Cancer: A Word that Strikes Terror – by Joanie Shawhan

Cancer.

I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have a loved one (or themselves) experienced the disease.  I greatly respect those who have fought, and admire those who won.

Here is a winner – in attitude and heart as well:

Word Girls September Post #3 – Joanie Shawhan

 

Are there certain words that trigger pressure in your chest or tightness in your throat?

 

For me, that word is cancer.

 

I am an ovarian cancer survivor.

 

My Story

 

During the summer of 2006, Every time I had another bout of nausea, I brushed thoughts of ovarian cancer from my mind. Surely these spells were too infrequent to be cancer.

 

But in September, I rolled over in bed and felt a grapefruit-size mass in my abdomen. I closed my eyes and dismissed the whispers of ovarian cancer.

 

Several weeks later, I almost shot off the table when my physical therapist palpated my spine to isolate the location of my back pain. It’s not in my back, it’s jabbing through my abdomen!

 

My gynecologist suspected a uterine fibroid and ordered an ultrasound. Even in the dark room, I saw the ultrasound tech lock her eyes on mine. Something is seriously wrong.

 

Gripping the ultrasound report in her hand, my doctor said, “You have ovarian cancer, the size of a cantaloupe.” She rattled off all that needed done—scheduling tests and surgery. I barely heard her words. Was she talking to me?

 

When I walked into the hospital on surgery day, I exchanged my scrubs and nurse shoes for tieback gowns and skid-free slipper socks. The surgeon removed a volleyball-size tumor—ovarian cancer.

 

Today, I am cancer-free. During my treatment, I lost myself to ovarian cancer, but in losing myself, I found a new purpose and calling. Today I have an encouragement ministry to women undergoing chemotherapy. I advocate for and educate women and healthcare professionals regarding ovarian cancer. I write articles so that other women won’t put off getting checked out if they have any signs or symptoms, like I did.

 

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all female cancers. The symptoms women experience prior to diagnosis may be vague or similar to other diseases. This causes some doctors to rule out other causes before they discover ovarian cancer, which is why it is often not diagnosed until later stages.

 

Contact your doctor if the following symptoms of ovarian cancer persist:

 

·      Gastrointestinal symptoms:

Bloating, indigestion, nausea, feeling full or loss of appetite

·      Pelvic or low back pressure or pain

·      Urinating more frequently

·      Changes in bowel patterns

·      Tired or low energy

 

Ovarian cancer used to be called the silent killer, but survival rates are high if discovered in the early stages. Learn from my story. Will you listen for the whispers of ovarian cancer?

 

 

About the Author:

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes encouraging articles for women undergoing chemotherapy. Her publishing credits include Coping with Cancer magazine and God Still Meets Needs. She speaks to medical practitioners in the Survivors Teaching Students program. Check out her blog at www.joanieshawhan.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Proposal for An Improved Marriage – by Lori Lipsky

Ken and I generally have vastly different reading tastes, but we do enjoy reading commentaries together!  Our current read is Romans by Montgomery Boice –

I found Lori Lipsky’s marital reading journey interesting. I think you will enjoy it too!

 

September Word Girl Blog 2 – Lori Lipsky

 

For the first time in our marriage, we decided to read a book at the same time so we could discuss it together. Credit for the idea goes to my husband, but I was excited about the plan and in total agreement with our book choice.

 

My husband had once asked a well-read acquaintance we both respect to reccommend several books that had been most influential in his life. One of the authors this man mentioned was Dostoevsky. We decided to choose Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I’m a bit ashamed to admit what happened next.

 

I could make excuses, but the quick truth is my husband read the book right away and then patiently waited for years for me to complete it. I started in several times but got bogged down in the early pages by the long Russian names. Prior to this I had read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and some Chekhov stories so I’m not sure why I struggled. I guess I allowed myself to be distracted by life and by other books, and I put off the Dostoevsky. As I look back, I regret not making The Brothers Karamazov more of a priority. I eventually purchased an audio copy of the book and completed the novel.

 

After I finished listening to the book, we shared our impressions with one another. Remarkably, my husband remembered details of the book quite well. Since then, we’ve read or listened to dozens of books and discussed them. We have different tastes, but our interests intersect with authors like David McCullough, Louise Penny, and David Baldacci. When it’s time to order another Audible book, we’ll sometimes collaborate to choose a selection we agree on so we can both listen on our own, but then have the book in our shared reading history.

 

Our book talk is informal and brief, but it’s a treat to talk books with my husband. We’ve found discussing books often sparks interesting conversation. Good books teach me more about who I am, but each new book we share helps me learn more about my spouse, too. We’re learning together as a couple. We discuss dreams and ideas. Books get us talking, and in marriage, communication is a good thing.

 

About the Author:

Lori Lipsky is a writer and teacher. Her poetry and short fiction pieces have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she teaches piano at a private music school. You can find her at lorilipsky.com and on Twitter @LoriSLipsky

 

 

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Peace, Where are You?

My sister, Marvel, is right.

She is the one in the midst of the storm, or about to be.  Here I am over a thousand miles away, having my own storm over her safety.

Hers and so many others. America is being bombarded on so many sides, and so is my heart – dear friends in Texas are recovering from their hurricane, more out west are struggling to breathe and workers are beyond exhausted fighting wildfires.  A recent message from a missionary friend west of Honduras is surrounded with an earthquake on one side, and three hurricanes on the other.

And my sister, and several other relatives and friends near my heart are in Florida, where hurricane Irma is apparently heading.

Many are praying, some are fleeing – some are waiting – most are preparing – and some, perhaps many, like my sister are saying stop stressing. It is in God’s hands.

Ephesians 6:13 (message) says: Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Peace?

Yes, my sister has peace, and she is right.

Now is the time to apply our faith – to let it activate us!   What does activated faith look like?

 

  1. Eyes wide open – preparing in wisdom – doing all that is in your power to prepare to protect yourself and others (and that includes prayer and fasting!)
  2. Let – God – give you ongoing peace. We can only share what we have. Peace, where are you?  In God’s Word – under His wings – in His promises – in His sufficiency – in His power
  3. Last things first – There is always a real potential to meet eternity, but never does it seem so possible as when in the eye of a storm. If you don’t have that settled (Marvel does) do it now.  If you KNOW that you are ready to meet God, do you know how to share that truth with others? God’s Truth Unlimited has a simple explanation.

And so, I continue with many of you, also – praying, fasting, for those who have peace, for those who yet do not, for those who will – through the storm.

Are you prepared for the storm?  Are you prepared to help others through the storm and after the storm?

Peace, where are you?   As close as your heart.

 

Jesus said, Behold, I stand at the door, knocking

Will you open the door so you can have that peace?  I am praying for you, that you will have peace and for those with whom you will share how to have peace in the coming days.

If you want to know that peace…

Click here

 

 

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Where Does that Grin Come From? by Kathy Carlton Willis

Word Girls September Blog 1:  Kathy Carlton Willis

I’m often asked, “How can you keep grinning despite the challenges in your life? It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the God in whom I put my trust. Knowing “He’s got this” helps me carry on (in hope) rather than to carry on (complain)!

 

Grinning instead of grimacing comes from the discipline of thinking on glorious victorious thoughts outside the current stinky situation.

First I get my imaginary lariat out and wrangle those negative thoughts that attempt to defeat me.

 

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)

 

Once I evict those destructive thoughts, I fill the void with healthful and helpful thoughts. Thoughts that line up with the mind of Christ.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. …Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8b-9 NLT)

 

If I practice this passage in Philippians, it might look something like this. I’m going to fix my thoughts on what is:

 

  • True: I remember the extreme way God answered my prayer to provide for our family.
  • Honorable: I’m blown away by the way that writer stays humble when others try to put her on a pedestal.
  • Right: I respect the decision this politician made to choose an unpopular but godly path.
  • Pure: How precious the gift of life is when I see photos of the much prayed for Lyla.
  • Lovely: How beautiful are the wildflowers dressing up that field.
  • Admirable: I see integrity in the choice Russ made to not malign a wrongdoer.
  • Excellent: I respect how she endures through her weight-training routine.
  • Worthy of praise: God’s faithfulness is something I can count on.

 

Are you having a hard time grinning this week? What will your fix list look like?

 

About the Author:

God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a popular speaker and writer’s coach. Read her book, Grin with Grace, or find more information at: http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.

P.S. from Delores – Kathy is one on my most-admired list.  Her grin-with-grace attitude is currently on view despite multiple serious physical challenges and as a Hurricane Harvey refugee/survivor. It’s a blessing to hang with someone who inspires me to walk the talk and activate the faith!

 

Grin with Grace available at Amazon and wherever quality books are sold!

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New Things!

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 – ESV

I am excited!  Lots of new things are happening over here.

—I met Amy Newmark, Publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul Books!

Amy hosted dinner at a fun Italian Restaurant in Wheeling IL for 24 contributors to Chicken Soup books.

—I’ve recently been accepted as a speaker for Christian Women’s Club/Women’s Connection/After5!  

A half-dozen dates have been scheduled already in Wisconsin. I’ll also be speaking in other states.

 

—A talented writer friend is revamping my Website/Blog. As soon as I get her the rest of the prose she needs, you will see new things here!

I’m especially excited how God took care of the four part-time jobs (only one left that is a couple hours a week) and provided for new ministry opportunities. I was uncertain with stopping the other part-time jobs how I could afford the next step I felt led to take (conference and coaching). I’d been to a speakers group and a writers meeting and when I got home that night and went to retrieve my electronics out my tote bag there was a huge surprise someone left for me –funds that answered prayer and provided for the next new things:

I’m a Word Girl! I’ve been praying about this group since attending a “Getaway” – mini-conference and coaching retreat – in northern Wisconsin last fall. It was one of the most reasonably priced conferences I’d attended, with personalized coaching that helped me reach several long-time goals. Kathy Carlton Willis leads the Word Girls gatherings as well as an application-based year-long coaching/mentoring group with some super talented, friendly and encouraging ladies. I am honored to be a part of this group.

This month – each Tuesday – I’ll be featuring a devotional from one of the Word Girls! I hope you will enjoy meeting a few of my talented new friends.

Please leave a comment, and feel free to visit their blogs and websites too.

Delores

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Putting ON – Health

Despite deadlines, plans, hopes, dreams, life happens. For me it was a concussion and a knee injury, so now in addition to writing, speaking and fulfilling part-time jobs, I am on a course to regain health.

 

Today’s video-conference with a health coach, made me realize how similar this path is to the Put-on —Put-off principle in the Bible, (building Christ-like character) and my writing tagline of Activating Faith.

 

Rather than sloughing-off the external symptoms of inner decay – to “try” to break the old habit or mask its symptoms hoping to make room for the new, God’s Word directs us to the formula in James 4:7: “Submit, therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

  1. Submit to God. (Put ON)
  2. Resist the devil (Put OFF)
  3. and he will flee from you.

 

Yep, it’s humiliating to admit I need help and to submit to godly counsel, but it’s also liberating because I know how many times I’ve ‘done it myself’ and failed or reached that temporary goal and quit. The past months and resulting physical weakness have been defeating and confining. I needed help to round out the physical therapy treatments and establish sustainable new habits and strength.

 

In scripture to Put Off is not so much To take off or discard as in put off a sweater, but more so to repel or repulse; and Put ON is not merely to cover, To clothe oneself with; as to put on a coat, but To apply; activate: put on the brakes.

 

Are we (Have I been) getting it backward?

With my health as any other area of my life, the Put On – Put Off principle is for breaking the chains that bind us. I’ve been feeding emotions since January: mostly healthily, but a bit too abundantly. The chorus of a favorite song* has become my prayer:

 

I don’t want to be bound

To anyone but You, Master

I don’t want any chains on me

But the bonds of Your love

*by permission (Rob Bryceson, Timothy Jones & Steve Mills © 1994, 1990 – Little Peach Music, Inc. CCLI # : 565609 )

 

Our chains (habits, hurts, emotions, weaknesses, thoughts, desires, i.e. sins) are fierce captors that hold us – bind us – and keep us from fully experiencing the bonds of freedom in the love of Jesus Christ.

Thousands of failures who’ve “tried” on their own to – (Put OFF) – break free of their captors, line the paths to innumerable sites offering quick fixes. Generations have been passed the torches of guilt, depression, low self-esteem and even suicide. We’ve limited God to our understanding and thus limited our own access to (Put ON) His unlimited power.

When we apply the biblical principle to PUT ON – (the inner man is built up by the laws of God, and the worldly veneer (the outer man), like snakeskin, will slough off.

We are such habit-dependent enablers that many small changes can go unnoticed until we have a relapse and then realize how all things really are becoming new. Shortly after I was diagnosed celiac and had begun eliminating wheat, I ordered a salad not realizing the chicken would be battered. In a hurry, I ate it and shortly experienced the side effects of not activating the wisdom of the new diet.

Now activating in the health challenges- Putting on – new habits of

Rest/Sleep

Hydrating

Consuming for health – rather than for emotion

Activity (though currently very limited, accountability should increase the faithfulness)

Join me, would you, for the next 60 days? I’m excited to see what will happen while submitted to the guidance of God’s Word and the great coaches provided.

 

What can you PUT ON that will add physical, spiritual, or emotional health?

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DUH – Do You Not Get it?

DUH? Do You Not Know? – Sometimes reading the Bible makes me laugh out loud, the message is so clear and just what one of my sisters would say to me.

Honestly, some days, like my sisters, or a patient parent or teacher, God sighs, and asks me, do you not get it… did you not read this… were you not listening?

Quite often when I read the passage again in a different version (below is The Message) then I understand it. I see afresh what, in familiarity, I glossed over before.

A few samples:

Isaiah 40:28

 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9

 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.

 

2 Chronicles 32:13

Do you have any idea what I and my ancestors have done to all the countries around here? Has there been a single god anywhere strong enough to stand up against me?

 

 

Isaiah 40: 21 – Have you not been paying attention?
    Have you not been listening?
Haven’t you heard these stories all your life?
Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?

 

 

Ezekiel 17:12-

 God’s Message came to me: “Tell this house of rebels, ‘Do you get it? Do you know what this means?’

 

How very patient God is, as I stumble through the same lesson again and again. He does not whine or complain, or punish, just lovingly waits for her to ‘get it.

I imagine God’s dismay like a statue I once saw. It was a guardian angel, slapping her palm to forehead – as if in unbelief that her charge could be so dense.

 

And once again I hear the conversation:

 

Delores! I can’t believe you’d do that again…you knows better – or at least I thought you did…

 

Delores! How many times…

 

Duh!

 

Don’t you know…haven’t you heard?

 

Have you ever experienced that?

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Decluttering the closet and the heart

27 Hangars and My Heart — Christ’s Home.

What do those two have in common? Well, part of decluttering my closet has been the 27 hangars challenge is to declutter down to only those basics that bring you joy. When I looked at how many hangars were really in my closet I got to thinking about a favorite little booklet by Robert Munce – My Heart Christ’s Home. (order here)

Munce encourages us to think of our heart like a home and to go room by room (where we live, eat, read, watch, etc.) to either declutter, or, hopefully, to unashamedly open the door to each room to God’s view and control.

 

Plenty more  to remove from those rooms than my closet -especially the heart closet and the junk drawer!

 

Colossians 3: 12-14 tells what clothing should be left in my spiritual closet after decluttering:

Compassion

Kindness

Humility

Meekness

Patience

and above all

Love

Which binds everything together

 

Compassion first because the climate in any discussion changes when we start looking and listening from the others’ viewpoint.

 

Kindness also provides a safe place – a platform where we can dialogue, converse, disagree and discover. Tweet that.

 

 

Humility is the third to encourage considering others’ needs before our own. That includes forgiving when we know we are right or know we have been wronged because life is about more than us – and more than who is right or wrong.

 

Meekness is knowing your strength and how and when not to use it – again in deference to and protection of the weak and fragile.

 

Patience – because we will need to do all of the above over and over again to develop those basics to where they come naturally

 

And above all – love (agape love) which is described in the original language as goodwill ands shown especially in the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety

 

(Webster’s dictionary defines goodwill as:  a kindly feeling of approval and support :  benevolent interest or concern) is a first choice of action

No wonder it holds the other virtues together.

 

As you know I am a last things first person, so the first focus for me needs to be that one that holds all the others together – goodwill – that state of voluntarily wishing well for another. Imagine the difference if discussions, business deals, relationships, are entered into with a voluntary first choice of action to support and benefit the other person!

 

We could all preface life’s many emotional actions (or the usual re-actions) with a statement my husband made during our engagement. He said he always wanted what was best for me and never to hurt me. But he was human, and was bound to disappoint or hurt me in the course of life, and if (or when) that happened, he hoped I would understand and forgive. His first choice to establish our relationship on that basis freed me several years later when he had a very bad day. I knew then I had a choice – to snarl back or to remember my first love. When I gulped and asked him how about if we forget this ever happened, he breathed out a big sigh and thank you and we went on – just as if it never happened.

 

Do you see what that is a picture of? Justification! (Our sins forgiven and forgotten – just-as-if-it-never-happened) the unchanging basics accenting the love that ties it all together.

 

That’s what a decluttered closet (or heart) looks like!

 

How many hangars in your closet?

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After Loss of a Child – Never-Ending Grief; Never-Ending Peace

I met a woman today whose daughter died in a winter accident decades ago. Each time there is a family occasion, she shared, she experiences the loss and grief all over again. I don’t think it (grieving) is ever over, she concluded.

I understood and agreed. It’s not that the grieving ends, but that we become accustomed to it as part of our life. (Tweet that)Our new normal.

Living with grief is our new normal. Fortunately we also were both grateful for the other part of our new normal – the  peace of knowing we will see our daughters again. That peace never goes away either.

 

The good memories are also there, of course, to review and relive from day-to-day. It seems we are forced just by the daily necessities of life, to continue on – to experience the present and to remind ourselves to continue in hope for the future.

 

Thankfully, God also gives us never-ending resources that enable ‘continuing on’.

 

God’s Word – alive and powerful – activating our faith and our hope as often as we read it (not reading the Word each day is like driving the car without gas or oil).

Eternal Life – John 10: 27-28 and I John 5: 11-13 says we can KNOW we have eternal life. Both the woman I spoke of earlier and I were comforted to remember our daughters reassuring us of their faith shortly before their passing.

 

His presence = Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6 – God promised to never leave us (or our daughters, or any who claim Christ as savior).

 

Our needs – Philippians 4:19 – God continues to provide emotional, spiritual and physical needs, and each time I naturally reach for the phone to tell my daughter, I am reminded she already knows because she too has experienced this and awaits complete deliverance and reunion with her loved ones.

 

Sufficient Grace – II Corinthians 12:9 – This last week my heart wept and rejoiced at once as I hugged a lady who received a lung transplant from our daughter. Sure it was hard, but I know that is part of what Laurie determined to not let an unhealthy bite pass her lips that should she not ‘make it through menopause’ her organs would be whole and healthy to give life to others.

 

Hard you bet to hug someone her size and realize a part of her lives within this woman, and 69 others. Yet, what an awesome reminder, that her soul is alive and with God —and that He has enabled much of her body to also live on and sustain life within others.

 

Never-ending grief but never-ending peace.

 

How have you experienced this never-ending peace?

 

If so – may these scriptures be a reminder and a comfort. If not – may these scriptures open your heart to a never-ending legacy that awaits you:

Eternal Life

 

John 10:27-28 – John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.

 

John 5:11-13 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

 

God’s Presence

Heb. 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I Will Never Desert You, Nor Will I Ever Forsake You,”

 

Deut. 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

 

Our needs

Phil. 4:19 And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

Sufficient Grace

2Cor. 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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I Will … Because

Little words are so important.

How many times have I/we told God, I will if you will enable me, if you will show me, if …

But God’s promises are not dependent on our behavior, thankfully.

I can only run the way of His commands (declarations he has spoken) (for/ because) He enlarges (opens – makes wide – enables) my heart to want to do things God’s way.

I remember that what God declares (commands) happens. This is God’s declaration – it is not my feelings or emotions geared up into obedience.

Consequently,  I refuse to let the enemy tell me I cannot run God’s ways, or I will not run God’s ways,  because God’s word says,

not only I can run, or I might run, or even promising I will (someday) run,

but I do run – not because I am good or obedient, or special in any way, not because I whined that I would run if God did something for me first, but because the creator has spoken it -willed it to be, and opens my heart, changing my will to a natural and expected course from God declaring His love for me and causing my heart to open in response.

Love begets love…and causes us to open our hearts (wide – nothing held back) and freely respond, to God and to those we have opportunity to run to or run with

This is part of who we are in Christ.  It is not a rule we have to follow – it is a promise!

If you have responded to Christ, He will enlarge (open, expand) your heart.

Is your heart open today – to Christ, to others?

Then join me – Let’s go for a run!

The response of an “enlarged heart” – 2Cor. 6:11  Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.

 

 

 

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