Tag Archives: God

YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT IN LIFE

“What do you consider one of your greatest achievements in life?”

As you reflect on your achievements in life and try to define one of your greatest, you must realize that achievements fall into one of two categories—earthly and spiritual. You must also understand that there is a relationship between the achievements in these two categories—one isn’t necessarily independent of the other. In fact, spiritual achievements often contribute directly to earthly achievements and enable us to reach success levels greater than had we performed them without any spiritual assistance. To deny that this relationship exists means you are willing to fall short of the maximum level of success possible for some of your greatest achievements on your journey through life.   

One of my greatest earthly achievements spans an era in life between ages fifteen to seventy. I have no doubts that my spiritual achievements helped make this “earthly” achievement much greater than otherwise possible.

The following short story explains the achievement.

++++++THE GIRL++++++

I attended an American Legion baseball game with some friends one night when I was fifteen-years old. My best friend, Billie, already had his driver’s license and owned a car. We piled into his car and he took us to the game.

We sat in the upper rows of the stands having a good time. I played baseball and loved the game, but the others I was with didn’t. Naturally, I was the only one actually trying to watch the game.

It was not long before a small group of young girls came in and sat a few rows in front of us. I hadn’t paid much attention to them because the game had already started. Billie was the lady’s man of our group and noticed the girls right away. I was too focused on the game and minding my own business, as usual.

I could hear my friends talking about the girls sitting in front of us, but I was trying to ignore what they were saying. I looked down a few times and saw the girls chattering also. They definitely had no idea what was happening on the baseball field. I wondered why in the world they even came to the game if they weren’t going to watch the action. I wondered the same thing about my friends.

I continued watching the game, but would glance down at the girls every now and then. I noticed one of them in particular. Then my eyes quickly went back to the game. The game was the reason I came along with my friends anyway. Unfortunately, I had no idea they would be on the prowl for babes at a baseball game.

One of the girls then turned and stared in our direction—the same girl I had noticed earlier. She was not looking at any of us, but at someone sitting behind us. When she turned, I looked directly into her eyes and saw how beautiful she was. She was very animated as she stood up looking and motioning to someone behind us. I could see she was very tall, trim, and without a doubt, very attractive.

I soon began to shift my eyes from the baseball field and looked at the girl more often. At that point I thought, “Heck with baseball, there’s an attractive girl in the stands sitting just eight feet from me.” I had no idea who she was or how old she was. I asked my friends if they knew her, but they didn’t.

I was too chicken to go talk to her. There were too many other girls around her and I was still too shy to make a move. Besides that, she was looking at the dudes behind us and didn’t know we even existed. The game ended and we left the stadium—without the girls.

Someone should have slapped me on the head for not trying to talk to her. I let the most beautiful girl I had ever seen get away without even meeting her. Smart and bold were certainly not things you could call me back in those days. I should have changed that shy-character trait much sooner in my life. I know I could have had a lot more fun while growing up had I done so.

Oh, I am sorry to ramble on. I know you’re not interested in the girl. I bet you just want to know who won the game and what the score was. Guess what—I don’t have a clue! I completely stopped watching the game in about the seventh inning when I focused my attention on the most beautiful girl in the world. Unfortunately, I let her get away without getting her name.

The bottom line of this tale is that my shyness and quiet nature were my own worst enemies. I really needed to work on them to improve my social skills. I had much goodness in my heart to offer others, but it was not evident. Being shy and quite is not always a bad thing, but there needs to be a good balance between also being outgoing and talkative. A blend of each is a perfect combination to have.

I finally began to make the necessary changes. That particular girl experience or lack thereof, was probably the catalyst that finally made me come to the realization that change was necessary. It was time for me to go forth into the world and mingle—make many friends and not limit myself to just a few. People were not going to bite my head off if I joined in, and I certainly had plenty of heart to give. I knew I could do it, but I had to try much harder.

Thank goodness, it didn’t take long for me to learn that making these adjustments would change my life for the better, and I am happy I did. Why, you ask—because “The Girl” I saw at that baseball game when I was fifteen-years old became my wife five years later. I was twenty and she was eighteen—just two kids in love with no idea of what the future would bring or where our journey through life would take us.

God had plans for us before we knew

Wedding Day 1969

The one thing both of us had in common was our greatest spiritual achievement—at a young age, we had accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and had faith He would always be with us as we journeyed through life. I am pleased to say He has done that for many years. You see, we will be celebrating our fiftieth (50th) wedding anniversary in September 2019.

Like all marriages, life was not always easy for us, but the Lord got us through every obstacle we faced. We experienced good times, bad times, trials, tribulations, misfortunes, successes, and much happiness. However, through all those years, it was our faith and belief in God that sustained and strengthened us.

The Lord blessed us with two beautiful children and five grandchildren. My prayer for each of them is that they learn to have faith, trust, and believe in Jesus just as we do. I pray that they too have spiritual achievements that enhance their earthly achievements as they journey through life.

I am truly thankful for the many blessings I have received and know that “With God, All Things Are Possible.” I even wrote a novel about God’s grace that He gives to each of us. All anyone has to do is be willing to accept His blessing

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LIFE’S STORMS AND RAINBOWS

You or someone you know will likely suffer the wrath of storms at some point in life. I’ve experienced them—as a victim and as a witness to the struggles of others. Storms play a significant role in our lives, no matter where we are on our journey.

The storms we experience during the Christmas season tend to magnify the pain of our agony because many of the people we see scurrying about are feeling cheerful and merry, which is wonderful for them, but does little to bring happiness to us.

It’s natural during the midst of our storms that we find it hard to look on the brighter side and realize better days are to come—hopefully, sooner rather than later. However, that’s exactly what we should do because, in addition to the turbulent waters, every storm in life also brings a rainbow—a sign of good that is to come—peace.

Unfortunately, we often miss seeing the rainbow because we are temporarily too focused on the storm and continue to struggle. Most of us often ask, “Why me, Lord?” when we should really be asking, “Lord, how do You want me to use this storm to serve You.”

So, with this in mind, I want to share this RAINBOW BLESSING with each of you—family, friends, connections, and followers in hopes all your storms are small and your rainbows are bright.

RAINBOW BLESSING

May All Your…

…fears fade into courage.

…hopes blossom into reality.

…doubts turn into good results.

…efforts strengthen your faith.

…storms end with rainbows.

…deeds bring others joy.

…efforts give you peace.

…days be bright!

May God bless you and yours with rainbows during this CHRISTmas season and give you a Happy New Year!

Peace,

Tom Tatum – 2017

Writer, Author, Blogger

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WHAT DO YOU SEE?

What do you see in your mind’s eye when you pray or talk to yourself during difficult or good times in your life? I bet you see something, even if it’s total darkness—you still see something, but likely do it without thinking about what you see.

I know it’s a crazy question? In reality, it’s an appropriate question for everyone, regardless of their spiritual preferences or lack thereof. Whether you pray and believe in a power greater than yourself, don’t pray because you believe you possess superior intellect over all things, or fall somewhere between the two is a choice you have the right to make. Whatever your situation, you probably do talk to or pray to “something” when facing difficult situations in your life—it’s called thinking. I’m not trying to change or challenge your beliefs at all. I simply want you to consider all possibilities…

It’s probably a question you have never been asked or even considered before now. You’re not alone because most people haven’t. In fact, I may be one of few people on earth asking the question.

Okay, so exactly why am I asking such a question? Well, it’s simple—I enjoy thinking outside-the-box. Obviously, there is no right or wrong answer, so don’t be concerned. There will not be a pass-fail test given at the end of this post. I just want you to think about the question based on your personal situation, so please keep reading. It will only take a few minutes, and I promise it will not harm or judge you in any way.

What do you see…,” is a question I ask when I speak to groups. I get some interesting facial expressions and responses cover a broad spectrum ranging from total darkness to detailed images. All answers are interesting, but one that does give me pause is, “I don’t waste time praying to a fictitious character.” I acknowledge the response, but I never push my personal beliefs on anyone. I simply inform, observe, and recognize that everyone has the right to choose how they cope with life. However, that particular response is a suitable topic for a whole different discussion.

Let’s get back to the point of this post. When the shock of my question wears off, the initial responses are typically, “I’ve never thought about it before,” or “I don’t see anything.” When folks think about it for a moment, the answers tend to become a bit more descriptive. To be fair, it is somewhat of an unusual question and not likely to come up in general conversations with friends. Therefore, I invite you to think about the question in private for a few moments. You may be surprised by what you actually do/don’t see or you may start visualizing something in the future. Either way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When I started thinking about the storyline for my first novel, I did a lot of soul searching. When I asked myself the question, I realized I was actually seeing the same thing each time I prayed. It was an image from long ago when I started attending church as a young boy. Although buried deep in my subconscious, the image of a stained-glass window formed a lasting impression on me. This image allows me to feel as though I’m having a private conversation with a friend—albeit a very special and most powerful friend.

So, what exactly do I see when I pray? Well, first I visualize the stained glass window from my youth—an image of Jesus. As I continue praying, I usually see the faces of those for whom I’m praying and revert back to the stained-glass image as I finish my prayer. The image itself is surreal for me and puts my mind at ease. It works very well for me.

Stain Glass Jesus Picture 2x2

Whether you see an image or total darkness as you pray or talk to “whomever,” the important thing is that you do it. You may not receive the things or results you ask for, or even understand the answers. You may even feel as though your prayers are going unanswered, but I believe God hears all our prayers. He will respond in His time, and in His way. He knows what is best for us, so we must be patient.

For those who do not believe in God, He still “hears” your thoughts. I wish you the best in whatever way you cope with life’s difficulties. As I said in the beginning, I will never brow-beat you to do as I do, but I will still pray that you come to know Him someday.

By the way, I see that same stained-glass image when I give thanks everyday for the many blessings I have received.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2017

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Messages From God

God sends people messages in many forms—through things, gestures, miracles, tragedies, and others (friends, family, and strangers). How people receive God’s messages depends on their mindset.

For instance:

  • Some have never heard about God; they are not aware of Him, so they don’t understand the source of the messages.
  • Some say God doesn’t exist; they are aware, but choose to deny God and His messages.
  • Some think they are too busy; they receive the messages, but  do not take the necessary time to listen.
  • Some receive the messages but simply choose to ignore them.
  • Some believe, listen, and understand God’s messages and choose to follow Him, spreading His word to others.

Each person who has heard God’s words has the right to choose whether or not they believe in Him. Unlike many false gods, God, the creator of all things, does not force anyone to believe, listen, or follow Him. It is the responsibility of those who do believe to serve as modern-day disciples by spreading His word to those who deny or are unaware of His love and grace.

Once informed of God, people have a decision to make—follow or ignore Him. Those who try to spread His word must then move on and continue to serve Him by informing others. The mission of Believers is to spread His word to others, not force them to transform. Transformation is between God and the newly informed; they will be dealt with according to His will.

JesusToldHim2

Do you have what it takes to be one of God modern-day disciples? If you do, you will become a fisher of men.

Matthew 4:19 (KJV)

And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Tom Tatum – Author – May 1, 2017

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Image

WITH YOU ALWAYS

AlwaysWithYou2

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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OUT OF FOCUS

Here I am writing this article, which is probably just for my own use so I can read it later. I know things always sound more authoritative when you preface your pontifications with,

“I read somewhere that…”

Remember, you’re reading this message after it has travelled many miles through cyberspace. Think about how much more wisdom the article gained while travelling all those miles from my computer to yours. Read on and when you talk to your friends afterward, you can confidently use the term, “I read somewhere that…” Your knowledge will surely impress them to the max! What do you have to lose? Don’t answer that—read on!

Well, here are my thoughts on a very important matter—my (your) path on my (your) journey in life…

All of us have probably had one or more times in life when the path of our journey in life seems to be out of focus. We keep plodding along on our own hoping to find our way through the fuzzy maze. Each head-butt of an obstacle causes us to change direction as we try to find the right path again. Nothing seems to go the way we hoped it would—NOTHING!

Path Trough Woods2ManBlurWords

Unfortunately, this bouncing-off-the-walls mentality sometimes drives us further from our intended goal. We become lost, lose hope, and want to give up. Things just aren’t working out the way we envisioned at the start of our journey—when things seemed perfectly clear. We finally realize we need help!

Personally, I am at that point—my path in life is now Out Of Focus. Hope your path is much clearer than mine is. I seem to have lost my way and no longer see my path with any clarity. It’s actually a total blur. I find myself in desperate need of help—lots and lots of help. What am I to do now?

Sure, I could give up, but that’s not a viable option for me. I pride myself in not being a quitter. The mantras of positive voices in my head continue bellowing,

“Persevere, Never Give Up, Keep Going, One More Step, You Can Do This, etc.”

Aaarrrgh! The voices are relentless even though I keep telling them I don’t know which way to go. I am directionally challenged at this moment!

Do you have any words of wisdom you care to share with me? I’m listening…

In light of not giving up, I finally made a decision. One that is long overdue! I plan to do what I’ve done many times in the past, and each time, my path forward came into focus—everything became much clearer. Why has it taken me soooo long this time? Call me stubborn!?! Is that a virtue? Hmmm.

I am now praying for guidance. I am placing everything about my situation in God’s hands and asking Him to show me the path He wants me to follow. I will patiently wait for His answer to my prayers and will refrain from head-butting obstacles I cannot see. My head is hurting too much to continue that way!

PrayForGuidance

Yes, I must now have patience—maybe lots of it. I must remember that! If you know me, you know how I struggle with that simple concept. Waiting for three full cycles at a traffic light drives me up a tree!

What was that word again? Oh, I remember now—P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!

If you are experiencing similar situations in your life, I suggest you do as I am now doing—pray and have patience. God will answer your prayers in His time, and His plan for your path will come into focus when He is ready. Have faith and trust in Him—always!

By the way, did I tell you I read somewhere that…

May God shine His light upon you and bring clarity to your path in life.

Tom Tatum – Author of Faith-based Novels

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I AM THANKFUL

WhenIPray

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LOOK FOR THE RAINBOW

WhenStormsMoveIn

Life is full of storms—some are small and others are large, but God is with you through all of them. Stay strong, keep your faith, and look for His rainbow. It will come!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum    Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor  LinkedIn: TomTatum1                              Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

WHERE IS HEAVEN?

Out of the mouths of children…WhereIsHeaven2

What do you think? Is Billy correct?

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YOUR FOLDER

A vision came to a man during the night as he lay sleeping. He travelled a great distance through the darkness to a place he did not know. Breaking through the darkness, he saw a building bathed in bright light and came to rest before a man standing in front of a huge door.

Upon his arrival, the man greeted him and said, “Welcome to Heaven’s Repository. I’m glad you accepted my invitation to visit with me today. I have much to share with you,” as he opened the door to a long hallway containing rows of file cabinets.

HeavensRepository

“What invitation? Who are you? Where am I? Why am I here?” questioned the confused man.

“My son, you have many questions, so allow me to answer each one. My name is Zack; I’m an angel who watches over you. This is a time in life when we review all good deeds you have done for others. We must see if you are worthy of a room in God’s house of many mansions. Consider this a status check on the life you’ve lived to this moment.”

“Zack… Zack, I don’t understand—a status check?” the man asked with a wrinkled brow.

“My son, this place contains files for every person on earth,” as he extended his arm in the direction of a long corridor lined with cabinets. “When a person’s “Good Deeds” folder contains too few entries, an alarm is sounded to alert the angels who operate the repository. It is then we invite the person to visit us for a consultation of sorts. However, I must warn you—this is the only opportunity you will have to make necessary adjustments before your days on earth are no more. I suggest you heed this warning and take appropriate actions to bring about satisfactory changes in your life. You would be wise to do so.”

“What? You mean I’m here because my Good Deeds folder has too few entries? My file set off an alarm in heaven!?! But Zack, I’ve been a good person all my life. I go to church, read the Bible, love my family, work hard, I…”

Tapping his index finger on his lips in a gesture requesting silence, Zack interrupted saying, “Enough of your declarations regarding the good things you do. Indeed, you do many good things, but they do not represent good deeds. Good deeds are things done from your heart. The ones that matter most are those performed secretly, for God’s eyes only, while not seeking praise and honor from those around you. Let us look at your folder and we shall see all your good deeds,” as he motioned for the man to follow him.

Walking past many cabinets, Zack finally stopped in front of one at the far end of the hall. The drawer marked “Ben Taylor” had a bright-red light flashing beside the name.

FileCabineBenTaylor

Ben’s heart began beating rapidly with anticipation as Zack slowly pulled the drawer open and retrieved a manila folder labelled “Good Deeds of Ben Taylor.” Zack opened the folder, removed a single sheet of paper, and placed it in Ben’s hands. He then told Ben to read the entries listed on the page.

FileFolderBenTaylor

“Zack, this page is blank—I see only my name at the top! Surely, you have more papers in the folder for me to see. Please show me all the good deeds I’ve done for others!”

“Ben, there is only one page in your folder at present; it cites all the good deeds you have done for others. Thus the reason for the alarm I mentioned to you earlier.”

Ben’s shoulders slumped as he quickly tried to remember all the good deeds he had performed. The core of his being started aching when nothing came to mind. “Zack, I see another folder in my drawer also marked ‘Good Deeds.’ That folder is very thick and appears to contain numerous papers. Surely, my good deeds appear in that folder! Zack, I don’t wish to sound rude, but I think you selected the wrong folder. Please show me the second folder.”

“My son, I will gladly show you all the papers in the second folder, but they are the deeds done FOR you and NOT BY you. Your friends, family, and strangers performed many of these good deeds for you, but most came to you from your Father in heaven. They represent all the times God blessed you and forgave you for your many sins. God loves you and His grace is more than you can ever imagine. He wants you to love and do unto others in the same way He loves and does unto you.”

Ben fell to his knees and began weeping a river of tears. Sadness filled his heart as reality shined its bright light upon his life. “The good deeds in my life came TO me from others and not from me doing good deeds FOR others,” he thought while hiding his face from Zack.

Placing his hands on Ben’s shoulders, Zack spoke softly saying, “Rise, my son. I see that you are truly sorry for your past actions—the opportunities when you failed to act. Therefore, I’ll give you a chance to change your ways if you choose to do so. Return to your world with a renewed heart and start serving your Lord the way He would have you do. Spread His love by doing good deeds for others and be a blessing to them, for if you do these things and truly believe in Him, you will have a place for all eternity in God’s house of many mansions.”

When Ben awakened the next morning, his mind was clear and his heart felt warmed by the light from above. He kneeled beside his bed and started praying aloud, “Lord, today I wish to start anew. I have many things yet to do and no time to waste. From this day forward, I will serve You. I will follow the path You have placed before me, and I will gladly help others I encounter along my journey. I will not seek praise and honor from others, only You. By Your grace, I have another chance and with Your help, I will not falter. Amen.”

What does your “Good Deeds of Your Name” folder contain? Is there more than one sheet of paper in your folder? Is the folder thick with many entries? I hope your folder already contains many pages. If not, what are your plans for the future? Do you want to make any changes? Are you going to start making changes now or wait for the alarms in heaven to summon you?

FileFolderGoodDeedsYour

It’s all up to you. Don’t wait to receive that call for a consultation with your angel. Be blessed by helping others encountered along your journey in faith. You can start by flashing a warm smile to a stranger, offering encouraging words to someone who is down, providing aid to those who are less fortunate, and so many other opportunities too numerous to name. For each good deed you do, you have another entry placed in the “Good Deeds” folder bearing your name. Fill it up…

Bible

James 2:14-17 (NIV)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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MY OOOPS MOMENT

I had the unexpected honor to serve as an usher at the funeral of a friend on Tuesday September 8, 2015. Another gentleman ushered with me, but neither of us knew exactly what we were supposed to do. Do you sense a problem on the horizon?!?

Aisle

A nice lady told us there were three reserved sections up front and we needed to ask each person, “Are you with the family, SS class, or tennis group?” We asked and then directed people to the proper reserved section. That turned out to be the easy part of our duties, except for the looks people gave us when we asked the question. The church started filling rapidly, but there were enough seats available.

The family would be entering the sanctuary shortly. That’s when the pastor told me he wanted the ushers to light the candles on the altar and the one by the pulpit. I asked the other usher if he wanted to do it, but he declined. Therefore, yours truly had to do it. Sounds simple, right?

First, I had to find the official candle-lighter-stick thingy—done. Oh, but what about the butane lighter needed to light the candle lighter? Frantic search ensued and I finally found the lighter and lit the candle lighter. Now, all I had to do was walk down the aisle and light three candles. Easy, right? Did I mention that I’m a gray-haired-old man who wears bifocals? Hmmm, the plot suddenly thickens!

Candles

I started walking down the “ten-mile” long aisle toward the altar and the flame kept trying to go out. I paused to keep the flame glowing—many times, I paused! I finally got to the altar, bowed my head in prayer, and then lit the two candles with no problem. I turn toward the tall candle by the pulpit, and guess what? I couldn’t see the candlewick. The last person who extinguished the candle had pressed the wick flat. Great!!! This is going to be fun, I thought. At last, the candle started burning—that’s one small feat for a “professional” acolyte, but one giant leap for a gray-haired-old man. Old man then sighs at the sight of the flame flickering away. Success!

All I had left to do to complete my “extremely complicated” lighting task was return to the altar, bow in prayer, turn around, and walk back down the “ten-mile” aisle beyond the sight of two-hundred people. Easy, right?!? Well, not exactly! Here’s when the ooops moment occurred.

Remember those bifocals I wear. Well, they make walking down steps “be like” tough at times—this was one of those times! I turned, took three steps away from the altar, but thought I had to take four. At least that’s what it looked like. The line in my bifocals was hiding the all-important first step. My foot went down expecting to find the hardwood floor of the level platform, but what it found was nothing but air—an entire step-high distance of air!

Steps

Picture an old man walking proudly along and suddenly missing the first of three steps. What followed was an acrobatic, less than graceful attempt to maintain my balance while holding the lighted candle lighter in front of two-hundred people. Arms and legs went flying in four different directions.

After flying through the air for what seemed like several minutes, I somehow missed two steps completely and landed upright on both feet; I think the Lord definitely reached out His loving hands and kept me from falling spread-eagle on the floor. Thank goodness He did! I bowed to the crowd as if nothing had happened and said, “Ooops!” as two-hundred peopled laughed and clapped at my awkward, but successful gymnastic display.

Do you know how loud two-hundred people laughing and clapping in a quiet sanctuary can be? Take my word for it; it’s deafening!!! Thank goodness, the family members were not in the sanctuary at the time of my “ooops” moment. The ungraceful fall was bad enough, but the comments I heard during the reception… well, I’ll leave them to your imagination.

Into each life a little fall will come, and it will usually happen when you least expect it!

The point of this embarrassing personal experience is to show that the Lord is always there for us—in our big moments, as well as the little moments in our lives. When we place our fears in His hands, He puts His arms around us and helps us land on our feet when we fall. Have faith and trust in HIM; He will keep you upright on your path.

Be blessed…

Proverbs 24-16 (NIV)

… for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.

Ezekiel 3:24 (NIV)

Then the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet. He spoke to me…

Psalms 134:2 (NIV)

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.

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