Sunday, December 14, 2014

Are You Wounded This Christmas?

"For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD..."
Jeremiah 30:17
(KJV)


It is an amazing thing to see.
As I watch, I am learning things I have never noticed before.
I don't suppose I have ever had a wound this deep...
at least not one that is so physically-visible,
so I have never before witnessed such an observable demonstration of the actual healing process.
Psalm 139:14 says,
"I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."

"Fearfully and wonderfully made" indeed.

Watching this process unfold has started me thinking a lot about healing.

Human skin has three layers.
Humor me, if you will, while we ponder them in a bit of detail.
There is a moral and underlying spiritual learning opportunity
behind this skin anatomy lesson, I promise.

Isn't there always?

Without getting too technical, let's talk about this.

Skin Layer #1 - The Outside Layer, called the epidermis,
is the skin that you can see.
It covers the other two skin layers, creating a waterproof barrier
and concealing all that is underneath.
It is a canopy that protects and shields, but is fragile and definitely not impenetrable.

Layer #2 - The Middle Layer, called the dermis,
is that second layer, right under the epidermis.
According to WebMD, it is comprised of tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.

Layer #3 - The Inmost Layer, called the hypodermis,
is the deepest layer, way under the surface, where no eye can see.
It contains more connective tissue and also fat.
.
There are several categories of wounds and injuries that can happen to the skin.

An abrasion is the least invasive, usually only affecting the epidermis.
A laceration goes deeper, damaging and tearing both soft and hard tissue,
penetrating through the epidermis, the dermis, and sometimes even the hypodermis.
Puncture wounds penetrate, often reaching all three layers, also.
A contusion is a bruise that damages underlying layers, but often leaves the epidermis unpenetrated.
You get the picture.

To get a mental image of my recent injury,
picture the spot that lies between the bottom of your fingernail and the first finger joint.
The blunt impact of the metal vending machine flap slammed down onto that section,
wedging it between the flap and the metal in the frame around the flap window.
I, in sheer panic, pulled my finger out from between the two metals,
and in the process, tore what the doctor called a "trench",
literally ripping all 3 layers of skin and tissue in the process.
On a finger, there isn't a whole lot of distance from the epidermis to the bone.
I seriously think the depth of this wound nearly reached the bone.

At any rate, the wound was deep,which has given me a clearly-visible view
of how this whole healing process works.

Again, I say, "Fearfully and wonderfully made", indeed.

It is amazing to watch the three layers of skin regenerate.
Right now, I would say that the hypodermis is completely closed.
Praise God, there is no longer any seepage, and that layer of the wound is covered by a fresh,
brand-new layer of skin and connective tissue.

The dermis, also, seems to have, at least partially, reconstructed.
That top epidermis layer, not so much.
You can still visibly see a great divide from where that layer of skin starts on each side of the wound.

This wound is highly visible.
I can watch the healing unfold.
But, what about those wounds on the inside?
What about the hurts that never show?
How about the deep trauma to the heart from the puncture wound that accompanied his words,
"I'm leaving.  I don't love you anymore."
The sting of the laceration at the accidental discovery of his infidelity.
The biting abrasion of your best friend's voice putting you down,
when she mistakenly thought you were out of earshot.
The contusion of hearing your father's proclamation that you will never amount to anything.
The shame of last night's regrettable, spontaneous, unplanned indiscretion.
The guilt-laden memories of childhood abuse.
The realization of deception when the empty pill bottle, used needle,
or dry beer can is unexpectedly discovered.
The scenes that play over and over and over again in your mind of watching the last, labored rise and fall of your parents' chest,
along with the resounding echoes of, "She's gone", "He's dead", and "It's time to go".

These, among countless others, are some deep, deep hurts.
Wounds that cannot be seen, but so real and intense that they take your breath away.
Deep, overwhelming, devastating wounds.
Wounds that may never completely and entirely heal.

Here is a list of eleven things I am now discovering and have previously learned about healing....
both during the closing of this finger wound and through other traumas of life.

1.  Healing takes time.
It absolutely cannot be rushed.
Unless God chooses to send immediate healing,
which I absolutely believe He can do and still does,
the hurt is not going to go away overnight.
We may as well settle in and wait...for His timing.
All of the crying, complaining, and trying to hurry this are to no avail.
There is a set time that this is going to take, and it will not happen a moment sooner.
Period.

2.  Healing is a process.
It has to happen in a certain order.
The epidermis is not going to grow back first, leaving the two layers below unhealed.
The deepest part heals first.
Then the middle.
Then the superficial part.
It is going to happen in this manner, and there is no way to alter that.
It's best to just let it run its natural course and go with it.

3.  Wounds cannot be undone.
I can't go back to 5 seconds before the flap snapped and make an alternate choice.
Boy, do I wish I could!
I would have taken a pass on the stuck Doritos bag, let me tell you.
Life is not like one of those movies that gives the viewer the option of choosing an ending,
based on their personal preferences.
Life is lived once, and it cannot be relived,
no matter how we wish we could go back and change things.
Once a wound is inflicted, the affected area is forever altered and will never be the same.
Once a wound happens, the injury can heal, but it cannot be reversed.

4.  Hurts are real and need to be validated.
I could stand here all day long and tell you that I did not get hurt,
but the fact is, there is a still somewhat gaping wound that would disprove my claims.
The protective layers were compromised,
the injury happened,
and this hurt is real.
Living in a state of denial will not change the facts.

5.  Wounds need to be tended to.
Pretending this never happened would be unwise.
Letting it go would present the potential for complications.
This has to be dealt with.
It needs to be examined daily,
and thoroughly and frequently cleansed and nurtured.
The consequences of neglecting this wound could be serious, even life-threatening.
Care of it has to be a priority.

6.  Re-injuring an old wound delays healing.
One day, I was rushing, as usual, bounding up the basement steps full-speed.
When I reached the top of the stairs,
without any remembrance or thought of the wound, I pulled the basement door open,
forgot to pull my hand out of the way first, and firmly scraped the door directly across the injured finger!
OUCH!
It took my breath away....I nearly fell to the floor.
Even though my finger was bandaged securely, the impact penetrated all the way through,
re-opening the barely-begun-to-heal wound, causing it to bleed again,
and setting the healing process back considerably...nearly all the way back to square one.
I could have kicked myself for being so careless.
Because the restorative process had to start all over, it will now take even longer to heal.
Silly me.
Things happen.
Sometimes it is of our own doing and because of our own recklessness that our healing is delayed.
Sometimes it isn't.
Life isn't always kind, nor does it always lighten up when we are down.

7.  Failure to adhere to tried & tested advice is unwise. 
"Don't get this wound wet.
Make sure you keep it dry.
If it gets wet, it will not heal.
You need to make sure it is completely dry before you re-bandage it each day.
Moisture breeds bacteria."
I heard what was being said.
I knew they were right.
But, surely a little dish water wouldn't hurt, right?
There were lots of chores to be done....
chores that involved keeping hands in water.
I had to pull my own weight.
After all, the whole reason I was there was to help, right?
Justifying rebellion to good advice is the height of foolishness.
It is just plain not a good idea.
Professionals who have studied wounds and healing know more than I do about this sort of thing.
It would be in my best interest to listen to the voices of reason and experience.
Enough said.

8.  Everyone's recovery time is different.
"This should be completely healed in a week", he said,
in a calming, reassuring, gentle voice.
"That's great!", I replied in relief.
It's been a month today.
There have been bumps in the road...
a cellulits infection (I know...my fault),
a harsh re-injury (ahem....point taken),
insufficient time to make it a priority (total foolishness on my part).
There could be other underlying reasons for the sluggish recovery.
Who knows.
My point is...not everyone heals at the same pace.
This is where the need for grace and mercy and understanding comes in to play.
We need to be kind to ourselves...and to others....while grieving and recovering.
The time needed to heal largely depends upon the severity and depth of the wound.
A simple abrasion heals a lot faster than a deep puncture wound.
Overhearing unkind words will probably heal a lot faster than losing your Mom.
Don't rush yourself.
Be kind, and allow yourself room, time, and the luxury to just be and breathe.
Sometimes just getting through the day is all you can muster,
and believe me, that is okay.
Don't compare your reactions and time needed to heal with anyone else's.
We are all unique, and every wound is exclusive and particular.
I love the verse in 2 Corinthians 1:3, where the Apostle Paul refers to our Lord
as "the God of all comfort".
His scope of healing virtue covers every, single one of our individual needs for comfort.
Isn't that amazing and wonderful?

9.  Bitterness is a waste of time and energy.
What's done is done.
It happened.
It left an aftermath that cannot be ignored.
Hating someone for what happened is pointless.
Two wrongs will never make one right.
Lashing out at God for allowing it isn't smart...
He is not to blame.
If you choose the prison of unforgiveness, you are the one who ends up in the cell.
Opting to hold a grudge doesn't punish the person who hurt you.
The wound has to be dealt with, so the sooner we accept that and start doing what needs to be done,
the better.
We can be our own worst enemy.
We can block our own healing.
Bitterness only delays and impedes the healing process.

10.  Just because one stage of healing has taken place
doesn't mean it won't need to happen again.
Sometimes, it is one step forward, two steps back.
Sometimes, it is one good day, then two bad days in a row.
Sometimes, you have to feel worse before you can feel better.
When Mom died in 2012, I extensively studied and researched grief.
I wanted to know and understand the stages,
what order they came in,
what was expected of me during each stage,
and all sorts of things.
I had already experienced the deep grief of the loss of a parent in 2000,
when God called Dad home to Heaven.
I remember feeling like I could or would never survive losing him.
At that time, Kevin and I were finally expecting a baby, after many years of infertility struggles,
and there was so much on my mind.
I never thought, then, to study the grieving and healing process.
When Mom died, things were different.
I wanted to thoroughly understand what was going on inside of me,
and I wanted to know what to expect.
Research taught me that, according to the American Psychiatric K├╝bler-Ross model,
there are five emotional stages of grief...
denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Every, single one of these stages must be walked through in order to completely heal.
Through personal experience, I have found you may need to walk through any of the stages more than once.
Sometimes, they are overlapping, and you will find yourself experiencing more than one stage at a time.
For instance, I had the misconceived notion that once I got through the anger stage,
it was a done deal, and I would never have to deal with those emotions again.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The thing is, there is no rhyme or reason to grief and healing.
You may completely walk through stage one in its entirety,
move on to stage two, then find yourself back in stage one,
at the drop of a hat...
or the hearing of the firsts chords of a song,
or the familiar smell of a passing stranger's perfume,
or the sight of the color lavender.
Just flow with it.
Let it happen.
Feel.
It is all necessary.
Don't try to skip over the ugly parts...
the parts where you are unable to get out of bed,
where getting out of your PJs or brushing your teeth requires more of you than you are capable of giving,
where you want to just be left alone.
Grief and wounds are not pretty sights to see.
They are dark and morose and sometimes grotesque.
But, every step back towards the light is entirely necessary.
Live it.  Walk it.  Allow it to happen.
God understands, and He extends a continual stream of grace.
There will be setbacks.
Expect them.
Grief and wounds are multi-faceted, and so is the healing process.
Every dimension of it must be sustained.
Don't punish yourself or keep records of how many times you've walked through a particular stage.
It is all needful...
and normal.
It is what it is.
Let it be.

11.  Wounds leave scars.
There is a certain part of this finger wound that is deeper than the others.
It is right near the first joint where the finger bends,
and, as I think of it, this is where the impact of the metal landed first and hardest.
The rest of the wound came about during the process of freeing my finger.
I keep noticing that, as the skin grows back over the wound, it is thicker in this area
and looks sort of strange and raised up when you look at it from a side-view.
I probably over-obsess about it, but as I was talking to my sister, Sandi,
she mentioned that maybe it looks this way because of the scar that is forming.
I believe she is exactly right.
This deepest wound is taking the longest to heal
and is requiring the thickest layer of regenerated skin to cover.
When it is all said and done and completely healed,
I believe the scar in is area will be most pronounced and noticeable.
Scars are visible proofs of past injuries and hurts.
They provide evidence that there was once a trauma to a certain area.
Scars become a permanent part of us....a perpetual reminder of what we have been through.
Scars create layers of protection and provide a defense and covering
for areas that were previously open and vulnerable.
We all have scars, don't we?
Some are on the outside...conspicuous and obvious, making us wince as we look at them
and recall how they came about.
But, what about the inside scars?
The layers of walls that have automatically built around certain parts of us,
creating shields against future hurt.
One of my favorite songs was written by the late, great, and talented Christian songwriter,
Dottie Rambo, and is called, "Tears Will Never Stain The Streets Of That City".



If video doesn't load, click here.

Read the words of the first verse, if you will.

"If I could count all the tears that have fallen,
It would seem like an ocean to me;
And if my heart had a window you could look through,
Oh, the pain and scars you would see!"

Do these words resonate as being true in your life?
Who among us couldn't sing this song from the heart?
Life has a way of inflicting wounds that leave a trail of ugly scars
that remain long after the wounds are healed.

How is it with you, my friend?

Are you wounded this Christmas?
Is your heart broken?  
Do you feel alone?  
Are you facing some extenuating, hard-to-tunnel-through circumstances?  
Perhaps you are ill or walking through the valley of the shadow of a loved one’s illness and imminent passing.  
Oftentimes, when a loved one is faced with an extensive, terminal illness or condition,
or when the conclusion of a marital relationship is inevitably imminent,

the grieving process begins long before they actually pass away or the marriage ends.
Maybe you have lost someone dear throughout this past year and are still in the throes of deep grief.  
Perhaps there is a wayward child in your life for whom you pray continually and long for and miss.  
Maybe you have lost your source of income, and along with it, your sense of worth.  

In this life, there is immeasurable potential for pain,
 and there are countless reasons you may be sad this Christmas.  
Going through hard places can make the holidays the complete opposite of merry and bright.  

It is for these very reasons Christmas happened.
  
It is for this express purpose that Jesus came.


“To preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to comfort all that mourn, to exchange beauty for ashes, to trade the oil of joy for mourning, to extend the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus loves you, my friend.  
Right where you are.  
He will never leave you nor forsake you.  

He came on that first Christmas night to stay always…close at hand and by your side.

Whatever your circumstances this Christmas, our prayer is that you will feel His arms around you, holding you close, as Mary held Him near to her heart that night so long ago.  
If there is a specific reason you would like us to pray for you, please feel free to get in touch
by clicking here.

Thinking of you this blessed season, 
and hoping you know how very much you are loved!

32 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. I especially like #10...life really is one step forward and 3 steps back sometimes. Sometimes the person who is healing can do so well, and then just suddenly go backwards. If we aren't that person, we really have to call upon the Lord to help us deal with that. It's hard watching someone heal and knowing that's all you can do--watch and pray. It takes an insane amount of patience and compassion--such an amount that only God can supply it. And we have to remember that. Even if we aren't the ones hurting and healing, we still may be in the midst of it. And all that you said is so true. It does take so much time and prayer and grieving...your words are so true. I love this post. I'm sure others do, too!

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    1. OH, such wonderful points! Yes, to watch someone else's one step forward and two steps back is so very, very frustrating. Especially, when you love them so much and want to see them succeed! Thank you for adding this very important point, and thank you for being you, sweet friend. :) Sorry it is taking me so long to email you back...will try to do that very soon. Love you!

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  2. Morning Cheryl,
    What a great post, so full of wisdom and truth. You are a very gifted writer, and this is a very timely post because Christmas
    can sometimes be the worst time of the year for those who are in the throws of grief. You are so right about having to feel
    those emotions. Crying can be such a cleansing and beneficial step in the healing process for sure. Hope this post speaks
    volumes of compassion and caring to all who read it hon. Thanks again.........and so good to be in touch again.
    Blessings for a Beautiful Christmas Season,
    Nellie

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    1. Dear Nellie! It was so good to hear from you today. It just blessed me so much to know you had stopped by and left encouragement behind! Thank you for your kind words, and yes, you are so right, crying is very cleansing. We too often hold back our tears and impede our healing. Jesus wept, and we should, too, when we need to. Much love to you, sweet friend!

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  3. Oh and hope your finger heals quickly and completely. OUCH, that sounded like a very painful wound to me.
    Saying a prayer for you right now sweet friend,

    Nellie

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    1. Thank you so much, Nellie! It has been just awful, but God is teaching me through the healing, that's for sure. I know He allowed it for a Divine purpose, so I am trying to see all He is trying to reveal. Thank you ever so much for your prayers!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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  4. I love this analogy - such good points you make here!!! Totally puts it into perspective to relate it to your finger!

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    1. Thanks so much, dear friend! So very thankful you stopped by and for your comments. God bless you and hold you close, as you grieve this Christmas. Praying for you often!!!

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  5. Cheryl, I don't know what to say. This is one of the most expressive and meaningful posts I have ever read. (And I don't just say that because I adore you!) Your thorough explanation of the bodily healing process was so interesting. I have always been fascinated by anatomy - about the intricate and amazing way that God has put us together. Many years ago, a family member had to have a large cyst removed. Because of the danger of infection, the wound had to be left open to heal on its own. I was the one to clean it and re-dress it every day for almost 6 months. I must tell you, at first it was so hard. First of all, to see my loved one wounded. But also to see the severity of the wound. But, as the days and weeks unfolded, I was captivated by how the body heals. Just as you said, from the inside out. Just like God directed it to do.

    Your spiritual applications were profound. And I take them greatly to heart.

    My prayers go with you on continued and rapid healing of your injury. But my prayers also go out to all those who are broken. Some wounds are unseen and deep. And some scars are not visible to the eye. May the Lord, the One whose wounds bought us Life, may He bring healing to bodies and minds and souls.

    GOD BLESS!

    (Your post today also brought confirmation to something today for me. I don't want to give it away, but will be posting about it on 1/5/15!! Thanks!)

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    1. Oh, dear, precious friend! Your words are so treasured to me!! Thank you so very, very much. I can just imagine the tender care you applied to your loved one who was wounded. I can't wait to see what your surprise post is on 1/5/15!! I was thinking today that I need to hop over and get caught up on your blog. I have had very little time to read lately and miss catching up. I am so grateful for your visit and your cherished friendship. Love you!

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  6. This is really insightful, Cheryl. I especially love that you included #4. Too often we try to skip past the acknowledgment of the hurt in order to get to the healing quicker. But that only slows things down. Thanks for writing this and for all your encouragement.

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    1. You are so right...it is so easy to try to skip past it and hope for the best. But, in the process, we impede our own healing. I am praying for you, sweet friend and believing God for your miracle. Sending much love and many wishes for a Merry Christmas!!!

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  7. Your accident has turned into a blessing! I am glad to hear that your finger continues to heal. I enjoyed reading this post. Connie's surgery was very complicated and it took over 5 hour. I will send you an email.
    God bless.
    Love ya

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    1. Oh, Chris!! I just finished reading your email, and I am just appalled. I cannot believe all she is going through. May God have mercy on her and pull her through this...it surely doesn't sound the best, but faith is not what we can see or hear. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus and what HE can do, in spite of what man says. I am so thankful you stopped by. I know you are worried and am praying for not only Connie, but, you, too. Love you!!

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  8. The stages of healing and also of grief are certainly a process, whether it be physical, emotional or behavioral. At Salvation, some are immediately delivered, while others take time to change habits, traits of stubbornness and rebellion. Sad to say some Christians still struggle for reasons we have no idea why. The questions we will ask Jesus one day are many yet for now we trust in His will and guidance. Thanks for sharing about your finger and what God has shown you from that injury. at "Tell me a Story." May your torn flesh continue to heal and find full recovery. I imagine you will have a nice scar to remind you always.

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    1. I love the thoughts you shared on the process of elimination we go through after coming to Christ. He is still working on me, and I have served him for about 38 years! I must be a handful for Him to try to work with, but, thank God, He never gives up on us, and He is eternally patient. How I love Him!!!! Thank you for your sweet words and visit. Much love to you this Christmas!

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  9. Great post, Cheryl... and I love the analogy... really brings the message out in a wonderful way. It was so good to come to your blog again... I was totally away from "blog land" for the last month and am just starting back. We are living out what you wrote about here w/ Dad's surgery and healing... and God is faithful, as always. Thank you. :)

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    1. Thank you, Joy! So happy to know you stopped by today and happy to have you back in blogland!! I am so sorry to hear about your Dad's surgery, and I do trust all will be well with him, with a smooth recovery and NO complications, in Jesus' name! My heart goes out to you, as you are there caring for him. I know how difficult and emotionally draining this can be. May Jesus walk extra close to you through your circumstances. Sending love to you and yours this Christmas!!

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  10. Cheryl...great post, full of encouragement and truth. I love the music you post on your wall...I am a huge southern gospel fan, sing a little too. Blessings.

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    1. Thank you so much, Betty! So happy and grateful for your visit and sweet words today. Hopping over to your place now...haven't been there in a while. I love Southern Gospel, too. Looking so forward to upcoming concerts. They are such a dear blessing to us!! Merry Christmas to you, sweet friend. :)

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  11. Your post made me remember my lost finger. My older sister did it. She was five and I was tree. She cut one of my fingers because we argued who was going to cut the coconut that we found i the yard and we were hungry. That incident made my life miserable and lead me to hating my sister. But God healed my wounds and I forgave my sister. God lifted me up and I am having a nice life now although having a 9 and half fingers. I am using a fake one though:)

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    1. Oh, my, what a terrible thing for you to go through, Joy! I am so very sorry. So thankful God enabled you to forgive and that He is blessing you with a nice life now. So happy you stopped by...I have missed you and your sweet comments. :) God bless you with a Merry Christmas!

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  12. So many great points about woundedness and the process of healing. A great read for those suffering amidst the holiday season. Love your gentleness and loving-kindness. Thanks for visiting me and remembering my daughter in prayer! What a gift! Merry Christmas to you and to your family.

    Hugs,
    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, Mary!! Your visits are always such a blessing. :) YES, I regularly pray for Amy and plead with the Lord to send her a baby of her own. I know He can! Believing He will!! Much love and many wishes for a Merry Christmas to you and your family, also.

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  13. Good morning Cheryl. This was very insightful! Thank you for taking the time to share on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. There are so many hurting people in our world and this message will surely help to heal those aching wounds!

    Until the day of His return, JES

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    1. Thank you so much, JES, both for your visit and for your sweet words. Also, thank you for the wonderful link-up! Much love and many blessings to you and your family this Christmas!

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  14. Thank you. This will be a very difficult Christmas for me. Your words ring very true and are a blessing.

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    1. Oh, bless your dear heart! I don't know who you are or what you are going through, but our dear Heavenly Father does! He knows and sees your every need, and there is never a time that you are walking alone. He counts each one of your tears, and He holds you close! "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27 I am praying for you, dear one, and I am believing God to see you through. Much love and many blessings to you.

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  15. Beautiful analogy. So glad to be here from Thought Provoking Thursday.

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    1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! So thankful for your sweet visit! God bless you and yours with a Merry Christmas!!

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  16. Thanks so much Cheryl for these very encouraging thoughts. Yes, wounds go deep and especially they can be felt at Christmas. This touched my heart that you would write on this more than you know. Merry Christmas!!

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    1. Thank you so much, dear Judith! I am so thankful you stopped by. It is always such a blessing and encouragement to know you are here...walking this Christian, blogging journey with me!! Much love to you and yours this Christmas!!!

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