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1 Bible verse to be a Better, More Consistent Parent

Can 1 Bible verse help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Can 1 Bible lesson from James soften my heart and help me be a better, more consistent parent? Could standing firm actually make me more loving?

One of my favorite experiences as a believer is how God’s word has become this amazing love letter and an active presence in my life as I spend time in it.

Proverbs 7:1,3 (ESV1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments within you  . . .  3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

When I face struggles, God brings His peace and answers to my mind, helping me understand why we write His treasured words on our hearts.

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But how does the Bible actually help me be a better, more loving, more consistent parent?

Being MOM is challenging in ways I never imagined. Oh, the things we have to say . . .

“No, it’s NOT mommy’s job to unstick your wedgie!” was a real conversation I had to have MORE THAN ONCE.

While it has humorous moments, it’s also a fight that erodes our peace and strength at times. I just grow weary: weary of repeating myself, weary of the same tasks and chores, weary of the same issues over and over.

I’ve learned parenting is really front lines Ephesians 6 battle for the souls and futures of my family. We fight human failings and sinful natures. Every attitude and decision shapes the atmosphere of my home, transforming our relationships with each other and with God.

Can 1 Bible verse help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Knowing God’s truths prepares my heart to face my battles with righteousness and peace, even when my largest combatant is around 4 feet tall. 😉

But sometimes the lessons come from unexpected places, verses I wouldn’t have found searching for parenting wisdom, but verses that help me clearly understand the character God wants me to have.

One week last year was full and busy with my older boys visiting from their mother’s. The house feels bustling, complete, joyous when they are here, but we also enjoy a messy chaos. But asking for help with cleaning tasks seems to release the inner debater in my children.

As I dusted, I prayed over my frustration with them. Why does it always have to be a debate?

Can 1 Bible lesson help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

And a verse came to mind.

James 5:12b ESV  .  .  .  but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

While in context, this verse is about making oaths, I immediately felt convicted about my reluctance to hold firm to my parenting expectations. It may not directly relate, but the essence of the verse is to mean what we say and stick to it.

And as parents, our expectations are a type of promise because they help our children know what to expect from us and who we really are.

Consistent parenting is a promise that tells our children what to expect & who we are. Click To Tweet

As a child, I despised because I said so. I vowed to do my best to answer the why questions of my children. But in an effort to help my children understand, I’ve taught them too much is open to negotiation.

Kids need clear directions from a consistent parent.

By letting my NO mean MAYBE too many times, I’ve sabotaged myself as a parent, and perhaps done a disservice to them as children in God’s family, too. As an adult, I’ve had to learn obedience to God is often doing without knowing why right away.

Of course, kids will always challenge boundaries, but consistency allows me to stay calm and peaceful even when their disobedience leads to consequences because I can be sad and disappointed with them in their poor choices.

Trying to always explain WHY, I've taught them too much is open to negotiation. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, I look into my daughter’s eyes pooling with tears, and I don’t want to send her to bed without dessert, but quietly holding her to the consequences will teach her the fruit of the spirit by example.

And that points her to Heaven, not Harvard.


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Yesterday, as we were leaving church, I stopped to chat with our youth pastor. I asked him how he is feeling about getting ready to be a first time daddy. He laughed nervously and said, “OK, but ask me again in a few months.”

I wanted to tell him it will be OK, that you can plan, but you can’t really be prepared for how a baby changes life. I tried to explain, but I couldn’t find the words to truly express what a magical journey parenthood is.

God carefully crafted parenthood, every step. He planned how children grow with how we learn. They start off pretty simple: feed, burp, change, and sleep. Once we master that, they start to roll over, then sit. Our family started off a bit more challenged than most. In the NICU, every time we moved her something beeped. We spent those first few days afraid to touch her, but learned to take her temperature, give her a bath, and feed her once she was allowed to eat by mouth. We got the hang of diaper changes and dressing our premie in her teeny tiny clothes after a few days. Even so, I drove away from the hospital feeling like, “You’re letting us leave with her??”

Everything was new again once we got home. We spent time learning about sleeping routines, gas drops and gripe water, using the baby monitor, and washing the baby laundry in Dreft.  After a few days, we had a routine. Then she grew a bit, her needs changed, and we figured it out again. Every time she changed, I had just enough ability to stave off complete chaos. When I got the hang of that stage, she would change again. Some days felt exhausting, especially since my husband deployed right after the adoption was final and days after I went back to teaching full-time. I look back and think, wow, I survived that year. It was rough stuff, but never harder than I could survive. Sometimes, circumstances were harder than I wanted, were tougher than I was in the moment. Not to say there weren’t failures and disasters, but nothing was ever so hard I couldn’t get through it.

God always gave me just enough, just enough energy to survive the day, just enough wisdom to not lose my mind. When I think about how God provided for me as a parent, just enough patience, just enough knowledge, I am reminded of the story in the desert from Exodus.

Exodus 16:16-18 “16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ ” 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.”

God provided just enough manna for the Israelites in the desert each day, not too much, not too little. He gave them just enough to rely on Him for another day. He wanted them to know they lived on His word, by His grace and power, not by human means.

Now that our sweet daughter is four, testing boundaries, asserting her opinions, we have days I feel I have this parenting gig ‘on lock,’ and days I feel like I want to lock her in her room and cry. I don’t have all the answers, but when I cry out to God for the strength to control my emotions, for wisdom in the moment, He always answers. The answers always come when I am truly seeking His desires for my heart. And when I hear His voice, I am never the same.

This weekend every meal has been a struggle.  I don’t know what her issue with food is this week, but I do know that I can instruct and guide or let my frustration damage our relationship. I haven’t stumbled on any magical answers. We use a timer, stars on her chore chart, and now she gets served nothing else until she finishes the food she was served, within reason. I am learning that I cannot control her, I can only teach her to control herself, and mostly by example. Before I react, I reach for the peace of God.

Today when I started to get frustrated, God’s answer to my quick prayer was, “Is this an emergency? If not, don’t treat it like one.” I was able to keep calm, enforce the rules, establish consequences that were fair and reasonable. Then I laughed with her, made it fun, praised her when she took bites happily. She raced to finish her milk before I finished my water. I focused on being empathetic without letting her just have her way.

thoughts-4I had enough answers for today. And our Christian walk with God is kind of like that. If we’re listening, He gives us what we need for where we are in Him and in life. By reading the Bible, we know what the finish line looks like, but have no idea how we personally will get there. I picture a path of stepping-stones carrying us over the torrents of life. We can’t see all the way across. We can only see what we need for right now, but somehow it is always enough. When I truly put my faith in Him, I always have enough strength, enough patience, enough energy. When I rely on myself, I can slip off the path, getting drenched in the murky waters, but when I open my Bible and my heart, the next stone rises to meet my step.

John 14:26 ESV  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

When I finally let the Holy Spirit start working in my heart, I noticed His teachings, how he brings ideas to my attention. He gives me a perspective separate from my own and strength to love others with His love.

Yesterday, I was completely wiped out. All I wanted to do was watch TV and order pizza. I didn’t want to wash a dish or cook a meal or fold a sock or even be mommy. My husband has been working late every night and hunting the nights and days he didn’t have to work. It has been two weeks of being almost completely on my own with multiple medical appointments, softball practices and games, and a few days with a sick kid (fighting catching it myself). I started feeling selfish and resentful, but I knew it wasn’t what God wanted me to demonstrate to my husband. I asked for the wisdom to know how to act and the heart to treat him correctly.

Normally my husband cooks on the weekends, but I sensed that wasn’t what he needed. I offered to make dinner as soon as we came home from church, while my husband went to play with our daughter. They got a couple of hours to just play. They both needed that so much. My day didn’t get easier; my attitude shifted. I had the chance to love my husband. I let him hug me, told him I was tired. Then I realized he must be, too. He had worked from before dawn until 9 or 10 p.m. for several days in a row, so I asked him what he needed.

One, he needed me to listen to him. He needed my attention and compassion. As I listened to him talk, I realized he needed me to give to him more than I needed him to give to me. Instead of being selfish, God gave me just enough wisdom to suggest he spend the afternoon in the woods and to let himself enjoy it no matter the outcome, a deer for the freezer or not.

And miraculously, I had just enough energy for my day, just enough strength to take care of the kid and the dishes, to pack his lunch and prep his coffee, handle counting practice and story time, and to be ready to listen when he came home from his adventure, in which he slipped and fell into a creek because there were no stepping-stones. When he tried to jump it, his foot got caught on a tree root. He crashed down backwards onto his tree stand backpack. He literally lay in the creek, angry and alone, feeling water seep into his clothes and boots, stuck in the mud because the weight he was carrying got pulled into the thick, Georgia mud.

I had already been thinking about this entry, had already titled it stepping-stones thinking about the power of God’s provision and direction for our parenting, our lives, and our faith, but as I listened to him, laughing as he acted out his fury at the tiny creek, I thought to myself, thank God for His stepping-stones.

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Tights are not pants

Yesterday, God gave me a real opportunity to meet my daughter where she was. I was heading to a preparatory meeting for a local speaking engagement. I needed her to put her shoes on. After ten minutes, I called for her to come get into the car. She comes out of her bedroom in her t-shirt, sandals, and tights – no pants. Of course I giggled at her silliness, but suggested that she needs actual pants before we leave the house. After attempting to reason with her, I tried to take the easy way out and tell her that they had a hole instead of arguing the “tights are not pants” point.

tights-are-not-pants-pleaHa, ha. The joke was on me. She went into her room for another ten minutes, changing into ANOTHER pair of tights that didn’t have holes. And oh, the meltdown when I said she couldn’t wear that out in public. She even tried to pull her shirt down over her bum. “What if I do this?” she asked. Um, no, tights are not pants. She began to have a full tantrum. Through the tears and cries, I thought I heard something along the lines of “wahhh, I want to feel pretty!’

Luckily, we weren’t really expected at any specific time, so I was able to take a breath and really respond to her.

“Why do you want to wear the tights?”

“They are fancy. I like to be fancy.”

Oh, sweet girl! My heart melted when I saw her disappointment. In that moment, God gave me a soft heart for her instead of one rushed and determined with my own agenda.

“You are right. You haven’t gotten fancy for a while. Would you like to get fancy for church on Sunday?”

“Yes! with my tights?” Her face lit up when I said, of course. Then she immediately got up, put back on her pants and shoes so we could leave. It was kind of amazing.

When I met her where she was, validated her feelings, she was able to respect me and hear me. When she was so bogged down in being upset that she couldn’t hear me, I wasn’t going to be able to make progress with her.

It is a ridiculously simple trick that solves so many parenting battles. Meet her where she is and give her choices. She doesn’t understand why showing her hiney isn’t appropriate. She didn’t understand why I was hurrying out the door. She did know how she felt.

A few months ago, I would have wanted to handle the situation appropriately, but probably would have gotten frustrated. I would have set consequences and gotten her dressed, but would have missed the chance to love her. I loved her by not making it a battle with her. I loved her by taking the time to listen to her. I didn’t let her misbehave, but I gave her control in an appropriate way.

Ephesians 4:2 ESV “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

My patience with her four-year-old quirks and my willingness to see from her perspective were real gifts from God. Not only did she feel good about the exchange, but instead of starting the tightsnotpantsouting frustrated, I felt loved and respected right back. And we didn’t end up on the people of Walmart website, which is always a plus in rural Alabama.

Maybe someone needs to forward this information to this poor woman, in the spirit of love, of course.

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The last 365: Saving Eliza

If you only read one entry of mine – read this one. If you only share one entry – share this one. If you never come back to Heaven Not Harvard, but we find a way to make a miracle, then God used me today and that is enough. If you are a blogger at all, please read to the end for a special challenge.

With all the kids heading back to school, it has really hit home that this is it. This is my last year of being home with my daughter all day, everyday. Next year she will be heading off to school. Our home and church won’t be her whole world anymore. She will have teachers, friends, and experiences of which I am not a part. Daddy and I will still be her most important people for a while, but those days are numbered as well. We are already being replaced by a tiny pig in “temporary” residence.

1544503_10202334006971616_974680681935303742_nSomewhere on Facebook (I can’t remember where) I saw a post that said, essentially, “someday my child will leave home and take her memory of me.”

I felt like that spoke to my heart in such a profound way. I was immediately humbled, taking a moment to really consider what memories will she take? Am I really giving her my best attention and focus despite the medical challenges and physical limitations? Who will I be in her mind? In her childish, imperfect memory, will I have gotten more things right than wrong? Will I have made sure to treasure every story, backrub, lengthy ridiculous excuse about why she cannot possibly go to bed right now? Am I parenting with intentionality?

I resolved to really spend this year making all the memories I can, and this post just ignited the passion to make every second count. My last 365 with my baby girl at home, I was teary-eyed thinking about it.

And then I was challenged by a friend to do the #sing2lines challenge for #savingeliza. This little girl is a friend of a friend’s friend, making her more than just a face on the screen. I had donated when I first heard of this cause and shared the links on my Facebook page. I follow their gofundme page and remember to pray for her, but I get busy. Her story gets lost in my daily busyness. When it gets brought back across my mind, I am struck all over again by the horror of her disease.

Because, she is more than just a faceless cause, in her place, I see my daughter who is just a few months younger than Eliza. I feel the crushing weight of knowing that her parents are counting down the number of days Eliza will able to sing, dance, talk, breathe; they will  be counting the days until they watch her have seizure after seizure, knowing eventually she will die and it will be both heartbreaking and an end to her pain.

Laying in bed, snuggled up to my Lil Bit this morning, I read her father’s words about Eliza’s disease and sobbed.sing2lines

Last July, our 4-year-old daughter Eliza was diagnosed with a rare terminal genetic disease called Sanfilippo Syndrome-Type A. In one terrifying instant, we were told that we would have to watch her fade away before our eyes.

Eliza and other children with this disease are missing an essential enzyme for normal cellular function. Over time, a toxic material called heparan sulfate builds up in their brain and body leading to severe disability and death before they even reach their teens.   This disease affects both genders, all races, all countries and continents.  It is everywhere and the world needs to know.

Eliza Today and Her Future

Right now Eliza is a fun loving 4-year-old who loves to sing, run and MOST of all, cuddle. She loves to play dress up and horse around with her rowdy big brother Beckham. She is, however, beginning to show signs of the disease in her learning and attention. And if nothing changes, it will only get worse from here.

By age 6, most children with her disease have irreversible brain damage and lose the ability to speak. As the disease continues to tear through her brain and body, she will lose the ability to walk and eventually she won’t even be able to feed herself as seizures ravage her body.

I watch the video and see a beautiful, creative 4-year-old girl who has until she is 5 before her brain and body will begin to show permanent damage from the ravages of this syndrome.

Her parents are literally counting down their last 365 days with their baby girl being able to walk and sing. She may live a few years longer, but in increasing pain. This is the stuff of nightmares, but it is their reality.

They have been ferocious in raising money. But they are short around $700,000 from my understanding. In Ohio, a potential gene-therapy experimental treatment is waiting to clear FDA hurdles and raise the final funds to make Eliza’s miracle happen.

Her parents are doing everything they can to save their baby. Including start their own Facebook challenge. Across my newsfeed, the #ALSicebucketchallenge is taking over, which is amazing. They’ve raised over $15 million since it began. Last year in the same time frame, they raised $1.8. Awesome! If we can get just get everyone who sees this message to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, or wherever – maybe we can reach $700,000. Seems like a modest goal compared to the $15 million doesn’t it?

Click on this link to see the origin of this challenge and news story about the family as of yesterday. Don’t miss seeing this little girl so full of wonderful preschooler energy.

When I watched the video of her parents trying to decide if they should keep her baby toys in case she needs them again, I cried with them. When I listen to what will start to happen when she turns five, I shuddered. Wait – didn’t that say she is already 4 1/2?!? Her days are ticking down like the most hideous ‘Poe’esque clock, with a genetic sword swaying over her precious little golden head.

There are no words that accurately reflect how important raising awareness and funds are to me. We are donating as a family as we can, but our contribution feels like barely a drop in the bucket.

All I know is that the world will know were are Christians by our love, by our love – so I’m doing what little I can to love on this family.

I’ve posted her story and challenge all over Facebook, so much so FB started making me pass a human (captcha) test before posting. And I’m hoping, and I’m praying. So if you’ve read this far, I’m asking you to do three things 1)Donate! at If everyone who read this post, donated a dollar, we’d have raised $15,000 so far. Please donate whatever you can. No amount is too small. 2)Do and share the #sing2lines challenge!!  3) share this post on your preferred social media – get this content to every inch of the globe!!!

If you’re a blogger or author, I’m issuing another challenge – reblog this. Share this post on your blog. I’ve only been doing this for a few months, so my following is small, but if you blog and your followers blog, we can keep this going long enough that Eliza never has to stop singing.

I hope you take a minute to donate, another to sing, and really do some soul searching today. How would you parent if you knew this was the last 365 days?

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It isn’t the rule that matters

Today, my daughter needed to tell me something while I was in the bathroom. We’ve instituted a rule that if the door to the bathroom is closed, she is to knock before entering and/or wait, unless she has an emergency or something is really important. She’s four, so we give her some latitude with what she considers important (i.e. her brother holding a toad in the living room), but today she by-passed three closed doors to get to me. Opening all of them without knocking. So far she has only done this with me, but the rule is partially in place to avoid her walking in on her father or nearly adult brothers, or heaven forbid, a guest.

She stood at the bathroom door, peeking in at me. “I need to tell you sunthing.” I sat there, trying to decide what to do. Her little voice  was so quiet and sweet.

Was it life or death to make her follow this rule? Part of me said, just listen to her, what will it hurt? It will be faster just to hear her out.

But then I realized, that it wasn’t important to make her follow this specific rule because it was that important of a rule, but because if she doesn’t learn to follow the little rules, she won’t learn to follow any of them.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Despite being a rule follower myself, I realized I’ve been letting a lot of little ones slip around here. Instead of holding her to the rules, I try to be nice, taking circumstances into consideration. However, she doesn’t understand the complicated mental processes I’m going through when I decide to let a rule slide for a single circumstance, all she sees is that she can’t count on the rules, that I’m not consistent.

Instead of being nice, I’m really being incredibly unfair. She doesn’t know how to behave because there is no consistency. The result is a lot of discord and disobedience, frustration and anger. I decided that making her follow every single rule every single time might not be right, but I need to be way more consistent. Teaching her what to expect from me every time will help her feel safe and secure in a home that has structure with logical consequences. If we are our children’s first Bibles, first glimpses of God in how we reflect Him, I need to be as Christlike as I know how to be each day, and part of learning to be Christlike is to be consistent.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He never changes. His ways are all the time, for everyone, even when, in His mercy, He created exceptions to the rules and sent His son to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. All we have to do to know what He expects is to read the instructions ( i.e. the BIBLE). When I finally came out of the bathroom, after ascertaining that her “sunthing” was neither emergent nor important, she happily told me some little adorable animal fact she had seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I didn’t have to get upset or raise my voice. I just had to be consistent. This is the rule. This is the expectation. I will happily hear you in a moment, please be patient. She walked away knowing I cared, I want to listen to her, and knowing what I wanted her to do. Wow.

Later today, she tried to act up while a friend was over, throwing a fit over the guest child’s toy. I was focused on our conversation, but took the time to put her into time out, to make sure she was sitting quietly, not shouting at me from the step, then to send her to her room when she couldn’t control herself. She started to throw a fit, but when I counted to three, she ran to her room, sat in her rocker and waited for me to come get her. Being consistent, gently firm, and unwavering helped her understand what I expected and how she should behave. Considering that she went from laying on the floor in front of the stairs yelling that she had no toys to play with to sitting quietly in her chair waiting for me to tell her she could come out, I call that a parenting win. I didn’t have to get angry. Her failure to comply was her problem. I just had to be consistent.

Most parenting experts can tell you, all it takes is ONE exception to an expectation, and children understand all bets are off, whether that expectation is giving up a pacifier or sleeping in his/her own bed. If a parent caves once, children know to exploit that weakness. I’m fallible, I’m weak, but I have to be more consistent because I love her, and want her to know what that means. As an educator, I know I know better, but I didn’t realize how much I had been letting slip in the name of “kindness.” How hard would it be to worship and follow a god like I’ve been acting? I’ve been holding her accountable to a rule, except when I don’t feel like it, then getting angry when the rule isn’t followed the next time.

Thank God for GOD. His law is forever. We can understand who God is and who he calls us to be.

Luke 16:17 ESV “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

I’ve read most of the Bible at least once, some bits way more times, and some parts, I’m working my way through. But when you put it all together in context, with understanding of the WHOLE scripture and the Holy Spirit, God becomes very clear. He is who He is, all the time. If he calls us to be transformed from the ways of this world into His ways, isn’t being consistent and faithful part of becoming more Christlike?

Hebrews 10:23 ESV “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

God is faithful, always. We can know if we confess our sins and believe, that we are forgiven. We are called His sons and daughters. He gives us that to KNOW, not to hope in or assume, but to know because He is faithful. We understand our responsibility and the infinite grace God shares because of who He is.

1 John 5:13 ESV

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So that we may KNOW that when we believe, when we act in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, that we have been redeemed and saved. Shouldn’t my daughter be able to know who I am, what I expect from her, all the time, or at least as much as humanly possible? and to know thy my discipline is guidance and love just as we know to accept God’s discipline (see Hebrews 12) as it brings us closer to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV “God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God is our Faithful Father, calling us, guiding us, disciplining us, restoring us in gentleness, being hard when our hearts are hard, but always holding to the same standard, ‘do not sin.’ I have a hard enough time not sinning when I know what the rules are, when the expectations are clear. I feel a bit ridiculous for expecting my daughter to follow fluid guidelines as if she could read my mind, knowing which time I “really meant it.”

Turns out, it isn’t the rule that really matters. It is choosing to have a few fair rules and enforcing them consistently with love, mercy, and compassion hopefully developing a child who knows how to love others as Christ has called us, and yet knows when to question an unrighteous rule because she truly believes something is wrong, not just questioning and rebelling against everything because she doesn’t have a firm foundation.

Matthew 7:24 ESV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Another day of making sure my actions, my prayers, and my words reflect the words of Christ to teach her to build her life on the Rock because He is always faithful.

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; – See more at:,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf
Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at:,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at:,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf