Grace and Truth

Not long ago, the highway in front of our house was closed at the railroad tracks for repair. Although there were very few trains  and much less traffic,  all kinds of vehicles drove past the Road Closed Ahead sign; some stopped to ask for directions.

 I would be lying if I said Jay and I aren’t flummoxed by this behavior.  However, when asked for directions by one of these drivers, and not all stop and ask for directions,  we generally find out where they are headed and send all that do ask back the other direction to the Road Closed Ahead sign and tell them to take a right.  We try not to make them feel stupid,  or rub in the fact they drove right by the sign and detour.  We do our best to extend grace and tell them the truth that they are headed in the wrong direction.

I can’t speak for Jay, but I respond in this manner for three reasons:

 1) As a follower of Christ, I am called to extend grace to others. Especially if they are headed in the wrong direction, because God has extended me grace through His Son Jesus Christ when I was headed in the wrong direction. 

I would be lying if I said that there weren’t moments I wanted to ask:  a) why they weren’t paying attention or b) if they can read.  I am human after all.  However, my faith in Christ reminds me that in my past I got much, much better than I deserved while I was headed in the wrong direction at the speed of light.  I certainly ought to extend that same attitude to others. As Paul teaches me I must: “ take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV).  Especially when I don’t want to.

To be the beneficiary of grace is to get better than we have coming to us; and grace is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion on earth.  In all other faiths, to get “there”, to reach paradise, nirvana, enlightenment or get into some form of “heaven” depends on what you do, your work.  Some religions may even require multiple lifetimes in order to achieve this desired state of bliss.  Can you imagine going through Jr. High/Middle School again and again? Ugh. That would be sheer torture. Then, at death you find out if you earned your way in. Or not.  Um… scary.

Not the case with Christianity. To become a Christian, one chooses to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe by surrendering to His Lordship over one’s life and by choosing to receive His grace and forgiveness.  We also must believe He rose from the dead and accept what has already been done by Him on the cross which makes one right with God.  We believe, accept, depend on the finished work of Christ and change. And then we have the desire to turn back to God in this lifetime. We change direction, and move back toward Him and His way, the right way. This change of direction is also known as repentance.

Recently I stumbled upon a powerful demonstration of grace and direction change I had never noticed in chapter 21 of the book of Acts.  The author Luke is narrating his journey with the Apostle Paul from the mission field back to Jerusalem.  As I read verse eight for the umpteenth time in my life, it struck me right between the eyes:

8 On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the Seven, and stayed with him. 

Did you see it?   “They stayed at Philip’s house, who was one of the Seven”.  You may be asking yourself what’s the big deal about them staying at Philips house? And who are the Seven? Back in Acts chapter six we read Philip was part of a group of seven men carefully chosen by the early church to perform acts of service in the community. Philip was one of these men, and so was a man named Stephen. Stephen was the very first person to die for his faith in Christ.  It is reasonable to assume Philip and Stephen were friends, likely good friends. At the end of Acts chapter seven while Stephen, Philip’s friend was falsely accused and eventually stoned to death, a young man named Saul is holding the cloaks of the men stoning him and was more than likely instrumental in setting up Stephen to be falsely accused and executed.  Pay close attention here, this very same Saul, who not long after becomes one of the, if not the key figure in persecution of the early church,  also caused Philip to flee for his life to Samaria, where he earned the name Philip the Evangelist because he kept right on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ despite life threatening persecution.  Just a few chapters later, Saul has his famous Damascus Road conversion with Christ,  and  – taa daa – he eventually becomes the Apostle Paul.  Who, not only gives us most of the New Testament, and takes the Gospel to much of Asia and the non-Jews.

And is  now staying at Philip’s house. 

 Philip who likely watched him kill his friend Stephen and who he ran for his life from. 

I love the Bible; you just can’t make this stuff up! Talk about amazing grace!

Paul sure didn’t deserve the grace he got first from Jesus (neither did I) he was killing Jesus followers after all!  But that is what he got.   He didn’t deserve to be welcomed into Philip’s home, but he was.  If and when our head and heart fully get wrapped around it, grace changes us.  When Paul got grace, he didn’t keep killing Christians, he changed direction. Grace comes first and repentance follows from a changed heart..

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. “

John 1:17 NKJV

2) And after gracefully treating someone the way I would wish to be treated, we tell others the truth.  

When the drivers asked me for directions, they were asking for help. In order to give them the help they needed, I had to tell them the truth.  To turn around, go back to the Road Closed sign (that they ignored, consciously or unconsciously) and take a different road. If I don’t tell them the truth, they can’t get on the right road and I am useless to help them.  Some received that news resentfully and angrily, others with gratitude, some never bothered to ask.  I have come to see that’s how it is with the gospel.  Some chose to accept God’s grace, change direction and accept and act on the truth.  Some don’t and some never ask for help.  It’s not my job to make anybody see anything. It is my job to tell them the truth with grace in love.  The Apostle Paul took the truth he didn’t want to hear and used it to change the world.  And accepting the truth requires obedience.  Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 (ESV) Jesus heals people, loves them and tells them the truth, to stop sinning.  “Go now and leave your life of sin,”  John 8:11 (NIV), and  “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (NIV).  What he is telling us is “You have been given a do over, change direction!”.

This is what God requires of me: a) to believe He is telling me the truth, all truth is God’s truth by the way, not Christine Davis’s truth or some political party’s truth. And b) to turn around and take a different road.  The narrow road that leads to Him. In order to get into a relationship with Him, I must know the truth, and as Jesus promises, “The truth will make you free.”

3) Reason # Three : I have been one of those drivers!!

I have literally done this very same thing.   Driven by a Road Closed Ahead sign because I: a) wasn’t paying attention. b) thought they must have it wrong or are just pulling my leg or c) somehow thought I am special and it just didn’t apply to me. In life, most, not all, but most of my trouble is of my own making because I willfully chose to drive on by or perhaps, I thought God was just kidding when he said “Thou shalt not”.  I blindly drove right by the Road Closed Ahead signs God put up in His world in which I live.  Although I wasn’t always punished for my sin, frequently I was punished by it. And sometimes others were punished by my sin too. By turning around, changing direction and returning to God ( going back to the Road Closed Ahead sign and taking a right)  I got grace but I also got the truth to get back on the right road.  You see, following Jesus is not a one or the other deal, it’s not just grace or just truth.  It is both grace and truth.

Which gives me so many reasons to:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

Let Go or Be Dragged

A while back I was walking with our dog Bandit in town and as I turned a corner, I saw a gentleman and his two dogs jogging toward us. Experience has taught me to never assume people have trained their dogs to behave well in public so I tend to err on the side of caution. Bandit and I stepped off to a side street giving about a ten-yard berth. I had Bandit sit so the man and his dogs could have plenty of space between us.  As they passed by one of his dogs slipped out of its collar, ran straight at Bandit, leaped on him and started a fight.  I knew better than to get in the middle of them, and that I had to let go of the leash or I would be dragged into the dog fight.  Fortunately, it didn’t last long, the second dog wasn’t aggressive and stayed on leash while their human ran over and threw himself on top of the aggressive dog pinning it to the ground.  Bandit and I made a clean break without serious injury.

 

There are times when you must let go or be dragged. 

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find myself hanging on to things far beyond the point I ever should have and wonder why I have skid marks and scars to show for it. . I have identified four areas where I have found it beneficial to drop the rope.

I have let go of my need to be right.

 The story is told of a psychiatrist of a mental hospital that asked each of the residents if they would rather be right or be free. Every single patient replied they would rather be right.  I totally get that, I used to wear self-righteousness like a second skin.  When I found myself clanging to that sort of thinking I wasn’t in a sound place mentally nor was I free. Unfortunately, when I had to be right at all costs, it meant someone else had to be wrong.  It was either black or white and much of the time I found what I was hanging so tightly to was everyone else’s flaws unable to see my own.  In fact, the need to be right, which is the evil twin of perfectionism, was one of the most damaging aspects of how I used to live my life.  I thought if I wasn’t right, I was somehow flawed which my sick mind equated with imperfection. My goodness I sure didn’t want you to see that!

Luckily, today I don’t have to live that way.  I can let go of my need to be right and listen to other points of view determining when it is appropriate to stand my ground based on God’s principles or to be able to admit I am off base.  Okay,  admit when I am wrong. How does that taste you might ask? Actually, pretty darn sweet because I am able to admit I am wrong! Today, with God’s help,  I can see I confused the need to be right at all costs with something good, standing in God’s truth respectfully and in love or admitting I am wrong, even when it makes me or others uncomfortable. And it does make others uncomfortable when someone willingly admits they are wrong. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free. “ Today I would much rather be wrong and be free through Christ than right in my own eyes.  Oh, and did I mention it’s much easier to get on with folks when you don’t have a raging need to be right or perfect? Most of the time I live quite comfortably in my skin whether I am right or wrong.

I have let go of my need to sit wrapped up in a warm blanket of self-pity.

 What a magnificent martyr I used to be.  I remember the miserable old days feeling oh so sorry for myself because other people weren’t doing my will.  I handed over much of my power to other people while squandering the moments God had given me in constant worry over many things which never happened. Mired deep in the manure pile of poor me’s I robbed myself of the joy of living.  What I came to find out is the best medicine for this ugly state of mind is an attitude of gratitude.

Being grateful is a powerful tool in my toolbox of life these days.  As Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Thessalonica we do would well to: a) Be joyful always.  Which is a Herculean task in itself!  May I remind you the word always is an absolute.  I encourage you to try being joyful always for just a day.  Imagine the possibilities.  b) Pray without ceasing.  That alone would not only be life changing but world changing if we are praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  c)  Give thanks in all circumstances.  Gulp.  I double dog dare you to try it out for a week. What a game changer!  Why?  Paul tells us because this is God’s will for us in Jesus Christ!

God’s will for us is to be joyful, prayerful and grateful which will cure a bad case of   poor me in no time flat. 

I have let go of resentment
Self-pity and resentment are two adjoining rooms in my heart, with a door that opens from one right into the other.  Self-pity always, yes always, leads to resentment.  The word resentment has a root that means to feel again which is exactly what happens. When we are struck in self-pity, we feel again what someone may have (real or perceived) done to us which chains us to the past and sets us up yet again for resentment. Both self-pity and resentment want to take up a permanent residence ,with a mailing address in my heart.  Not good. Not good.  One flows so smoothly right into the other, if I let go of feeling sorry for myself and develop gratitude, I have a much easier time letting go of the hardness in my heart for both my past sins and the wrongs done to me by others.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, I can then become willing to pray for others (praying for my enemies as Christ commands) which thaws the icy hatred, anger and fear freezing up my heart.  Which opens the door for me to step out of those adjoining rooms and into forgiveness.

 I have let go of unforgiveness.
Being willing to recognize unforgiveness in myself is one of the hardest things to let go of.   I tend to want to justify my right to not forgive the behavior of other people, glossing over, of course my own flaws.  The need to be right, self-pity and resentment all drag me to the doorstep of the house of unforgiveness.  Which is not a place a follower of Christ wants to live.  Not often do we hear Jesus defend quid pro quo behavior but this is one the places he does.  Because he forgives us if we ask Him to!

  Jesus says if we want to be forgiven by God for our sins we must – not perhaps, not maybe – we must forgive others.  

Corrie Ten Boom tells the haunting story of speaking on forgiveness to the German people post World War II . She herself was asked for forgiveness by a prison guard from the concentration camp she and her sister were held prisoner in. Her sister Betsy died in Ravensbruck at the hand of this man and other guards.  Corrie told that in her heart she hated him, but at the same instant prayed to Jesus to help her to forgive him. Her hand shot out and the moment she gripped his forgiveness came. It came suddenly, was genuine – and of God.  Her forgiveness set them both free from the bondage of hatred.  And it happens whenever we are willing to let go and let God.

Our willingness to seek joy, to pray and be thankful coupled with forgiving both ourselves and others allows God to leap on what attacks us, our self-righteousness, self-pity, resentment and unforgiveness, pinning them to the ground for us so we can make a clean break through Christ’s finished work on the cross without serious injury to our hearts, souls and our eternity..

Let go, or be dragged.

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

The Best Defense

The best defense is a good offense, especially when you are talking about your health.  And your first line of defense from illness is preventative maintenance by, you guessed it, eating right and exercising, managing stress, proper rest and soul care   If you think of a person as an equilateral triangle, one side being body, another side soul (spirit) and the third side the mind we tend to live our lives not equal at all.

In our modern, fast paced world,  we tend to portion out time spent on self care time unequally.  We often  act as though we are one gigantic head, the mind side of our human triangle.   For the most part we spend very little time caring for the vehicle our soul rides around through life in, our body – eating right and exercising. And somehow everything else seems to take priority.  Until we have a health crisis.  And sadly,  many humans spend little or no time  caring for the real us, our soul.

The mortality rate for humans is 100% .  We are all going to die, I am not trying to be morbid, but it’s true. But we do have the power to vastly improve much of our walk on earth by the choices we make. I would like to encourage you take some time for preventative care of your body, mind and soul.   Here are several simple suggestions.

Take time to quiet your mind through doing a non screen activity you enjoy,  and start with just five minutes a day.

Take time to exercise daily.

Make a grocery shopping list which include good fats, lean proteins, fruits and veggies, whole grains and dairy.  Eat as many meals at home with those you love as you can.

If you have a faith, practice living it out in your daily round and connecting with God.  Make it less theory and more reality.

Start with small steps, but be consistantant.

As Ben Franklin so wisely said,  ” An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Be joy filled,

Christine Davis

 

 

Everybody is Recovering from Something

On a cold February night nearly a decade and a half ago, desperate with nowhere left to turn I walked through the doors of a twelve step meeting. Searching for a ray of hope in my chaotic world I found it in a room of total strangers where I began what was to become both the most difficult and the most wonderfully transformative journey of my life. I entered the world of recovery.  

Recovery programs are most commonly associated with addiction to drugs and alcohol, neither of which were a problem for me. What I eventually came to understand is everybody is recovering from something.  I was addicted to other people, Not only the need for their approval but the desire to fix, manage and control  their circumstances and their interrelationship with mine. Particularly those closest to me. This type of attachment is sometimes referred to as codependency.  Needless to say, it wasn’t working very well for me or for them.  In fact, my life was in the toilet.  

If we consider the word recovery itself we think of gaining something back we have lost,  like a job or a person perhaps through the end of a relationship.  Maybe the loss takes the  shape of financial hardship, health issues, betrayal, fear, anxiety or depression.  And I think I can safely say we are all recovering from the year 2020!  

On that frigid February evening I felt as though I had lost my sanity -my soundness of mind-not to mention my ability to discern true from false and most certainly the ability to trust other people.  Something was terribly wrong and I was out of solutions.  

Albert Einstein is credited with saying,  “ The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  And by his definition, I was nuts. 

Not to mention powerless, which is right where God wanted me. 

To keep me from becoming conceited…

         there was given me a thorn in my flesh,

                         a messenger of Satan, to torment me.    2 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV) 

When I graduated from high school I didn’t think I’d end up in a  twelve step meeting, heck,  I didn’t even know what one was! Much less believe it would become one of  the most transformational events of my life.  I thought transformation would be along the lines of becoming rich and famous or some such thing.  But God had something much better in mind for me. 

 For I know the plans I have for you, declares  the Lord, plans to prosper you  and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God may have known the plan, but he had not shared the  roadmap with me and if I have learned anything in my walk with Christ it is that his roadmaps tend to take some significant detours and twisting roads with hair pin curves. Wild rides, where I can’t see around the next corner!  

I remember shaking my fist at him in a tearful conversation in the early days of my recovery  saying, no, I was shouting,  “This isn’t what I signed up for!” I felt completely hopeless and futureless. 

I repeat, this is right where God wanted me.  Because my powerlessness left me no option but to trust in and depend on him and his power. Because powerless he most certainly is not. 

 I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to the steps in my twenties.  Much like I was fortunate enough to have been  introduced to Christ as a child. There are no coincidences in the Kingdom of God, as both became cornerstones that I would later stand on when I finally got to the end of myself.  In fact, the twelve steps are Christian at their core. In the 1930’s a Christian evangelical group called The Oxford Group and their Four Points of Light were the basis that eventually became the twelve steps for the very first step program, Alcoholics Anonymous.  And for me, the steps became the form and framework I had lacked  to live out my Christian faith.  The four points that were to become the twelve steps are:

    1) Surrender to Christ                     

             2)  Confession of sins

                      3) Restitution to those I have harmed

                                4) Carrying the message to others

As I regularly attended meetings and took the medicine of the steps under the tutelage of a sponsor (mentor), it became clear the root cause of my troubles was the same root cause for the insanity of  the rest of the human race, self centeredness and separation from God. We humans are all recovering from  the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. Through the use of our free will, by choosing to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we attempt to play God by thinking we know better than God. The first human beings infected the rest of the human race with this disease.  None of us are exempt nor can we escape it, and self deception is a huge roadblock that keeps us from the sunlight of the Spirit. Christ said we are known by the fruit we bear, and I might add the fruit we choose to eat! This is often referred to as the ever present, inescapable, hardwired in our DNA original sin.

What’s a body to do? 

It is said that when we reach a point of powerlessness, we either get bitter, or we get better.  I was sick of bitter and I wanted better and it required me to die to my old way of thinking and self  (which the waters of baptism make possible), to keep an open mind and do something new. Sound familiar? Again, there were four key elements to effect a successful consummation of this process. 

    1) Surrender to Christ. Recognize there is a God and I am not him.   I had to admit I was powerless and licked and surrender my life and will to his care. I had to trust God.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:8 (NIV)

Reads easy, lives hard. Powerless, not me! Which is self deception number one.  Isn’t that what society says we shouldn’t be after all? I was to discover that if  I was simply willing to let go of what appeared to be true and trust the process I might possibly have something different! Something better and most importantly someone more powerful than little old me running the show – like…THE God of the Universe! Perhaps I could be free of the constant fear the sky was falling, all the time. The desire to not be driven by fear alone created in me a ready willingness to at least attempt to do more than just believe God exists, but to really trust him with  the most important things in my life, like other people and circumstances and money and the future and the weather ( I am a farmer’s wife after all).  I quickly learned recovery/ new  creation in Christ is a marathon, not a sprint, and if I wanted the peace that passes all understanding that is promised,  I had to be willing to be in the game for the long haul and to be completely recreated. 

I was desperate and I jumped in with both feet.   

   2) Confession of sins. I had to quit looking at the stick in others eyes and take care of the log in my own. I had to confess out loud to someone I trusted the worst things I had done.

Self deception number two was this: There is nothing wrong with me, I am a good person.  My thinking was often, if so and so would do thus and such I would be happy. Wrong. Just wrong. That’s called the blame game and I had it down to a science.  It was really hard to quit taking inventory of everyone else’s flaws and start recognizing my own.  And I won’t lie, it was painful because in the end I came to realize what I disliked most in others, was what I disliked most in myself.  I like to call this carrying out the garbage that was rotting me from the inside out.

    3) Restitution to those I had harmed.  I had to right  my wrongs. 

This piece of the puzzle is kind of like doing your income taxes, the worst part is thinking about it.   I began with the easy ones and those successes fueled courage to try the difficult ones.  The goal is to balance the scales of justice this side of eternity and my only responsibility was cleaning up my side of the street. The other person’s response was moot.  I truly learned to love my neighbor as myself with no expectation of anything in return through this exercise.  

  4) Finally,  I have to carry the message to others and to give away what I have  been given. 

I have come to understand that if I don’t give it away what I was given I don’t get to keep the precious jewel of peace that passes all understanding. This is the gift of recovery and Christianity if you don’t quit before the miracle. 

 And when I do give it away I have an endless supply of kingdom living.  I am laying up  treasure in heaven where moth and rust can’t destroy.  And the best part of paying it forward is I take the medicine of the steps over and over and over which keep me from becoming, once again, spiritually sick. Because in the end, that is what I have recovered, my spiritual health through the right relationship with God first and then others.   

We are all recovering from something. 

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

 

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

 As a little kid my older siblings and I would  watch scary television shows and movies and you’ll never believe it,  I was scared of the dark. In fact, I slept with the closet light on until I was in the eighth grade because I was convinced  evil things lived under my bed and waited in the cover of darkness to reach out and grab me and pull me in, never again to return to the light of day.  Like most children I had a vivid and sometimes wild imagination, but  I also had a basic grasp of the truth: evil lurks in the cover of darkness and is exposed by the light.

Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19 (NIV)

And then snap! Just like that I was no longer afraid of the dark! Not only was I no longer afraid of it, it was no longer my enemy because you can’t recognize demons when you are running alongside them under the cover of darkness. Just before and during my first year of high school several persons I looked up to and  trusted in introduced me to  forbidden fruit activities.  Many of which took place under the cover of darkness, imagine that! Unfortunately,  I fell under the incorrect impression I was being set  free from the rules which bound me from really living.  Just like Eve in Genesis chapter three, I was deceived.   And it is important to note that Eve, just like me, knew and trusted her tempter because the text doesn’t indicate  she was  afraid of or unfamiliar with him.  And for a time, I can’t speak for Eve, but at least for me,  it was rather novel and exciting  to run with and through the darkness. 

 Until it wasn’t. And the age of innocence was over and I was left with my evil deeds and shame, and  I hid from the light of the truth.  As things began to fall apart I wanted to blame others for the troubles of my own making. Sound familiar?  Yes, the blame game also originated in Genesis  chapter three.  I was caught in a trap until I turned back to the light and the trap was  sprung by the journey out of darkness back into light. 

The opening lines of the very first book of the Bible instruct us on the nature of light and darkness.

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light, “ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4 (NIV)

 These four short sentences are packed with information, first that there was a beginning and God was there!  And like a potter considering a formless lump of clay, there was no shape or form to the earth as God prepared to act upon it. And there was darkness. Darkness was present because up until that moment God was not.  Which is exactly where I was,  in darkness, away from the light of the presence of God. 

We are told in these opening lines God is Spirit! And as his Spirit hovered over the waters (water often symbolizes chaos in scripture) there was darkness until God showed up and  spoke these words,  “Let there be light.” Did you ever stop to consider it is the very  presence of God who brought light and order to chaos during the first moments of creation? Do you realize his presence still brings light and order to chaos and darkness in our lives when we choose to return to life under the canopy of  his light and goodness? We know the light described here isn’t light from the  sun or moon, they came  later in creation.  This  very same experience of entering into the presence of this  Holy Trinity has transformed the chaos and darkness not only in my life but  millions and millions of  lives over the years, through the light and order of his presence.  God the Father offers his gift of  grace through Jesus Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit sealed in you through faith and baptism brings light, the light of God and his truth into our lives.   It is the only thing that can because all truth is God’s truth.  The passage goes on to confirm it is  his word and presence that actually separates light from the darkness!  

 And we  must not read these magnificent opening lines of Genesis, the book whose name means beginning,  without coupling them together with the opening lines of the Gospel of John!

In the beginning was the Word,

       and the Word was with God,

             and the Word was God.  

                He was with God in the beginning. 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Wow.  Is. All . I. Can. Say.  Again, so much packed into so few words.  The Word the disciple John is referring to is Jesus Christ, the one and the same God man he walked and talked with. The one he watched die on a cross.  The one he saw risen from the dead. The author John is telling us this same God man is the very God who spoke all things into being, the Author of life! 

 The Greek word for Word that John used here is logos from which we derive our word logic. John is telling us Jesus is the logic and the light of the world and the bringer of the light, order and life to earth through the power of his voice and the Holy Spirit, which hovered over the waters. There is the Trinity right at the beginning! Bathed in light and life. John later goes on to confirm this truth, quoting Jesus’ own words,

I am the light of the world.

          Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,

                          but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV). 

The scriptures are full light language that is so much more than just some abstract philosophy.  It is the lifesaver and preserver that drew me back from the dark abyss.  And all that was required was a willingness on my part to come back into the light and move out of the darkness and  away from death.  And one of the most beautiful discoveries is I don’t have to wait until I die to receive the keys to the kingdom and neither do you! His word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path to guide my walk through this valley of the shadow of death in this world, in the here and now. 

 All I need do is turn on the switch. 

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

 

Weathering the Storm

Things began to unravel around  eleven a.m. that day.  I glanced at social media and noticed a post by a high school classmate who lives in a border state to our west. She had shared a video of a nasty storm that had rolled just through. 

Minutes later,  I received a text message from our oldest daughter Liz whose family had just set out that same morning traveling home following a visit. Liz said they had to drive one hundred miles per hour to avoid an encounter with a dangerous storm, which was now bearing down on our youngest daughter Maggie’s city in the center of our state. Immediately,  I called Maggie,  who had this to say when she answered, “Mom, I have never seen a storm like this, the sky was black, it was like a hurricane hit us. The streets are flooded, trees and powerlines are down everywhere.“

I disconnected and turned on the local news, only to discover that same wicked storm had us in its crosshairs.The newscaster  reported sustained winds of over one hundred miles per hour. It was a hot and humid August morning in Iowa, nothing out of the ordinary had been forecasted;  only a slight chance for pop up storms. It sounded like a doozy had certainly popped up and it was only a matter of time before this intense storm racing across our state at mach speed would be upon us. 

 We had about an hour and a half to prepare before zero hour. I have lived through many storms, I knew what to do. I ran across the farm to alert the guys. We battened down the hatches.  I posted a warning on social media to give others a heads up.  I didn’t know how long we’d be without power, but I knew it would likely be days. I texted others to please pray, ate lunch,  made a thermos of hot coffee and took a quick bath. I was to find out later most had little or no advance warning whatsoever.

And just like that it was here. The dog and I went to the basement. 

That weird voice came over the emergency broadcast system,  I couldn’t understand what it was saying.  The sirens blew, we lost power, it seemed like dusk at midday. And that was only just the beginning, for nearly forty five minutes the sirens and the wind blew and blew and blew.  I prayed.  The dog slept. 

When the worst seemed to have passed I came up out of the basement to assess the damage. Tree limbs down, horse, cat and farm buildings all intact.  But the tree debris in the road was incredible.  I later learned the DOT sent out snowplows to clear roads. I drove to our son’s house to check on his family as we had limited cell phone access and along the way I saw trees snapped off, buildings and grain bins destroyed and displaced, tossed in fields like giant discarded pop cans. Crops were flattened. By the grace of God there were few storm deaths. Some were without power  days and others for weeks.  The storm  added insult to injury for so many already hurting from the chaos of  2020. Not to mention the looting and thefts that followed.  And yet, there was so much good that came out of the storm, neighbor helping neighbor.  And the response one chose to the devastation, fear and chaos brought about by the storm seemed to  depend on where you had your feet planted. 

The floods came. the rain descended, and the winds blew and beat upon the house…   

These words  were spoken by Jesus at the end of his Sermon on the Mount given in the Gospel of Matthew. Even though he and his disciples do experience a nasty storm in a boat on the sea, and Jesus, like my dog, slept through the worst of it.  I don’t think  that is  what he is referring to here. Jesus lays out two responses to the storms of life  in this beautiful metaphor about who and what we build our life upon. 

1)The first house is built by a wise man upon a rock.

And it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.

And to fully understand what he means in this statement, we must take a look at what was said and done before he makes this declaration. He has recently been declared to be the Son of God by both his cousin John the Baptist and God himself. Those declarations were followed up by Jesus with fasting, prayer, alone time with God and a successful standoff with temptation by the devil.  He gathers some folks to train up for the mission and shares with not them but thousands of others what the Kingdom of God looks like. AKA the Sermon on the Mount which spans Matthew Chapters five through seven.   In these few chapters he lays out to us what building your house on the rock looks like, which is revolutionary both then and now. Following Jesus and God’s way of doing things are quite contrary to the way the world says we should live.  

 Jesus lays out attitudes and behaviors such as living a humble life, avoiding temptation, being connected to God through private prayer, being peacemakers and loving your enemies and praying for them is what Kingdom of God living is about.  And makes clear that he isn’t abolishing the law or prophets but fulfilling them.  (Because he is God with skin on!).  And when we believe his words, place our trust in him and do these things, when, not if,  the storms come and we are beat on by the inevitable troubles in life, we will stand, because Christ’s infinite, eternal Kingdom is the solid rock we chose to build our life on.

2)  The second house is built by a foolish man upon the sand.

And it fell, and great was the fall of it. 

Jesus warns us in these few chapters,  and really the Bible is full of these  same warnings from start to finish,  if our faith and trust is built upon our finite selves, our things, our success or the shifting sand of the culture around us we are only fooling ourselves.   Hating your enemies only increases hatred in the world, that’s what everybody does, don’t get mad, get even, you know the gig.  The world teaches us to ask, “What’s in it for me?” And to make sure everyone knows how great I am, or at least I think I am and worrying about what to eat or wear, or the future.   But these are the very things he so radically said we, if we choose to follow him, must not do.  These very things are the sand the house that had a great fall was built upon. 

There have been times in life when I could see the approaching storm and paid absolutely no attention to the looming dark clouds I had seen all before.  We Iowans are famous for watching the storm roll in from our front porch because most of the time they aren’t as destructive and they are, in my midwestern state, a fact of life. And there have been storms brought on by my own choices and  pride or that of others,  that I seemed to slip through with only minor damage.  

And then there are the game changers.  Like the storm of August 10, 2020.

Where will you choose to weather the storm?  Where will you have built your house when the inescapable storm of life rolls in and has you in its crosshairs? With or without  warning, the floods will come and the rain will  beat upon you. Will you stand or will great be your fall?

Be joy filled always, 

Christine Davis

Road Closed

The road near our farm is closed temporarily at the railroad crossing and I am glad, because they needed to close and repair it, the crossing was terrible. It is necessary to make a better way going forward. The signs went up early this morning including  a sign two miles north at the detour turnoff.

And guess what? No great surprise, cars, tractor trailers and other various vehicles continue to drive up to where the road is closed at tracks, slow down and turn around.  Which is fascinating,  since the road was clearly designated closed a few miles back up the way.  I find it particularly intriguing because I have done this very thing myself, and not so long ago. A  friend and I were taking a drive trip to a local Amish country store. Several miles from our destination the road was closed due to a bridge repair.  I took the road immediately to the right complaining the detour wasn’t marked. In fact,  I lamented loudly about it. Whined is another word describing what I did the entire time, “Why didn’t they mark the road closed by the freeway?” and blah, blah, blah ad nauseam. Finally, I turned around and drove back to the original exit by the freeway, only to discover there was  a sign that said, “Road closed 5 miles ahead.”

Of course there was.  It was only because I was so busy yapping with my friend and NOT paying attention, that: I. Had. Missed. It.

And then there are the times that I just know better, Right? And stinking  thinking or just flat out denial takes over and I deceive myself into believing, “ Perhaps they are ‘just kidding!’” Right. Eye roll.  So I drive up just to make sure.   I am not making this up. Sometimes,  I am: Just. That. Stupid.  I don’t know any other honest way to say it.  And, I am ashamed to say, in both instances, my first reaction is annoyance and my second is to blame someone, anyone, other than the true source of the problem. Which. Is. Me.

Roads are closed and signs are posted to warn us in advance for many reasons.  To keep us from driving off a cliff.  To point us in a better direction.   Because there is perhaps danger ahead or something new and better happening like construction.  Unfortunately, we often  fail to heed the warnings.

Gee this sounds familiar.

 Lets see,  which road closed signs have I ignored or denied in life?  Here’s the short list: Obedience to and respect for parents, those in authority and to the Word of God. I have  been disrespectful and unkind to others;  dishonest – taken things that weren’t mine to take in whatever form that manifested itself;  I was sexually promiscuous before marriage. People pleaser. Prideful. Made poor health choices. Yada, yada, yada. Blatantly disregarding the solid ground of objective truth that would take me a better way; or simply oblivious because I was distracted and mesmerized, heeding the shifting sands of the culture around me.  Sometimes knowing in my head  I should make better choices  or other choices. And. Just. Not. Doing it.  It’s always the same three things that trip you and me and everyone else up. The lust of the flesh. The lust of the eyes and pride of life.  Every time. And I know God closes certain roads because he loves us and he is just, because they are  terrible options. Sometimes closure is necessary in order to make a better way going forward.

And of course we  complain (whine) the entire time that the road should have been better marked farther up the line. It was. Our first response is to blame everyone else, including God, because we were distracted or because we deliberately chose to ignore the signs.  And our stinking  thinking  or just flat out denial takes over and we think, “ Perhaps God was ‘just kidding!’” Right. Eye roll.  And there it is. The crux of the problem.  We think we know better than God.

What’s a body to do?  First of all stop blaming God and others for the situation(s) we find ourselves  in. We are only fooling  ourselves if we think we weren’t warned five miles back up the road.  Second, turn back around to God. Jesus is watching and waiting for our return. And he loves and forgives us if we admit our mistakes. He then invites us to follow and walk with him on a different road by: accepting his forgiveness and grace and letting God be God. Making amends to others we have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Next, we stay connected to him at the hip through prayer, study of his Word (truth) and fellowshipping with others on the same right road, also known as the church.  Finally, in  order to stay on the right road and keep what we were so freely given, we must give it away by carrying the message to others .

Then and only then will we find ourselves on the right road that leads to life! No longer on the closed road that leads to death.

And that my dear friends, is a reason to be joy filled always,

Christine Davis.

Past History

 A while back a girlfriend and I were sharing some stories from our past with one another. We alternately giggled and shuddered at our adventures of days gone by, and at the end of our conversation we agreed we were grateful we are who we are today and not who we once were. We no longer resembled the people we used to be. Those parts of our lives were past history.

Thank. The. Lord.

In case you didn’t know it, I have past.  Some of it is nice and shiny and some of it I am not very proud of. Which is likely true for all of us, at least if we are honest with ourselves.  Today when someone asks, “How are you?” I reply, “Better than I deserve!”   Which can throw people for a loop! This elicits all types of responses such as, “Oh, you deserve good things” or “Why would you say that?”  or “Well, you may not, but I deserve good things.”  Whatever the reply, mine is always the same, “I was wicked when I was young.”  That’s the truth, even though I could not or would not recognize it at the time. Just as true, is the fact I am no longer who I used to be, that person is dead and gone. Past history, in the rear-view mirror.  Those are the earlier chapters in the story of my life and today’s chapters are being written as the new creation I have become in Jesus Christ.  My hope for those who knew me then, in my wicked days, is that they get to know the new me; the real me.  The person God created me to be.

However, I wouldn’t be who I am today without being the person I used to be, even if that wasn’t the best version of myself. Today my worst past history is my best asset because it created my need to be redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Yes, you read that right.  My worst past history is my best asset because it created my need to be redeemed by Christ. 

Redeemed is a churchy word for rescued or saved.  You may be asking yourself; how can you make such a statement? What do you mean your worst past history is your best asset?!   I can say that truthfully because I have decided to take God at his Word and accept the grace and forgiveness, he offers me. Which is what being born again is all about.  Dying to my old sinful self, rising to new life in Christ. This is the beginning place for clearing out the garbage of my past and moving toward living a joyous, happy and free life where my identity comes from Christ, not from me. The churchy words for this process are confession and repentance. Repentance is turning back to God and admitting he knows what is best for me.  Confession means I admit the rotten things of my past.  Then and only then does my past history cease to hold power over me. And then, and only then, can he use it all to draw other lost folks back to himself.  It is really quite remarkable, this Gospel of Jesus Christ, this good news.

 Unfortunately, I used to hit a snag at this, the very best part. Instead of accepting God’s grace and forgiveness, I chose to hang on to it and let it rot me through with the disease of shame and guilt.  The ugly stuff of my past – the churchy word here is sin- used to keep me trapped because I thought if it saw the light of day, people and God would think less of me.  With God’s help, I now understand what other people think of me is none of my business.   If I try to make it my business, I proceed to hop on the never-ending merry go round ride of “people pleasing”.  Been there, done that, ain’t going back. God, on the other hand, already knows what I’ve done, was with me while I was doing it, and loved me through it. And if I ask, he forgives me.  He patiently waits for me to recognize my train wreck attempts at running the universe. He waits patiently for my return back to him.   And when I do, he runs at me arms open wide. You see, God has forgiven and forgotten my past, therefore so can I.

I came to Jesus and was baptized at the ripe old age of eight, and promptly abandoned and rebelled against him much of my life. I have plenty of dirty laundry, some of which you’ve already read about. Many of those are the same stories that made my friend and I laugh and cry.   After I got married and had kids, I swung back to being less wicked (or so I thought) and going to church.  Over time I developed a pretty good case of the “holier than thou’s”.  I thought that being a Christian meant you put your butt in a pew on Sunday and lived as a “good person” who believed in God while doing whatever I wanted the rest of the week. Well that’s stinking thinking. What exactly does “good” mean and who decides? How good is good enough?  Are 999,999 good deeds enough? Or does it mean I am one good deed short, and when I die St. Peter meets me at the Pearly Gates saying, “Sorry, you don’t qualify, you needed one million. No get out of jail free card for you.”  I was deceived into thinking I am not as bad as…you fill in the name. And At least I don’t… you fill in the action. Truth is I am as bad as… you fill in the name and I did… you fill in the action.   As good as I might like to think I am, I am still stained by sin. But when I claim Christ as my Savior and standard, I claim him as the LORD of my life.  Which, in layman’s terms, means he’s the Boss.  With a capital B.  This is incredibly costly; in fact, it costs me living my life on my terms. Dying to myself is painful and frankly, some days, it’s a struggle and I’d just rather not! He warned me to count the cost before following.

 Here’s the thing, my worst stuff is transformed by God, not by me, into my best stuff because he uses my worst stuff, the wickedness he redeemed me from, to bring other lost and hurting people back into the right relationship with him through Christ. I used to try to be perfect, I call myself a recovering perfectionist and I am really glad I am no longer trying to be perfect.  Because most people can’t relate to perfect.  But they can relate to falling short of the mark, making mistakes, being hurt, hurting others and the like. That’s where who I used to be comes in handy.   They see who I am today, not perfect, but standing on solid ground by obeying The Boss.  They see the joy and freedom I have and how I am no longer a victim of my past, what I have done or what’s been done to me.  They see me freed of the chains of my past and they want what I have and been so freely given.

And that brings hope to hurting souls.

My job is to love people and to point them to Jesus, not to fix them. That is his job.  And most of the time, sharing my past history with others who are struggling is just the right medicine.

The churchy word for this is called Christianity. God, through Jesus Christ, takes those people who choose to give up their lives to gain their lives by following him; and he frees them from shame, guilt, pride, and breaks the chains of sin. You see Jesus’ worst thing is our best thing. The worst thing that ever happened to Jesus was to die a criminal’s death on the cross, because the sin he bore was mine. And yours.   And folks, that past history, right alongside his resurrection, is the best thing that ever happened to this wicked old girl and this wicked old world.

If God does that with and though his one and only perfect Son, imagine what he can do with and through us!

Which gives us lots of reasons to:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

The Impostor

Our horse Peppy, barn cat Eric Liddell and I have a morning ritual.  I show up and feed Eric, put a halter on Peppy and lead her over to the pasture where I set her free to spend a good part of her day grazing. Afterward, Eric magically appears and I pick him up and carry him back to the barn. He loves to be held and petted and would have me spend my entire day sitting on a bale of hay doing just that; but this day something was off from the moment I scooped him up.  He was edgy and tense and dug his long, sharp claws into the palm of my hand, drawing blood. Surprised by this, I dropped him to the ground scolding and as he skulked off, I asked myself, “What just happened here?”

I returned to the house to disinfect and bandage the wound and went about my day. Later that same morning I headed back to the barn to get the lawn mower and noticed Eric lying near the back tire sunning himself.   I called his name and as I walked toward him, he jumped up and ran across the empty horse lot.  I could not for the life of me understand what on earth was going on with my normally friendly cat.  I followed, calling him by name. Finally, he stopped and lay down on a patch of grass near a grain bin.  I sat down too not far from where he was to let him come to me, continuing to call his name.  It was then I noticed something moving off to my left. Turning I was stunned by what I saw, the real Eric Liddell walking towards me! He knew his name and his masters voice and he came when called.  Then it hit me, this other cat, this impostor, this poser, was the cat who clawed me, not the real Eric Liddell! I was, for one of the few times in my life, speechless! The two cats were identical; they were exactly the same size and the same color. This impostor looked just like my cat! But he wasn’t my cat.

He’s not the only phony around. In fact, the oldest impostor has been around since the dawn of time.

I find it fascinating in Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve weren’t afraid of the very first impostor, the serpent. In the Biblical narrative the deceiver appears to be someone they both knew and trusted who tempted them into playing God. At first blush deciding for themselves what was good and evil didn’t seem like a big deal. I think the words he used were, “Did God really say?”

Until it was a big deal. In fact, the decision they made to disobey God was the second biggest game changing deal in all of history. It was, after all, the decision that caused all of mankind and creation to fall from grace. The choice that placed the entire universe and each one of us who were to follow after under a curse, the curse of sin (rebellion against and separation from God) and death. It was a bad deal. And still is, a very bad deal.

It’s not like they (we) weren’t warned.

“You will surely die” is a pretty clear.

The reality is that The Satan is The Tempter and he doesn’t usually come knocking dressed in ugly.  The choices we constantly face, to obey God or to go our own way almost always come packaged pretty nicely, often closely resembling the real thing.  But they aren’t the real thing; but instead a distorted reflection of the real thing.  A few examples might include confusing lust with love, shaming with discipline or doing whatever we want (autonomy) with freedom. Who we listen to, look at and follow matters; and for much of my life I couldn’t see the enemy because I was too busy running with others who were also running with the Impostor.  The enemy my soul (and yours) still uses the same old disguises century after century and we keep falling prey to the same old bait and switch schemes.

What’s a body to do?

If you don’t claim to follow Jesus, I can’t help you other than to say look at the evidence and give Jesus, who is the real deal a chance.  However, if you have said yes to Jesus listen up.  Following Jesus has plastered a target on your back and now that you are no longer running side by side with that fallen former angel of light, he will come after you because he despises nothing more than obedience to the one true God. He will go to any length to keep you where he is, trapped in bondage and misery. And like the cat who looked just like my cat, but wasn’t my cat, he will leave you scratched, bleeding and asking yourself, “What just happened there?” The Apostle John summed up what the Impostor’s wardrobe looks like:

“For all that is in the world, the lust of eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. “1 John 2:16  

The wolf in sheep’s clothing comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to show us the way, provide the truth and give us life.  And we will know who we are following by the fruit we produce. Those who know the Master’s voice will come when He calls us to virtue not vice; peace not strife; truth not falsehood; joy not sorrow; love not lust; kindness not cruelty; unity not division. Jesus didn’t come to make us good, which is one of the biggest lies we fall for, because I will never be good enough to earn my way to God.  He came to restore our relationship with the God of the Universe and to resuscitate us from death to life through his life, death on the cross and resurrection, which is the number one biggest game changing event to ever happen to this planet.

The look alike Eric Liddell hung around for a while and was gone later that same day. He showed up one more time a few days later and hasn’t returned.  And Paul reminds us that if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. As I follow Christ, each day the impostor in me dies a little more and the new me raises to new life in Christ a wee bit more. Nothing more authentic than that.

And that my friends, gives us every reason to want to:

Be joy filled always,

Christine Davis

 

Risky Business

True Story from a few years back…

In the fall we take part of the corn field behind our house out for silage to feed cattle during the winter months. Prior to this I typically walk my dogs down a nearby country road on leash.  But when the field is opened up, I give them the treat of being off leash, which they love.  Who doesn’t love freedom after all?  I have faith the dogs will come back to momma when they go off exploring in the field or waterway, because they have proven trustworthy in this regard.   Our lab Ali, loved to follow her nose.  But she could have cared less about chasing birds or small creatures.  Now Bandit, our beagle something mix, is the exact opposite and if he spots a bird or critter, he is OFF in hot pursuit. 

Late one fall evening we took off in the field.   We got to the other side where there is a grassy waterway and our typical turn around spot.  Ali and I start back while Bandit heads up the waterway a piece where the still standing corn takes him out of my field of vision.  I figure he will catch up and Ali and I keep walking.   Suddenly, I hear him barking and turn around to see this short, thirty-pound dog chasing a full-grown doe.   He is in full pursuit mode and both are headed for the fence next to the railroad tracks.  So, I think to myself, ” Deer will leap the fence, dog will turn around and come back.”  Lab and I keep walking toward home.  After a few minutes I turn back to see what is happening next and low and behold the beagle is running back up the waterway…. with a buck in hot pursuit of him!!!   My next thought is, “He got himself into this, he’ll get himself out. ”  

Faith is a risky business. It is really trust in action;  trusting in something that you can’t see as the writer of Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

That little dog chased that deer because he had not a single doubt in the God who created him. Who created him to be, a pursuer of other critters! No matter the size.  He didn’t stop for a minute to get my blessing for chasing that doe.   He didn’t think about the fact he weighed 200 lbs. less than the other animal, he followed the deep calling of his DNA to hunt.

The flip side of faith is the risk part of the deal.  He wasn’t expecting the buck.   Faith and risk are directly connected with one another.

Faith means not being able to see around the corner, yet trusting in the Power greater than you to see you through.   Listen closely, commitment is involved here. There must be a buy into something, right?    It is said that faith is courage that has said its prayers which means there is an action step required on our part, which is the buy in or faith.   Stay with me…the Bible is full of examples of regular folks, against all odds stepping out in faith and having, well, simply miraculous results!  Think of the story of David and Goliath for example.   David was a young adult and he had gone to the battlefield to take lunch to his older brothers who were part of King Saul’s army.  He was hanging out there when he heard Goliath hurling insults at the Israelite army.  He, like my dog Bandit, never thought twice, he had long ago placed his trust God.  For David it was a matter of acting on that already established faith.  He had already placed his faith, which gave him the courage to take the risk.  

Now think about this.   You know how mean older siblings can sometimes be.  David had just announced he was going to go kill the enemy’s giant soldier; the one who terrified the best of the king’s men.  With a slingshot, no less.  He had to take a lot guff from them.   Not only them but likely others in the army too.   It took faith and courage for him to take the risk of doing what GOD wanted him to do and not to buckle under pressure, caring more what his family and friends thought.   You see, he knew that the battle was Gods, not his and that God was going before him.  That is the substance of faith in God.  The knowing, the certainty. 

We know how the story ends.   The giant face plants dead in the dirt at David’s hand.

It is not easy to step out of our comfort zones into where Jesus is. Freedom is the most difficult and paradoxical gift God gave to humans and the most important. We must be free to choose or reject God, because love by compulsion isn’t love at all, it is being a robot. Freedom and change are scary and faith is a risky business because we may just turn into the person God created us to be. The alternative is robbing ourselves of an amazing opportunity if we cling only to what is safe out of fear.  Let me ask you, how big is your God?  When we take risk firmly grounded in truth and step out into the unknown it means giving up managing outcomes.  Every time I place my faith and trust in God through Jesus Christ the end result is far better than anything than I could have imagined, dreamed or manipulated on my own. Which is a good deal, a God deal.

Back to the dog story.

So, I took a risk, letting them run off leash means I could lose them.   But for them it means freedom and exploration and to me it was worth the risk.   Now I faced losing that little dog.  I said a prayer and trusted he could out run the buck and his antlers and find his way home. 

And he did.   Panting and tired he emerged from the cornfield just about the same time we got to the edge of our lawn.   

And I am pretty sure he was smiling.

Faith, it’s a risky business.

Be joy filled always,
Christine Davis