Godly Man Sighting: They Do Exist!

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In the past year or so God has really blessed me with some tangible examples of men who seek Him. Some of these men I know well, others are just fellow bloggers, but it is clear that they have a vibrant relationship with the Lord.  I think this is important for a single girl to acknowledge because at times it is easy to get caught up in the negative cycle that good Godly men do not exist. We become cynics and skeptics and wallow in a pool of pessimism. In frustration and at times jealousy, we sit around and bash the opposite sex and their shortcomings. I am guilty of this. These bash sessions also can come out of the broken places of my heart from the wreckage of broken, dysfunctional relationships. They come from the lies that the enemy has placed in my heart that it is worth settling for something less than what God has for me. I praise God for giving me a renewed perspective on the male species through the windows of these brothers in Christ who seek Him whole heartedly.

You see ladies, when we sit around and harp on the men we begin to build up false perception of them. We fail to see them as children of the Lord Most High and diminish His workmanship. Our brothers in Christ really are just as broken as we are and it is unfair to expect perfection. I realize that every time I look at a brother and judge him and his brokenness, I am denying my brokenness and need for Jesus. Other times when I look to a man to be perfect, I am failing to recognize that he cannot and will not be my savior. No man can be Jesus. We all are in the sanctification process, if we were perfect then we wouldn’t need Him.

Now I do believe that it is important to be able to discern whether or not the man we are interested in or dating has a strong relationship with God. While our men won’t be perfect, it is important that we don’t excuse abusive behavior or lack of intimacy with God. If there is not fruit of that in their life, most likely they are not ready for an sustained dating relationship. Same goes for us. We cannot be looking to the men to fix our brokenness. The only Healer and Savior is God. Not to mention take it from a girl who has dated a “project boyfriend” more than once, you cannot change him. We do not have that type of power or authority in any man’s life. God is the only one that can do a work in someone.

As a girl who has dated guys that have lacked in a strong relationship with God, I know that it has been encouraging to see these men of God and the fruit of their life. In fact, some of my friends are married to them. Rather then get jealous and doubt whether or not I “deserve” something like this, I look to these men of God as examples to spur me on to wait for the man God has for me. Watching these men interact with the women in their lives, may it be their wife, mother, sister or just friends, it reminds me not to settle for someone who really does not seek the Lord. Other times it reminds me of the importance to wait for a man who really will lead the relationship through discernment from our King. These men remind me that:

-Godly men do exist and are seeking the Lord with all their heart, mind and strength.

-There are men that will pursue women when led by Him.

-There are men who understand redemption and know who Christ is.

-There are men who do not view women as objects for sexual gratification and desire to honor them.

-There are men that are leaders and are seeking to understand how to grow in leadership to prepare for all that God has for them, including marriage.

-There are men who live set apart lives for Him and seek first the Kingdom of God.

Ladies, it is important that we do not give up hope. That we trust God to bring a man into our lives that loves Him and spurs us on. These guys are out there. If you don’t believe me, ask God to open your eyes to men who really do love Him. Often they are right under our noses, or we have been looking in all of the wrong places. Right now one of my favorite websites Good Women Project is doing a series called Open Letter’s from Men to Women. This is one of those places that gives me a window into men’s hearts.

Just like we are being refined, grown and pruned by our King, so are they. It is important to love each other as Christ first loved us and show grace and not condemnation. Just because we may have had a bad experience, or two or three does not mean that all men are bad. So let us allow God to restore our faith in the opposite sex and spur them on towards Him by not lowering our standards because we don’t believe they exist.

Choosing Singleness: Waiting on Him

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So at the beginning of the year I confessed that I was in a season of singleness, and then I avoided it until, well now. Some of you might cringe with me because of the ridiculous stereotype that comes with being single. For some crazy reason single has the stigma of being less than being in a relationship.  Perhaps that is the reason for my silence. Or maybe it is because I had to come to grips with it myself. Okay, really it is both.

Maybe you can relate with the feeling that all your friends are getting married this year (okay, okay not all of them). The rest of them are already married and have a baby or are trying to have a baby. You meet with people over a steaming cup of coffee and you are enjoying yourself and the conversation until suddenly the topic switches to your love life.  You stare at them blankly because it doesn’t exist right now, out of choice I might add.  They then begin telling you about their cousin’s friend’s friend’s brother who is just so great and loves Jesus.  Oh yes, that is me. Anyone relate?

I love my friends, I might add. I know they really just want to see me with a guy who is running with the Lord the race marked out for him. But right now I know in my heart I am meant to run this segment of the journey alone. Without a man.

You see I am a recovered serial dater. I once was that girl that needed a man for an identity and looked for it in all the wrong types of guys. I imagine friends prayed for and worried about me because the guys I picked were not at all right. Somewhere along the way I would believe that they were “perfect” for me or believe that it was as good as it was going to get and settle into the dysfunction. I would adapt myself to fit their life, change the things I liked and disliked to make them happy and hopefully “find myself”.  Perhaps you have a friend that is like I was. You know, that girl that jumps from guy to guy like a spider monkey because of that emptiness that is just aching to be filled.

Those poor men that journeyed that segment of life with me naturally became exhausted because I looked to them for who I was. Or I somehow figured out that the situation really was bad and there had to be something better. So I would move on and find a better version of really the same type of guy.

One day I found myself dumped by a man I thought was “the one” and cried at the feet of Jesus. My broken heart ached and I despaired at the bottom of the pit of self loathing and lost identity. Christ met me there. I remember thinking how I felt like I had lost myself and then it dawned on me, I don’t even know who I am. Thankfully God has brought me a long way from this place and proceeded to pour into my identity. Believe me, if it can happen for me it can happen for you too. He is our Redeemer. I still have had a couple more dating blunders along the way and a while ago found myself single again.

I am doing it different this time. This time I am waiting on the Lord. I am believing in His timing and His plan. Dating has been a cycle of brokenness and control. I would crawl around head down groping for the nearest man to claim me and call life into me. I put the man on a pedestal and believed that he was all I needed to become whole.  I clung to this lie that I have to make it happen and take matters into my own hands because God wasn’t moving in this area of my life. In my impatience I would settle and search for something that is far less than what my Father wants for me. For now:

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

You see I finally get that no man, no human affirmation can call forth identity into me. My identity is in Christ alone and I will stand upon that truth. Knowing who I am in Christ has helped me stand up and not let others dictate who I am or will become. Through sleepless nights and countless tears I know now that the only thing I need is Jesus and one day, in His timing, if He brings me a husband it will be a bonus. I believe in God’s perfect timing the right man will walk into my life and a divine romance will unfold unlike anything this girl can understand.

But on top of that I am already married to the Prince of Peace and His love for me is perfect, never fails and never runs out.

“For your Maker is your husband- The Lord Almighty is his name- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” Isaiah 54:5 

 

The Lie of Perfection

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This morning I collapsed at the feet of my Savior overcome with the emotion of spiritual exhaustion. I cried out to Him “God, I am just so tired of trying.” As the tears flowed, He revealed something to my aching and weary heart. “Sweet daughter, you do not have to earn my approval” He whispered.

As I prayed, I realized that I have been operating out of a place of needed perfection. This perfection was something that made me worthy to be in His presence and receive His love. Here was this part of my faulty foundation that made it nearly impossible to stand. For years I have been clinging to a lie:

I have to be a perfected version of myself to approach the throne of the very God who created me.

This deep seeded need to be perfect drove me to a place of constant condemnation and exhaustion. I found myself daily feeling guilt and shame for failing at something. My self talk was constantly cycling through all the ways that I could just do it better next time. Often as I would confess things to the Lord, I would repent and then in my heart make an agreement not to do it again. As soon as the offense happened again the shame would pour out and frustration would creep in. My soul cried, how will I ever be good enough for my King?

I am realizing that this lie puts a great amount of responsibility on myself to earn love, grace, mercy and approval. This lie shifts salvation from something that is a gift from the Father, to something that I have to deserve and create with my own hands. It’s no wonder I am exhausted. I do not have the power to save myself.

The fruit of this lie has been striving. I have been striving for perfection in every area of my life. Perfection in school, relationship, hobbies, approval of others and church. Every area of my life had to be perfect and I had to know the right answer. Failure is something that I have been so afraid of for years. At times it has rendered me so completely ineffective that I give up before trying, because I would rather chose to fail, then try and be told that I am not good enough.

As I peel back the layers of my striving for perfection, the real thing I was fighting for was love. I believe that all love is conditional to some degree. This distorted understanding of love told me that I had to perform at a certain level and offer something to another person in order to receive love. When I did not perform well, the love would leave.

This mentality is a very self-centered and self-worshiping place. In this position of pride, I place a false sense of control and power into my own hands. When I believe that I have the power to win or lose the approval of God, I am saying that I have more control in the relationship. Thankfully, I do not have this type of power in the relationship with God. Romans 5: 6-8 says:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

This very principle is something that my heart disagreed with. In my pride, I told myself that I had the power and control to earn God’s love or cause Him to turn from me. But God tells us that Christ died for us when we were powerless, while we were still sinners He hung on a cross to reconcile us back to the Father. Thankfully, He is working in my heart to show me that I cannot change His mind. This morning He whispered these words to my heart:

“I won’t reject you or cast you away. You are precious to me, fearfully and wonderfully made. I hold you in my arms like a newborn baby, admiring my creation. I clothe you and care for all your needs. Just as you would not expect a newborn to care for itself and come to you only when it was feed, clothed and changed, I do not expect you to do that for yourself.” 

 

 

 

What are You Worshipping?

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Fear.

It grabs onto our souls and digs its claws in deep. It wraps itself around the inner workings of our heart like a vine, slowly strangling and suffocating until we are captive. Fear can start out small and insignificant, but with every small conformation that it possibly could be legitimate its roots grow deeper and the vine wraps tighter.

Some fears are stronger than others. Sometimes fear quakes like a small tremor in our heart. It is a skipped heartbeat, or a held breath. Other times it is paralyzing. It grabs hold like a monster squeezing and tormenting the one in its grasp rendering her ineffective. Fear lays us out on the floor trembling, unable to move. We cower in the corner, hiding, shaking in fears shadow unable to move.

Fear. What are you afraid of? Maybe you are afraid of…

-Your past.

-A secret source of shame. Exposed.

-Disappointing people.

-What people think of you.

-Losing someone you love.

-Feeling hurt and pain.

-Abandonment by those you let close or deep into your heart.

-Vulnerability

Fears come packaged in all shapes and sizes. Your fears may be different than mine, but I imagine they still have the same effect to paralyze and bring you to your knees. Why is it that we fear things when we have a God who is all powerful? The very God that commanded the stars in their place and can calm the seas, loves us and holds us in His righteous right hand. And yet we fear. When we fear, in our mind we take His power away and place it somewhere else. Our fears are a displacement of power.

God is bigger than our biggest fears. The only thing we should fear is Him. We are to revere God for how powerful and mighty He is. When we fear something other than God, we are bowing down and worshiping it, giving it power that only God deserves. Nothing but God should bring us to our knees.

There is not a single thing that is too big for God to handle. He says:

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 Our God is our helpmate. The One who is strong in our weakness (Isa 40:29). He will fight our battles (Ex 14:14). We need only to reach out and hold fast to Him (Joshua 23:8).

Will we reach out and hold fast to our God and King who will conquer all our fears? Will we die to ourselves and stop worshiping our fears and allow only God to have power and authority over us?

Today, let’s get a conversation going about the power of God and the promises He makes to us when we are afraid. What verses do you cling to in times of fear?

 

Thankful Thursday: New Friends in Unlikely Places

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Sometimes with all the introspection and processing I get a little consumed with self. Anybody else with me on that? I mean really, this world is not all about me. Amen. So for a little change of pace I am going to praise God for something I am thankful for. Does he not just abundantly bless us?  It is so easy to become focused on what we lack that we fail to acknowledge all that He has given us.

Lately I have been abundantly blessed by this sweet woman in her seventies. I met her at one of my favorite family owned restaurants that conveniently is minutes away from my home. About a month ago I was in there having a date with Jesus. On these dates Jesus and I will go to a restaurant and hang out. Usually I read, journal or do bible study and enjoy the time communing with Him. I was doing just that when this woman sat down at the booth next to me. I was spread out at my table just about to dig into the Word, when my attention was drawn to her because of the conversation she was having with the server. I was not meaning to be nosy, but she was expressing concern about sodium content and for some reason I was interested. Before I knew it the server had walked away and she had struck up a conversation with me. We commiserated on dietary needs (I am gluten and milk intolerant) and how inconvenient they are.

Minutes later I invited her to my table and boy am I glad that I did. This dear woman is full of stories. She makes me laugh, teaches me things and honestly fascinates me. She is talented and knows three different languages, has traveled and is very well educated in art and literature. On that day a divine connection was made, or as she would say just pure luck. We have been hanging out ever since. I am excited for the ways our relationship will grow in the coming months, hopefully years. She knows nothing about Jesus. She openly admitted that to me the other day, although I will admit I knew that already, and to her surprise it changed nothing. But my new friend is already dear to my heart and I love her. I know God is up to something. She has had three encounters with pastors in the past week and God has sparked her curiosity. My friend feels that these meetings are just too weird.

Something she said to me that stuck with me is that she believes that some people have faith and that others don’t. She thinks she falls into the category of someone who just doesn’t have “it”. Could you do me a favor and join me in prayer for my new friend? Would you pray that she has eyes to see and ears to hear His voice? Pray that she has faith of even a mustard seed to see and know He is God. That her heart would be prepared to hear the truth and that the seed would not turn up void? Also pray against any schemes of the enemy to deceive her. Pray that I would know how to answer her questions as they come up. I really just want to love her well as Christ would love her. At the opportune time I hope to be bold in my faith and share with her the Truth, but only if I am prompted to by Him. I really believe He is about to usher her right into the Kingdom of God. I’d love if you’d pray and I will be sure to keep you posted so we can celebrate when that day comes!

So today I am thankful for new friends and new opportunities to build relationships. Do you have anything you are thankful for this Thursday? I would love to hear about something you feel thankful for today. Comment below and we can engage in prayer of thanksgiving and rejoice in the Lord for the ways He has blessed us. Happy Thursday!!!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 4-7

Dancing with the Idol of Image

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This journey of laying down idols and relinquishing control to the Almighty Savior of my Soul is a journey I am walking through now, in real time.  If you are just joining me check out my post from monday on control and tuesday about idols. I think they are important to understanding today’s post 🙂

This is not easy for me. But God is bigger than my discomfort. Today I am going to dive into my dance with the idol of image. In fact that is the reason for my discomfort and sweaty palms as I type these words. I really work hard to maintain an image. Something like I have it “all together”. Whatever that means. And I am already concerned about what you think of me. Silly really, but the truth. I think most of us strive to appear that way especially if we are meeting others. I mean really, who wants someone to see their flaws (or percieved flaws) and struggles upon first meeting someone? We all have them but we sure work hard to hide them.

I find that when I am in the presence of new people I am constantly trying to figure out what they are looking for.  Although, I will admit the older I get the more comfortable I am with myself, and the less I compromise on who I am on the behalf of another. However, situations of meeting new people really expose the subtle ways I still work to please others.

This area of idolatry really became apparent for me in the last couple weeks because of different situations I was in that caused me to feel slightly insecure. Nothing major, just uncomfortable in my own skin. This bothered me because I have really been working on finding my identity solely in Christ and not letting other things dictate who I am. A flag popped up, waved wildly, and I remember petitioning “God, will I ever feel comfortable meeting new people?” A few other things happened that really exposed this area:

-I looked in my well stocked closet to find I had nothing to wear for several different occasions where I really wanted to make an impression. I then proceeded to search the mall for several weeks for the “perfect” thing to wear. It truly became an area of stress in my life. Lame.

-I became overly self conscious about my weight because I was seeing people I hadn’t seen in some time so I decided that I needed to crash exercise. (In my world that is exercise hard for a couple of days, experience extreme burnout and not go for a week after). Doubt there is any tangible change or results but in my head it was something productive to control my appearance. Ha, right.

-Become that girl who tries on almost every article of clothing in her closet before going to a weekly meeting just because I never know who (meaning future mr. erin taylor) could be there. Even though I am soo not looking.

-Freak out over wearing work out clothes in public. By freak out I mean apologize repeatedly, to a friend who does not care one iota what I look like, about the embarrassing state of no make up and work out clothing I was in. What? For real? Who does that?

Those are just some examples. Whew. I am laughing at myself as I type them. But the truth is they are there. Last night I was journaling through something things and it hit me out of the blue where this is all stemming from. The little lie was exposed and suddenly it all made sense.

I believe that a portion of myself (my personality) is flawed.

When I was a child I was painfully shy and really struggled to build friendships. There was a time in my life where just meeting another human being freaked me out to the core. I would cling to my parents leg and will myself invisible. To adults it was adorable, to me it was mortifying. In middle school I could not make friends and my parents were at a complete loss at what to do. This life transition was hard enough without the added stress of me coming home in tears every day because I had not met a single person, let alone talked to anyone.

In my heart I began to ask “What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t anyone want to be my friend?”

The answer came alone out of the unsuspecting mouths of my parents. Hear me when I say I know they did not mean for me to take it to heart or interpret this way. I honestly believe they were just trying to help me come out of my shell and meet people. I know that my distress and friendlessness caused them great pain. But something like this was said:

“You need to be more outgoing  and then you will have friends.” 

When I could not figure out how to be more outgoing, the lie, “Because you are not outgoing, there is something terribly wrong with you. No one will ever like you. If you were just different or better you would have friends” formed in my heart. Satan took the words and my pain and formed a lie that took root. The worst part was I agreed with him. And I have been living the fruit of that lie for years now.

As I had this realization, sadness washed over me. I know in my mind those lies are far from true. But because it is a lie that lives in my heart, I operate from that place. Our actions are a reflection of what we really believe. Thankfully I know God is not going to leave me here. He already has begun building the foundation to deal with this lie. Scripture began to flood my mind and I wrote:

I am fearfully and wonderfully made in my Father’s image. He did not make a mistake with me yet created me with a perfect purpose and plans to prosper me. I am the daughter of the King, adopted into His family. Loved and cherished by Him. He delights in me. I am the apple of His eye. 

The actual verses are as follows:

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know full well.” Psalm 139: 14

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1: 27

“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

“he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-” Ephesians 1:5

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4: 10

“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149: 4

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 17: 8

For the next few weeks I am going to focus on taking this lie captive, replacing it with truth and pulling it right out of my heart. I will begin by renewing my mind in the Word so that Truth can replace it as I pull it out. I also am going to pray about what types of action God wants me to take to combat this lie and purge my heart from it once and for all. Personally I am done dancing with this idol of image. Christ is the only one for me. He doesn’t step on my feet 😉

I know Christ wants me to walk in the confidence that He gives me. He does not want for a minute me to doubt the way His hands created me. If you can relate or have been where I am at feel free to comment below. We are all in this journey together you know? And maybe we can learn a thing or two from each other. Happy Wednesday 🙂

Dancing in the Arms of Idols

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Yesterday l talked about my deep seeded issue of control. Honestly, when dealing with this issue I do not think I can avoid facing some of the idols in my life. Ugh. Idols. Idols is one of those words I dance around. It is something that I do not want to acknowledge or really admit that I deal with. But the truth of the matter is every time I do not trust God I am turning away from Him and trusting something else. Ironically I find myself dancing in the arms of idols. Talk about denial.

An idol according to the Strong’s NIV Exhaustive Concordance is worthless, idolatries, or images (Strongs 496). As I pondered this I realized that my idols are all images that I have perceived to have found my worth in or can affirm my value. Often I perceive them to be safe and secure because many of them are comfortable.  Yet idols are really worthless. Habakkuk 2: 18 says:

Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.”

We are asked of what value is an idol? They teach lies. Each idol we have creates a false security, a false identity. We create them with our own hands, or with our minds and believe that these things are going to save us or validate us. We trust in our own creation more than the One who created us. Does that make any one else shudder?

So here is the fun part, (okay so not really) but here are some of the idols in my life. Maybe you can relate? Anyone?

Idolatry of Men- I often believe that men alone have the power to determine my value. Their words determine how and what I believe about myself. If they say that I am beautiful for a fleeting moment I believe that I am beautiful. There was a day that I would pine after their attention and if there was not a man knocking at my door I suddenly had no worth. But as you can imagine placing my identity in the hands of another person also had dire consequences. I won’t go there.

Idolatry of Self- This one is wrapped up with pride and a nice bow to boot. Many times I believe that I have it more figured out than God. Or other people. This one for me also has a lot to do with “how far I have come”. I forget that He is the one redeeming me a day at a time. No book, bible study or amount of knowledge is the reason I am the woman I am today. But I forget that.

Idolatry of Image- I bow down to this idol more often than I realize. This one for me deals with all things beauty products, gym equipment,  and clothing size. Even this morning I ran to grab lunch with a friend and found myself apologizing for not wearing make-up or changing out of work out clothes. I was embarrassed. What? Later I realized in that very instance I was placing my worth right in the hands of my image and how I appeared to others. Yuck.

Idolatry of Success- This one has been right there in the front and center lately. I won’t lie graduating and not having a clue what comes next creates a big ol’ hole in the success area. So I find myself creating all types of reasons for the delay of finding a career.

These are just some of the area’s that demand my attention and often dictate my value. Maybe you struggle with similar ones. The truth is each of these things shifts like shadows. When I am busy tending to my idols I am nothing shy of a crazed mess. It is really hard to have a man constantly affirming you while having a perfect hair day, flawless make-up, the perfect pant size, reading enough spiritual growth books, attending enough bible studies and having a fabulous career. I’m exhausted just typing that. That perfect day has yet to happen in this girls life and likely won’t ever. Not to mention that is no longer my idea of a perfect day. But notice there is no room for God in this list when I am thinking about these things.

Thankfully, God is slowly bringing me to a place where these things have less of an impact on what I believe about myself. As these idol’s are exposed I realize how they are so incapable of providing for my needs and deepest desires. These idols do not speak and they never can satisfy. Thankfully that is where Christ steps in. As I learn to trust Him in all things I begin to see more and more that He is the only One that will ever fill me up. John 7: 38 says:

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”. 

Whoever believes. My soul is thirsty for the Living Water that will satisfy my every need. I want that river of living water to flow within me. Truth be told my biggest hang up is belief. Sure I believe in the Living God, but do I really believe that if I come to Him and lay myself down at His feet that He is all I need? Do I really believe that He is who He says He is? Or that God can do what He says He can do? Better yet, do I believe that I am who He says I am?

Maybe you are right where I am. As we shed our idols and turn towards the One who will fill us with rivers of living water, what is getting in the way? I’d love to pray and journey with you.