Receive God’s Resolution (Mouth Shut, Hands Open)

Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed in to the batter, to make the pattern of our days. –Jennifer Dukes Lee

Anyone who compares life to cake has my attention. I loved this post by  Jennifer Dukes Lee. She sets us straight when it comes to New Year’s pesky resolutions.

February crept up on me. I forgot about resolutions. Conveniently. Too late now, right? I’m done with deciding I WILL BE DIFFERENT. I WILL NO LONGER… I WILL NEVER DO….AGAIN (NEVER.) I WILL NOT ONLY DO THAT…I WILL LOSE 12 lbs. AND NEVER FIND THEM AGAIN (EVER.)

In a moment of weakness, I did tell our girls that I am DONE OFFERING UNASKED-FOR ADVICE.

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It lasted almost an hour. Don’t they look like they need advice? Mine, in particular?

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Classic. Oh, well. I tried.

Resolutions and I don’t get along. Why say I will do (or undo) something in one year that may take ten? When it comes to setting resolutions, I prefer God’s view of time, i.e., “one day is like a thousand years.” (II Peter 3:8)

I could make a change if I had a thousand years. Maybe.

Lee’s post calls us back to the truth of God’s resolutions in and for us:

There’s a better way to a new you. It doesn’t begin with a list of promises you’ve made to yourself, but a list of promises already fulfilled for you. For you!

God made the resolution — to save a weary world — and He kept it. He’s the only God who keeps His promises, and then doesn’t require you to add to it — only to RECEIVE it…

(Wow. I love that. God made a resolution to save a weary world. And He kept it.)

You have already been equipped for the good works God has for you in 2015. These are good works designed with you in mind, not “good works” that the enemy might use as a scorecard to prove that you’ve failed again.

…laws and resolutions can’t make you good. You are good, because you are God’s. And because you are God’s, you are being changed in ways that you can’t measure on your bathroom scale…

Make your plans, but hold them loosely. The possibilities for your one beautiful life are limited only by the size of your God, who has great plans for you and has already resolved to carry you through them. (Read the rest of Jennifer’s encouraging words over at her site here.)

You are good because you are God’s. Now that’s something to take to the bank. Take a moment to measure: What size is your God?

Okay, 2015 – I’ll give it a go…

Resolution #1:  Don’t give unasked-for-advice to the girls.

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How?

Simple. Keep my mouth shut and pray hard.

As my wise sister-in-law, Karen told me: “When the kids are little, talk to them about the Lord; when they are big, talk to the Lord about them!”

When I fail, keep short accounts. (Sorry, Bonnie, I shouldn’t have said that. Oops, Beth – ya, I know I already told you that. Whoops, please forgive me, Mary – I realize you probably didn’t want that input.) A tricky tightrope we walk as parents of (sort-of) adult children…

Resolution #2:  Receive God’s promise that He loves me, made me good, and has His work for me all figured out.

How?

Simple. Keep my hands open. It’s a gift. He’s a gift. One to open every day.

When I fail, I’ll remember the prophet’s words in Lamentations 3: 23,24 —

His great love is new every morning.
Lord, how faithful you are!
I say to myself, “The Lord is everything* I will ever need.
So I will put my hope in him.”

*Everything. My word for 2015. What’s yours, btw? Have you chosen one? It’s only February. You’ve got time. Maybe a thousand years.

The possibilities for your one beautiful life are limited only by the size of your God,

who has great plans for you and has already resolved to carry you through them.

–Jennifer Dukes Lee

Amen. Amen. Amen. Thanks, Jennifer.

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Feast on Friday: Pepperoni Pizza Chili – Super Bowl Sunday

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How can you go wrong? Chili and Pizza and a Crock-pot? Sounds about right for a Sunday afternoon at the game. Or get it ready in the morning before work, and you’ll be ready for company by the time you get home. Your feet may hurt, you may be hungry, but add some French bread and ice cream, and everyone’s happy.

Erin and her fiancee come tomorrow night — I called her little Erin when she was at Cal Poly because we had a tall Erin in our Bible study as well. I don’t think she’s any taller, but she’s definitely in love! It’ll be great to catch up – gotta go change the sheets – thank goodness the main dish is ready to go!

Oh, my sister Lori said, “Almost anyone can serve a bowl of ice cream.”* She’s right. No need for fancy-fancy when old or new friends stop by. “Togetherness–there’s goodness in it!” – to quote my wonderful brother, Steve. He’d love this chili – hope you do, too.

IMG_1324A customer emailed this to me – I think it’s perfect. Easy to throw together the night before and put in the fridge. Then cook on low til the game starts. Scoop up with large Fritos and extra cheese. Enjoy!

Feast on Friday: Pepperoni Pizza Chili - Super Bowl Sunday
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Melting Pot?
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Brown the hamburger, drain and pile in the rest of the ingredients for a quick crowd-pleaser. Easy to double!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can/jar pizza sauce (15 oz.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1½ can water
  • 1 pkg. (3.5 oz.) sliced pepperoni
  • ½ c. diced green pepper
  • 1 t. pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
  • 1 t. salt
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese, optional
Instructions
  1. Brown hamburger until no longer pink, drain
  2. Put in crock pot along with all the rest of the ingredients except cheese
  3. Cook on low all day or until it reaches desired thickness
  4. Garnish with cheese if desired

No crock pot? Use a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Heat to boiling, then lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.

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Here’s little Erin a few years ago at one of our international potlucks. She’s fluent in Spanish so she fit right in (being little and all.) Tomorrow night I’ll get some updated photos I hope!

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*Lori’s famous quote is from my book on hosting for heaven’s sake – see here to order and share. “Togetherness–there’s goodness in it!”

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Taste on Tuesday: Pressing On

O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who finds refuge in Him.

Psalm 34:8

A picture is worth a thousand words.

evera

Evera hurt her little brother (“Why did I do that?” she wondered.) Little Hyatt cried. Big sister came to Mom confessing: “I hit him on the head with a drumstick–I don’t know why…” [I’m thinking a wooden stick, not a piece of chicken — but I’m not sure.]

Her mom* explained that it didn’t matter why, that she still had to ask for forgiveness. Once she asked for forgiveness, Hyatt said he forgave her, then she said they had to hug (like they have to every time after someone asks for forgiveness) and Hyatt happily hugged her, but she was still moping about the fact that she didn’t know why she hit him.

Like my little grandniece, Evie, I can waste time looking back at my failures, my missteps, my sin:

Why did I do that? How come I didn’t learn enough last time? When will I grow up?

The looking back is right where Satan wants me. For that reason alone, I want to stop the backward glance and press on–with Paul (who had a lot to look back on and forget, as I recall. Comforting, somehow.)

He wrote:  

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Ephesians 3:12-14

He gives grace for the past, peace in the present, and strength for the future. An all-inclusive travel package for our road trip with God.

O, taste and see that God has forgiven and moved on with me and in me; blessed am I when I figure that out and get on the grace-go-ahead bandwagon. He’s enough. I trust Him. I press on.  —  Today’s Psalm 34:8

*Evera and Hyatt’s beautiful mother, Nicole Moore, does great family photography – starting with her own over at Storytree Studios.

Link up your taste of our Lord’s goodness today. Use this pretty button and the code on the right–we need community to help us in our pressing on:

tasting-on-tuesdays-button


coffee with holleyand with fellowshipfridays

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A Piece of Work

Holidays, our ministry, our families, our work–can leave us feeling like a piece of work, as in:

I’m never doing that again… or What a waste of time… or Who said we’re supposed to be thankful? They don’t know my life…or What peace on earth, goodwill toward men? Not my earth (not my men.)

You may need another cup of coffee. Or just a small piece of God’s Word. Here’s what I woke to this morning:

All Your works will praise You, O, Lord

and Your saints will bless You.

Psalm 145:10 (NKJV)

I’m one of those works – not just a piece of one. My work is to praise and bless God. I didn’t feel like it this week. When my orbit’s off, I forget my life’s work.

I loved Keller’s quote from last week’s post:

“God created us to orbit around Him, to center our lives on Him.”

How’s that orbit of yours going? I know mine’s not great when I hear the Man-in-Plaid say, “I’m not sure you’ve completely forgiven her…”

Hrumpf.

My reply: “I need to circle back around, more than once. I’m getting there.” (I re-circled a few too many times. Sigh.)

What’s my work? To speak of God and His power.

They will speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power,

so that all people may know of Your mighty acts,

and the glorious majesty of Your kingdom.

Psalm 145:11

If He’s powerful enough to forgive me, He’s powerful enough to help me forgive another. Sounds like work to me. Thankfully, I don’t need to do it by myself.

 “…so that all people may know of Your mighty acts…” Double blessings. Double results.

I’m not clear on how I bless God since He’s the source of blessing. Better not going to think too hard on it and just do it.

“Lord, God in heaven,

Thanks for all my blessings – my kids, my husband, my house, my kitchen, my health, my relationship with You. Bless You, Lord, bless You. May my life’s work be to praise Your name. What I say, how I say it, how I forgive and offer forgiveness, where I go, what I do. I lift myself to You in praise and thanksgiving. It’s my work. I do love working for you. Amen.

A piece of God’s early Spring work on my table today. He may just be showing off. As He should.

IMG_1288His splendor’s also at work over at Penn State – a slice of Bethany’s scene last night–she works at The Corner Room (on the corner.)

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There’s my California girl. Some of God’s best work.

All Your works will praise You, O, Lord

and Your saints will bless You.

Psalm 145:10 (NKJV)

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Friday Feast (on Sunday): Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies!

FullSizeRenderThe trouble with a great homemade cookie is this: you can’t eat just one. Or two. Maybe three.

Stephanie brought these to Growth Group (I did grow) and I didn’t miss the flour. Today I doubled the recipe so I’m really in trouble. I’ll need to follow my motto:

1. Bake some

2. Eat some

3. Share some

4. Freeze some

(go back to #2)

In this case, I froze half the batter in baggies to break out when I need a non-gluten-chocolate chip-pecan fix (which does happen on a regular basis.) And only baked up a couple dozen. I used the middle-sized scooper from Pampered Chef which made the perfect sized treat.

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I’m not gluten free. I have friends who are. Come visit and we’ll visit my freezer. I didn’t know some oats may not be gluten free. Trader’s obviously did.

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Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies!
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Tea/A bad day companion
Cuisine: Californian?
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 48 cookies
 
Every other person I meet is free for- or from- something. Mostly gluten free, bless them. These will bless those friends, so never fear. (Free for coffee??)
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1¼ t. baking soda
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 3 cups Trader Joe's Rolled Oats
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. nuts
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine sugars, and butter and beat til creamy
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and baking soda
  4. Mix well
  5. Add peanut butter and mix
  6. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and nuts
  7. Place teaspoon of dough on lightly greased pan about two inches apart
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned around the edges

So yummy. You don’t even know you’re eating healthy. With all that oatmeal – 6 cups for a double batch – they make a perfect breakfast.

FullSizeRender

 

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Taste on Tuesdays: God’s Daily Hospitality (Link-up)

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I love big holidays with long guest lists–as long as everyone brings something—so much easier that way. Never turn down an offer (I always say.) Besides the help, it’s fun tasting everyone’s favorites and bests! Karen is the BEST apple pie maker, so that assignment is a given. The secret is in baking the pie long enough for the apples to be tender to the taste – along with all that cinnamon and flaky pie crust. Yum – Okay, I’ll stop now. (Karen and Lori’s famous pie crust recipe is here, never fear.) Maybe you’re thinking of quiche more than apple pie this winter’s day.

Big holidays are great and grand, but thankfully, God’s hospitality isn’t just a few times a year, as in:

“Yea! I got an invitation from God! He wants me at His table on December 22 for His annual Christmas gala!”

“Hey, Everyone! I’m invited to Easter Brunch (no deviled eggs, I’m sure…) – From God to me.”

Nope. His hosting is year-round, daily and moment-by-moment. Now that’s hospitality. That and homemade apple pie is something to shout about. (Go ahead.)

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 Do you sense God’s hospitality daily? He wants us to feel His welcome and know His presence, not just on Sundays or in a formal Bible Study session. He invites us to communicate with Him at any time, on any day.

This is no small gift when you’re talking to a woman—we love to communicate.

One time I told my husband (whine) — “I want you to ask me how I’m feeling.”

Mark (deadpan) — “But I constantly know how you’re feeling.”

He had a point.

Here’s the deal: our Heavenly Father never gets tired of listening.

We are never put “on hold” and forced to listen to the latest heavenly elevator choir music. Nope. He’s ready for us. We need to be ready for Him.

O, taste and sense God’s daily hospitality; blessed is the one who takes advantage of His open-arms-offer and comes right in – day and night, rain or shine, feeling close to God or prayers stopped at the ceiling – taste and see. He’s waiting.  Today’s Psalm 34:8

Coffee with Holley – she’s got some great words to share: as well as Kelly:purposefulfaith.comtasting-on-tuesdays-button
Link up your taste of the Lord’s goodness. Use this pretty button on your site – code on the right – and thank Him for His goodness to you and another.


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Talking to Yourself Again? Word for 2015: Everything!

Hearing a voice in animated conversation, I used to catch Mom in the act:

“Mom, who are your talking to?”

Mom had long and spirited conversations with herself (or her pastor or her best friend or most likely, Dad!) all by herself. I’d sneak up behind her while she was hanging laundry or taking out the trash or stirring the soup.

She’d rally and say, “Yes, I guess I am.” But it didn’t stop her. This wasn’t dementia. She just knew a good conversationalist when she found one.

Mom, this time with a live audience. She preferred a live audience.

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Jeremiah did, too. But we get some rich self-talk in Lamentations 3 – check it out:

I say to myself, “The Lord is everything I will ever need.
So I will put my hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who put their hope in him.
He is good to those who look to him. It is good when people wait quietly
for the Lord to save them. Lamentations 3:24-26 NIRV

Everything. My word for 2015. About sums it up.

-The Lord is everything I need

-I put my hope in Him

-God is good to those who seek Him

-It’s a good thing when I wait – wait quietly – for the Lord to save me.

What will you say to yourself today? Who are you really talking to? I plan to tell myself in no uncertain terms–feel free to listen in:

For heaven’s sake, Sue, wait on God! Seek Him with your whole heart! Be quiet about it, maybe, but be loud and clear in your mind. The Lord is everything I’ll ever need.

Want to join the soul-talking conversation? Tell me what you’re saying to yourself. I could use the company.

Mom, in earlier days. Most likely people were talking about her.

mom in color

If nothing else today, say this (to yourself–out loud, even) over and over:

“The Lord is everything I will ever need.
So I will put my hope in him.”

Hard for me to choose just one word. But I like it. It’s such a big word. I can fit a lot of self-talking into Everything. What’s your word for 2015? Join me in linking today with Bonnie at faith barista

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Feast on Friday: Chicken Corn Chowder

 

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Winter requires comfort food, whether a winter in spirit or weather. Jamie’s Chicken Corn Chowder fills either bill and it’s easy to double and freeze until a real freeze–if that happens in your part of the country. We managed 70 degrees today but I’m thin-skinned–and I had all the ingredients–so Soup’s On was on the docket this evening. Awhile back, Jamie surprised me one afternoon with a tupperware tub full of this amazing concoction. I’ve posted it before but not in printable form. Keep it in your file of “What to do with this leftover chicken?” and you won’t regret it.

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You may also stock pile canned corn when it’s two for a dollar. I obviously overdid. Better safe than sorry, my mother always said. I needed some comfort tonight as I peeled my potatoes with a paring knife the way she always did instead of the handy dandy potato peeler. I couldn’t think about it much (Mom, I mean) but I just kept peeling and dicing until the comfort came. And it did.

Feast on Friday: Chicken Corn Chowder
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
I used the last of the white potatoes and red potatoes for tonight's meal. Jamie sometimes uses frozen hash browns--which I tried -- but I prefer the chunkiness of the "real." The more bacon the better so not much seasoning is needed. I just sprinkled some black pepper, dried parsley and seasoning salt in at the end.
Ingredients
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • ½ diced onion
  • 2 c. cubed, peeled potatoes
  • 2 c. diced cooked chicken
  • 1 8 oz. can corn
  • 1 8 oz. can creamed corn
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1 c. half and half
  • Pepper and parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Fry bacon until crisp
  2. Drain, cool and crumble (I use scissors!)
  3. Saute onion in bacon drippings until tender (8 min.)
  4. In Dutch oven or large pot, combine bacon, onions, potatoes, broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender - about 15 min.
  6. You can do all of the above in advance if you like.
  7. Add chicken, corn, creamed corn and cream.
  8. Heat thoroughly
  9. Delish and comforting!

IMG_1249Hmmm.

Jamie is one to comfort with her food and her faith. She’s got her hands and heart full right now with some family members who need to return to the fold. It’s a mother’s heartache, that’s for sure. I was trying to offer comfort to her the other day, and you know what she said? “My faith is not in a program or a person to help my boy – my faith is in the Lord alone.” May we all be comforted with those holy words.

Love you, Jamie.

 

You may want to memorize these words while peeling your potatoes.

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The LORD God is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. Isaiah 12:2 NLT

Amen.

Double up this recipe and share a pot with a neighbor down the way. You never know what’s really going on in someone’s life. Soup speaks the language of love. Chocolate does, too, but that’s another Feast on Friday.

Linking on Fellowship Friday today.

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Taste on Tuesdays: Wanted (Link up)

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“O, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who finds refuge in Him.”

Psalm 34:8

I finally finished Soul Keeping by John Ortberg. I cried. Not the same kind of crying I cried at fourteen when I finished Gone With the Wind. ( “Scarlett, you’re such an idiot!”)  More like: “Lord, help. It can’t be over, I don’t get it all yet. But what I get, I love.” The good news is: I can start again at Chapter One*. Better yet: the prologue. I love prologues. I even read acknowledgements. Someone needs to, don’t you think? All those lists of people I’ll never meet.

Some keeping for your soul today, in case you haven’t gotten past the acknowledgements page:

God made the whole earth so that He would have a place to be with man and woman, you and me…for the soul to be well, it needs to be with God. – John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

The great significance of Creator God is that He wanted us to be with Him.

Yep. That about sums it up. Part II of my Creator-God lecture. See yesterday’s post for Part I – orbits and earrings. 

Not feeling wanted? Start with Genesis. Read through Revelation. You’ll be amazed. Follow it up with some praise and thanksgiving.

Can you taste and see how much God wants you? Blessed are you when you take Him at His word and live like you know it.Today’s Psalm 34:8

Link up your taste of God’s goodness. Use this pretty button on your site–code on the right:tasting-on-tuesdays-button


*Too many books, so little time.

 

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God, Our Creator–What Difference Does it Make?

         “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

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It’s a new year – a good time to study beginnings. Women’s Bible study begins this week focusing on the names of God. I get the first crack at the first one: Elohim, Mighty and Creative One.

In the beginning was the beginning — all started by the One Who could and chose to.

Why? I’m not quite sure. It may be my first question I ask in heaven. On the other hand, I may not.

I’ve not wrestled with the fact He did create — who (or what?) else could put together something so complicated, beautiful, detailed and delicate? Here’s a good reason to believe in a great God–Shell Beach last week. (Photos from my friend, Cindy Fraunheim.)

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I can’t think of anyone else who could think up such a blue sky and blue-green ocean off the coast of California on a winter’s day–and then, make it so.

God created the earth and then a bit later, us. But why exactly? Here’s one take: we’re meant for our Creator.

In his book, King’s Cross, Tim Keller wrote:

“God created us to orbit around Him, to center our lives on Him.”

I don’t think of myself as an orbiting planet. I do know that when centered on Him, I’m where I need to be. At peace. Waiting. Joy in the waiting. If Keller’s right, I want to be right where God intended.

My brother figured this out at age 28. He began to orbit his life around His Creator.

At 70, he made an outward gesture to show where his heart has remained all these years: he got his ear pierced.

Earring

In Old Testament times, when a slave was released by his master and yet chose to remain a slave–for life, by choice–he showed it by getting his ear pierced. He was now a bondslave- bound by devotion to his master. Sound familiar? Paul called himself a bondslave of Christ (Romans 1:1.)

One of Hyatt’s art students, Ho Pil Li, painted his portrait–with the earring. Stunning, no?

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God created the world which included Hyatt who began circling around the One Who loved him best and most. God created Ho Pil Li to create a painting of Hyatt (and his earring) showing the world while he’s still in the world (created by God) that He only is the One worth orbiting around. It all sounds a bit like the house that Jack built. But we know God built that house. And that made all the difference.

For more on Hyatt and his art and heart, follow his blog here.

Here’s another bit of God’s creativity: sisters happy to be home.

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