Friday, November 16, 2012


I saw a picture on Facebook the other day.  It was a picture of a whale that had been tangled up in fishing net and couldn't surface for air.  The poor thing would have drowned had people not somehow managed to free it of the fishing line.  It was entangled, and nearly died because of it.

I've been entangled, too.  I've been having a pity party about myself and my situation.  I thought only of myself and how terrible it was that I had been injured back in April.  I got upset when people - kind people, friends, close family and others - acted like nothing was wrong with me.  I felt trapped in my brain that wouldn't - couldn't - come up with the words I wanted to say.  I felt trapped in my body that couldn't quite get around like it used to, or walk as fast as it used to, or sometimes fell when I lost my balance.

But mainly I was entangled in my feelings towards God.  Not quite anger, but more resentment.  You see, I never felt angry at the poor kid who hit the baseball that came flying out of nowhere to hit me.  Hit me hard.  In my noggin.  I don't know who he is, and he has no clue that I've still suffering.  Still I was entangled.

I saw a different picture on Facebook recently.  It was a sea turtle who had been encircled by a plastic six-pack ring.  You know the kind.  They hold the cans together.  This sea turtle had grown up with the plastic around his shell body.  The body was pinched in the middle, and he had grown normally on his front and back, but the shell in the middle was stunted and unable to grow by the cinching power of the plastic.  Stunted.  Even if freed, would he ever grow normally?

I've been stunted in my growth, too.  Not my physical growth, but my spiritual growth.  I felt at first, "why not me?", but as the hours turned into days, the days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months, and I sometimes felt better, but sometimes felt much worse, the urgent need to lash out at somebody, anybody began to grow within me.  It cinched me up, right around the middle.  Kept me from growing normally in my spiritual life.  Stunted and entangled.  Ineffective and miserable.

The writer of Hebrews (New Testament) spoke of the sin that so easily entangles us.  He told us to throw it off and run the race anyway.  Run?  Heck, I can hardly walk some days.  But the writer didn't mean a physical marathon.  He was talking about a spiritual marathon.  We can't look at it as a race we run for days, weeks, months, even years or decades.  Ever see a relay race?  That's the picture I get when I'm told to run the race.  My granny handed off the baton to my mother, then she handed it off to me.  Hopefully, I'll be handing it off to five who will run the race with endurance, without the entanglement of sin weighing them down.

The author of Hebrews gives us a hint about how we're supposed to run with perseverance.  When I was a little girl, I would sometimes accompany my daddy to the fields where he was planting corn.  Or soybeans, depending on which field.  I asked him once how he could keep a straight line on the tractor, since there wasn't any guide on the ground as to where he was supposed to steer the plow and planter.  He said that he'd pick out a tree, way across the field, near the creek.  He'd keep his eye on that particular tree, knowing where it was to be in relation to his own position.  And that's what we're supposed to do, too.  Except we're supposed to keep our eyes trained on Jesus.  After all, He's already run the race and knows where we're supposed to go.  He also knows how we're supposed to finish.

For a long time, it hurt my head to read anything "deep".  I could fiddle with Facebook, or write letters, or prepare Petitions for Adoption for my clients (simply because I've done so many, it's second nature).  But to really read and dig into something complicated, that was another story.  So I fell out of the habit of reading and studying Scripture.  Fell hard.  Fell down so far that my entanglement took root and flourished.  I didn't want to read, study, pray, or anything.  I felt I no longer needed God.  Not really, anymore.  Then I realized that I was literally shaking my fist at Him.  Well, I guess I showed Him, didn't I?

But ever so gently, He began to clip away the entanglements of my sin.  The sin that was stunting my growth. He knows me, you see.  He created me.  So He knows what's best for me.  That I run the race, with my eyes fixed on Him, free of the entanglement and weight of sin.  Satan wants us to be entangled.  Wants us to be stunted and ineffective.  Then Satan can move on to the next willing victim, knowing that we've been rendered helpless.

I don't like feeling helpless, and I suspect that no one does.  But that's when God reaches out.  He's softened my heart, and He can soften yours.  He's been ready and waiting for me to be sorry for my thoughts and feelings.  He wants us to flourish and be effective.  He wants us to know that there are many who are watching us, cheering us on, both here and in heaven above.  He wants us to realize that nothing, absolutely nothing matters except Him.

What kind of baton are you passing to the next generation?  What kind of race are you running?  A race with purpose, with a goal in mind?  Or a race that meanders here and there, going in fits and starts?  Or are you sitting on the sidelines?  You have truly asked Christ to make a difference in your life, but you don't know how to run the race.  Or you ran for a while and then got tired.  Or bored.  Or felt too sophisticated to run anymore.  Or maybe you're not even in the stadium.  You think all this talk about Jesus is silly, and that there ought to be lots of different ways to heaven (if it even exists).  And as long as you feel that way, I need to be even more determined in the manner in which I run the race, so that you no longer see me, but you see Jesus.  That's all.  Just Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author
and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy
set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oh, my head!

I see that my last post was on April 16, 2012.  That was just six days before my accident -- literally, it seems, the end of the world as I once knew it -- happened.  If you are "friends" with me on Facebook, then you already know what happened.  If not, well, then, I guess here goes.

The human brain is an amazing creation.  And, yes, we are CREATED beings - we did not evolve out of primordial goo in a thick pea soup of electrons and neurons.  We were created by a heavenly Father who is still extremely interested and loving towards His creation.  Even the ones who shake their fist at Him.  The brain is an extremely complex organ, surrounded by cushioning fluid and protected by a hard skull.  Some of our skulls are harder than others, but that is a story for another time.

When the skull is hit by something - let's just say a hard hit baseball, like a line drive foul ball, shall we? - going approximately 80 - 90 mph off an aluminium bat - there is an instant reaction.  The scalp is instantly split along the seams of the baseball.  The baseball bounces off, not even bloody because it bounced off the skull as if it hit concrete (in fact, witnesses said it sounded like it hit concrete.) The skull is either dented or crushed (thankfully, mine is just dented), the head snaps back, suffering a whiplash effect, and the brain inside is shaken like grey jello.  If fluid backs up into cavities in your skull, between the bone and the brain, then your equilibrium is affected, causing balance problems and motion sickness.  Also, the hearing can be affected, and tinnitus often results.  (Tinnitus is a ringing or swishing sound in your head; can be constant or intermittent, and can drive a person nearly crazy.)  If the person is really unlucky, then the baseball can cut an artery, causing massive amounts of bleeding.

That is what happened to me on April 22nd.  I'm told I drifted in and out of consciousness.  All I remember is closing my eyes because the sun was way too bright.  I know that I was blessed to have a critical care nurse and a family nurse practitioner there on the scene immediately, or I could have bled to death.  The ambulance certainly took their time - so I've heard - and I guess they just figured someone had a little bump from a fly ball.  I didn't realize until I was told that I was sitting in a pool of blood, or that Albert, my sweet canine companion, was covered in blood.

I just remember being extremely thankful.  Thankful that I didn't lose an eye, or that my facial bone structure hadn't been crushed.  Thankful that sweet, caring and capable nurses were there, tending to my wounds, holding my hands, keeping me afloat.  Thankful that my God is a great and powerful God and that His plans for me will not be sidetracked by a foul ball.  God is bigger than a baseball.

I've been asked "why did this happen to you?", like I'm a person who deserves better treatment or something.  My reply is "why not me?".  Why not?  Why shouldn't I suffer pain - sometimes terrible pain? Why shouldn't I be reduced to nothing?  In my weakness, God is made strong.  This injury has stripped away the facade of Judy, the self-sufficient person who is always in control - sometimes, too much control.  It's now very basic - will I be able to sleep with the noise in my head?  If I sleep, will I wake up with a headache?  If I don't wake up with the headache, how much time will I have (productive time) before it slams into my head like a freight train?

There is no "concussion pill" or "concussion shot".  There is nothing that will make it go away, except time.  And a grade 3 concussion can take a very, very long time to heal.  So I put aside my typical witty, brilliant self and totally rely on God.  Is that where He wanted me to be?  Did He allow this to happen (and yes, He did), in order to slow me down?  To keep my eyes fixed on Him - the author and finisher of my faith?  Is this a thorn in my side - a distraction - that will try to steal my joy?  For we forget that happiness is based upon circumstances, but joy is based upon our relationship with God.  And in my present circumstances, I get pretty unhappy, I'll admit.  But I'm learning to cope.  Learning that I need to rest for an hour or so each day. Learning that I cannot go to the movies because of motion sickness and aversion to noise.  Learning that I can't sit through an entire praise and worship set at church because of the same reason.  But today, I was able to sit through most of it!! and was able to lift my voice in song and in praise to my Creator, the One who holds me in the palm of His hand.  For I am the apple of His eye, His very treasured possession.

So friends, if you see me and I look a little drawn or have a little frown on my face, it's not because I'm mad or upset.  I'm either hurting or it's hard for me to concentrate because of the din in my head.  But God has given me grace enough to work - to minister to my clients and their precious children.  God is giving me the grace for each day.  Each step.  Each breath.  A little at a time.  All while He lavishes me in His love, grace and goodness.  He has not forgotten me.  He just needed me to lean on Him a little harder, meditate on Him a little longer, be just a little more thankful to Him each day.  I could have been killed or significantly mentally impaired, but I was spared.  Obviously, there is a purpose and a reason for my being here.  I am prayerful that I will show God's great love and mercy towards all, for it His desire that all should be drawn to Him.

A baseball is a beautiful thing.  The seams are all sewn in a uniform manner - each baseball is the same, yet different.  Inside the baseball is a wad of string with a hard core, covered in leather.  Some are valuable because they have a famous player's signature on them.  Some are valuable because of the event they were used in - like the World Series or the All-Star game.  The one that hit me is valuable because it revealed God's great love and mercy towards me.  Sure wish I had that ball......

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thank God for Jesus

I guess the title of this post doesn't really make sense, does it? But I was reading in Colossians again, and my fingers started itching to write some things down. I've kind of come to the conclusion that this is as much of a diary or journal that I'll ever have, and I want my kids to have something behind that they can crawl into my head and either see my foolishness or whatever small grain of wisdom they can glean from my musings. Hang on tight, because I get a little preachy. But if you know me well, you're not surprised, are you?

So I was reading Chapter 1, beginning in verse 15 where Paul begins to describe the character of Christ. This is immediately after Paul's prayer for the believers at the church of Colosse (and indirectly, the church at Laodicea, since this letter was meant to be read by them as well). I was reading and was struck by the fact that Paul goes into very elementary detail about God's attributes, His deity, and omnipotence. Intrigued, I asked myself, "Judy, why did Paul go into all this detail about God?" The only logical answer was that Paul did it because this church didn't know. Colosse was in what's now known as Turkey, and was an important trade route for the Roman Empire. Not as important as Ephesus, a port city, or as Laodicea, but important nonetheless.

I say all this to point out the obvious fact (which has just now become obvious to me, but I'm a slow learner) that Paul's audience was not Jewish, nor did they have a Jewish background. Paul's description of God would have been very offensive to a pluralistic society, and to their worship of many gods. And boy, is it offensive today!!

Reading this, my mind raced ahead to "Earth day", coming up on April 22nd. Talk about a pagan holiday -- this is it! People all over the world will make a huge show of worshipping the creation, NOT the creator! We will hear about all the good works done by people to protect the environment, improve the conditions of the planet, reduce greenhouse gases, etc. Now, I don't think that anything that helps humankind be a better steward of the Earth is a bad thing at all, but what I object to is the elevation of the planet Earth over the people who inhabit the planet. We were given dominion (by God - read Genesis) over the Earth, but it is a sacred trust in that we should be good, kind, compassionate and leave the planet a better place for our children and grandchildren. For example, when we go camping, I make sure the campsite is cleaner when we leave than when we get there. It's my duty to not throw trash out of the car window, my duty to be kind and compassionate to animals (especially if I"m going to eat them); and my duty to be a responsible citizen. But I do all this because I'm a steward, not because the Earth is something to be worshipped. Worshipping idols is alive and well in America. We just don't have little statues in our houses, build an altar to them or kill a lamb in front of them. But we sacrifice our unborn babies on the altar of convenience, and we worship ourselves when we put ourselves before our God, our spouse and our children.

But the idea to the citizens and new believers at Colosse was much like the ideas and beliefs of this post-modern, progressive era in which we live. What do you mean, they ask, how can you be so arrogant as to say that Jesus created all things and that all things were created for Him? These are the same people who worship evolution and science, but that's another topic for another day. Plus, the thought that God has charge of the rulers of the Earth is also a sore subject for many. Somehow, I can't see Vladimir Putin or Hugo Chavez acknowledging that they are in power by God's design. Just not going to happen, is it? And once, we had representatives in our government who believed that they had a sacred responsibility to answer to God for their decisions and governing over the American people. It always amuses me to see elected officials scurrying to church during an election season. I mean, if they're not going to church before they run for election or re-election, then how stupid do they think we are? Unfortunately, many of our elected officials can count on the gullibility of the average voter.

But the main point of my devotion today was contemplating Christ's death on the cross. Paul has already explained that Christ was supreme over everything in creation, including the angels, but then he goes on to talk about the blood. the blood is very, very offensive to modern day society, as it was to the citizens of the Greek & Roman empires. The thought that blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins was an absolutely revolting idea for them. How primitive! The Jews still had their sacrificial system then, you see, because the Temple was still standing. The church at Colosse had jumbled up pagan beliefs, Jewish legalism, Greek philosophy and thrown in a little mysticism which resulted in false teaching.

Fast forward to 21st century America. Most folks, when asked, will tell you that to get to heaven you have to be a good person and do good things for others. That's nice and it sure would eliminate our prison system if everybody did that, but that's not the truth. Beginning in Genesis, it is clear that man can never be good enough, or holy enough, on their own by their own actions. Who are we measuring ourselves by? I can say that I'm better than some personin jail for dealing drugs. But that person can say she's better than a murderer. Then, that person can say, well, I may be a murderer, but I'm not as bad as Charles Manson. Heck, even Charles Manson can say to himself, at least I'm not as bad as Hitler......and Hitler killed millions less than Stalin and Mao-Tse tung. People are using the wrong measuring stick, aren't they. I can make my own yardstick, and have 36 inches of various sizes, none truly an inch and can sincerely believe that I've measured a yard. But is it a true 36-inch standard yard? I can get in my little red & black convertible, put down the top and decide to go to California. Heading east. Will I make it to California from Georgia heading East? No way. I'll run into the Atlantic ocean in about 6 hours or so. Even if I sincerely believe that I'm heading to California, I'm sincerely wrong. Just as all roads do not lead to California, neither do all roads lead to heaven. And that's very, very offensive to most people, just as it was to the recipients of this letter.

Again, I'm chasing rabbits. Because they main point that struck me this morning as I studied was the question of Christ's physical death on the cross. His past actions have resulted in a method by which my past-due account can be wiped clean. That's what "reconciled" means. It's an accounting term - you know, how you reconcile your bank account and if you've written everything down properly, you come out even. I never write things down and often forget to keep track of my expenditures, so it's typically a surprise to me at the end of the month to find out either that I have money or I don't have money. Crazy, isn't it? I usually have a pretty good idea in my head as to how much I have, but sometimes I'm pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised. Getting back to the physical death of Christ on the cross. The Jewish priests had been slaughtering goats, lambs, birds, bulls, rams, etc. for years. Over and over, the sacrifical blood was spilled for the sins of the people. Sticky, stinky blood staining the stones of the altar. Cascading over the sides of the altar onto the stone floor of the temple. Splashing onto the robes, legs and sandals of all those standing near to the altar. Sacrifices, even human sacrifices, have been practiced for thousands of years by man in an attempt to please their God or gods. But the dumb animal had no soul to present spotless and blameless before God. Although just one man, the blood sacrifice of Jesus was enough to make all things clean. "Peace" - we can rest in Him, knowing that we don't have to do anything - it's all been done. Right before a party at your house, you're running around, vacuuming, dusting, cooking, cleaning, making sure everything is perfect for your guests. Sometimes, you get finished before the first guest arrives, so you plop down in your favorite chair and rest just a minute. It is done, you think. There's nothing else to do. (there probably are a few dust bunnies you've missed, but that's beside the point - when you're doing housework with four kids and four weenie dogs, you're never completely done, trust me.) But this time, it really was finished. We can rest in Jesus, secure in the knowledge that He did everything for us & there's nothing we can do to earn our salvation.

Boy, that galls some people, doesn't it? They either acknowledge Jesus as a good man, or teacher, or they accept His deity - equal to God. Was it His physical death that saved us? or did He experience a spiritual death? I don't think so. But he agonized before His death, bearing all the sins - past, present and future - of the entire world. I dare say that the spiritual pain He suffered far, far exceeded the physical pain He suffered. He was already limited physically to space & time when he assumed the skin, muscle, bones & brain of a man. He gladly gave up his "invisibility" (v. 15) when He became God in skin. He had been hampered by that since birth; He couldn't physically be in the presence of the Father in heaven. What a relief it must have been for Christ to be reunited in heaven with the Father! Fully God yet fully man while bound to this Earth, His costly blood sacrifice means that we no are free in Him!

Most will reject the idea of a Savior, because they don't realize they need saving. You don't need a rescuer if you don't know you're drowning, do you? But when you begin to gulp in water instead of air, when you're flailing in the water, desperately seeking something - anything - you can grab on to, you know you need saving. So much so that the rescuer sometimes drowns along with the victim. Not so with Christ - and if people only knew how desperately they need rescuing, they would grab onto Him and never, ever let go. People today place their faith in science, technology, knowledge, bank accounts, family, their reputation, their position, their career. All of which can be gone in an instant. I'd much rather place my faith in Christ alone. v. 17 - He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Not all roads lead to California from Georgia, and not all beliefs lead to heaven. It's my calling and my passion to spread the word about the road map - the Bible - God's gift to mankind. Thank God for Jesus!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Meaningful Life?

I guess it was inevitable. I'm getting to the reflective point in my life where I say to myself, "Self, are you ever going to amount to anything?" I wonder if it's because I'm a spoiled, only child that I am so absorbed with my own accomplishments. You see, I'm of the era where Dr. Spock (not Mr. Spock) ruled with a soothing voice. The iron-fisted method of raising children was passe, you see. You didn't want to hurt the little darlings' egos, did you? Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone wins a ribbon. Encourage the heck out of them. Tell them they can do anything. Can accomplish anything. Well, that's hogwash.

I'll never be President. I'll never go to the moon, or even to outer space. I'll never sail the world. I'll never (fill in the blank here). I'll never make the cover of People magazine (guess that's a good thing). Heck, I'll never even go around the world (too expensive). It's easy to sit around and dwell on the things I'll never do or can't do. I'll hit the double-nickle this year. Yep, I'll be 55 years old in August. So I can't, in all fairness, refer to myself as middle-aged. How many 110 year old people do you know running around, after all? My bones creak and ache. I dread the thought of exercise, although I know I desperately need it. I am tired; continually exhausted with the daily grind of life. I need, no, I'm gasping for the endurance and patience that God has promised me. I long for a close, true friend, just one, with whom I can share all things and with whom I can be totally transparent.

Watching the Masters yesterday, I was struck by the realization that Bubba Watson has never taken a golf lesson, doesn't have a coach and has never watched his swing on video. He's what they call a "natural". He shouldn't be able to do what he does, but he does. I toy with the idea of taking up golf, tennis, or something but then laughably acknowledge that I'm far too uncoordinated to do anything like that! Always the scrawny kid - always the last one picked for a team - always the easy out. That's me.

Do we all reach the age or the realization that we'll never be significant, except to a handful of people? Is anybody else disappointed with that realization, or is it just me? I think of the billions of people on this planet today who will be born, will live and die in relative obscurity. Is it just an American obsession with significance? Is is a modern-day evolution of the psyche that we grope for significance? How long has navel-gazing been an acceptable pastime?

This whole thought process swelled from my reading in Colossians this morning. The prayer that is encompassed in Chapter 1, verses 9 through 14 is a perfect example of a prayer we should pray for other believers and also for ourselves. Neither Paul nor Timothy planted the church at Colosse, but their friend, Epaphras, had established the church there. But their reputation -- the way they were living their lives, their faith, their love for each other -- had reached Paul and Timothy. Paul prayed a "proscuno prayer" for that church; a fall on your face kind of prayer - a worshipful prayer - for that church. He prayed that they would have "epignosis" - full discernment - of God's will for them.

I want epignosis. Don't you? I want someone to pray a proscuno prayer for me. I want to be controlled by and filled with the full knowledge and discernment of God's will for me. Why? Verse 10 tells us - "in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God". Paul goes on to say that we should be strengthened with ALL power. The Greek word he uses here is where we get our word for dynamite. All power, huh? Explosive, tremendous power. The kind that implodes buildings, blows the tops off mountains, and rattles the windows for miles around.

Live a life worthy of the Lord. Please Him in every way. Bear fruit (teach and disciple others). Grow in the knowledge of God. Is that the secret? Is that what countless others have learned that I'm just now beginning to grasp? Is that all there is to this Life?

Does it matter that I'm only significant to a few around me? As long as I'm living a life worthy of the high calling of Christ, then that's enough. As long as I'm being faithful and BOLD to tell others about Jesus and His loving sacrifice for them, teaching others, and growing in my own knowledge of God and his mercies, then that's enough. As far as endurance and patience go, He has qualified me to share in His inheritance. "Qualified" here means that it's a done deal. His past actions on the cross have assured the future result of my standing before God.

As far as my children go, and for a few others around me, I long to be significant to them. Not for any personal accomplishment, but significant in my passion for Christ. With great strength, He rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son he loves. The one who laughs at his or her need for God is the one who is living a meaningless life. An insignificant life.

Let's just hope I can remember this lesson the next time I'm groping for some significance in my own life. I've got a feeling this is a lesson I'll be learning each and every day. Until I'm 110.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where have I been?? Living, of course!

It's strange how life gets in the way of living, isn't it? I found out today that a mom with a son on Stephen's baseball team is "into" blogs, and told her about my blog. Then it dawned on me that I hadn't touched it in a long, long time. If blogs were like houseplants, this one would surely be dead.

Spring, although beautiful in northeast Georgia, is such a difficult and melancholy time for me. And now more so than ever -- our sweet next door neighbor passed away a week or two ago. He and his wife have truly adopted our family (boy, they didn't know what they were getting into!! haha), and he was Stephen's golfing buddy. Now he's gone, my mother's been gone 16 years now, and the beauty has faded from spring.

I'm not sure where to start - first off, we're no longer a "homeschooling" Bulldawg family. Yep, the unthinkable happened - we sent the kids off to public school. It was a gradual slide; the boys went first this past school year. Sam to play baseball, Stephen just because. Then the girls went in November. The house got suddenly quiet. Just me and the weenies. But my adoption practice had skyrocketed, and it was no longer fair to the kids for me to be gone so much and no longer fair to me to expect me to juggle everything. Like the man on the Ed Sullivan show spinning the plates, my plates were spinning out of control.

We are still a traveling family - went to St. Louis this past Labor day weekend to see Albert Pujois play in a Cardinals uniform for the last season. Had a great visit there and plan to go back this year. Camping, the beach, other trips......all scheduled around a very hectic baseball season(s). If you've ever had a son play travel baseball, or even had a child play a travel sport, you soon realize that your life is no longer your own. Your schedule not your own. Free time? Forget about it! Baseball in the spring, summer, fall & don't forget those winter workouts. So much more competitive these days.....

We're still Bulldawgs, too. Mourned our loss in the SEC championship game to the LSU tigers, and secretly rejoiced when they got their tails whipped by 'Bama in the national title game. Freaked out because Michigan State -- what???? Michigan State?? beat us in the bowl game in January. I have to think like a Cubs fan - next season will be OUR season.

And we're still a family. I've found out that although some things change, they will always be the same. Still a family. Looking out for each other. Laughing together. Crying together. Fighting together. The simple decision to get up each morning and love one another - especially my husband - is a decision that I gladly make. The alternative is not pretty. Because I cannot be dependent upon Larry to make me happy. I can't depend on my work to make me happy; neither can my children make me happy. Happiness is a choice, and is based on circumstance. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit; one that I'll gladly embrace, even in my sorrow over lost loved ones, financial difficulties, lost career opportunities and the like.

And that's where I've been ..... hope to hear from you soon!