Consider CONSIDERATION

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“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.” Philippians 4:5 New Living translation

Something that irks me on an ongoing basis is the shallow nature of our conversation here in this part of the world. I hope it’s better wherever you are?

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Recently during a phone conversation with a close friend I noticed she apologized several times for beginning to interrupt me. We’ve been friends since childhood and had grown accustomed to chattering over top of each other in excitement while sharing our latest news. This was our mutual modus operandi.

But after her third apology I stopped the conversation and asked her “what’s the deal”? She explained that interrupting people is rude. A bad habit she wants to break. All of a sudden I became very aware of my own deficiency in this area. Not only with my friend but in other conversations and worst of all, with my husband who certainly did not appreciate my interruptions.

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I decided my friend’s plan of action was one I should also adopt. How can I truly communicate if I’m not listening? It’s an ongoing  intentional effort  for me but I am determined to improve.

Old habits are difficult to break. Having an accountability partner can help. Which reminds me of another friend who shared a bad habit with me. One that offended the ears of others and did not take anyone else into consideration.

It was summer in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. My friend and I were 11 years old.  It was our first time at church camp  following the end of fifth grade. That school year we had both picked up the bad practice of using the word “damn” freely. We decided we needed to break this habit as soon as possible. We agreed to slap the face of the other whenever they used the word. Needless to say it didn’t take long for both of us to clean up our language. Red-faced by the end of the week we came home from camp with cleaner mouths.  Forty-three years later we remain good friends.:)

Then there’s the superficial greeting “Hi, how are you?” If you begin answering MOST people will tune out or not even stick around for your answer. Ever experience that? We give so little thought to the words we say. I prefer to stick with “Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening” as greetings unless I truly do care how a person is doing and have time to listen to their response.

ever see these signs?
ever see these signs?

But the absolute WORST IRK is when a friend or relative asks you a question. You begin answering, but they cut in and start talking about something completely different. One  recently even walked away just as I began answering! Okay so maybe I’m boring but c’mon. It’s as if what you have to say has no value whatsoever, and this from someone who’s supposed to be close to you? How hurtful is that? Why did they bother asking? This is not what Jesus would do.

Have you felt that type of pain? Are you aware that these things hurt people? I don’t know about you but I do not want to be responsible for hurting people because of my lack of consideration. My prayer is to grow more caring, more considerate in my listening skills. I never want to hurt anyone because of my own self absorption. So by His grace may I be  more intentional in my conversations helping others to FLURISH.

How about you? GIVE IT SOME CONSIDERATION.
“Don’t be concerned for your own good but the good of others.” I Corinthians 10:24 New Living translation

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Shine on. . .

karan k

Multi-Tasking Mania? A Tale from the Booth

 

Come into my world...
Come into my world…

“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6 English Standard version

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A few days ago a woman approached my booth. I could see her face through my front window.  I hurried to catch up on paperwork before she actually arrived to pay her toll. I finished filling out my report from a previous customer and I turned toward her. Astounded by what I beheld, I attempted to keep my shock to myself while taking her ticket to process it.

In all my years on the Turnpike, this was a first. The woman appeared to be in her late twenties. She drove 53 miles from the Ft. Washington exchange on the Turnpike wearing dual breast pumps that were actively engaged.

I wondered if I should mention the “Elephant in her car” or remain quiet? I couldn’t help myself.
“So, I guess you’re really busy, huh?”

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“Yeah, and this works great on the road. Saves me lots of time,” she answered with enthusiasm.

I smiled as I handed her 75 cents in change and off she went pumping down the road. Just had to chuckle to myself and shake my head.

I wanted so badly to say STAY CALM AND PUMP ON! Gotta love my job, you just never know what you’ll see. This young woman sets the Ultimate Multi-Tasking record in my book.

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Now you may not be a busy young mother but are you a multi-tasker? In some scenarios this is a great advantage. I know several women of various ages who pride themselves in their ability to multi-task. There are men who also multi-task but primarily it’s a skill naturally occurring in women.

Me, I can do a couple things at once but are they done well? Probably not. The closest I can get to the young mom’s record is to eat my breakfast while the washing machine is running.:)

I believe women excel at multi-tasking in preparation for the demands of motherhood. I think of it as a God-given ability necessary for a specific time in a woman’s life. Not something to gloat about. At this point I’m passed the child bearing and rearing age and I can tell my abilities to multi-task are fading. This decline is natural but can be so totally unexpected when it starts. Especially if you are a person who relies heavily on this proficiency.

At first sight of losing my multi-tasking ability, frustration overwhelmed me. I had gotten used to my full speed ahead with multiple projects mindset. Inside I felt angry that I could no longer keep all the balls in the air. I felt inferior to my former self and I didn’t like it.

Elisabeth Elliot on the right
Elisabeth Elliot on the right

And then I remembered words I memorized years ago from a no nonsense woman of God who has since gone home to Jesus, Elisabeth Elliott**: She used to quote a poem called “In Acceptance Lieth Peace” on her daily radio program.

It was time for me to test that bit of wisdom for myself. To give up the idea that multi-tasking makes a life more productive, more valuable. That somehow I was less because I could no longer juggle 12 things at once. I needed to accept my limitations as a natural part of the aging process.

This is what I told myself and  now I believe it to be the truth. For every time I accept what I can do  well  as enough in any given day my mind, my soul and my body are at peace. FLURISHING is free to flow, no longer blocked by frustration and pressuring expectations. That is priceless.

May you find the same peace at whatever stage and capability of life in which you find yourself. Accept what you can do with whatever He gives you, whether a lot or a little. Read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

Beware of multiplying your own expectations to multi-task. Remember, God won’t expect more from you than He empowers you to do.

” Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to Him forever and ever! Amen.”  I Peter 4:11 New Living translation

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Shine on. . .

karan k

**Christian author and speaker (1926-2015). Elisabeth Elliott’s writings will challenge your faith. Check her out.

The Beast Within

 

Unchain My Heart!

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9  New Living translation

Today was a rough day. Things happened that were unexpected and hard to take. It was a day that will go down in my personal history book as a day of infamy. Yes, it was that bad. I reacted abominably, nothing at all like Jesus!

Today I saw the ugliness of my heart.

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It reminded me of a scene from “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”. The scene takes place early in the movie while in the Shire. Bilbo Baggins just said good-bye to all the shire folk at his birthday party. He disappears from the party. Then reappears in his home where he is confronted by Gandalf to give up his “precious” ring to Frodo. Bilbo gets angry and doesn’t want to give up the ring. It has become TOO precious to him. He turns sinister in an instant. I found that same selfish, ugly spirit in myself today, regrettably.

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Something I wanted was taken away from me.  Something I considered PRECIOUS. My heart reasoned to itself; I deserve this. After all, the seniority of my position should grant me this perk. All the recent added duties are enough to warrant this privilege and more.

Rather than be grateful for all that I did have, I got angry over the one thing I lost. I felt deprived. Ill used and unappreciated. Feeling unfairly treated, I exploded in anger. And that hurt others who were nearby when my rage erupted.

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This experience upset me. My anger seemed foreign and yet somewhere deep in my heart this ugliness thrived as a part of me; as a sense of entitlement. I never noticed it before. How long had this unhealthy attitude been lurking in the shadows?

By expecting what I felt was “owed me”, I had only fed my selfish pride which grew strong and beastlike. I forgot the entire goodness of God and His perfect provision. I lost all sense of gratitude somewhere in the midst of this dark and dirty corner of my heart.

All I could do now was to ask forgiveness and depend on His mercy, which I knew would faithfully cover me.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:8 & 9  New Living translation

I didn’t want to be like Bilbo who really never acknowledged the truth about himself.

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” For if you listen to the Word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” James 1: 23 & 24  New Living translation

As a result, he had to face his “Beast Within” again in an even uglier encounter during his time in Rivendell. I, on the other hand, chose to face my beast the first time head on by the Grace of God.

So I needed to apologize to each of the wounded. This challenged me  further but it had to be done.  His amazing Grace helped me look at the beast within, slay it, and clean up the debris.

Thank You Lord for Your unending mercy and powerful grace! I need them more than I realize.

Only a truly pure heart could carry the ring with success
Only a  pure heart could carry the ring with success

Purify me so I can continue to FLURISH in my journey!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10  New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Safeguarded

“The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 NLT

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But what if there’s no time to call for help? Have you ever been in that kind of danger? When something unexpected suddenly crossed your path? How did you react? Please feel free to share any stories you have in the comment section.

One year close to Christmas I decided to pay a surprise visit to my second Mom, EmKay. Preoccupied with carrying a gift and maneuvering the icy steps leading to her front porch, I hadn’t noticed that “Woozie” was out. “Woozie” was short for “Woozem’s Woo” the name EmKay lovingly chose for her black Chow puppy.

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Earlier that year when “Woozie” first arrived, he was an adorable ball of fur resembling a miniature bear. I played with him out in the yard several times that spring and summer. Rolling around in the grass and hugging him close so he could lick my face. His cuteness unleashed my playful side. To anyone who knows me well, this would seem odd. I’m not known to be much of a dog person. But Woozie stole my heart.

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Months later at Christmas time when I approached the gate giving access to the front porch, I heard a low growl. A large black shadow moved and bared gleaming white teeth. Another even lower growl  emanated from the darkness. Woozie dipped into the light where I could see his fully grown form.

“Oh ‘Woozie’ it’s only me”, I said as I innocently reached over the gate to unlatch it. No sooner had the last syllable exited my tongue, then adorable “Woozie” leapt across the wooden deck floor. He snarled into my face, his paws pushing on the top of the gate. With one quick lunge he clamped his powerful jaws around my neck.

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Scared out of my mind, not even a squeak could escape from my compressed voice box. Fortunately for me, the cold weather coaxed me to wear a heavy coat that night. This particular coat had a quarter inch thick collar attached that completely covered my neck. Woozie’s tenacious grip did not loosen as he rocked my entire body back and forth on the step. Only the wild scuffling of his toe nails on the wooden deck floor alerted anyone inside the house that there was a problem.

The small porch light came on and the front door opened with instant commands for Woozie to get down. He did not obey. He growled louder. EmKay’s husband had to grab and pull Woozie’s choker before he released his grip.

I tell this story because up until that day, I had no idea how I would react to sudden danger. At the mercy of the jaws of a large and powerful dog, I found myself helpless. However, the protective hand of God spared me. Woozie could have bit my uncovered face or hands or both. Instead he went for the jugular, the one area that was protected.

Some believe such things are only coincidence. I choose to fully rely on what the Bible says about His divine protection of those who trust in Him.

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life: the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:5-8 New International version

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How about you? What are you trusting in for protection as you travel through life? Our world is growing more chaotic than many choose to think about.  Isis, MS-13 and other murderous threats here and abroad are rapidly increasing. Look to the only One who sees all and safeguards His own. FLURISHING cannot coexist with fear.
“For the angel of the Lord is a guard: he surrounds and defends all who fear Him.” New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Ponder the Wonder

THE KING OF CREATION

TOOK THE FORM OF MAN

TO SAVE OUR SOULS HE SUFFERED

FULLY IN CONTROL

HE IS THE GREAT I AM

One of my favorite depictions of Jesus
One of my favorite depictions of Jesus

“I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14

 

“. . . I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am.” John 8:38 New Living translation

“Who are you looking for?” He asked. “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I AM HE,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed Him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said, “I AM HE,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!” John 18:4b-6 New Living translation

There’s an old song from the ’80s that stirs my heart about this incident.
Terry Talbot’s “I Am He” from the album Stories of Jesus album. You can listen to it on Youtube. Here’s the first verse:

In the final hours of darkness
In the garden there He prayed
Oh Father take this cup from Me
Is there any other way?

As His prayer was turned to pleading
His sweat was turned to blood
Oh Father come prepare Me now
Your will not Mine be done.

So the thousand came to take the One
And there He was betrayed
By the kiss that bound forever
The Lamb who would be slain

And when they asked which one is Jesus
He spoke these simple words
And a thousand soldiers fell before
The answer that changed the world. . .

I AM HE, He said.
It is I you seek
I’m the One you want
I AM HE.

You have found Me now
I AM the One
You have come for Me
I AM HE
I AM.

 

All powerful!

All Knowing!

All Glorious!

He gave it ALL up

Came to earth

suffered and died

So we could be set free

And have real life

 

PONDER THE WONDER

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SHINE ON. . .

karan k

 

House Cleaning the Heart

 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9 New Living translation

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Continuing with the theme used in the last post “Spring Fling” concerning Spring Cleaning; I remember my mother referring to it as “House Cleaning.” Items in the house that were not part of the weekly cleaning routine were definitely targets for the annual “House Cleaning.”

 

I just spoke to a friend who’s sitting at home this Saturday morning before Palm Sunday having a coffee clatch with Jesus. She’s unpacking her soul before her dearest friend, basking in His presence and sipping her favorite brew. She’s bravely opening her heart to some House Cleaning. I must tell you I am guilty of envy right now but also brimming with joy.

Envy, because early mornings of unlimited time spent with the Lord  have become a precious commodity to me. I look forward to beginning each of my days with Him but it’s usually on a time limit due to my work schedule. Days off are my only opportunity for a bottomless time frame to sit and visit with HIm.

Joy, because I know my friend also treasures these lovely moments. She is a seasoned Christian for at least 50 years now. And yet, after all that time she continues to treasure her getaways with Jesus. Her relationship with Him has grown sweeter with time. I am happy for her because I know what she’s doing.

I know she’s currently unpacking some personal and painful things only recently revealed to her heart. Instead of giving in to fear of facing some unpleasant and ugly things about herself, she’s boldly taking them to Jesus. She knows He’s aware of these heavy weights and she can trust Him with them.

She’s laying down her burdens that have slowed her progress to be more like her Master.  She’s examining her heart for any sin she may have justified and  glossed over in the past. She knows that even sinful thinking can form into a fortress that prevents her from moving forward.

Jesus had His own moment of Heart House Cleaning
Jesus had His own moment of Heart House Cleaning

“. . . let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. . . . ” Hebrews 12:b New Living translation

Weights and sins like these can become deeply ingrained in our thinking and emotions. When that happens the enemy of our soul fools us into thinking they are a part of “who we are” as a person. As a result, we don’t recognize their negative effect. We don’t see the urgency of dealing with them.

Weights are things we put on ourselves like unrealistic expectations, false guilt, people pleasing etc.,  Good things like hobbies, sports or fitness can also become a load when out of balance.

Sins such as impatience, judging, envy, pride, nosiness, jealousy, anger, resentment etc.,  can hide in our hearts without our knowledge because we have grown accustomed to their presence. We learn to accept them as a part of us. This acceptance erects a blind spot of familiarity that hinders us from seeing them for the sins they are.

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When we choose to let Jesus do some “House Cleaning” in our hearts as my friend has done, He may shine the flashlight of His Word into the corners. He may move some big things around that rarely get touched otherwise. He may want us to see what He knew all along, was crouching under the heavy sofa that never gets touched. But He won’t do all the work for us.

He wants us to work with Him. He won’t force us to clean out any ugly things He reveals in our hearts. He gives us the freedom to decide how we will handle each one. He wants to rid us of the sinful things that damage and destroy us.  He gently points them out so we can be aware NOT be ashamed. Then  graciously He offers us His supernatural cleansing and healing as we give Him free reign in our hearts.

 

I’m so grateful for my friend and her devoted example of what a long time follower of Christ looks like. For her heart that is transparent before her Lord. And for her desire to grow ever more like Him no matter what age she is or how long she’s followed Him. She lives with eternity in mind. Striving to grow and learn His way whatever life throws at her.

I’m looking forward to my next day off. I scheduled some time for House Cleaning.  I want  uncluttered, unfettered FLURISHING. What about you? How clean is your heart?

Purified Heart
Purified Heart

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

Spring Fling

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Ever notice how laundry and dish detergents often have a “Fresh Spring Scent” advertised? The season of Spring is known for freshness which is something all of us desire. No one wants to be stale. Or stinky. . . who invented that word anyway? I use it reluctantly. Excuse my digression.
I believe the April showers in this part of the world really do bring May flowers and lots of that lovely freshness we crave after a long winter. The warmth of Spring  beckons us to throw open windows and air out our houses. It seems natural after being cooped up for those cold months to  want to alleviate the mustiness and clean til the cows come home. But somehow life has gotten busy, hasn’t it? Too busy to clean and care for what we already have. The idea of Spring Cleaning seems foreign to our modern society. Where did this ancient idea originate?

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Spring cleaning has ties to both cultural and religious observances across the globe.

Culturally these thorough cleanings revolve around New Years celebrations. The Chinese sweep their homes with vigor to get rid of bad luck. Japan calls it the BIG CLEANING done just before New Years and Scotland does something similar called New Years Cleaning on December 31st. Iranians practice “Khooneh Tekouni” which literally means “Shaking the House” and clean from floor to ceiling just before the Persian New Year in late March.

The Jews clean in preparation for Passover, scouring their homes to remove any and all crumbs of yeast. The Catholics clean the church altar area on Maundy Thursday in preparation for Easter. Orthodox believers in Greece and other nations observe what they call Clean Week to cleanse their homes for the first week of Great Lent usually falling around April 1.

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And then there’s the pineal gland theory of ancient man desiring to clean in the Spring because he feels more energized due to more sunlight hours during that time of year.

 

Whatever the motivation, there seems to be an age old practice to thoroughly clean our living spaces once a year. I find it to be a dying practice in my corner of the world. Very rarely do I hear anyone mention Spring Cleaning anymore. As a kid everyone knew what it was.  It happened every year at our house and I always dreaded it. Moving all the furniture around. Scrubbing every nook and cranny that normally never saw the light of day. Lots of hard work went into Spring Cleaning. But afterwards, the house looked and smelled fresh and new. Rather delightful.

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I recently heard of a  high school assignment for Spring Break that included Spring Cleaning. Students would receive extra credit if they took before and after photos of  cleaning their bedrooms. They were instructed to section off the clutter into Keep, Throw-away and Give-away piles also to be documented on film. Personally I thought it was a great idea to teach the next generation how to clean and organize. We need to teach the young to take care of their belongings. To appreciate what they have and not take them for granted. To give generously out of their abundance to those in need.

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Spring time should  be refreshing for our souls as well as our homes. As Resurrection Sunday quickly approaches perhaps we should ask ourselves if we appreciate the gift of salvation we’ve been given?  Have too many needless things have piled up in our lives that need some flinging? Maybe we need to Spring Clean our schedules, our priorities, even some of our relationships to make room for more reflective time to ponder the wonder of the Resurrection? Cleaning the house is good but cleaning out distractions from our heart is better….

“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.” Luke 10:39 New living translation

Let’s ask the Lord what priorities He wants in each of our lives and throw out all the other junk. It will refresh our spirit like a Spring Fling for the soul making us free to FLURISH.

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Pretty Tasty?

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I am an absolute sucker for decorated edibles. Cut-out cookies shaped like bunnies, lambs and chicks abound this time of year. The soft icing hues dusted with delicate colored sugar lure me every time. They are a visual delight that screams out BUY and EAT!

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Specialty chocolates created to look like bird nests complete with tiny blue eggs are irresistible. Whimsical milk and dark chocolate molded into tiny creatures or sprinkle laden spheres delight my senses. But the epitome of culinary confection that simply spazzs out my tastebuds is the gourmet cupcake.

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Cupcakes can be so darn cute I can barely stand it. Set me loose in a cupcake shop full of swirls of airy frosting and I’ll go crazy, easily putting myself in hypoglycemic shock! Lord have mercy, I’m soooo weak!

Buttercream creations fashioned into feather light flowers atop luscious mounds of moist cake tempt my tastebuds. Some with a surprise middle equal indescribable deliciousness! (Lancaster Cupcake is my current fave supplier, just sayin).

 

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Some pastries are just too pretty to eat. Ever feel that way about a darling bunny cookie or luscious looking cupcake? I have and I hate to ruin the beauty by consuming it. But sacrifices must be made.

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Decades ago I attended a dinner theatre that had gorgeous puff pastries shaped in the form of swans. I carefully placed one on my plate and went back to my seat anticipating the scrumptiousness of the swan. Delicate flakiness deceived my eyes. I took one bite and my tongue discovered the truth.

The pretty swan tasted terrible. The flaky feathers were dry and the cream filling had no taste. The chocolate accents were waxy and nasty. The pretty swan was a sham, all visual with no substance. What a disappointment. Time has not erased this memory which left a bad taste in my mouth.

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In the realm of pastry perfection, presentation is important but the real test is the taste.
The same can be said of our view of God. Sometimes we see Him as good. Fulfilling all our needs and taking great care of us. Sometimes we or others present Him as hard, unfair, uncaring. But the truth is in the taste.

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“Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.” Psalm 34:8 The Message Bible

When we truly taste the Lord there will be no disappointment, no lack of flavor.  I’ve found Him to be the ultimate spice and sweetness of life. Nothing else in this world can satisfy our hunger. Put Him to the TASTE Test and SEE His unfailing goodness.

TASTE and SEE!

Have your pretty TASTY cake and eat it too
Have your pretty TASTY cake and eat it too

Shine on. . .
karan k