child ballerina standing on a stage in a large auditorium

When the Music Stops …

All ready for the big day and then ….

TIME TO PERFORM

My granddaughter is an advanced competitive dancer and has been for a number of years. To prepare for a recent regional competition, she and her duet partner had practiced and practiced and practiced. At last, the day had come for their evaluation. They entered the stage as their chosen music played, but suddenly, it stopped. Surely just a glitch. The judges asked them to go back and begin again. They started over, but the music stopped once more! They went offstage hoping for the recording to work on the third try. Hearts beating and frustration mounting, the two young thirteen-year-old girls entered with great expectation and energy. Unbelievably, the music stopped.

NOW WHAT?

I was blown away by what happened next. Those two young girls knew what they had been taught. They had rehearsed every fine detail with precision. So, they kept on dancing their duet–without any music! I was so impressed by their poise and grace at such a time of potential defeat. After they continued on, the audience began keeping the beat for them by clapping. What a beautiful example of carrying on with perseverance. Also, this is an illustration of how we need the Body of Christ, other supportive people around us to help us with the “beat” when our music stops.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

What do we do in times like these? Have you ever experienced a disappointing change in plans when all your expectations have been wiped off the table, so to speak? I have. I might guess you have too. Sometimes, it can be something out of the blue. Something unexpected or unimagined. Sometimes, there are ways to recover the plan and keep on going. Other times, there is a loss, and you wonder what God would have you do next.

PERSEVERANCE DURING TRIALS

The Bible has many examples of persevering in trial. We have godly examples of not losing faith like Job. He proclaimed: “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him” (Job 13:15). He had a good ol’ heart-to-heart conversation with God about justice though. God asked Job to consider some compelling questions. “Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons – or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” (Job 38:32-33). I’m sure when Job spoke back to the many questions asked, he was speaking with humility. “I am unworthy–how can I reply to you?” (Job 40:4).

We also have the life of Abram, later called Abraham, to examine. Though he was a flawed human, as we all are, he stuck with God’s plan. Except when he didn’t. Smile. God asked him to move his family to a new land, leaving all that he knew behind. He did. That was a daunting task in itself, though it was filled with the hope of God’s promises for his future–a promised land, descendants as many as the stars in the sky, and the promise of making Abram the beginning of a new and great nation. If you read the whole story in Genesis 12-15, you’ll find all the times when Abram’s music stopped. A few times when he didn’t follow God’s plan at all, but did his own thing, he experienced some unintended consequences.

ROMANS 5:3-5 – GROWING IN CHARACTER

I could write volumes of stories of people written about in the scriptures who persevered in trial. Perseverance is a cornerstone to growing in faith. Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

COURAGE WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS

Consider a few of your own stories when you had the courage to keep walking, running, or dancing when the “music stopped.” If you know you’re doing what you believe God has called you to or gifted you to do, be confident to keep on with the plan. I pray you will also have some “balcony people” there to cheer you on, clapping the rhythm you need to keep going “when the music stops.”

INTRODUCING “ROMANCE” AND A GUEST

Hello to Donna Schlacter

I am excited to introduce you to a romance and suspense novelist who is also my guest blogger today. Donna Schlacter, also known as Leeann Betts, is a known as a hybrid author, who writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published 50 times in books and is a member of several esteemed writers groups. She teaches writing, facilitates a critique group, ghostwrites, edits, and judges writing contests. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. You will find her latest book cover and her personal photo below. Enjoy her blog entry!

The Essence of Love

by Donna Schlachter writing as Leeann Betts

You don’t believe it, but there it is–when you least expect it, when you really don’t want it, or you think its passed you by, when it seems like a burden, a blessing, or simply a bad day, when you don’t remember what a kiss is–except something made Hershey’s–there it is…Cupid and and his arrow.

Why is it that it always happens when you least expect it? Someone much wiser than me said that love is like a butterfly–the more you chase after it, the harder it is to find. We spend our lives looking for that elusive one who will make us complete. When we find that person, we call them our soulmate. Do you know why that is?

Because that’s how God created us–with a part of us missing. Some may call it our urge to procreate. Some call it our ego looking for the one who can and will fulfill itself. I call it the plan of God.

The Bible says that God created man, and that no animal was found that was a suitable companion for him. And so, God took a part of man and created woman. He took the feminine part of man, the part that operates on intuition, verbal communication, and touch, to create the perfect mate. Each creation has something the other wants. Each creation requires the other to be complete. Each creation requires the other to continue the species.

What a wonderful plan–to create us as individuals yet create us to need each other. God’s plan in the physical mirrors His plan for the spiritual. God created human beings for fellowship with Him, because nothing else He had created was suitable for that purpose. He created us with free will, because love without a choice is not love, but slavery. He created us in the form of a trinity, just as He is a Trinity. And He breathed into us His very essence. His breath of life, His spirit. That is the missing link between animal and man. Only it’s not missing and has never been missing. It is the essence of God in us.

ALWAYS A WEDDING PLANNER

If you love romance stories, you’ll enjoy reading Donna’s Always a Wedding Planner and The Worst Kept Secret. Discover how keeping secrets from each other threatens four women’s friendships, wedding business, and own ability to find love in Loveland, CO.

Check it out here: https://tinyurl.com/snczsf9x

Books on Amazon: https//amzn.to/2ci5Xqq

or Donna’s website: http://www.DonnaSchlacter.com

Stay connected and learn about new releases, preorders, and presales. Receive a free ebook for signing up for her free newsletter! http://www.DonnaSchlachter.com/blog

Healing for Your Heart Wounds

People support each other in a rehab session

Betrayal, Abandonment, Sexual Abuse, Death – Heart Wounders

Heart wounds can leave a person in emotional or mental chains unable to find their purpose and lacking joy in living. Have you ever had someone betray, forsake, or rob you of something precious? Have you ever lost someone you loved deeply? Before this life is over, you may have experienced one or more of these things, or you’ve known people who have. These painful experiences run much deeper than some of life’s “normal” frustrations and disappointments. How can you move on and heal? God hears your pain and wants to make you free. He has placed you in relationships for your good.

We can all be a part of the healing process in the lives of those around us. Scripture depicts the Body of Christ, collective believers of the Christian faith, in an metaphorical description. We are to work like a human body with each part having a purpose. None of us have it all. We are complete when we work in harmony, using the gifts God has given each of us. 1 Corinthians 12:12 explains we are a unit, composed of many parts. God never intended us to live in isolation.

When your heart has been broken, draw near to God. Seek Him by telling him how you feel. Invite him into your mess. Draw near to others who will listen. Scripture teaches in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “By yourself, you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (The Message)” From the beginning of creation, God considered our need for others to help us. God made sure to make a companion for His first human being, a “helpmate,” thus the marriage relationship. Each person was intended to help the other become stronger. The blessing of having a caring-someone who listens is powerful. Yes, the ultimate Healer is God himself, but he did place us in community for a reason.

Perhaps, your heart wound is being saved, locked away inside you–you do not believe it can be shared. You may feel shame or blame associated with it. So your best option seems to be to “stuff it” in a secret place. The hiding of your pain will only compound your grief. It is healthy to be selective about who you share with. Having someone calm and accepting, someone you can trust with your pain, will empower you. Therapy is also recommended for severe wounds, but holding your burden inside is deadly. You need to be set free.

You Are Not Alone

If you think you can’t share because no one else will understand, you may be shocked. People don’t talk about difficult topics like sexual abuse because of the emotional complexities. Children who have experienced such betrayal, often from an adult they trusted, often become bound by guilt and shame. They are not the guilty party, but their innocence has been stolen leaving them feeling worthless and alone. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls have been abused by the time they are 18. If you think you are alone, you may be trying to hide a secret from someone who shares the same secret.

Another type of heart wound can be present with young women who have experienced an abortion, feeling trapped and incapable of handling an unplanned pregnancy. Many feel they cannot talk about their decision, which can be accompanied by guilt, regret, and even depression. Flashbacks and anniversary grief are not uncommon. Talking about these emotions with a trusted, compassionate person can release the secret and allow healing to begin. Post-abortion Bible studies are available through most Pregnancy Center ministries to help with your healing journey. God is merciful, and He hears your heart.

Forgiveness

Often forgiveness is a part of the healing and recovery process. Sometimes you are the one to ask for forgiveness, and other times, you may need to forgive the one who stole something from you — your innocence, your ability to trust, your sense of value as a person. Christ came to be our Healer, and through him we can ask forgiveness and become FREE to have relationship with God. Forgiveness is our model for freedom and healing. When you are stuck in bitterness and cannot let go, you will live like a victim. It may take time and effort to forgive those who have hurt you, but then you will find your victory and release from bondage.

Healing

Healing is possible, even with deep heart wounds. You can recover and find happiness. Don’t fear sharing with others you know can trust. Be aware of the need to listen to others who may also need you to hear their story. You are not alone with your grief. God is a God who adores you and none of your story will drive him away. Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Receive his rest and seek his presence. You are not alone….

With love and prayers for all who have felt the trauma of “heart wounds.”

Enjoy this beautiful song: “Weary Traveler” by Jordan St. Cyr

“You weren’t meant to travel this road alone …”

And then … GLORY: “NO MORE NIGHT”

You and Me Steppin’ into ’22

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

READY OR NOT

As you and I step into the milestone called a “NEW YEAR,” you might be approaching it with uncertainty. Or you might be ready to step into 2022 with boldness. You could even accept this new year as a great opportunity for a remake of things you can control. Most of us might think back to 2021 (*and 2020) and long for what our lives used to be–before the pandemic began….

However, I am ready to release that old year of 2021 and step into 2022 with gladness. It’s a good thing since I can’t reign it back in anyway. Smile. How can I be glad, you might wonder, especially with a new Covid variant running roughshod through our towns, cities, and states as I write? I have a reason. I can walk with a sense of HOPE and GLADNESS because I am not alone when I walk in relationship with God the Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ, the Triune, Almighty God. Not ever alone. It stirs my soul that Someone cares so much to send his spirit wrapped in human flesh in the tiny infant of Jesus Christ. That isn’t the end of the story, of course. The Jesus gift is how we can have relationship with a perfect God. Because of Christ, Father God now sees us as perfect, white as snow, beloved children. You! And me, when we say, “Yes,” to this precious gift. (If you wonder what I refer to here, please send me a message, and I will be happy to share more.)

PRAYER FOR 2022

Dear Lord,

I stand before you on this 1st night of January, 2022, yielded to whatever you want me to do and learn in the coming months. I give you my desires, and pray for your will in my life to be done. I know your will for me, and every reader of this post, is for good. You want us to know You, and to stop fighting You. I know I sometimes ignore You, going forward doing my own thing.

Thank you, Lord, for your truth, inspiring writers to speak your thoughts for the generations forward. I receive this Word that you will renew us when we grow weary. You knew we’d need this. Life on earth can be tough at times. I want to walk this journey WITH You, not alone.

In Jesus’s Name ….

Does the Season of ADVENT Mean Anything to You?

THE MEANING OF ADVENT – WILL IT CHANGE YOUR CHRISTMAS?

Searching for meaning this Christmas? It seems many more Christians are adopting Advent as a part of their holiday tradition. Are you one of them? What does Advent mean to you, and how does it play a part of your Christmas? For years when my children were young, they delighted in lighting candles in an advent wreath each Sunday leading up to Christmas. You know, candles are exciting to kids. Who would be chosen to light, and who would have the honor of extinguishing the candles at the end? We would take a few minutes to read scripture, sometimes a short story or devotional passage, and perhaps we would even sing a familiar Carol. I hear many people say Advent has a calming spiritual influence, helping them prepare for the reason we celebrate. In the hustle-bustle of shopping, baking, and giving, it does offer a dose of peace in the midst of a sometimes crushing, modern day chaos.

WHAT DOES ADVENT MEAN?

If we research the word Advent, we learn it comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming.” In the calendar of the Christian church, it is a preparation time, a spiritual mindset of preparing to receive THE gift, Jesus coming to earth now over two thousand years ago. Without a purposeful time set aside to think about these things, the birth of Christ can easily get buried under the shopping trips, stacks of wrapping paper, card sending, along with keeping up with the rest of life’s duties.

As you study of the image of Mary and Joseph, reality comes into focus. Caesar Augustus mandated a census to register all citizens for tax purposes. Because Joseph was from the lineage of David, he had to go to Bethlehem to make that happen. Here was Mary, about to give birth, and there were no planes, trains, highways, or SUV’s to take them there. Miles of rugged terrain had to be traveled with only a donkey, a pregnant mom, and a weary husband doing his best. That, my readers, is reality. Jesus was coming to earth. His arrival had been announced and his pregnancy was deemed supernatural by assigned angels. Fulfillment of prophecy from hundreds of years earlier was happening. This Christ child was coming to Bethlehem as was foretold.

MEANING OF ADVENT: EXPECTATIONS – REALITY

HALLMARK MOVIES AND HOME LIFE

Sometimes our expectations of Christmas find us scratching our heads and holding disapointed hearts. The PERFECT glossy images of Christmases in magazines and Hallmark movies are often not what’s going on in our real lives. I can think of those moments in my own life when the shiny baubles of promised joy evaporated in a heartbeat. For instance, the December when my six-year-old daughter learned Santa Claus embodied the spirit of love but wasn’t a real man, broke her heart. I might add she was also a bit angry about the whole scene.

Why had we allowed this imaginery Santa into her life? (Who knew my baby girl was such a pragmatist?) I could recall when my mother explained the Santa concept connecting it to the spiritual meaning, but it seemed to make sense. Perhaps my mom did a better job of explaining the relationship between Santa and the birth of Jesus Christ. No trauma for this six-year-old. I tried to refocus my disappointed child’s attention on the beauty of Christmas and God’s love poured down on us. However, at that moment, she just wanted to know why we had deceived her.

MEANING OF ADVENT: CONTRASTING CHRISTMAS JOY WITH LIFE LOSSES

Considering the contrast between expectations and realities, I remember my first Christmas as a single-mom without my family intact. My childhood sweetheart and marriage partner of 22 years had chosen another life for himself. I was not a part of it. Our German Shepherd dog was 14 and having ailments which led to him cross over the “Rainbow Bridge” … right before Christmas. There were way too many critical losses, despite my efforts to pull off a happy Christmas with my then-teen children.

HUMAN DISAPPOINTMENT – JEALOUSY

Then, I have an example from my own childhood. One year, my big brother received a German Shepherd puppy, a most adorable pup. I received a beautiful doll, one of my favorite gifts at that age. However, inside my head, all I wanted was the puppy. True confession. I know. I should’ve been a grateful child. So many years later, I recall, I was not.

ADVENT PREPARES US FOR THE NEVER-DISAPPOINTING CHRISTMAS GIFT

As I have journeyed through many years of life, there is ONE TRUTH I can say will never let you down, leave you disappointed, or fall short of expectations. This season of Advent, prepare. Let your heart examine and prepare for the greatest gift of all. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came over two thousand years ago to deliver hope to a weary world. How could a tiny, helpless human laying in a manger possibly produce such hope, you ask. He came in a humble stable by the Creator God’s design, on purpose, He came to walk among us as a part of mankind — God in flesh, yet supernaturally perfect, not sinful. He didn’t come as a King, or a mighty warrior, yet He changed the world. Today over two billion people follow Christ worldwide. How can this be true? He was just a baby born of poor parents and laid on straw in an animal feeder. Jesus grew up to tell his Father God’s story of unconditional love and forgiveneness provided by this gift of Immanuel — “God with us,” Jesus Christ.

PRAYING FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS TO BE BLESSED

Praying for your Christmas to be joyfilled as you prepare. Place your trust in this great gift sent to Earth over 2,000 years ago. Sending my love and prayers from my home to yours. Joan

Enjoy this beautiful Christmas song celebrating the reason for the season — GOD IS WITH US!

In the Day of Trouble

The image of the flag of United States of America on the cracked dry ground

In the Day of Trouble

My heart is in anguish at the brokenness of my beautiful homeland. Once generally agreed-upon foundational truths, morals, and laws are no longer embraced, and are, at least, marginalized. Even being “patriotic” toward our America, or recognizing our history as one of the most generous of all the world nations, is disputed by many. America was never perfect, of course. It always had flaws, some egregious, but now we are expected to feel shame for the very fabric of our history.

A Nation Divided

However, I don’t. Instead, I feel sadness for how young minds are being taught to hate America despite the “light” it has been, and the causes it has fought for over its history. As Abe Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our government cannot function because it is so polarized. Ideologues cannot compromise for the good of the people. Oh, no.

I believe we are “reaping the whirlwind” for removing God from the marketplace of ideas. We’ve lost core beliefs which people once agreed upon. Why? Many have turned their back on God, but have put humans in His place. Biblical truths are replaced with new cultural ideologies by those who are opposed to Christianity. We are expected to have “tolerance” for everything except biblical values and beliefs.

Finding Hope in God

What can we do when division and hatred overwhelm? I take comfort in the lessons gleaned from scripture. In Isaiah 37, we learn of a certain King Hezekiah who became aware of his enemy, King of Assyria. Oh, that one was a God hater, for sure. He wanted Hezekiah to believe God would not help him, and Jerusalem would be overtaken by enemy forces. To be honest, Hezekiah was also a bit complicit in this downfall because of his own rebellion. He was humbled in his difficult situation, and should have been.

However, his first reaction was not only humble, but wise. He went to the house of the Lord to seek God. Then, he sent some representatives to Isaiah, a prophet who personally heard from God. Hezekiah used a perfect word picture about the calamitous situation. “This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them,” Isaiah 37:3 (NIV). That is dreadful, is it not? Either the mother or the baby, or both may be lost! Hezekiah knew things were grim.

Good News

But some good news came back from the Lord: “Do not be afraid of what you have heard,” Isaiah 37:6 (NIV). Even after that the enemies attempted to persuade Hezekiah to doubt God. They said God would ignore their pleas. Hezekiah did what Believers in America should do at this juncture in American history. He took all the evidence (a letter), spread it out before the Lord, and prayed as earnestly as he knew how. He declared, “…You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth,” Isaiah 37:16 (NIV). “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear.”

Though there were some years of resulting consequences for Hezekiah’s earlier rebellion, God did answer his cries. God was determined to preserve the remnant out of Jerusalem. “For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake,” Isaiah 37:35 (NIV).

Pray

I encourage you to pray with me over our nation. Pray to the One True God to have mercy even though America has turned its back on God as a collective. As we humble ourselves like Hezekiah, we can have hope, hope that God will spare the remnant of believers in America, though many have rejected Him. America was once a light to the world, “a city set on a hill” for others to see as a beacon of hope for the world. In Matthew 5:14-16, scripture tells us, “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” I pray for a return; I pray for America to be a light again.

Here is an older song by Chris Machen called “Bow the Knee.” It’s beautiful and the lyrics are a perfect fit. Listen and enjoy as you lay out your heart’s concerns before our God. Yes. “You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” We ask in humility for you to forgive our nation, to heal our land, to pour your spirit out in revival so those who hate you cannot stand. We will glorify you and give you the praise. Amen.

FALL GIVEAWAY of books

For younger to older readers …

Today, I have a fun surprise to share with you … I’ve teamed up with 60+fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of Middle Grade & Young Adult books to 2 lucky winners!

Oh, and did I mention the Grand Prize winner gets a BRAND NEW eReader? 😁You can win my historical fiction novel His Gift (pictured on the first row), plus books from many other genres. There are some good reads in this compilation of 60 books. Gifts perhaps? Donate what you don’t want and still have a chance at a new eReader!

bit.ly/MiddleGradeYAFic-Sep21

ENJOY!

Joan

FaceTime

Redeemer hugging unhappy man, faith in God, spiritual protection, eternity

FaceTime with God?

One frustrating day, I felt no peace. I knew I needed some quality quiet time. Then, I cried out, “I need FaceTime with Jesus!” It made me laugh, but at the same time, I recognized the bold truth I had spoken.

During Covid, I couldn’t wait to FaceTime or Zoom with our kids and their families. I needed that personal face-to-face time with my loves. Though the digital presence of our precious ones wasn’t nearly as wonderful as in-person hugs, it was still refreshing to my lonely heart.

IN PERSON WITH JESUS?

Today we don’t have the privilege of running up to Jesus for a physical hug, or even falling on our knees to worship in his physical presence. But, God assures us in Deuteronomy 31:6, we can be strong because He never leaves us. He explained to his disciples about the all-important Gift he would leave when he went back to Heaven–the Holy Spirit of God would dwell within us here on Earth. (Acts 1)

JACOBNEED FOR TIMEOUT WITH GOD

In Genesis 32, there is a most intriguing scripture passage about Jacob. If you remember Jacob, he was a conniver, always seeking to make himself top-dog, so to speak. He even cheated his brother out of his inheritance through his lies and deceit. Well, God placed dear Jacob in a situation–a situation where Jacob was alone, where God finally had his full attention. In verses 21-32, Jacob wrestles with “someone” all through the night.

With whom did Jacob wrestle? In verse 28, the wrestling man tells Jacob, “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” Then in verse 30, Jacob names the place where this occurred, Peniel (which means “face of God”). In his own words, Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” God knew he had to have a face-to-face meeting with his boy Jacob in order to get his life turned around.

BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?

So how does this work in my life? In yours? We know Holy Spirit is available to us if we believe what Jesus said. All we have to do is ask for him to come into our lives. We know God has endowed His word with truths to direct our paths. Holy Spirit, one of the three persons of the Trinity of God, enlightens our minds as we study the inspired words. And … to “FaceTime” with Jesus, you need only pray and listen as you study His Word. Even if your only known words are, “Help!” God hears, draws near, and is with you. In James 4:8, one of my favorite verses, we are consoled: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

I pray your day is blessed as you make time to spiritually draw near to God. We all need Him to give us His peace which passes all human understanding in these days of much striving and contention.

Sending love and hugs … from me to you.

Galatians 6:9 “Don’t be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

[https://www.givehim15.com – a valuable prayer resource]

Biblegateway.com (NIV)

Oh, to Know Him …

Think of someone you love with your whole heart– someone you want to spend time with, someone who loves you too. This is a relationship where you are known, even with your foibles and imperfections, yet loved deeply. That’s how God, the Creator of all the Universes, feels about you. Yes, you. And, yes, me. How do I know? “The Bible tells me so.”

In the book of Genesis, Jacob, the twin brother of Esau, was a guy with a troubling track record. He was a self-absorbed schemer and swindler. He stole his brother’s inheritance by tricking his father as he was dying. Jacob knew there was a Jehovah God, Yahweh. Yet, there was a distance between Jacob and God. No wonder with Jacob’s deceitful heart. He always referred to God as the father of Abraham and Isaac (Jacob’s father). We could describe his view of God as formal, not intimate. I would go further to say I doubt in his early years, he “knew” God at all.

One night Jacob had a vivid dream (Genesis 28). As a child, you may have sung “Jacob’s Ladder” retelling this biblical account. He dreamed of a ladder with angels climbing up and down from Heaven. Then, during the dream, the Lord spoke to Jacob and made a promise to him about his future inheritance and the blessings to be poured out on his descendants. Jacob awakened, knowing the Lord had visited him. Yet, even after this encounter, he had the audacity to say he wasn’t sure whether or not to make Yahweh his God. He leveraged this tenuous relationship by vowing he would make God his God, IF God blessed him. That sounds a little like what we call “foxhole prayers,” those prayers of desperation. “If you let me live, God, I’ll become a Christian.” Jacob obviously did not have a connection to his father’s God. I would add, it’s also good that God Almighty is a patient God with much mercy for his petulant children.

Two decades later, Jacob had a second encounter with God, which changed the dynamics of their relationship. This time God was so personal and powerful that Jacob referred to the place as Penuel, which means “face of God.” Now instead of seeing God as an impersonal ruler, Jacob saw an affectionate Father. The Hebrew word for face is paneh —  presence. We don’t see God’s face in a physical way, but the Scripture tells us again and again that we can live in His presence. Later Jacob finds himself alone with God, and God takes him on — they wrestle! I can’t even imagine. There is much more to the story here, but I will add that God wanted Jacob to acknowledge his selfish heart. God had some big plans for Jacob, but first Jacob had to yield. God wanted Jacob to stop being a selfish conniver, and become transformed by God’s love, wisdom, and grace.

If you have ever had a loving, transparent relationship with another human being, whether it was a spouse, parent, or maybe even a child, you know it is a treasure. I remember fondly how I enjoyed sitting across the small kitchen table with my dad when I was an “adult child.” We had a connection. I understood how much he loved me, and he knew how much I loved him. I wanted to spend time with him, face to face. I enjoyed the pleasure of his company. I yearned to be with him whenever I could, and I miss him now.

The Bible shows us how God made you for a “face-to-face” relationship with Him. Wouldn’t you rather know the pleasure of spending time in the presence of God instead of just knowing about Him? Yield your dreams to the One who made you, and understands you best. Seek Him. Take time to listen and talk to the One who loves you beyond measure and is waiting for you to turn your face to His. He awaits the pleasure of YOUR company.