Hello!

Hey, friends! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new on the blog. Back in July I mentioned giving myself permission to step away from the blog, and it was such good break. Our life gets SUPER busy with the farm for the summer and it becomes something where striving takes hold and it’s no longer a place to meet with the Lord and share with you.

After some prayer and consideration, I would love to continue sharing with you but no long on this particular blogging platform. So we’re going to move this party over to the website! Just trying to streamline and simplify things, and I would love for you to join me.

Follow this link and be sure to “Subscribe” on the right-hand column. There’s already a blog post ready for Tuesday. We’re going to be Rainbow Chasers!

I so appreciate you,

Amy

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Berries & Bible Study

Hey, Friends!

I’ve been super quiet on the blog lately, it’s just that time of year. So, I’m officially giving myself permission to press pause here for a while because our life take a certain focus this time of year, and it’s our berry farm.

If you’ve followed me for any length of time or personally involved with our family, you’ll know that we have a small u-pick berry farm here in Mid-Missouri. Our farm is host to blueberries and blackberries along with several hives of honey bees, 8 at the moment with 3 more at another location. So summer takes on a new level of fullness.

That being said, I’m pressing pause on the blog but not on my walk with the Lord and pressing in to what I believe he’s called me to do – teach his Word. So, we’re going to try something new and incorporate two loves – growing things and Scripture.

Ladies, this one is for you; Berries & Bible Study! See the link for all the juicy details. If you want to join us but would like to pay at the farm, please contact me directly and I’ll reserve a spot for you. Looking forward to a lovely evening!

With Gratitude,

Amy

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/berries-bible-study-tickets-61139726568

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Donkeys for a Crown

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, and completely enthralled with portions of the Bible that previously seemed null and void, but mostly boring. However, that knee jerk reaction that “the Old Testament is boring”, I couldn’t find further from the truth.

Captivated, the story of Israel’s cry for a king unfolds dramatically as Saul takes the first throne of Israel in 1 Samuel, or shall I say attempts to assume the throne. Saul goes looking for a couple of lost donkeys as any good young son would do, and comes back with a changed heart and anointed as Israel’s king! Could you imagine?!

How often do we go out looking for one thing, only to come in with something completely unexpected? I can think of more than one occasion. Saul had a different response than most typically have. Rather than busting through the back door with a, “You would never guess what happened to me today.” Saul took the safe route in response to his uncle’s questioning as to his whereabouts, telling about the donkeys being found and omitting his anointing to kingship!

I’ve spoken to several people over the course of the past few weeks in regards to God’s calling on their life, all of which came unexpectedly and seemingly out of left field. Personally, as a young person I never aspired to be a writer or teacher of God’s word. I was focused on growing flowers and my family. The calling to teach and write came very unexpectedly. And for a while, I sat on it. All of the hesitations and their explanations could fill a novel, but when all was said and done – they were excuses. Rather than stepping up and out, I hid and waited. Now, I’m grateful for the learning process God has so faithfully and gently had me on.

I can’t imagine the experience Saul had, meeting the prophet Samuel and being anointed only to begin prophesying, and then being called before all of Israel. But as Samuel summoned the people of Israel and had each tribe come forward, Saul was nowhere to be found among the tribe of Benjamin. The people searched and inquired as to Saul’s whereabouts. Some verses are just better in the King James Version, take a look at God’s response.

“And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.” 1 Samuel 10:22 (KJV)

Saul went and him himself in the supply closet – among all the stuff. Sounds like my daughter playing hide-and-go-seek.

Saul seems less than enthused about assuming the throne of Israel. And I can’t say I blame him! He went out looking for donkeys only to return with an unexpected crown. God’s favor rested on him for a period of time. Saul was an answer to prayer, though something tells me he didn’t see it that way. And as he is brought before the people, Samuel announces, “Do you see the one the LORD has chosen?” (CSB)

“Do you see the one the LORD has chosen?”

Saul was chosen. Just as you are chosen. It can be easy to hid and ignore our callings. But what would shift if we stepped back and allowed our self to “see the one the LORD has chosen” and act on it? Would you do anything different?

We are all chosen by the Creator of the universe. God cares deeply about his children, his chosen children. What might you be hiding from? What excuses might you be living with? Personally, I can think of a few for myself. Let’s offer it to God with a heart of repentance and accept his grace in return, turning in our “donkeys” (excuses and hiding) to fully wear the “crown” (God’s calling on our life). No matter how unexpected that calling may be.

God doesn’t make mistakes. We all need each other’s unique gift and calling, presented in the only combination possible – wrapped up inside you and partnered with God.

With gratitude,

Amy

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“Do you see the one the LORD has chosen?” – Samuel (1 Samuel 10:24,CSB) 

Sturdy Branches

Spring ushers in an incredibly full time for my family’s life as our berry farm wakes from winter slumber. Like a ravenous bear waking from hibernation, the farm calls for everything to be done at once. Acres of berries require pruning, fertilizing, irrigation connections, weeding, and more.

Our main goal is to produce as many berries as plants will allow, as we strive towards healthy growth in order to do so. The first couple of years we kept every single blackberry cane, painstakingly tying every little bit of growth to the trellises. Our focus was to keep as many blackberry vines as possible in hopes of having as much fruit as possible. We obsessed over tying up little scraggly twigs, wrestled with 15’ long branches, and dared to prune anything that might produce a yield.

Having and caring for a berry farm is a long-term commitment, and each season brings with it a new set of lessons and tests. We no longer strive to keep every scraggly twig and 15’ vine alive. Our pruners get a workout as cut branches are removed into massive burn piles. While pruning a long row of blackberries one afternoon this season, my thoughts were focused towards nurturing strong branches that could support fruit to come. It required me to be more aggressive in deciding what to prune and what to leave. Every bit of unhealthy growth or weak canes were trustingly pruned and removed.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in fruit production – after all, that is the desired end result. The Bible speaks to fruit and its production quite often. We read in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Spirit and in John 15 about bearing much fruit. On our farm, and with Christians, it’s easy to get focused on fruit production and lose sight of the health of the plant, or the body of Christ. In general, our culture and some Christians are mainly concerned with fruit production. Energy is often focused on attaining the highest productivity possible, no matter the cost.

As I pruned blackberry canes that warm afternoon, my measuring stick for pruning adjusted from ‘how many fruiting buds were available’ to ‘can this cane support the expected fruit’? The later question took the first into account, but ultimately determined each cut. What would happen in our lives if we evaluated our hearts and minds in regards to this?

As Christians, are we focused on building a platform, a financially successful church, notches in our souls saved salvation belt, or quantity of attendees at ministry events? Or, are we more focused on a healthy, vibrant, and growing body? I can say with confidence that when we put our energy and focus towards growing a healthy body, the fruit will come. With healthy plants, balance in what it going on, fruit is inevitable; they can’t help but to produce a crop.

The gospel has produced some serious fruit over the centuries. Jesus was diligent in discipleship during his time walking in flesh and bone. I believe he was not only living the example, but taught others he came into contact with. He pulled aside twelve, focused his attention, and poured in to them. Jesus’ life touched more than just the twelve, but he knew those twelve would have significant impact on the spread of the gospel message. It’s almost as if Jesus was focused on growing the canes to make sure they would be capable of supporting the fruit they would bear.Just like our blackberry canes, the Twelve would need to be strong and able to weather the storms.

As we move forward, let’s be mindful and honest with our intentions. Are we more interested in producing mass quantities of fruit, or growing our roots deep and our shoots sturdy to support whatever fruit God chooses to produce through us? It begins with our personal and intimate relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It takes guts to be honest. Thanks for letting me go there with you, and for going there with me. It’s an honor. Let’s be strong and focus on Him today.

With gratitude,

Amy

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“But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” James 1:4 Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

 

 

Anointing of Jesus

* In just a few days, Christians will be celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. This time of year is holy for all who follow the Lord God. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate life, death defeated! This week marks so many pivotal moments in scripture – the betrayal of Jesus, his death on a cross, and his resurrection. This week also holds witness to other accounts in scripture which may seem less obvious such as Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land and a woman who anointed Jesus in the most honoring of ways.

The account of Jesus being anointed is found among the gospels, tucked into Jesus’ final days walking earth as Son of God clothed with flesh and bone. Just a few days before Jesus’ death on a cross he was in Bethany, seated at a table with his disciples, when a woman approaches Jesus and anoints him with precious oil. This wasn’t just olive oil, found in abundance, but costly and extravagant pure nard.

“So the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3

As the fragrance of this costly oil began to permeate the room, it would have permeated our Savior too. Bathing was not a daily habit in the culture, that fragrance very well could have lingered with the Lord several days, all the way to the tomb.

Some responded with indignation as the alabaster jar of expensive perfume was broken and poured out as act of love, adoration, worship, and devotion. With human eyes it was seen as a waste, finances that could have been liquidated and used to feed the poor. Jesus responded with gratitude and honor, while knowing his earthly death was near. She had anointed Jesus in advance for his burial.

I wonder if the fragrance of that anointing lingered on Jesus as he prayed to our Father? And perhaps as he walked into the room before Pilate or the Sanhedrin for judgement. Then, as Jesus carried his cross while being mocked – did that sweet fragrance of anointing linger even then? What about when his glorious light rose up to darken the door of the tomb? An eternal shadow over death. Did that fragrance of anointing linger even then?

Today, I have a two questions for you.

The anointing permeated our Lord Jesus, and the fragrance filled the house. We are called to be temples or homes to the living God, built firmly on the foundation of Christ. Are we allowing his “scent” to permeate us?

Lavish love and adoration was expressed as the jar was broken and poured out on Jesus. In what way might you be allowing yourself to be broken and poured out in worship to him for no other reason than because you love him?

Would you join me in reading the following scriptures this week and dialoging on those questions with the Lord? Let’s praise him in lavish worship this week through His Word as we celebrate His resurrection!

With gratitude,

Amy

Matt 26:6-13 | Mark 14:3-9 | John 12: 1-8

*A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a friend’s church and listen to a visiting pastor, Joh Nelson from Soma Community Church in Jefferson City, MO. I tell you this because the original idea behind this post is not mine, but another. The general thought of the fragrance of anointing oil lingering with Jesus through his crucifixion was so compelling that it lingered with me and wanted to share it with you.

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“Then Mary took a pound of perfume, pure and expensive nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. So the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.” John 12:3 (CSB) Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Fit Faith

About a year ago, I began attending a class at our local YMCA called Body Combat. In my quest of better health and with the encouragement of some friends, I joined one Wednesday morning. The name should have been my clue; it was brutal, in a good way.

Being right-hand-dominate was no news to me. However, until that class I never realized how dominate my entire right side was! We did punches, jabs and kicks on the right then switched to our left. As we switched to the left side, all control left my body and my brain struggled to make semblance of what was taking place. I laughed out loud! My friend, and teacher, began calling extra instructions, trying to clarify what my body was supposed to be doing. She provided encouraging smiles between hefty breaths, but the struggle was clear. My left side, was my weak side.

I had no idea how much the right side of my body dominated everything. It was uncomfortable as I focused hard with each step. However, I appreciated the challenge and new awareness. My lop-sidedness was not prominent until I needed to use my left side, then it became blaringly obvious.

This experience lead me to a question. Can we get lop-sided in our faith?

Jesus’ brother writes in James 2:26, “faith without works is dead.” We can be wrapped up, studying scripture and worshiping God all day; that is honorable. However, faith is an action word. Our faith has feet when we put it into action with works for Him, and guided by Him. Likewise, always ‘doing’ for the Lord, without faith, is just checking a box. It’s like my left side being faith, my right side being works – they must work together. Exercising our faith through works is key.

There are a million ways to “workout” our spiritual muscles – prayer, scripture, worship, thanksgiving and serving to name a few. It’s important we don’t get stuck using the same muscles. I recently learned this exercise class teaches new movements every three months so that we don’t get cemented into a routine and neglect portions of our body.

Would you take some time today and reflect with God, on your spiritual ‘body’. Are there areas that need to be exercised a little more? Are you cemented into a religious routine that’s keeping you from experiencing God in a real and intimate relationship? It takes being intentional and in-tune with Him.

For further study, James 2:14-26.

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“You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.” James 2:22 
Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

With gratitude,

Amy

God’s Blacksmith Shop

As believers in Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit, we are instructed to take up the full armor of God in Ephesians 6. We are to take a stand with the belt of truth around our waist and feet sandaled ready with the gospel of peace. We’re instructed to pick up the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. A fruitful walk with the Lord requires us to do this, it is obedience sourced in Love.

Some believe the Old Testament is just full of irrelevant stories, but those bits of history are packed with lessons which can be applied to our life today. While reading 1 Samuel 13 I learned that at that time in Israel’s history they would have to take their swords, spears, axes, sickles, and other agricultural implements to the Philistines to be sharpened. This meant Israel would have to take their weapons to their opponent in order to have sharp weapons for battle. How would you like to venture in to enemy territory in order to have your sword sharpened? Or what about your pitchfork for the coming harvest season?

This dynamic is interesting and we learn a lot from what takes place. Despite a probable lack in sharp weaponry, the Israelites prevail over the Philistines because God fights for them. That being said, it got me thinking about today and our culture. I wonder how often we walk through the doors of our church or into a Bible study and asking someone else to sharpen the spiritual sword we carry. It’s tempting to allow others to do the work, but it’s not sustainable. While fellowship is necessary in the sharpening process, everyone’s spiritual sword is unique. God does fight for us, but we are called to join him.

Sharpening our spiritual swords takes time, skill, and commitment. Stepping into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word is intimidating when we don’t know where to start. It’s easy to go to church, Bible study, or a small group to be spoon fed God’s Word. Please don’t misunderstand me, these things are vital to our walk with the Lord! Proverbs is a good reminder, “Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron. That means I need to have others around me who are sharp iron tools, willing to step into the blacksmith shop and do some work both on their own and together.

My family enjoyed watching the first season of Forged in Fire via Netflix this winter. The show covers different types of weaponry and the processes of how each are made. My favorite part was the final round where contestants were sent home to their own forge. It was interesting to see each man’s tools, unique shop, and approach in working the metal. After a period of time, both contestants brought their forged weapon for testing before the judges.

In this particular show the process of fire, pressure, and other factors were the same but forging was unique. Each bladesmith faced unique challenges, just as each person does. We are all tested and face trials, we each carry a spiritual sword for a unique purpose. My question is this – Are you willing to step into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word to allow transformation and sharpening to occur? How can you become that sharp iron who helps to sharpen another brother or sister in Christ?

If you’re new to the Bible it’s easy to be intimidated by God’s Word, not knowing where to start. We’ve all been there at some point, so no judgement. But can I recommend starting somewhere in the New Testament gospels like the book of Luke?

If you are a little more seasoned in God’s Word – where would you start? And, how are you being sharpened right now?

God is so faithful to those who pursue him. Let’s be brave together as we step in. We will not be forsaken stepping into the blacksmith shop of God’s Word. We need the specialized gifts God has equipped you with for battle, and we need you sharp in order to help sharpen others.

Further study: 1 Samuel 13:16 – 14:23

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“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 {Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash}

 

Running Into God’s Presence

It feels so good to be in a rhythm. Our farm has a seasonal rhythm, but it keeps us moving on the fly a good bit. I appreciate little windows of scheduled time for things like regular exercise and school days. One morning, I took a detour from the normal routine and decided to go for a run in a different place and at a different time. It seemed to work a little better given the schedule we were facing for that particular day. Bundling up due to cooler temperatures, I headed out and followed the school bus down the road after making a stop at the neighbor’s.

The air was crisp, the sky holding both the sun and moon simultaneously. Over halfway through my run, I was facing due west with the sun at my back. A long shadow was cast before me, evidence where the source of warm light was coming from.

At some point in time we all find ourselves in a season of uncertainty. Whether it’s with our job, home, finances, school, or relationships with family and friends. Uncertainty has an uncanny ability to disorient us. Evidence of this in my life typically looks like no movement forward, I just stop without a certain direction to go. Stopping is not always a bad thing, it can keep us from getting lost. But for me, it’s easy to get distracted then lose focus and become lazy if I stop for too long. How about you?

Running towards my shadow that morning brought to mind the understanding that in God there is no darkness. Running towards that shadow, it was blatantly obvious where the source of light was located – directly behind me. There was certainty in the direction I was going.

When we are faced with uncertainty in our lives. I’m confident that in those seasons we can do one of two things, open ourselves up to the enemy’s attacks by getting distracted or sidetracked, or we can diligently and patiently seek for a source of light in the darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light.  We are never absent from the Lord who is light, and in Him there is no darkness.

What would happen if we focused on Him when we felt feelings and seasons of uncertainty rise up in the situations around us? Focusing on the Lord and seeking light may allow us to move forward well. It may be one little bitty step at a time with one faith-filled prayer. Perhaps by doing so, we will not get stuck or tempted to veer off course in an attempt to control or force those uncertainties into certainty.

We serve a God who is mighty and strong, He is in control and we can trust his steadfastness. What if the seasons of uncertainty and shadows in life became evidence of God’s presence rather than enveloping darkness. Let’s fight well by staying focused on the One who was, who is, and is to come – in Him there is no darkness, just pure light and love for his beloved children.

Here are three verses that keep coming to mind. Perhaps they will be good reminders for you too.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

“This is the message that we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.” 1 John 1:5 (CSB)

My detour that morning and shifting shadow along the way became a good reminder that God and his light are always present, even in the discomfort of the unknown.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are promised His presence. How has God reminded you of His presence lately?

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“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105  // Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

Poured Out

As a woman, I believe we have an innate tendency to run ourselves ragged. Getting burned out is common as we continually pour out for others in giving of our time and energy to work, volunteer, school, church, family, our spouse, children, friends, and so much more. There’s a never-ending to-do list which seems to grow like it’s been on a continuous drip of high-powered fertilizer.

While visiting with a friend the other day, we discussed the break I’ve been taking from teaching a Sunday school class at my church. She too had stepped away from commitments at her church, completely dried up from pouring herself out. My friend commented on how long it had taken to get re-hydrated. We were in agreement as to how important it was for those in ministry to be continually tapped in to the Lord and soaked by the Holy Spirit so we could pour out to others.

“We’re kind of like sphagnum peat moss!” I said. She looked at me inquisitively. I went on to explain that peat moss is a base ingredient in potting medium to grow plants. It has a wonderful water-holding capacity but when completely dry, it repels water. The water rolls off as you attempt to moisten the soil, not soaking in at all. In order to re-wet the potting medium, you have to rough it up a bit and add much more water than expected. It takes time and energy.

On the other hand, if the peat moss gets too wet it then becomes in inhospitable place for a plant’s roots to grow. The best way to treat the potting medium is to keep it moist, at all times. Not too wet and definitely not dry. In order to grow plants, you need good drainage – both breathing space and moisture.

All of us must be filled by time with the Lord in personal relationship and rest in him. Before we can ever pour out effectively, we must be filled. We’re a vessel, used by the Lord our Creator. He pours out through us and for us. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves dried up like dehydrated potting soil.

Whether you are in ministry to an official capacity or not, this is important. Every day, we minister to our families and friends, co-workers, and the check-out clerk in the market. It may be through the simple gesture of a smile, or an extra hug for our kids, but it makes a difference.

Are you taking time to rest and be filled by God’s presence? Not out of obligation, but because you want to? Its o.k. to step back from commitments if needed, just don’t wait too long. In order to bear fruit, we must have that Holy Spirit river flowing through us. I know no better way than to spend one-on-one time with the Father through prayer, His Word, and worship.

What pours out when you aren’t “full”? How do you stay filled up, so that you can pour out the good things God intends?

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Pouring out for others
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 {Photo Credit: Photo by Cassidy Phillips on Unsplash

 

Fruit From a Root

Spring seems far away as the days of March, well, march along with cloudy and dreary days. History and experience tell me that lush, green grass isn’t far away. I know it’s coming. Roots, deep in the ground, will provide proof-of-life as they spring forth and bear leaves, flowers, and eventually fruit over the coming weeks. That’s the goal – to bear fruit. Everything at some point will bear fruit. It may not be easily seen, but seeds will be produced in order to perpetuate the next generation.

Go with me to the Exodus story in the Old Testament. As the Israelites leave Egypt, we bear witness to their journey through nations not their own. They witnessed idols and images of other gods throughout their 40 years in the wilderness. Temptations due to lack of food and the unknown were powerful. We read about the challenges Moses faced in leading God’s people. Frustration and concern were mixed with a deep love for the Lord and desire to see God’s people fruitful and obediently prospering.

As Moses’ life nears the end, he summons Israel in Deuteronomy 29. God’s covenant promises and evidence of faithfulness are recounted as Moses pleads his case with warnings to reciprocate faithfulness to God. Moses warns Israel to keep their hearts towards the LORD their God and worship only him. And with a heart fully postured to God, Moses exclaims, “Be sure there is no root among you bearing poisonous or bitter fruit.”

Moses was aware of what may be rooted deep in the hearts of Israel, and with God’s revelation he knew what fruit would be born in future generations. Loving, worshiping, and abiding in God would bear desirable fruit. Not fruit in the sense of apples and pears, but fruit in the form of love, joy, peace, and patience. Actively removing and guarding themselves from sin, and the seeds of sin, would be necessary to living an obedient life to the Lord. It is necessary still.

Every heart is rooted with something. Whatever root has taken up residence in our heart will bear fruit. Our thoughts, actions, and reactions are evidence. Living in this world, we have all sinned (less Jesus) and passed through temptation. It’s part of being human and living post-fall from Eden. But we do have a choice in how we cultivate the deep roots in our heart. We have a choice to love the Lord and actively remove any root that grows poisonous or bitter fruit. God is love, and choosing to be rooted in Love will bear good, sweet, bountiful fruit.

Eradicating deeply-rooted things is hard work. It’s uncomfortable and messy. But it is honorable and good work. Doing this work a form of actively consecrating ourselves to the Lord. Over and over, the Lord tells us to consecrate ourselves in preparation for wonders. (ex. Joshua 3) As we do the hard work of rooting out what is not from God in our hearts, whether it be bitterness, selfishness, or unforgiveness, I truly believe that we will bless God and he will bless us. Sweet and healthy fruit will be enjoyed by all.

Would you join me in asking God to reveal any sin in our heart? Then actively seek ways and do the hard work of removing whatever might be revealed? Sin becomes a barrier in our relationship to God and others. As we actively root out the poisonous and bitter fruit in our hearts and minds, it allows space for deeper love and closer walk with the Lord and those we love. I’m so grateful for you. Let’s be brave together and do the hard work, and be expectant of good fruit to come.

With gratitude,

Amy

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