Abide

wholehearted: intimacy, courage and freedom in God

Let your light shine!

What is my response to a world in pain? If I’m honest, it’s easy to live in a place of overwhelm, to feel powerless, lost and lacking in hope.

I’ve felt God’s kindness drawing me out of this place. His presence reminding me to lift my eyes up but also to look out.

The world is aching, groaning even, and as much as it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of my own 4 walls, the world needs our prayers. I can’t ignore the pain I see in the images on my phone and TV…and I’m not meant to.

There is a world needing the love of Christ right now. A world in so much darkness that the light needs to shine.

Matthew 5:14-16 tells us:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

One of the questions I’ve been pondering is how do I shine my light? When I’m stuck at home, bogged down in home schooling, isolated and socially distanced… what does it look like to shine a light?

Often it’s the small, ordinary places of life that require the most of us. What do I choose to do with God’s light burning within me each day? Am I tapping out, calling time, waiting for this all to end before I take up my light again?

Or am I choosing each day to be a place of hope, a person of encouragement, a safe place of refuge for others? Do I choose kindness, mercy, prayer and love?

Every time I choose to walk in the goodness of God, light shines in the darkness.

Every time I choose to walk in grace rather than offense, light shines.

Every time I choose to pray rather than worry…light shines.

Every time I choose resting in Jesus instead of striving… light shines.

Every time I let go of overwhelm and connect to Jesus, the Prince of Peace… light shines.

Every time I choose an act of kindness…light shines.

Every time I speak encouragement and hope to another weary soul, light shines.

This season cannot snuff out our light. It cannot snuff out our hope. And our world is in need of both.

‘Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house’ (Matthew 5:15)

Our light goes forth as we choose to love and pray and let our hearts break open in compassion for our world.

The glory of God is within you, the glory of God rises upon you. It shines in you and from you as you abide, stay close and listen to God.

The world needs our light, our love, our hope, our prayers. An ordinary life lived in the extraordinary presence of God.

Blessings

Tammy

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The most excellent way

The most excellent way!

We moved to Sydney when I was 7mths pregnant with Josiah. Another little person in tow, we left everything and everybody we knew to head to the Big Smoke! To say I was homesick was an understatement!

But on a hot day in February, just 3 weeks into our new adventure, I got invited over to the church hall. To my absolute surprise a group of young, gung-ho, filled-up-with-Jesus’-love mums had thrown me a baby shower.

That day was a turning point for me. I went from feeling alone, unseen, homesick…to knowing that I would be ok, that God had placed me in a church family who were willing to walk alongside me with the love of Jesus.

I learnt a lot from those girls. They were fiercely passionate about sharing the love of Jesus with others. They ran playgroups at our church and they made sure that everyone that entered that place felt seen and cared for. They cooked meals for people, ran errands looked after your kids when you weren’t well. They showed up!!!

I’ve spent many years growing in my understanding of the love God has for me, living into my belovedness as His daughter. But I pray that I don’t take this journey alone… that I’m taking some people with me and making the most of the moments God gives me to love His beloved ones.

At the end of 1 Corinthians 12 Paul exhorts us ‘to eagerly desire the greater gifts…yet I will show you the most excellent way.’ And there begins the lesson on love. The most excellent way is a way of love, being filled with the love of God so that we can shower the world with it. Knowing we are the beloved so that we can help another glimpse their belovedness.

Life is busy and full and sometimes we miss the people God puts right in front of us, we miss the opportunity to stop and notice a fellow beloved child of God, to reach out and say ‘hey, you are seen, you are His beloved, you are fought for. Abba Father is CRAZY about you!’

I pray that our eyes will be opened to see others the way God sees them, to let go of our prejudices, our busyness, our own importance and to take the time to help another experience the deep, long, high and wide love that God has for them.

Love makes a way. Love mends a heart. Love makes a stranger feel at home.

Blessings

Tammy

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He calls your name

This year was the first year in forever that I didn’t get to church for easter. I felt like I’d missed celebrating something of great significance. I was disappointed and FOMO had certainly settled in.

But as I considered the death and resurrection of my beloved Jesus I was reminded that nothing could hold Jesus down. Death couldn’t hold Him, Satan couldn’t hold Him, the tomb couldn’t hold Him, He was irrepressible!

God brought to mind another resurrection that Jesus was involved in…Lazarus. After 4 days in the tomb, John 11:43 says that ‘Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!” The dead man came out, His hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen.’ 

Today Jesus calls my name, and He calls your name. He calls us out of darkness, He calls us out of bondage, He calls us out of fear, He calls us out of hiding, of living small, He calls us out of brokenness. He is calling your name today. From all the things that hold you down, that keep you bound. 

He’s calling out things in us that we’ve buried, dreams, hopes, godly desires. He’s speaking life into the dead places, light into the darkness. 

And just like Lazarus, He tells us to take off the grave clothes, because we’ve been walking around in shame and fear and striving, things that Jesus died to set us free from. 

We need to throw off the grave clothes, throw off all that hinders. Let go of the lies we’re believing, the unforgiveness we’ve been caring, the worries that consume us.

And walk forward in the freedom Jesus has for us. Walk forward in the truth of who we are. Walk forward into the hopes and dreams and purposes God has for us.

John 10:10 says that ‘the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. The Message version says ‘real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed.’

What has the thief been stealing from you? 

Can you hear Jesus calling your name today? 

What grave clothes is He calling you to throw off as you step into the freedom and power of that glorious easter morning?

Jesus resurrection is our resurrection. He paid the price to set us free. He calls us forward into a full and real and better life than we had ever dreamed of. May you hear His voice calling your name today.

Blessings!

Tammy

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Will I worship?

The year 2020 seems to have left many of us feeling emotionally drained and perhaps even empty. At times, it’s felt challenging, tiring and even unfruitful.
There have been losses to navigate with employment, holidays, and time with friends and family. Our spiritual journey has often been a solitary one, not being able to join together to worship and encourage each other. It’s required each of us to dig our roots down deeper and rely on God’s strength and nearness. Praise God, He is with us!!!
I love this passage from Habakkuk 3:17-19 (AMP):
‘Though the fig tree does not blossom
And there is no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fails
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold
And there are no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!

The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];
He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [a]high places [of challenge and responsibility].  ‘
The passage begins with a sobering picture of reality- fig trees not blossoming, no fruit on the vines and the olive yield failing…. As daunting as all this is, Habakkuk declares in v.18 “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will shout in exultation”.
I will choose to praise the Lord, the AMP version says.
Regardless of my circumstances, regardless of what is facing me square in the face, I make a choice each day to rejoice in the Lord and declare His authority over my situations!!!!
Why? Because the Lord God is my strength- my source of courage, my invincible army!
Habakkuk knows who He worships and he is confident in his victorious God to bring him through the tough times.
Worship is a powerful tool at our disposal. I’ve felt God challenge me in this past week to get my worship on. To look the places of bareness and lack in the face and say “yet will I rejoice in the Lord- the victorious God of my salvation”!
Worship has always been a form of spiritual warfare. The Israelites marched around Jericho for 7 days and and as they blew their trumpets and let out a shout of victory, the walls that had kept them from entering, simply fell to the ground.
In 2 Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat faced a terrifying battle as enemies came against him. He fasted, prayed and sought the Lord. I love how he gathered the singers and musicians and sent them out ahead of the army. He knew that the battle he faced was not just physical, it was spiritual. He engaged in the spiritual battle with an army of worshippers. (I love this!) As they lifted their song to the Lord, God caused their enemies to become confused and they started attacking each other. This battle was fought and won in worship.
We also have the opportunity to lift our voices to God and worship over the things we are walking through. As we worship things shift in the spiritual realm. As we declare God’s goodness over our life, His sovereignty over our circumstances, our faith rises and we enable God to fight for us.
We are all facing battles- big and small. Just like Habakkuk we have a choice- will we choose to worship God in the dry and barren places, in the places where we may feel we are already defeated. Will we lift our eyes to Him and declare His goodness, His faithfulness and His constant nearness and presence.
And  as v.19 states, God is able to make our feet steady and sure and enable us to walk forward with confidence in our places of challenge and responsibility.
Each time we choose to worship, we shift our focus back onto our Incredible, Mighty, Powerful God! He is our strength and our courage and He will give us what we need to walk forward.
Blessings!
Tammy
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When life leaves you weary

The screensaver on my phone seesaws between two pictures- the first, a warrior girl armed with sword and ready for battle standing alongside a mighty lion. The second, a young girl snuggled into the fur of a lion- she sleeps soundly while the lion watches over her protectively.

Both pictures are reminders that I am never alone!… that in the moments when God calls me to put my brave on and head into the spiritual battle, I go with the mightiest of warriors by my side… and that when I feel tired, weary, broken, there is a place of rest in the nearness of my Saviour.

I love that God uses imagery to make Himself known to us. Psalm 91 describes God covering us with His feathers and that under His wings we well find refuge. God is continually drawing us to Himself, bringing us close and offering a place of safety and rest. The bible is full of scriptures describing His nature and character as one who we can run to for comfort, shelter and protection. God reveals Himself as our refuge and strength, our strong tower (Psalm 61:3).

When life leaves us feeling weary and overwhelmed, when we feel fragile and alone… there is a sanctuary awaiting us. A place where we are known deeply and truly, a place where we are loved extravagantly and a place where we are protected and fought for.  We can choose to run to Him and let His presence covers us like a great wing… but the choice of where we find refuge is always ours.

It’s been an uncertain year for all of us, but one thing remains unchanging- Jesus is so close, He will hold and watch over us. The Great Warrior lets us nestle in close and He does not slumber as we find rest for our weary souls.

Today I feel weary, so I will nestle in close to God, knowing He is my safe place, knowing He watches over me, knowing He will take my burden and give me rest. And when it’s time… I’ll go back out to battle knowing the Great Warrior, Almighty God goes before me, behind me and beside me. I am never alone.

Blessings!

Tammy

 

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Perfectly given

I’ve started writing again… and I’m excited. It’s been a while… You see I have a love/ hate relationship with writing. When I’m in the flow and I feel God using me in the moment, I love it. It’s a place of hope and vulnerability, a place to encourage and reach out to those I love, along with complete strangers.  I love written words… my home is full of them. They carry weight and heart and beauty. So much is captured in one word!

But at some point, my love for writing waned as my need for perfectionism reared it’s ugly head. I would agonise over my writing…was it good enough, was it meeting people where they needed, was it spiritual enough? I got stuck in my head wading through a truckload of insecurity and negativity.

Sometimes we get stuck. What should bring us joy is suddenly a place where we question ourselves. We can get caught up in perfectionism, comparison, insecurity and fear. All these things stop us in our tracks and take the joy out of what God is calling us into. We place a long list of expectation on ourselves and question our ability to meet it. And then we just stop creating.

I’ve heard it said that our places of greatest strength are often our places of greatest insecurity. Perhaps that’s why they are our greatest strengths…. because they come from a place of fierce courage, a place that requires us to go deep and be vulnerable.

One of my most favourite passages of scripture is found in Luke 7: 36-50 and tells about a woman who brought an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus, weeping she wiped his feet with her tears and anointed his feet with the perfume. This woman was not looked on favourably by others, they spoke of her as unworthy to even touch Jesus and questioned the gift she brought. She was ridiculed but Jesus spoke words of love and honor over her. He saw her deep love for Him in bringing her expensive and costly gift.

I love the courage and the heart behind this gift. This woman gave extravagantly. She held nothing back. Her focus was on Jesus and she was unreserved in giving what she had. She humbled herself before everyone in the room, to love and honor Jesus.

Perfectionism, comparison, fear…they have the power to kill creativity. They will suck the joy and life out of bringing our gifts. They keep us bound and stuck and cause us to live small.

It takes courage to bring our gifts, to offer them to others, to be vulnerable in our creativity. It takes courage to fight perfectionism, comparison, fear. It takes courage to lean into the places of vulnerability, to be willing to share our heart with the world.

Like the woman with the alabaster jar, our gift must come from a place of extravagant love… where we lift our eyes from the gift to the Giver… Where we seek to lift Him up no matter what it costs us… Where we choose courage and imperfection… where we choose to live given.

Blessings!

Tammy

 

 

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A new rhythm

I think we’d all agree the world’s a bit crazy right now. It’s uncertain times for all of us. We’re bombarded with information, confronting photos and statistics, and many are facing the uncertainty of employment. It’s hard not to buy into the fear of scarcity as we scurry to fill our fridges, medicine cabinets and toilet roll holders.

For many of us the inner dialogue of worry and concern is driving an outer response. We feel the need to do something.

At the same time, we’re being asked to socially distance ourselves- to stay home as much as possible and to stop many of the normal routines of our lives. We are being asked to find a new rhythm.

I’ve felt the whisper of God calling to my heart in this stressful time- the reminder to ‘Be still and know that I Am God’ (Psalm 46:10), the sweet call to come closer, to lay down my worries and to find rest in the arms of My Saviour.

His invitation is always to come closer. To exchange our worries and cares for His peace and rest.

Jesus says to us today ‘Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Matthew 11:28-29)

Oh how my soul needs rest!

The message translation words it like this: ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ (Matt 11:28-29 MSG)

In this time of uncertainty we are all being asked to learn a new rhythm, whether we want to or not. We have a choice how we respond, we can continue to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we can continue to be worn out tired and worried or we can come to Jesus, lay our burdens down and find a new unforced rhythm.

This rhythm comes as we look to Him, as we slow our outward pace as well as our inner pace. It’s a daily rhythm of giving Him our worries and concerns and taking on His rest and peace.

Last week I felt frantic, tired, worn out, emotional. I was given the gift of time and space with Jesus- it was only about 30 minutes but it changed everything. I went for a walk, slowed my pace (literally) and came to a place where I could be still and soak in the truth that He is God and He is here.

I heard His gentle and kind whispers to my soul and I was able to lay down my burdens, my fears, my messiness.

His invitation to come close changed everything! My soul found rest and peace that I had forgotten were mine to have.

We are so blessed that our Heavenly Father is not distant. He loves us and His heart is for us. He cares about us and invites us to come close and exchange our fears for His perfect love. His invitation is for you today. Come close, ‘cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ (1Peter 5:7)

His peace and rest is for you today.

Blessings!

Tammy

 

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Living in the wait

I refer to this year as the year of ‘living in the wait’. That place between my current reality and where I want to be. The place of longing and desire to step into the dreams God has placed on my heart.

The gap seems big at the moment. The chasm between here and my dreams is miles apart and although I have a strong conviction that I’m right where I should be, I just really want to be over there, living the dream!

Perhaps you’ve been in the wait too. You’ve had big dreams, a calling you feel is from God but the gap between your current reality and your dream is looking miles apart.

It can sometimes feel frustrating when so much is in our hearts for the future and it doesn’t look like anything’s happening that instead of a straight line from here to our dream, the road is full of twists and turns. We can feel disappointed and let down. We may even question if we’ve heard God right.

Although the wait has not been fun, God has met me here. He has grown me and stretched me and taught me things I would not have experienced without walking out the journey. He’s reminded me that the journey is just as important as the destination.

It’s a journey through valleys and mountain tops, deserts and resting beside quiet waters, places where we soar and places where we cry out to God to carry us through. Each place brings greater depth to my soul and a fresh revelation of God as He reveals Himself.

Character is forged in deep places of waiting on God. Depth is not forged when all is going well. Depth is forged as we walk out the journey, as we dig deep and press into God for all we need. As we follow where He leads, even when it doesn’t look like the path we want to take.

Without a doubt, the most precious gift of the journey from here to there is that we don’t walk it alone. Jesus has been my faithful companion… leading, guiding and encouraging. He is on this road with me, the one marked with joy and suffering. He is familiar with the way…in fact, He is the way.

And so the journey is full of beautiful encounters, moments where Jesus comforts, moments where He surprises, moments of sweet rest and refreshment, moments where He takes my hand and pulls me to heights I didn’t think I could go.

On the way there are people to love. God will detour our path, our agenda, our plans to share His love. Sometimes He takes us to places we don’t necessarily want to be because He loves the one and He wants us to also. God is teaching me to trust Him in the detours, to get side-tracked from my own agenda and jump onto His because the one is important.

God reminded me this week that this life I’ve been called to is one of great adventure! I can’t plan it out, control it, fast-track it. It’s a journey of the heart, of intimacy, depth and trust. A great faith adventure where I don’t always know the way ahead, but I know the One who takes me.

And so I’ve let go of the frustration of not being where I want to be and I’m trusting Jesus, my good Shepherd, to lead and guide me and walking in the confidence that He has my future.

Psalm 23 reminds me:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.  (NIV)

Blessings as you walk out your great faith adventure!

Tammy

 

 

 

 

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Steadying our hearts

I’d like to tell you that I sailed through December smoothly and unruffled! But the truth is the busyness of the ‘silly season’ along with a few changes left me feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. My tank was empty. There was too much to do and not enough space to be. My soul was overwhelmed and while I knew I needed God more than ever and that steadying my heart in His would change everything, actually making that a reality felt like just another thing that I didn’t have the capacity for. Making that time felt like an impossibility in the never ending sea of demands. I was drowning in the busyness. My soul was weary and I needed Jesus!
It can be hard when life gets overwhelming and out of control, to take a step back, but cultivating connection with God is the only thing that will truly feed our souls.
Daniel was a man who knew how to steady His heart in God’s. Daniel 6: 10 says that ‘Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.’
If I were to make any New Year’s Resolutions, it would be to cultivate space and time in my life for God to bring rest and refreshment. I don’t want to just survive 2018, I want to thrive! I want to flourish, and find the peace and transformation that God offers my weary soul.
Isaiah 40:31 says ‘But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
Perhaps like me the rush has left you feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to find time for connection.
I am intentionally seeking to capture the little moments. Steadying my heart in His doesn’t always take big chunks of time. God is able to meet me in the everyday moments of life and feed my soul. It just takes desire and an open heart to see Him in the ordinary. Opening my eyes and heart in the morning to the truth that He is with me, thanking God for the gifts of my family and friends, seeing Him in the gentle breeze that blows over me. Acknowledging that He is ‘living water’ for my soul when I see water, turning off the radio and tuning my heart to worship, basking in the beauty of His sunset at the end of the day… small, everyday moments that nourish my soul and remind me of God’s love and nearness.
While I know that giving God chunks of time is a powerful tool in finding rest for my soul and I am committed to carving out time in my week and year for these beautiful times, I am encouraged and committed this year to find God in my everyday moments. Being aware of His presence throughout each day and finding Him in the ordinary, small moments will have a big impact on refreshing my soul . He is the true antidote for my overwhelmed heart!
Sometimes we neglect coming to Jesus because we don’t feel like we have any time. But the truth is He is right with you, right now! Just turn your eyes from the distractions to see Him. Our beautiful Jesus is waiting for you, waiting to fill your heart with the rest and refreshment that only He can bring!
Can I encourage you to spend some time in the next few weeks, seeking Him on how you can steady your heart in His? What are the things that feed your soul?  How can you incorporate these in the everyday ordinary going-ons of life?
My heart is that we will all grow closer to God as we seek Him in the mundane moments that only He can make sacred.
Tammy x
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MORE!

Sometimes I settle……. for less.
A few months ago I was challenged by a picture of Oliver Twist leaving his inconspicuous place at the dining table with his empty bowl in hand, asking for “more”.
I was challenged about my own hunger for God, about how easy it is to slip into the busyness of life and forget my true need, how often I’m just content with how things are when God has so much more for me. I’m so good at seeing a million things that need my time and attention and so slow to see the longings of my own soul…(until I’m worn out and empty).
I want to come hungry, I want more! I want my desire for Jesus to match my need of Jesus!
There are so many verses in the bible that speak about our desire for God being a catalyst for experiencing more of God.
‘For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.’ (Psalm 107:9 ESV)
‘For the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.’ (2 Chronicles 16:9 NLT)
‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.’ (Psalm 42:1-2)
I want to be filled. I want to come hungry for God to fill my bowl, that it will overflow to those around me. I want to carry the very essence of God’s presence so that instead of giving the tired leftovers of ‘doing and striving’, I give the heart and love of God to others.
In John 4 we meet a woman with an empty jar, a woman who came to a well thirsty. She was looking for physical water but needing the ‘Living water’ that could refresh her soul.
And Jesus is waiting to meet her need.
He speaks into her ongoing search for love and connection. He says in verse 10, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water”.
Jesus comes to her in her need and offers her living water that goes beyond her physical need to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart and soul.
And He comes to us too. He doesn’t always wait for us to come hungry… sometimes He’s waiting in obscure places where we wouldn’t expect to meet Him, when we’re unaware of the deep longings of our heart, where we’re weary from the physical and emotional demands of life, where we’ve given the best of ourselves to love others and we’re tired and weary…. and He is there…waiting to meet us… waiting to fill our empty jar.
And often times, I come with my little bowl when the gift of God is so outrageously generous that it is more like a waterfall saturating and soaking the deep longings of my heart!
If only we knew the gift of God and who it is that asks! Because unlike Oliver’s task master, we have a God who loves us extravagantly. If only we knew the deep love of God available to us. If only we knew the beautiful Jesus that is waiting to meet us in our weariness. The one who left heaven for you, who endured abuse and mocking, who was tortured on a cross to bring you back to the Father who loves you with the fiercest love possible.
We would not hesitate but to come with our empty bowls and cups and jars and ask Him for more… more love, more grace, more forgiveness, more peace, more joy, more of His presence!
Is there an emptiness that you need filled?
Jesus tells us, just as He did the Samaritan woman, to ask Him. To come boldly to the well and drink deeply, to outstretch our jars and ask for more.
If we knew the gift of God and the one who waits for us, we would ask Him and He would fill the ache in our soul with living water….deep rich, refreshing, life-giving water. Let’s leave the noise of the table and seek Him out to fill the deep longings of our soul.
Jesus waits for you at the well. He sees your longing and He invites you to come, to ask, to seek.
Don’t settle. There is so much more!

Blessings!

Tammy

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