The Power of HOPE

Posted by on Jul 12, 2018 in My Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Power of HOPE

The Power of HOPE!! I have always known the value of good friends and family because I was blessed with being raised in a loving, supportive family where kindness and mutual respect were daily expressions. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my 50s and endured, surgeries, a re-opening mastectomy incision and harsh chemotherapy while living alone, I became keenly aware of the POWER of the love of friends & family…or anyone, really who came offering HOPE. I also learned that there were people who were going along the very same journey who had none of what I did. So I prayed God would help me be aware of them to reach out to them and help however I might. And God did just that. When we reach out to someone in need or hurting there is a powerful energy from us to them and back in return. We may not know the real impact of our kindnesses but I believe those acts of kindness, expressions of love & encouragement work to give a very powerful HOPE to others who are desperate for it. I see us as earthen vessels crafted by our Holy Creator. I realize the times when my vessel is full to overflowing with love and goodness and also I know when I’m in need of a refill. I do believe God uses us to minister to others. Ever wonder why you sometimes find yourself in the presence of someone having a really hard time? You may think there’s nothing you can do to help, but a word of kindness or sometimes even just a smile can make a big deposit in the vessel of an aching, grieving heart or a struggle to continue life. These deposits become HOPE and hope is a lifeline to a struggling soul. In the last weeks, we have watched a miraculous rescue of 12 little boys and their coach stranded in a flooded Thai cave for over two weeks. Prayers were offered up from all around our world, highly skilled SEALS, divers & rescue personnel from Thailand and many other countries worked diligently to free the boys and coach safely. Doctors went into the cave to examine, comfort & treat the boys and coach. Around our world people of different cultures & faiths prayed for all to be rescued safely. Sometimes we felt helpless. The boys were a soccer team and their is a science to teamwork…you treat team mates with respect and encourage them. Help them feel better when things don’t go your way. Their coach was young and had previously been a monk and while they were in that cave on such a small ledge that was dry, he taught the boys how to meditate. What a leader he obviously was and comforting and encouraging. Think of all those dark, damp nights before they ever knew someone had found them. Meditation is a wonderful tool we can use to calm ourselves, become centered and, for me, I begin with “Be still and know I am God.” The coach taught the boys about finding hope. Hope is such a powerful gift. When we have it, life is good. When we are without hope, sometimes the life can drain right out of us. Those 13 earthen vessels probably found themselves pretty empty over those 17 days & nights but over & over they each received deposits from one another, their coach, all of the world’s prayers, from the divers that found them, the letters from parents that were delivered by the rescue teams, over and over. They were little...

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The Gift of Easter

Posted by on Mar 30, 2018 in My Blog | 0 comments

The Gift of Easter

Wee ones always enjoy  a fun Easter Egg Hunt around Easter-time. When my girls were little, we had hunts inside when we had bad weather and outside in nature where it really is so much fun when weather allowed.  At church or at a park, we always were on the lookout for children whose baskets were empty and “guided” them toward unfound eggs.  But we always had the question of  “What do Easter Egg hunts really have to do wtih the meaning of Easter?”  Our simple response was that searching for and finding the eggs celebrated the need for a Savior which is the greatest gift of God Our Father.  And what happens to eggs?  Eggs in the nest hatch and new life is born!” Christians around the world celebrate God’s ultimate gift to the world in Jesus Christ.  God knows that we humans need a gracious Savior, so God Himself came to us as Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Christ, the King of Kings, gave his earthly life for us and this is our salvation.  Through His gift we have forgiveness of sins and Eternal life.  Praise be to God!!! The season of Lent is for our focus on repenting our sins and asking forgiveness.  It is an opportunity for us to reflect of the lives we live and recognition of areas in our lives that we can find a closer walk with Christ and in His teachings. There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament about Jesus Christ, the coming of our Messiah.  Isaiah, the prophet, writes in Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” And so, in this Holy Week, we reflect of the miraculous birth of our Savior, His teachings, our sins, and the HOPE we have in His sacrifice for our Eternal life withGod the Father.   Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow! Easter blessings to...

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Male Anhinga in Breeding Plumage

Posted by on Feb 6, 2018 in Portfolio, Slider | 0 comments

Male Anhinga in Breeding Plumage

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Finding Your Sanctuary

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 in My Blog, Think About This | 0 comments

Finding Your Sanctuary

What is your sanctuary?  Sanctuary is said to be a refuge or haven…somewhere we might seek out in a time of trouble.  It can be somewhere physical, like a church “sanctuary” or perhaps, somewhere natural.  For me, it’s both types of places…certainly the holiness of a church sanctuary and the worship of God Himself.  He IS my refuge. When God created each of us He gave us our body…the outward self, and our soul which enables us to think, feel emotions like joy and sorrow. He also created in each of us our spirit.  This is the deepest part of our being and it is through our spirit that we communicate with God  and worhip Him. Today’s world and society is chaotic and troublesome to most of us from time to time.  For some, it seems choaotic and even frightful most of the time.  Having a sanctuary and knowing what, where it is is critical today in our overall healthfulness, reducing blood pressure and blood sugar and stress we all experience. Some places of refuge for some folks are found in soft, classiscal music, doing yoga and meditation, walking in a wooded area in the midst of God’s handiwork during Creation.  For others it may be reading, writing,  cooking, walking or jogging for exercise, visiting your worship center and spending time in quiet prayer. When I first moved to Florida and found Wakodahatchee Wetlands, I quickly realized this was a true source of relaxation for me that always brought forth a sense of joy and thankfulness in me as I observed the lovely south Florida wading birds I love so much.  In the winter we begin to see these large birds with huge wingspans selecting their mates, performing their beautiful and inspiring mating displays and building their nests in which to raise their new young.  Every time I am there, I am in awe of the beauty of the wildlife and the natural wetlands that God created.  I am at peace eventhough the world’s chaos is just nearby.  This is my sanctuary. What’s...

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And They Who Suffer…

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in My Blog | 0 comments

And They Who Suffer…

Today I ponder the struggles that many have in their daily lives…how they get through each day, what challenges they face and also how WE can help.  In today’s society, there is much emphasis placed on happiness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with achieving happiness in our own lives…right…as long as our happiness is not the only happiness we seek and as long as our happiness does not injur others. Scripture tells us so much about life, living, faith, trust, serving, love and…suffering.  Suffering can be physical pain, health crises, loss of love, financial hardship, grief, loneliness, depression, and just plain “getting the short end of the stick in life.”  Through our suffering, it often breaks us down and creates a vacuum.  and there is that word…vacuum.  So, do we need a vacuum cleaner for life, a magic wand?  Oh, well we joke about magic wands, don’t we!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they really did exist. Hmmm. So, how do we fill those vacuums of life?  Just ask someone you know who has a chronic illness how they get through each day and you will hear many answers…prayer, reading a good book, a good sense of humor, strong determination, fighting souls, laughter, compassionate friends, drugs, alcohol, doing something for someone else…what???  Doing something for someone else???  But we thought you were the one who needed help. From my life experience, every time I find myself being challenged to the point of suffering whether it was losing a parent, experiencing ravaging chemotherapy, going through infidelity and divorce, chronic illnesses, etc., I have found that God finds ways to fill that void in me with unimaginable love, impactful life lessons, opportunities for me to serve & praise Him and reach out to others in their times of need. Today, there are so many people suffering from chronic illnesses, political distress, extreme anxiety, fear and the list goes on and on.  So what can we do to help? First, PRAY for the person, friend, family member, yourself; AKNOWLEDGE the person’s suffering.  Many suffer in silence because their villian is invisible; If they want to talk, LISTEN! Express your CARING through a phone call, a note, asking how you can HELP (then do that thing); DON’T stay away!  BE PRESENT to this person suffering; If this person has children, INCLUDE them in activities outside the home; Send a flower, have a meal delivered, get creative. I recall during months of chemotherapy when I was too sick to do much of anything, I found out long after that struggle was over that my sister-in-law (without my knowing) drove to my house and watered my window boxes so my flowers survived the hot summer months.  Those living, beautiful red geraniums gave me a spurt of joy as I would leave the house for another chemo treatment. John 15:12 – “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” God is ready to use you to share His love to our hurting world.  Raise your hand high and shout “I’m ready, Lord, choose me, order my...

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If We Have No Peace…

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in My Blog, Think About This | 0 comments

If We Have No Peace…

I have really been thinking a lot about achieving peace lately.  Peace is always on my mind and in my heart, but lately, its had higher ranking than usual.  Certainly the last few days, with the threats of nuclear warfare from the crazed leader of North Korea as well as the “over-the-top style” of Trump’s rhetoric, I see and hear tensions and fears from many. I’ve written before of my admiration of Mother Teresa as a servant, having lived a life of sacrifice to help lift others in our suffering world.  Thinking about how far away peace seems now brings to mind her quote  “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”  That really resonates with me not leaving my thoughts quickly or often.  It gets me to pondering what it is when we sense “belonging?”  Well, we belong to our families, our circle of friends, and communities of folks drawn together by common interests or beliefs.  We say we “belong” to a church or synagogue or a club or an association.  There’s comfort there.  Membership.  Being allied to.  Hmmm…ally?  Kinship? So, how big does our “circle” extend? One can take “community” from one’s town, to county, to state, to region, to country, to continent, to world, etc.  OK, when we’re considering to whom we “belong” or for whom we feel a “kinship,” how big does our circle get? I’m thinking, yeah, I feel a kinship to my family and friends, to my co-worshipers at my church, to colleagues, to fellow Rotarians, to the NC Tar Heel Basketball Nation, to my Alpha Phi sorority sisters, to the breast cancer sisterhood, to others who believe in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ…oh, and I also feel like I belong to a huge group of people called Senior Citizens.  You get where I am on this, right? But…God created mankind and I’m pretty sure He intends for us to be both human and kind…so are we really linked to all human beings no matter where they live or what they look like or what language they speak?  Mother Teresa surely felt and acted upon her feelings of kinship. If there is nothing else that links us to others, isn’t it enough that every one of us belongs to the human race and lives because of the same Creator?...

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Great Egret Chick

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in Portfolio, Slider | 0 comments

Great Egret Chick

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An Extraordinary Destiny

Posted by on Apr 19, 2017 in My Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

An Extraordinary Destiny

When we think about our destiny, I imagine we most often think that our destiny is set for us.  But, I believe that we do find that our perspective on life itself … our life journey, truly can impact our destiny.  C.S. Lewis offers clarity on this I think, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny…”  Do you know people like that? In the midst of hardships in our lives we might not think then that suffering through that existence is going to result in a really good thing, but it surely can. David knew he had sinned against God and wrote a prayer of penitence in Psalm 32.  For me, I find solace and security in this scripture in Psalm 32:7… “You are my hiding place, you will preserve me from trouble, you will surround me with songs of deliverance.”  I know that there will be troubles along my journey, but I also blieve God’s promises that He walks right there with me and I do hear those songs of deliverance.  What a gift it is from our Heavenly Father that He wants to be our hiding place and the scriptures draw us into His divine and steadfast presence, His love and forgiveness and His great...

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If We Have No Peace

Posted by on Jan 31, 2017 in My Blog, Think About This | 0 comments

If We Have No Peace

Mother Teresa was the supreme sacrificial giver, helper, lover.  I think she was an excellent model of living a life full of Christ.  She said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”  In the days of political campaigning and ushering in our new president, I have been witnessing many people feeling unsure, questioning our country’s leadership, wondering if the foundational values of what makes us America…the United States of America are going to remain. Supporters as well as those who oppose,  have uncertain feelings of anxiety and it makes me think of Mother Teresa’s quote about belonging to one another. Have we forgotten that?   Admittedly, it is more than challenging to feel a kinship with someone who cowardly attacks unsuspecting innocent people, inflicting horrific injuries with some losing their lives.  So, I can tell myself, “well nobody’s perfect so I can just let that one go.”  Not really, though. Thinking that reminds me of my career with United Way.  Our board, volunteers and small staff worked to strengthen our community and to help solve problems that our citizens experienced.  When we had a big, serious issue to present itself, we convened a meeting and brought representatives of different sectors of the community together to work at the “community table” toward finding solutions.  We knew that we couldn’t truly achieve a “community ” solution unless friend and foe were around that table to offer their particular perspectives.  It’s very challenging but most often we were successful. And every time we were successful…or even when we weren’t successful but WE TRIED, we were building community.  Community is a precious asset.  And we were people of the same community. My point in the above paragraph is that we may not feel like we “belong” to someone of differing opinions, actions, faith,race, but, perhaps, we can remind ourselves that every living soul on this planet earth are all created by God.  So, someone who blasts social media with their caustic thoughts, assuming and disrespecting other human beings, thinking they are the only person who feels passionate about their faith while slamming others of the very same faith…how do we say we belong to them?  I don’t have an answer to that question.  But could we possibly agree to act, speak, recognize, etc. as a community? Our world is a lot smaller now with technology, communication, fast travel, so we just might need to start thinking of our global community.  Many have for some time now.  We must take care of our planet.  There are parts that are aging and if we can use our shared intellect and technology we might reverse some potential loss of where God has placed us.   Why are we here? Peace to all!    ...

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Human Rebooting

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in My Blog | 1 comment

Human Rebooting

Much like a computer, there are times when we humans could use a complete rebooting.  Following the 18 month long campaigns to elect a new President of the United States and the ugliness and divisiveness that has prevailed, I have found myself in need of a complete reboot. I feel I need to start fresh, to re-center myself.  I want all the mess to fall away and to engage a new day filled with love, patience, kindness and mutual respect.  So, where’s the Escape button??   Instead of searching the keyboard, my plan for the big reboot is first to pray to God for His guidance.  He never steers me wrong.  He immediately knows who’s calling and He is always there, never too busy. So, He reminds me that in the scriptures I find my answers… “Follow me,” Jesus said.  What? “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”      Luke 18:22 Ah, there it is.  “Heavily burdened” and then, “rest.”  I need an emotional rest and I bet you may as well.   “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”   1 Corinthians 13:4-8  “And now these three remain. Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”         1 Corinthians 13: 13 That’s it…hit that spiritual button and its, indeed, a new day!!  A day of renewal, fresh and full of decency, humility, love, and hope for ALL. Praise God from Whom ALL blessings come!...

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Being Filled

Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in My Blog, Think About This | 0 comments

Being Filled

There are days when we might feel hollow… empty. We’ve been drained to where we feel we have nothing left. Have you ever felt that way? Yet, because we are earthen vessels crafted by the Almighty Creator of us all, we just need to call on the One who can fill us again…and sometimes He fills us to overflowing. Could it be that this overflowing is because we weren’t completely empty? Though, we surely can get to the point where we feel empty, bare, dry to the bone. If we could somehow look down into our own vessel,  we would be reminded that during Creation and our forming, God placed the soul that resides within us and never leaves us until we pass on into Eternity. The soul is a pretty busy part of us earthen vessels. It communicates with our Father as is His intention. With the help of God’s Holy Spirit, it prays for us when we are at our absolute lowest and seem to have no words. It illuminates our vessel with such joy, love and, at the same time, softly nurtures us as we feel sorrow. When I contemplate the state of us as these earthen vessels, I’m reminded of Henri Nouwen and his writing about the Cup of Life in his book, “Can You Drink the Cup?” Jesus asked his disciples that question before the Last Supper because He knew the road ahead of them.  Christ held His cup that God had given Him…and it surely had the bitter taste of  persecution, betrayal and suffering.  It also possessed the greatest joy of His life being sacrificed for the salvation of mankind.  Knowing all, Christ drank His cup offering us the great gift of Eternal life. Jesus has told us in John 7:38 “Whosoever believes in me shall have rivers of water flowing within him.” That is the living water that quenches our thirst and sustains our lives forever. So at our lowest points, when we feel that emptiness, we can recall God’s promises to us that He is always with us and that we are His. Body, soul and spirit. Galatians 3:23-6:18 “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me, break me, melt me, mould me, fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” Thanks be to...

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Half Way Through The Wilderness

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in My Blog | 2 comments

Half Way Through The Wilderness

During the Season of Lent, Christians reflect on the walk of our Lord Jesus Christ for forty days in the wilderness as He fasted, prayed, was tempted and resisted these temptations of the devil. Just as we find ourselves in the wilderness in our life journey, through prayer & faith we, too, can resist temptations knowing that God is always there with us in our humility with His merciful forgiveness. In the 40 days in the wilderness with all the temptations of the devil, Jesus was being prepared for what lay ahead for Him. We, too, find ourselves at times reflecting on our own wilderness walks becoming aware that those times had prepared & strengthened us for fulfillment of God’s plan & use of us. Sometimes those realizations can be very subtle while, at other times, they might just knock on the door of our heart & soul with great vigor!! At the end of all this our charge is to step out into our world shining our light, being the hands & feet of Christ our Savior to the hurting and wayward souls. Psalm 51:10-12 is actually a prayer that means a lot to me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.                                                                                                                                                                                               Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit....

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“Globalization of Indifference”

Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in My Blog, Think About This | 2 comments

“Globalization of Indifference”

Pope Francis ushers in the season of Lent challenging Christians to forget about denying ourselves candy or favorite activities.  Rather than those exercises, he challenges us to take actions that “truly enrich others.”  Sort of like do it ’til it hurts.  Then, when it really hurts, that is sacrifice. The Pope’s message to the Christian world…to our whole world comes at a peak time, the peak is the sharply risen indifference to others and God.  As our world grows more populous, more chaotic, more dangerous, more challenging the reality is that there is more need, more suffering, and more opportunity, the opportunity is for those of us who have homes to live in, clothing on our backs, food on our tables, doctors for healthcare, churches and synagogues to worship to reach out to those in dire need to make a difference and share the message of hope. But, Pope Francis’s message is that we need to notice where the need and suffering is so we know where and how to serve our Lord and help.  When we are so focused on our own needs, wants, schedules we sometimes just don’t notice the plight of others.  So, the Pope says lets not fast from candy or our favorite activity but fast from the indifference to others and to God.  By intentionally fasting from this indifference our eyes and hearts will be opened and we can really make a meaningful difference! Opening our eyes and hearts to others and God will move us further on the path to Jesus’s last commandment…”Love one another.” Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent: What You Should Give Up This...

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Sweet Sacred Inspiration

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in My Blog, My Breast Cancer Journey | 0 comments

Sweet Sacred Inspiration

Whether it’s ringing in a New Year or celebrating a birthday or the anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis, any time of renewal brings me quickly to the deep gratitude for the gift of each new day and a recommitment to live my best life to the glory of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Of course, I fall short many days but it is a good road map toward the sincerest appreciation of all for which God has blessed me. Today, I’ve thought a lot about a poem I wrote in the midst of my first year of my breast cancer journey in 1999…almost 17 years ago.  As we know, the life struggles we experience really do strengthen us and offer to us some valuable lessons in life that we might not have received were it not for those struggles.  Those boosts in strength and the lessons obtained enhance our days of living for certain.  Reflecting on what we gained through the struggle strengthens our renewal of life many years later. Here’s my poem: Sweet Sacred Inspiration I walk through dark, deep water Feeling the pull of the struggle Knowing that time passes on. My feet stumble in weakness as My soul searches for sweet sacred inspiration. I feel the rhythm of my heartbeat Ripple through the water as I move forward Seeking relief from the weight of suffering. The journey teaches me determination as My soul searches for this sweet sacred inspiration. Days of the past capture my thoughts My mind’s eye sees children playfully wading. A child turns her face and I look into my own youthful eyes. The pull of the struggle is revealed as the Guide. Sweet Sacred Inspiration awaits me as I cross over to the other side....

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Find Your Sanctuary

Posted by on Dec 29, 2015 in My Blog, Think About This | 2 comments

Find Your Sanctuary

The word sanctuary brings to mind a sacred place or, perhaps, a safe haven.  I can remember when raising our two young daughters, I always wanted our home to be a safe haven for them…a place to which they would enter and they were safe, feeling loved beyond measure and where their minds were nurtured toward independent, creative thinking.  I wanted our home to be a sanctuary to them where they could be their true and cherished selves.  For the most part, I think, we achieved that yet there were the usual child-rearing squabbles and disciplines, being sent to their rooms to contemplate what they had done and, oh yes, the slamming of doors! 😉 In our world today, we need sanctuaries, perhaps, more today than ever.  What do you think of that?  Some of us know we need sanctuaries and go into their presence frequently and that is good.  I fear that way too many folks don’t give needing a sanctuary much thought.  They many not even be aware they exist or what the value of them is.  Then, there are many, many of us that know quite well the value of sanctuary, but ne’er a one is on their radar. I believe God Our Father wants the same thing for His children, you and me and everyone else, as I did for my two daughters.  He’s right with us throughout the days and nights wanting us to come to be in His Divine Presence where we are safe, where we can feel His love beyond measure and where He wants to nurture our hearts, souls and minds into perfect peace.  Every morning at 9:30 I get an alert on my iPhone…I don’t even have to look at it, to know its God.  Yep, its God and it goes like this: God – Good morning, Pat.  I have something I want to tell you. Me – Oh, God, thank you for a wonderful rest overnight and keeping me safe.  Right now? God – Yes, it won’t take long.  I want to talk with you about one of your favorite Psalms, 61:4.  One of your favorite topics, sanctuary or refuge. Me – As I stretch my arms and back, I straighten up and say, of course, I’m right with you, Father.  I grab my iPhone and its already on the page of scripture, Psalm 6:4 – “I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;  I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.”  King David cried our to our Father as do I.  He offers us refuge no matter where we are. Well, this conversation with God came to me this morning through my Our Daily Bread app on my phone.  Today I read Psalm 61 and I also learned from Jennifer Benson Schuldt about the Vancouver, British Columbia charity, Rain City Housing, that has created specialized benches for the homeless that convert into temporary shelters.  The back of the bench pulls up to create a roof to shield from rain and wind.  Especially interesting is that at night these sleeping places are easy to find because they feature a GLOW-IN-THE-DARK message that reads: THIS IS A BEDROOM.  How cool is that!!! Jennifer also goes on to say “the need for shelter can be physical and it can be spiritual as well.  God is a refuge for our souls when we are troubled.” So, going back to my thoughts on sanctuaries.  Being a naturalist, I have numerous natural areas in God’s creation that I consider sanctuaries for me.  I find numerous church sanctuaries or worship centers as refuges for a...

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