets me everytime I read it.   I read it in my Spiritual walk with God this way.
God…. I don’t trust you to take care of my every need.  I need to go out and find other resources to gain bigger homes… newer cars…. fuller closets… finer foods…deeper wallets…!   I will let you take care of the day to day things… the little necessities…or call on you when something Big comes up… but in the meantime…I am going to run after these things the world has to offer… but… you know  I’ll be home on Sunday so we can see each other then!

Haven’t we all been guilty of this… at least to some degree?   I know I have.  And… like Gomer… God has fenced me in when I get that way… blocking my path to those things …. simply to get my attention.   Things begin to seem like they are getting harder… the bills pile up… things breakdown.. and I just cant seem to get my hands on anything fun anymore…. and… Just like Gomer…I have been quilty of saying… “I might as well turn to God… and Pray … and trust Him…because I was better off with Him than I am now.”
Put like that… it really breaks my heart that I would have ever done that to my God.  The ONE person who loves me unconditionally….and cares about every part of my life and who was and is the source of everything good I have or have ever had in my life… and I…. gave credit to everyone and everything else instead of Him!

But… look at verse 14…   “But then I will win her back once again.  I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.
God… waits until we are in our “desert” …those dry places where we have nothing else to distract us… and THEN… He speaks tenderly to us.   He doesn’t yell… He doesn’t scold!
He reassures…. He teaches… He corrects…. He LOVES!
When we mess up…. when we find ourselves some place we aren’t supposed to be…. God  … through the Blood of Jesus has given us another promise…
1st John 1:9 If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose.

Hosea 3:1-2
Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them. 
So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine…..

Hosea… was told to go buy his wife back…. even though… she had committed Adultery with another lover.  The exact thing that God did for us…. through Jesus ….Romans 5:8 But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.    Even though…. we were adulterers with the world… God loved us … and bought us back!
The price Hosea paid to get Gomer back…. was the price of a “slave”.   Jesus…..was sold out… for the price of “a slave”!  

Adultery….
It can bring us to TEARS……It can break many hearts…. and it also breaks God’s heart!

To wrap up….I found this one last passage I wanted to share with you….to give you something to think about ….and which should ….. be an eye opener for all of us!

Hosea 4:1-3 NLT
    …..The Lord has brought charges against you, saying:
“There is no faithfulness, no kindness,
    no knowledge of God in your land.
You make vows and break them;
    you kill and steal and commit adultery.
There is violence everywhere—
    one murder after another.
That is why your land is in mourning,
    and everyone is wasting away.
Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky,
    and the fish of the sea are disappearing

 

James 4: 4 NLT    You adulterers!  Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

 

E……Is For Endings…… Lesson 3

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The Letter “E” is our next lesson in the series of T.E.A.R.S.

A few words that could draw a tear are:
Endings….. Emptiness…. Embarrassment…… Enemies…. Enduring…. Evil…. Eviction…..Exasperation….. Excluded…. Edification…. Encouragement…. Exonerated ….

The word Emotions itself begins with “E”
Happy Emotions…. Sad Emotions… Excited…..Mad…
Emotions can grab us out of no where sometimes… and how we “react” to them can vary.   Me?…. well I seem to have an abundance of tears in reserve and it certainly
doesn’t take much for the floodgates to open and flow freely.

Endings ….however…. is the E word I felt God wanted me to use.      If…. there is a beginning … there will always be…. an ending!
Example…. movies.   I really don’t like to got to watch a movie in a theater very much….. oh… I like the atmosphere…. the fullness of the surround sound that seems to go all through you…. and of course… movie popcorn with extra butter!!!   What I don’t like about it,  is it really doesn’t matter if it is a love story… action film… or a cartoon…. I almost ALWAYS cry at some point in the movie!  And if it is one of those real tear jerkers… you can only imagine what I look like when the lights come on when you don’t even leave the house to get the mail without Mascara and Eyeliner.   If you still don’t get the picture…. lest just say…. “it ain’t pretty!”

I remember when my son was younger, his favorite movie was Air Bud.   We must have watched that movie a 100 times…. and yet…. EVERYTIME he yelled at Buddy to go away….. and then threw the ball so he could run back to the boat…. leaving that sad little dog just watching …. wondering why he was left…. I BAWLED….. even though… I KNEW in 5 minutes he would come strolling in on the basketball court.  And then lets not forget the ones that had really sad endings…. like My Girl…. or The Green Mile!   Lets just say… I was glad I was home… behind closed doors and windows and next to the Kleenex and makeup remover!

Embryo    (Because Babies doesn’t start with the Letter “E”)
New born babies make me cry too!!   There is just something about those sweet little things that just touch my heart and apparently my heart is attached directly to those darn tear ducts!
Their beginning…. will begin to set off a continues stream of beginnings…. and …. endings.

As Mommas…. we are totally wrapped up in those little ones’ life!   When they are happy…. we are happy…. when they are sad…. we are sad…. when they cry… yep…. we cry!
When they go off to school…. Kindergarten…. we cry…. for their beginning…. but at our ending of those precious toddler years.

When they graduate from High School…. We cry…. at their beginning of being an adult…. but at our ending of our nurturing role as a parent.

Then they get married…. we cry…. at their beginning of a new role in the adult world of husband and or wife…. but the ending of being the only woman possessing their heart.

….. and when they have their first baby….. we cry…. at the beginning of their parental status…. and the ending of yet another closed chapter in ours.
Beginnings…. and …. endings… bring lots of tears!

Another ending for some of us has to do with Divorce.    Our beautiful…. happy ever after dream beginning…. ended in a ugly…. night mare ending.  I shed many tears during the nearly 2 years of struggling to keep my marriage from ending in a statistic.  I prayed…. confessed…. believed…. and tried to be who I thought he wanted me to be, only to find out that once I was there….. it was never satisfactory to him and to me…. well… I had almost forgotten who I really was.    So…. I filed for divorce…. and now… I found myself… “Estranged”…. “Empty” and “Exhausted”!

But …. God never left me.  He walked me through ever step.  Even when I felt like I was a complete failure and was a disappointment to Him… He would remind me through things like a song on the radio…. words from my child….or even a TV show.    I remember when I was having a super bad night… and Touched By An Angel was on.  Andrew (the death Angel) was preparing to take a woman home who was dying in an alley.   The camera panned to his face and as he was telling her… he was looking me in the eye and said… God wants me to tell you… He loves you very much and He is not disappointed in you!!   Oh my!!!   God touched my heart …. which we recently concluded has a direct connection to my tear ducts … in a big way!

And of course…. Life…. if life has a beginning…. Life has and ending…. which we call …. death.
Not all of us may go through some of the previous “endings” I have talked about …. but everyone of us will at some point in our life …. experience the ending of life of someone we love.

Our family had a streak of deaths for awhile in the ’90s.   One of those was my dad.   My dad… suffered with prostate cancer for almost 2 years and the last few days were extremely hard.  The last day of his life seemed to be the longest for all of us… as he experienced many hours of extreme pain…then some kind of a seizure….. followed by a stroke…. and then he slipped into a coma before he took his last breath.

The tears I shed…. was for the ending of his life…. a life cut way too short … in a very cruel… cruel way!   A life… that would no longer be there to share in all of the joys…sorrows…. the beginnings and endings with the rest of us.   But…. our ending…. was only his …. beginning!!   You see… just a few months before he died… he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior!!    So his beautiful beginning of everlasting life with our Heavenly Father…. ended…. his pain … his sorrow… and his suffering!

Ecclesiastes 7:8 AMP
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it.

Revelation 21:4
God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain anymore, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up  death (in victory; He will abolish death forever) and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; and the reproach of His people He will take away from off all the earth; for the Lord has spoken it.

 

 

“T”….. Is For Trials….. Lesson 2

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Lets think of some words that start with  “T” …. that could make us cry?
Taunting….Tattlers….. Taxes….. Temptations…. Terrors….. Theft……. Tombs….. Torment…. Torture….. Traitors…… Travailing…. Tired….Tribulation…. Trouble….

Many others that I could have listed or …. many that you are thinking of that haven’t even crossed my mind but are very high up on your list of “T” words for Tears.

The “T” word however, that God gave me was Trials.
Websters definition is:
A TEST of the quality, value or usefulness of something
A TEST of someones ability to do something
A TEST of Faith, patience, or stamina through subjection to suffering or temptation.

The word TEST was in all of those definitions and I dont know about you…. but I have never been a fan of TESTS!
Have you thought about those trials you are…. or have gone through…. as a test?    Really… when you think about it…. that is exactly what they have been.   Those tests… those trials have made you who you are today…. who you will be tomorrow!   Look back….can’t you say that…. TODAY…. you are much… Much  stronger than you were before the trial?   A lot more wiser?   How about your Faith?   Hasn’t it grown some deeper roots?!?!?

Like most of you… I have had my share of trials throughout my soon to be 53 years on this earth.   When you ask me about those trials…. many times I will refer to the “adult” trials I have had…. but… one “trial” when I was a kid was probably the one that really set my journey of character building into motion…. and I had no idea until just a few months ago the impact it had on me.
I think I had pushed it out of my carousel of memories and thought I could just forget it…. but with it being brought back to the forefront of my mind lately… I believe it is what God wanted me to bring up in this lesson.

I am really not sure how old I was when this happened…. I really am not sure the exact “how” “when” and “why” it happened.   The one thing I DO remember… is the long lasting sting that continued to happen all through my Grade School, Jr. High School and even through High School.
Living out in the country as I was growing up…. I was a “bus kid”and was close to the last picked up… and the last dropped off.   The ride probably was 30-45 minutes long…. and sometimes felt like 4-5 hours.   Most of the time there was a few people we could talk and laugh with… and if some of my friends weren’t on …. I could always try to do some of my homework… or just gaze out the window…. watching the poles go by.

The older you got… the farther to the back of the bus you got to sit.  That… of course is where the older… “cool” kids were.   Like I said… I still have no memory of how old I was…. but apparently one of the High School Boys must have pulled my hair.    It must have been bad enough…. because…. I really wasn’t a touchy kid… that after I got home… I must have began to cry….. and that is when my parents must have called the school.
My life…. began to change from that moment on!   The “cool” kid was kicked off the bus…. and I … inherited a new nick name….. Miss Priss…. Prissy….. Priss Priss Priss Priss Priss!   From that day on… the bus ride to … and from school always had a chant of some sort ….. with my new name attached to it.   It never really let up all through my school “career”…. although the last of the “cool” kids of that era graduated a year ahead of me… which meant my SR year was a bit less “colorful” on the bus ride home.

Looking back…. I know I shed many tears over that.  I never could understand how I got “punished” for something that someone else had done!   I was a kid… 10-12 years old I’m sure.   A girl.   Not a threat.   Not mean.   But nevertheless… I was singled out and Taunted and Tormented!   That Trial… that TEST… came to break me.   In many ways it did… but in even greater ways… it only made me more resilient and stronger!   It came to make me cower down…. and to never speak out on in justice for myself… and even others!   For a time… I suppose it did… but with all of the other “Trials” I have gone through since then… I am not that person the devil wanted me to be!

God had plans for me.   He protected me through many of those situations…. mentally, physically, and Spiritually!   I had great parents that I knew had my back….. and I made it through!
In the ’70’s….. “bullying” was not as mean spirited as it is today!    Bullying …. also was not as tolerated either…. because even the kids who did step into that roll… knew…  it was wrong… and had parents that would not have supported that kind of behavior.

Trials…. come….to test… test our Faith… not only for God…. but for ourselves… they not only show God your faith is genuine… but also proves to yourself… how genuine your faith is!!!
Go through your Trials… with your head up … as best you can… shed a few… or a lot of tears… but keep on keeping on through it.   It is only for a season… only for a “little while”… and when you come out of it… you will be like the man in the story below!!
James 1:2-3
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.  Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace].

1st Peter 1: 6-7
 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Acts 20: 19
I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews.
Trials…. I often think of this story  below …when I wonder … why … we have to go through some things..

The Unmoved Rock

 Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure.

These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. “Why kill myself over this?” he thought. “I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough.” And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. I, my child, will now move the rock.”

Source unknown

 

 

 

T. E. A. R. S. Lesson 1

eqypt_set[1]About a year ago God began to stir a Lesson plan in me.   Our church has Sunday School classes that run in 6 week sessions and it has been about 2 years since I took on a class.  He gave the idea as I was driving to work one morning and I knew it would be done….. someday.   I tried to get it to fall into place for a year…. and I only got the “outline” of what it would be and never the “lessons” to go with it.
Then about a month ago one of our Pastors was filling in for a Sunday School teacher who was on a mission trip ….and basically called me out…. in his sneaky little way… that I should do a session coming up!   Ok God…. I heard you loud and clear…. NOW was the time to do the series.   I contacted him and told him I would do this or next session… which ever he needed me to do…. and bam…. I am on the schedule for 2 weeks from now!

The subject….. T. E. A. R. S.

Yes…. just like that…..   T. E. A. R. S.

Each week we are going through what causes Tears…. by letter.   But the first lesson…. THIS lesson… is a foundation lesson.

Tears….. What are Tears?
Websters defines a tear as:
1. a drop of clear Saline fluid secreted by the Lacrimal gland and diffused between the eye and the eyelids to moisten the parts and facilitate their motiton.
b. (plural) a Secretion of profuse tears that overflow the eyelids and dampen the face.
2. a transparent drop of fluid
3. (plural) an act of weeping or grieving

Very Sterile…. mechanical definition … non…. emotional.

Medically… we know that tears also have an important function to not only keep our eyes moist so they move properly and smoothly and keep them healthy…. but when we get a foreign object, an irritant in our eye…. the tears help to just wash them away!    Not only is it “water” but it is “salt” water…!  Saline!   Saline… is used to wash out wounds!  Saline…. is a cleansing agent as well as a healing agent!   How cool is that … that God would make a tear… out of Saline…. because another benefit from tears…. or crying…. is that it can stimulate the production of endorphins, which is our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones!   In other words… It can “cleanse” ….our hearts!   That’s why a good cry IS sometimes… just what the Dr. ordered !

In Psalms 56:8 NLT says:
You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

I absolutely LOVED that scripture the moment I first read it.   It takes on a whole new meaning of how tender and attentive God is to us!
I mean if we thought Matthew 10:29-31 that says …. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows….. then how AWESOME is it to know that God… our Father God…. not only sees … but keeps track of ALL my sorrows….and collects ALL my tears…. and records EACH ONE in His book!!
How absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

I read an article on Tear bottles….History shows large amounts of small bottles were discovered in tombs which were believed they were part of the mourning ritual.   As a sign of honor…. mourners would shed tears in a bottle to leave in the tombs of the more nobel people and Egyptian Pharaohs tombs.   Some believe “professional mourners” were paid to fill up bottles to create a bigger impact at the funerals.

In more modern times….soldiers going off to war would leave their wives or new brides with a tear bottle…..in hopes that the bottles would be full when they returned…. which would signifying their wives devotion.   Many ….  lives however…..were lost.  They also said that on the anniversary of the first year of their loved one’s death, the widows would go to the grave and sprinkle those tears on the grave to signify the end of the first year of mourning.  This tradition of the tear bottle for mourning seemed to be  both helpful for remembering their lost loved one and also as a way of healing!

The other Scripture that lead to this lesson is found in Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever!

This tells me … that not only does God see … and record… and keep every tear we have shed on Earth… but when we get to Heaven… He will be up close and personal to each of us.
Can’t you see Him?   Like a Mother or a Father…. taking their child’s face in their hands…. and with their thumbs…. they  gently and tenderly wipe each tear from their eyes!
THAT is the God I serve.   He LOVES me…. He loves YOU!!!   He is a loving, gentle God that we can call …. Father….. Abba….Daddy!   It is THAT God …. that will wipe away EVERY tear from our eyes and their will be NO MORE death…. sorrow…. crying… or pain!   FOREVER!

How many tear bottles do I have in Heaven I wonder?
In 53 years… I have definitely filled my share….. and I am most certain…. my collection is not complete.
But…. what I do know… is this… Not one…. no… NOT ONE…. has slipped past my Daddy God.   How do I know… ?

Psalms 56:8    You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

…and another confirmation of how much He Loves and Cares about us…..

1 peter 5:7  AMP
 casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].