Thursday, June 27, 2013

Warm with God

Yesterday evening I was growing tired with the kids.  We had just finished a late dinner and I was cleaning up, more than ready for Daddy to come home from work.  I could feel my irritability and lack of patience on the rise.  I think my son was keen to this too.  At one point he asked me what was wrong, "Are you just tired, Mom?"  And a few moments later he came up alongside of me, hugged me right along my middle, and said, "I just prayed for you."  Strangely, I had felt a peace come over me just moments prior.  I told him that I think it worked, and that that was the best thing he could've done for his tired mama.  I then asked him what he prayed.  He said, "I asked God to warm your heart."

And in that moment, he melted mine.

I happen to be currently reading The Power Of Prayer in a Believer's Life by Charles Spurgeon.  How appropriate and resonating are his words to me on this very day.

"Unless we are warm with God, we cannot expect the love of God to manifest itself in us to its highest degree."

Thank you, my son, for knowing just what your Mama needed.
And thank you Father, for hearing and delivering.

This is childlike faith, at its finest.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

40 Day Challenge: The IMMEASURABLY MORE (Part 2)

Another one of God's unexpected blessings that resulted from our 40 day family challenge came out of the new RESPONSIBILITIES we had given the kids.  As a mom, it's easy to end your day feeling a bit overworked and overwhelmed.  In fact, the daily "to do" list for a mother often feels unending.  But I believe that God placed us together in a family so that we could function as a team.  Giving our kids new "jobs" and chores to regularly be responsible for is a way that we can strengthen their game, so that when it's time for them to coach, they'll be prepared to lead their own families on toward victory.

One of the ways I wanted God to work in the heart of our family was by instilling servanthood into my children's lives.  The bottom line: I was doing too much for them and for the household.  I needed help.  They needed to learn to be more responsible for themselves and for each other.

When we tackled this new family challenge, we didn't attach any reward to it.  We simply told the kids that we were expecting God to improve our family and our household through some of the changes we were implementing.  I am all for giving children an allowance and rewarding them for good behavior.  But when it came to their new responsibilities, we intentionally did not attach reward to the accomplishment of these tasks.  I wanted them to learn that as a family, we are a team, we help each other out, and we serve one another out of love...not out of "expecting" something in return.  I wanted them to learn to help out, just because there was a need that needed to be met.  That they should look for opportunities to meet these needs just because God desires them to have a servant's heart.  And that pleases Him.  Pleasing Him is reward in itself.

At first, the kids (or some of them) griped at these new daily chores.  One in particular kept saying, "These new rules are just too hard."  They often compared their work to each other ("But, I did _______, and so and so only did _______.")  I really didn't care.  Life is unfair, and at different times and seasons, we all have to pull our weight and occasionally do more than the person next to us.  The important thing is that the job gets done.  I stressed to the kids that we were not keeping score.  I also threatened to take group privileges away if a task wasn't completed, and left it up to them to decide how and by whom it would get done.  And I made sure they received their due praise and thanks for playing their part and helping out when needed.  Some times, when I noticed one child pulling more weight than another, we gave that child "extra minutes" or extra "cuddle time" at night.  They loved this!

What we found surprised us.  Rather quickly, and with relatively little complaining, the kids jumped on board.  Early on, I sensed that they were feeling good about the work they were doing.  Part of it could have been because they realized it was helpful to me and it put me in a good mood.  Kids want to please their parents, and when they do, it pleases them.  Also, I think it really filled them with a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  They began to take pride and delight in being helpful.  This is what surprised me the most.

But when you think about it, it really should have come as no surprise.  We were created for work.  Even before the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God gave them work to do.  ("The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."Genesis 2:15)  Before sin even entered the world, and life was perfect, man was a working man.  God is constantly at work in and around us, and we are created in His do good works.

By giving my kids new daily responsibilities, it took more pressure off of me and my workload.  I found more time to do the things that I wanted to do.  More time for me!  In fact, while I am on this subject, let me swerve off topic a bit.  Part of my feeling "overworked and overwhelmed" was a direct result of me not taking enough time for myself.  When we started this challenge, I made a conscious effort to do more of this.  Once our homeschooling was completed and the kids had been fed lunch, I put Berlyn down for her nap daily.  During this time, my older two had to read and then do something quietly.  I reserved this time of the day for myself.  Each day I was given about an hour to myself with minimal interruption.  Some days I took care of household responsibilities such as finances or cleaning.  Other times I read or wrote, used the computer, or made a couple of phone calls.  But, it became a time where I could expect a little break and a little quiet.  It's been wonderful and refreshing!

What I also found was that because my workload was lightened a bit, I had more time to enjoy my kids.  When they pitched in, tasks were completed quicker, and it freed up more time for us to play and enjoy time together as a family.  Overall, implementing these changes in our day-to-day was a win-win for everyone, and it increased the flow and joy in our household more than I thought it would.

Because this challenge was "new" to us, we had to iron out the kinks as we went along.  If you are interested in implementing any of these ideas within your household, I'd recommend a couple of things:
1)  Plan to revisit the list of RESPONSIBILITIES on occasion.  Around day 15, we had to tighten up the reigns a bit.  The kids were "forgetting" some of their chores.  It's important to review and revisit them if you want them to stick.  Repetition is everything!
2)  I had wanted to print out the HOUSE RULES and RESPONSIBILITIES in plain sight for the kids to review should they need to, but never got around to doing it.  I'd recommend doing this...finding a place in your home to post these things only reinforces them.  (And it might even save you some words of frustration when your kids aren't abiding and following through...just point your finger to the list and let them figure it out themselves!)
3)  On our 40th day, we decided we should celebrate the completion of our challenge by doing something together as a family.  I mentioned before that I didn't want our family challenge to be "reward-based."  But, I think it's a great idea for the family to come up with a reward or plan to follow through with once the challenge has been met.  Having an incentive and something to look forward to can bring excitement to the journey and help spur you on during those more slow and difficult days.  I wish that, in the beginning, our family would have brainstormed and come up with a plan in how we would celebrate the completion of our challenge.  To be honest, we just didn't think about it until afterwards!

But we did celebrate...and here's proof!
 Day 40:
family dinner at OSAKA
followed by a visit to the local fair.
(I am not so much a "carny," but my kids most certainly are!  They love rollercoasters and rides...Brookie being the bravest and most adventurous of all.  Here, they entertained their little sister by riding the "baby coaster" with her.)

In their eyes, this was the perfect way to celebrate!
And even though our "40 days" is technically over, this challenge was designed to become a lifestyle.  We are still following through on all of the principles, ideas, and changes initially implemented.  Today marks day "60."  Not perfect or fool-proof, but we are still going strong!

"Through love serve one another."
Galatians 5:13

Saturday, June 1, 2013

40 Day Challenge: The IMMEASURABLY MORE (Part 1)

So now that we covered the ground of prelude and nitty-gritty, it's time to share some of God's Wonder-working in our 40 day family challenge.  How He astonished and moved mountains.  How He showed up and did His immeasurably more.

I've contemplated how I should write and share this post.  Some things so personal and private, I've been unsure of the propriety of disclosure.  Some things too wonderful to share, I feared they may come off as boastful, and thought perhaps it best to carry them as treasures for my heart alone.

Yet somehow, the fear of omission won out.   I feared that leaving you all with "fill-in-the-blanks" may take away from God's glory.  Would shortcut evidence of His activity and power within a life, a heart, and a circumstance.  Would slight the truth that God, indeed, is able and capable of doing the "immeasurably more."  That prayer is powerful and effective.  So, as excited and blown away as I still remain when I think of the ways God showed up during our 40 day challenge, I write with trepidation and pray that the sincerity of my heart and the desire to give God all the glory is rightly conveyed.

I'm a believer that God desires that we share each others burdens and rejoice in each other's victories.  In our honest and vulnerable sharing of heart, God can strengthen and encourage others in our midst.  Our stories are meant to be shared.  Most of the Bible contains such faith stories. They are our testimonies.  Our ability to witness and point others to Him.  A record of His faithfulness to His children.

This month is the three year mark of our family's desert season.  I've written about my struggles with doubt, despair, discouragement, and pit-dwelling over this time.  I've shared how God has strengthened and stretched my faith, encouraged and refined me, teaching me to trust and believe Him even when the evidence around me begged to differ.

In January, I chose to deem 2013 as a year in which we would resolve to believe.  To count on His Wonder-working, and marvel at the fact that we would see His wonders in the life of our family.  I see how the first six months of the year He was prepping me for what was to come.  He wanted my heart ripe and ready for the harvest.

I mentioned in my last post that a crucial element to our family's 40 day challenge involved Darcy and I hitting our knees together nightly in prayer.  One of our nightly prayers was that God would open up a door of opportunity for Darcy to work.  Three years ago God called Darcy to a new career.  We gave up a lot as he left his (almost) 10 years of work in the field of education.  At that time, God led me to the book of Jeremiah, telling me that He would restore and rebuild us.  The whole book of Jeremiah is about God tearing down, uprooting, and destroying...and then replanting, rebuilding and restoring.  We thought our family had already been through the tearing down.  We thought that after losing a baby, our home, and a family business, that our season of desert and loss was behind us.  That God was moving Darcy to a new line of work to restore and rebuild us.  We took a leap of faith in following after Him.  But what we found over the past three years was a whole deeper level of desert and loss.

This confused me for quite some time.  There were moments when although I was certain it was God who called us out of education, I doubted the promises He had initially told me He would fulfill in our family.  I thought perhaps I had misunderstood or misinterpreted them.   There were months where I refused to even open up the book of Jeremiah.  I was too afraid to go back and re-read His words.  Fearful that I had and would continue to misinterpret them.  I doubted and couldn't bear to return to this book that had come to mean so much to me, so I avoided it altogether.

On a whim, earlier this year, I admitted this fear to a new friend.  I am not even sure how I came to reveal this to her, as our conversation had nothing to do with this subject matter and revealing it was a bit out in left field.  I see now that it was probably the prompting of the Holy Spirit to disclose this to her.  I hadn't told anyone of it prior.  I was shocked to hear her tell me that she was struggling with the exact same thing.  She mentioned that perhaps we both needed to go back and individually re-read these scriptures He had given us.  So we did.  Afterward, we both felt certain that God brought us together to tell us that His initial individual promises for us still stood.

When I did finally get the courage to go back and open the book of Jeremiah, I kind of cheated.  My Bible is an NIV, and instead of opening my actual Bible...I eased into it by reading The Message version of Jeremiah from my laptop.  I scribbled down notes over the course of a few days as I soaked in His words again.  Often getting glorybumps as familiar verses rang out, strengthening my resolve and belief again that God's promises for our family would indeed be fulfilled.

As I looked around, our circumstances told me that we were doomed.  We had pretty much reached financial devastation and as time went by, our circumstances only grew worse.  We had blown through all of our savings and retirement, and had accumulated so much debt that sometimes I lied in bed feeling hopeless as if there was no way out of it all.  It was like a black hole that tried to swallow me. We were dependent on others to see us through week after week and month after month.  This took a toll on my husband as the sole provider for our family.  It was all so painful and humbling.  And as much as we were thankful that God was providing for us through others, it was sometimes difficult to be gracious receivers.

This next bit of information is what I have struggled with deciding whether or not I should share.  It really leaves me wide open and vulnerable.  But unless I bring clarity to the starkness of our situation, I don't know if the rest of the story will reach it's rightful magnitude.  So, I choose to share.

Back in mid February of this year, we had reached an all-time low.  We were months behind on bills, our electricity was threatened to be shut off if we didn't pay our bill within three days, we had debt collectors threatening and calling us weekly, we were being summoned to court for uncollected bills, had multiple medical bills in collections, our student loans were in default and they were threatening to garnish wages, we were paying taxes from three years ago and still had two years of taxes to pay on top of that, and Darcy's paychecks were growing smaller and smaller.  We begged and prayed that God would bless his business.  We so desperately wanted it to prosper.  We didn't want to throw in the towel.  We didn't want to look for another career.  We didn't want to have to pack up and move out of the area (or the state) to find employment.  Yet, as things began to spiral downward quickly, we knew something had to change.  The mountain of debt before us seemed so insurmountable that we just didn't know how we would get ourselves up from under it.  We knew that it would take years of financial struggle just to climb our way back to a place we had once been.  We despaired.

Back to that cold mid-February day...our cupboards were bare.  I didn't even have enough money in the bank to cover peanut butter and bread.  A friend had sent me a link to a local food bank that was coming into town.  In all honesty, she had sent me the link before, but my pride kept me from going.  After all, how could we have fallen so far?  How could a God who loves us and leads us, bring us to a place of ruin like this?  We were being faithful and obedient to Him.  Even when our bank account wouldn't allow us to pay the light bill, we continued to tithe every bit of income that came into our household.  Whether it was an earned paycheck, or a gift of money, or money gathered from a mom-to-mom sale, we gave back to God what was rightfully His.  Tithing our firstfruits was one area we never compromised.  I believed that through our obedience, God would continue to provide.  And He did.  It wasn't always in the ways we desired, but for months turned into years, He did provide.

The two days prior to our "food bank" day I was an emotional wreck.  I was anxious and irritable and ready to cry at the slightest mishap.  The moments leading up to going to the local food bank, I locked myself in our bathroom with my Bible.  I tried to hush my hard sobs so that my children wouldn't overhear me.  I read Matthew Chapter 6 over and over again in that bathroom...telling myself that God would provide. That we were far more valuable than even the birds of the air.  My kids had caught me fighting tears on so many occasions that when it happened, they just said, "What's wrong mom?  Grown-up stuff?"  My 9 year old begged me to tell him, professing that he was old enough to know what was hurting my heart so deeply.  And all I could ever muster up to tell them was, "It's ok...don't worry, it's just grown-up stuff."

I cried in the car the whole way to the local food bank.  I dreaded that I may run into someone I knew.  From under my baseball cap that I wore to disguise my tear-stained face, I cried the whole way through and the entire way home.  And I was relieved when it was over.  And a bit in shock that it had all really come down to this.  But, as painful and humbling as it was, it was just another way that God was providing.  So I thanked Him through my quiet sobs.

Our kids were aware that our family was getting "help" from others.  We always tried to spin it into a positive, that this was a short-term season, that God was good and we should be so thankful that He placed others in our lives to help us.  How someday, we would do the same for others in need.  They didn't seem to mind at all.  They still had a roof over their heads, warm beds to sleep in, and three square meals a day.  And besides hearing a lot of "no's" when asked to do and buy things, their lives didn't look all that different.

Even in the thick of our season of leanness and lacking, I knew that God would eventually rebuild and restore us.  I had revisited those words in Jeremiah, and knew they would come to fruition for us.  My hope was restored and I began to trust God with our future.  I began to thank Him in advance for the harvest that would come.  I just imagined it to be a long ways away.

So, back to our 40-day challenge, when Darcy and I began to pray together each night, we took this very seriously.  Aloud we declared our mountain of debt to move...we spoke God's Word and His promises over us, claiming them for ourselves, thanking Him in advance for these blessings and promises before they even came to be.  Our belief and resolve was strengthened and we often could feel the presence and power of God hovering over us during this prayer time.  We prayed that God would "wonder-work" in and around us, believing Him to do so.  We took Him at His Word, that:

"you do not receive because you do not ask..." (so we asked!)
"...believe and it will be given to you."  (so we believed)
"abide in me and let my word abide in you, ask and it will be given to you." (so we abided and continued to ask and believe)
"seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you." (so we sought Him first and foremost)

As mentioned several times before, the whole crux of our challenge was Ephesians 3:20...He is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN WE COULD EVER ASK OR IMAGINE."

We prayed this.  Common daily prayer requests included things such as asking God to either bless Darcy's current business or open up doors of new opportunity.  We thanked Him that He would open up the right ones and close the wrong ones.  We prayed that God would increase our faith and give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  That He would cause us to be fruitful and effective and influential to those around us.  That He would bless our relationships, and fill us with a passion for Him and His word above anything else. We thanked God, that although our needs were great, He was ABLE and He was GREATER than all of our needs.  

Over the course of our 40 day challenge,  He did just that!  Darcy is going on his third week in a new career.  At first we struggled with fear at this prospective career move.  But God has taught us a thing or two along the way.  We've learned that sometimes we just have to trust Him, even if we don't have all the answers and all of our ducks are not yet in a row.  Sometimes we have to throw all logic out the window and just follow.  To walk by faith and not by sight.  Small steps of obedience.  Trusting Him with your day and your future, even when you don't have all the answers before you.

We had asked God to open up the "right" door, and trusted that He would do so.  So, when this new opportunity was presented to us, it seemed ridiculous not to look into it.  We didn't know exactly what the job description would be, or what the pay would be, but we had prayed for a door of opportunity. And when God opened a door, in trust, we walked through it.  God filled us with a great sense of peace, and we thanked Him for doing immeasurably more.  In my prayer journal, I wrote that Darcy and I were on "cloud 9"...What we didn't know, is that He had even more "immeasurably more" to show us.

A week and a half into working this new job, Darcy and I still didn't have a set salary offer.  We knew God would take care of us, and that in time, Darcy would have opportunity for growth within this company.  We were excited and content, and continued to thank God nightly for this new opportunity. When you grow to be content with what God has given you, it places you in a position to receive even more. 

After almost two weeks of work, Darcy was given an official set salary.  We were completely blown away when he was offered considerably more than we ever imagined.  We were speechless and dumbfounded, and simply could not believe that God had provided for us in this way.  We are still pinching ourselves over this!

Our long season of desert and leanness is drawing to a close.  God has come through!  God is moving mountains!  God has provided a way out!  God has done the immeasurably more!  He is worthy of all of our praise!

I was curious to see when all of these changes and answers to prayer began to take place in our family challenge, so I took a look back in the journal I've kept over these 40+ days...I see that Day 10 was the day that this potential job opportunity began to be discussed.  The evening that this conversation about opportunity took place, I had written out this prayer in my journal that very morning, (looking back at it now astonishes me!)

"TODAY, I KNOW OUR GOD WILL COME THROUGH! Praise You LORD for future breakthroughs and victories in our family...More of You LORD, less of me.  Show me Your face, unleash Your supernatural, wonder-working power in and through and around me, Darcy, and our family.  Guard our hearts from pride LORD as You begin to reveal Yourself and Your work and Your wonders in and around us.  LORD, we give You all the glory.  Keep us humble, always, before You.   Show us profound evidence of Your activity.  May we always come on bended knee before You, never stealing Your glory, but declaring with all of our lives that YOU ARE LORD!  Astonish us with Your wonderful works.  Interrupt our lives with Your power and presence.  Fulfill Your choice calling in our lives.  Thank You LORD, for Your harvest one hundredfold!"

It gives me goosebumps (glorybumps) to read this!  Little did I know that God was in the works already!  This to me, is just more evidence that this is ALL a God thing! An intricate and divine interweaving.  And that there is much power in prayer!

God has shown Himself to be so faithful.  It makes us cringe and wonder how we could have ever doubted Him.  But, I guess that's part of sanctification and growth.  It's an upward climb, that takes "the climb" to get there. And in one way or another, we will always be climbing, enjoying fresh revelation and mountaintop moments from time to time along the way.

Perhaps I'm a cheesy sentiment, or perhaps it's more of God's weaving, but I happen to be doing a Bible study on the book of Ruth right now (by Kelly Minter.)  As you know, the book of Ruth is all about redemption.  Little did I know when God led me to this Bible study, that our family would soon be entering a season of redemption ourselves.

The author of this Bible study had written that in Ruth Chapter 2, Naomi and Ruth recognized Boaz as their kinsman-redeemer, but things didn't turn around for them right on the spot.  She then writes, "Sometimes God gives us a promise or we sense God bringing a change, but we have to be patient to wait for it's fulfillment."

This resonated well with me, because of the words God had spoken to me nearly 3 years ago through the pages of Jeremiah, telling us that He would restore and rebuild us.  Yet for years, it appeared that the complete opposite was occurring.  It's so exciting to be in a place where we are beginning to see the fulfillment of this promise!  

The author sheds insight here as well:  "Sometimes the LORD takes us on a humbling journey because He knows the heights to which He will one day bring us...that nothing prepares us for enormous blessing and impact like a season of humbling"..."When God has ordained the humbling, you can be wholly certain that His love is the catalyst, and the process is forming in you a meek and gentle heart, preparing you for the abundance  ahead." She states,  "But just as the hollow of winter mysteriously gives rise to the bounty of spring, so times of humbling and hardship prepare us for a wealth of blessing we could have otherwise been unable to handle."  

Darcy and I realize that all we've been through has been necessary preparation for what lies ahead.  God needed to get our hearts, minds, faith, and priorities ready.  What felt like a "tearing down," was in fact a "building up,"  all out of His love for us.

1 Peter 5:6 

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you."

Luke 14:11
"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We see that our season of humbling and hardship, although painful at the time, has put us in a perfect posture for God to raise us up.  I chose to share with you a portion of our humbling season.  Many areas of our life seemed to be spiraling incidents even outside of our Brayden's health and diagnosis of CVS, homeschooling, and another incident that is too personal to share.  One that made us feel that our world was crashing in and that threatened to destroy us.  But God used all these things for our good (Romans 8:28).  He is faithful like that.

I did not choose to share all this with you to boast or get sympathy.  God came through for us, but Darcy and I had very little to do with this besides trusting and obeying Him.  What I desperately hope to convey to you, is that no matter how "far gone" your circumstance may seem, there is nothing out of reach that God can't redeem!  He can redeem ANYthing and ANYbody.  Perhaps you may not need to visit a local food bank in this season of life...but maybe you've reached a point where you need a spiritual food bank, or your marriage does, or some other circumstances have brought you to a place of lacking and leanness.

This is our God story.  I share it because it is full-blown evidence of the power of prayer in one's life.  That even when you think you are past the point of redemption, and that there doesn't seem a way out... You are not, and there is!  With God, there always is a chance.

Again, God is able to redeem anything!  Remember, when the Israelites were backed up between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army, it was God who parted the sea and gave them a way out.  And He provided a way for us too.  I've caught myself murmuring, and uttering, joyful, tearful thanks to Him over and over again.  Often in disbelief.  He rescued.  He delivered.  He redeemed.  He moved that mountain.  He did it!

Sometimes His deliverance and redemption comes in ways we least expect.  Sometimes we have to walk through desert to get there.  But one thing is certain, He is able to lead us out!  I think through this long journey.  I marvel at the fact that three years ago, through the pages of Jeremiah, God was telling me what was to come.  I wish I would have realized at the time that the words He had given me were to prepare me for this journey.  The uprooting first, then the replanting.  The healing from the inside out.  It might've made the uprooting and destroying less painful.  However, this has taught me to trust the words He gives me...and not to doubt them along the way if things don't "appear" as I had imagined.  His ways are higher than our own!  

If God has revealed something to you, believe Him!  Take Him at His Word.  Claim His promises for yourself.  If you are tempted to give up, don't. 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up."
Galatians 6:9

Walk by faith and not by sight.  So many times we are tempted to throw in the towel and settle for an Ishmael, when all along, God has an Isaac for us.  He will give you strength and perseverance and hope as you remain patient in your affliction.  Our seasons of waiting allow God to do His work and accomplish the purposes of His heart (in our hearts.)

With outstretched arms and mighty power, God created the heavens and the earth.  NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR HIM! (Jeremiah 32:17)  He is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than we could ever ask or imagine!  You are wise to believe it!

*From the precious, beloved pages of Jeremiah.  Chapters 30-31:

"I will not completely destroy you.  I will discipline you, but only with justice."

"I will restore you to health and heal all your wounds."

"But first He will tear down and destroy, until He fully accomplishes the purposes of His heart."

"We will find favor in the desert."

"I will come to give rest."

"I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with loving kindness.  I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt.  

Again, you will take up your tambourines and go out and dance with the joyful."

"Expect love, love, and more love!  And so now I'll start over with you and build you up again.  You'll resume your singing, and you'll go back to your old work of planting.  And sit back and enjoy the fruit. Oh, how you'll enjoy these harvests!"

"They will come with weeping, they will pray as I bring them back.  I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble."

"I have surely heard their moaning."
"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."

"For the LORD will ransom and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they."
"Shout for joy, rejoice in the bounty of the LORD.  They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more, they will dance and be glad, I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  
I will satisfy them with abundance and my people will be filled with my bounty."

"Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears.  
For your work will be rewarded, declares the LORD."

"They will return from the land of the enemy.  
So there is hope for your future."

"Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy, and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and replant."

"I will put my law in their minds and write in on their hearts."

Great is His faithfulness!