Today you are You, that is truer than true.

There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

—Dr. Seuss

 

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

Oscar Wilde

 

I love walking through a field of wildflowers. Every season there is something new to surprise and delight me.

 

As summer shifts quietly to autumn, the wildflowers change too. Gone are the purple columbine, the yellow primrose, and the red poppies. They’ve been replaced by purple asters, and yellow goldenrod with a few straggling red cardinal flowers thrown in for good measure.

 

God has painted our world with a vast variety of flowers in every hue. Anne LaMott in her book Grace Eventually speaks of God’s creativity this way, “The meadow was a crazy jumble of flowers, giddy experiments of a Painter trying ideas out together: How about this with this? Isn’t it wiggy?”

 

If God saw fit to bless this world with such unique beauty and variety, it is only fitting that he created you and I uniquely beautiful in all our diversity.

 

In fact, David wrote Psalm 139 in awe of how intimately God made and loves us…

 

13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! 17-18How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!

 

The thing is, I didn’t always believe that. Most of my life I struggled like crazy to conform to other people’s expectations: to be thin, not chunky (as I was often called in childhood), to be stoic, and not so emotional. To be strong, and not weak. To be ambitious, not a daydreamer.

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Rejected. Unloved. Failure. Outcast. Whether we realize it or not, the names that we call ourselves have the power to shape our identity and form our beliefs.

Do you believe the truth about yourself? Or are you believing the lies?

On this week's Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with author Allison Allen about what it means to find our identity exclusively in Christ. She tells us how exchange the false names that we have believed about ourselves for the true names God has given us. 

Click here to listen to a podcast of Jo's conversation with Allison Allen or catch Jo live every Friday at 12:00 p.m. on Faith Radio Network / KTIS 

AM 900 or online at myfaithradio.com

God’s angels are watching over us.

David Jeremiah

 

Aren’t all the angels ministering spirits who are sent to serve

those who are going to inherit salvation?

Hebrew 1:14

 

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Do you believe in angels? Oh, I’m not talking about those cute little chubby cherubs that you can buy in the stores. Or even the D’Amico angels, which I collect. No. I’m talking about ministering angels that appear on earth to guard and protect us.  

Forty years ago this past August, I had an encounter with an angel...at least that’s what I believe.

It happened when I least expected it, but, when I most needed it.

I was nineteen at the time and living in the city. It was Friday and I was eagerly awaiting my work day to end. I had made plans to head north for a fun-filled weekend celebrating my eight-year-old brother. After a quick stop at my apartment to change into more comfortable clothing, I hit the road.

About halfway to my destination, my life turned upside down. Literally.

Going 60 miles-an-hour in the left lane on a major highway, my car suddenly jerked left toward the median. The tires hit the gravel and spun my car around 180° to face the oncoming traffic. The skid sent my car back into the gravel and in a blink of an eye, my car was flipping in the median over and over. 

It was surreal. The windows blew out. Glass shards flew, as did I. (There weren’t seatbelt laws back then.) The next thing I knew, I was being slammed upward onto the roof of the car, then into the passenger door, where I was left crumpled in a pile when it came to rest.

I panicked. All I wanted to do was to get out of the car. Thankfully, three young men were ready to yank the door open and we're able to catch me as I lost consciousness.

The next thing I remember I was laying on my back in the grass with grasshoppers bounding over me.

My mind whirled, my heart raced, but, my lips were dumb.

Just then a gentle-faced man leaned in close to my own. He slipped his hand in mine and whispered, “Julie, my name is Jerry _____. You’ve been in a car accident. You’ve been placed on the ground to keep you stabilized until the ambulance comes for you. Do not be afraid. I am here. Try to rest quietly.”

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Do your thoughts sometimes turn destructive?

 

We can’t control every thought that comes into our minds, but we can control what we choose to do with those thoughts when they come our way. This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talks with Donna Gibbsas she shares helpful advice as a board certified Christian counselor on how to take destructive thoughts and replace them with the truth of God’s Word.

 

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jo's show, or join Jo live every Friday afternoon at 12 noon on Faith Radio Network on AM 900 KTIS.

A beautiful letter from a daddy to his 1st child as he heads off to school...

 

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My hands paused for an extra moment this morning; hovering over the shoes that would carry you off to Kindergarten. For a fleeting moment I thought if I waited long enough I could turn back the clock. Perhaps time would settle into stillness long enough so I could revisit all the times I've rushed you out of childhood and forgotten you are still beautifully wrapped in innocence and wonder.

 

My throat tightened the way it always does before the tears start to fall. Your feet danced back and forth with excitement, this new beginning pulsing through your body. Your sister and brother helped you with your new backpack and asked you questions you were too excited to hear. As the oldest you not only forge this path for yourself, but you also make a way for them when their time comes.

 

I felt myself slipping towards shame, replaying all the moments I've gotten it wrong, all the moments you deserved more of me, all the moments I'd wished for a do over. I could have wallowed there in the shame and guilt, but instead I received a simple gift of grace. I looked down at my hands again and remembered. I remembered how they'd received you on the day you were born. They were gentle with you and held you close. They protected you and provided for you. They comforted your hurts and pains. They tickled you until your belly was full of laughter. They did whatever they could to reassure you that you belong.

 

So my son, as you begin this new adventure take a look at your hands. Think of all they will help you create, and all they will help you do. Some of your creations will earn you gold stars and the praises of your teachers, but there is something even more important that your hands can do. They can be a gift to your classmates. Think of they way your hands could receive the lost and lonely ones. Think of how gentle your hands could be towards the hurting and the broken ones. Think of how your hands could protect the most vulnerable ones.

 

As you gave us your final hugs before skipping into your new classroom you whispered in my ear the phrase you've learned to repeat whenever we part ways, "I am good, I am loved." I smiled through the emerging tears, hopeful that you were beginning to understand that there is nothing more true about you. And so from that place you are sent out. You get to go, and dream, and play, and learn, but you also have the chance to do whatever you can to reassure your classmates that they belong. And when you start to forget what's most true about you, or you start to live too deeply into shame and guilt my hands will be gentle with you and hold you close all over again and whisper in your ear what's most true about you; "you are good, you are loved."

 

Godspeed my little adventurer. I'll be waiting at the bus stop.