Category Archives: Faith Lived Dangerously

Contentment

 

I decided to do video a  series called the ABC’s of Contentment because I’ve noticed that over the years people want to pray for my physical healing. While that’s not a bad thing, I believe there’s more  people are often missing. My goal in doing this series is to show people the deeper kind of healing I’ve found through Jesus Christ. Each week, we’re going to talk about a different letter and a different verse as I share my life experiences about what I’ve learned about God through living with cerebral palsy. That means  26 promises of God’s goodness which means 26 scriptures. I will be posting the videos and the transcripts here on my blog. Please join my on the journey. Also, please tell your friends about my YouTube channel. I’m really trying to get myself out there. Thanks and God  Bless!

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D is for Displayed


D is for Displayed
John 9:3
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
NIV
One of the things I like about volunteering at the hospital is that I get to meet a lot of interesting people. The fact that I’m in a wheelchair starts many conversations. People want to know what it’s like to be in a wheelchair because now they must adjust to a new lifestyle and they just need someone to listen and relate to them. Sometimes I’ve inspired people to become volunteers at the hospital. It’s not uncommon for me to hang out in a room and talk to a patient for a while. One time I talked to a patient in rehab who was new to being paralyzed and was now going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. We talked for two hours. Instead of always trying to get rid of an illness or disability, (or whatever your hardship is) we should be asking, “How can I use this to glorify God, my Creator?” I don’t think my volunteer work would have the same impact on people if it wasn’t for my disability. Lord, help us to view our hardships as blessings from you. Show us how we can use them to minister to others. Amen!

C is for Contentment

C is for Contentment

Philippians 4:12-13

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

NIV

 


Hi everyone. Welcome to week three of the ABC’s of contentment. Today’s letter is C for contentment. This is a tough one! I battle this one daily. I especially battled it while I was dealing with my bone infection in 2016. The infection was in my right foot on my big toe. It affected my ability to walk. I couldn’t use my walker for a year and a half. It took two surgeries to remove the bacteria. I had to wait on people and be transferred everywhere. Thankfully, the bone infection is over now and I can get back to using my walker, but I’m still not using my walker as much as I used to. I’m glad people have a heart of compassion toward a person in a wheelchair. However, instead of praying for my physical healing, I’d much rather have people pray for my attitude; that I would be content in every situation, and shine for Jesus. How many times have I caught myself dwelling on the past? The days when my body was faster, etc. However, the Lord calls me not to do that, but instead to be content in every situation. Look at the story of Saul in the New Testament in Acts chapter 9. After he was blinded by the light on the road to Damascus, he became Paul, and was one of the most influential writers in the New Testament. It’s through hardship that real healing begins.
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B is for Blessing

B is for Blessings

James 1:12

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

NIV

 


Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me for my second video in the series, The ABC’s of Contentment. Today’s letter is B for blessings. I’m wearing a tiara because it goes with today’s verse. (Recite the verse).

I volunteer at my local hospital. Many times, I’ve heard people say, “Rachael, you’re such a blessing.” I appreciate that, and I reply and say, “Thank you. I love being here because it gives me a sense of fulfillment. People are always looking for ways to help a person with a disability. That’s fine, but I like showing people I can give back too.” People respond back with, “Thank you for what you do.” I reply, “My pleasure.” One time, a man who was in a wheelchair as a patient became a volunteer shortly after he got out of the hospital because I visited him.

A song I like by Laura Story is called “Blessings.” The chorus goes:

“What if your blessings come through raindrops?

What if your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?

What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”

Amen. If you’re interested in knowing the story behind the song by Laura Story, you can look it up. When going through hardships, we should ask, “What’s the blessing here? What’s God trying to teach me?” There’s always a purpose. The question is, are we willing to learn what it is? That’s it for week two. See you next week when we talk about how C is for Contentment. God Bless!

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A is for Amazing

Hi everyone. I’m Rachael and welcome to my YouTube channel. I decided to start a new series called the ABC’s of Contentment. I will be posting one video a week. One video for each letter of the alphabet. I’m doing it because over the years when I go out in public in my wheelchair, I’ve noticed many times that people want to pray for a miracle of physical healing. While that’s not a bad thing, I believe there’s more than one type of healing that people are missing. My goals in doing this are to talk to people about that deeper kind of spiritual healing that can only be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ and also to show them the many lessons I’ve learned about God by living daily with cerebral palsy. Another goal in doing this is to keep myself focused on God’s promises as I remember how good He’s been to me for 36 years. I plan to do this by sharing my life experiences and then tying them in with verses from the Bible. Please join me on the journey.

Today’s letter is A for Amazing.

Psalm 40:5

“O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things;
you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us.
No one can thwart you!
I want to declare them and talk about them,
but they are too numerous to recount!” (NET)

I’ve seen how God is amazing in many ways throughout my life. Take, for instance, my birth. My due date was not until April, but I was born two months premature. My mom had been very sick while she was pregnant with me, but she couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until she called my grandma that she knew what was happening. “You’re in labor,” grandma replied, “We need to get you to the hospital right away!” Once they got to the hospital, doctors performed emergency surgery and I was delivered by C-Section. However, when I came out, my skin was blue. I didn’t even cry. Something was wrong. Within 15 minutes, doctors were able to get no more than five breaths into me. Would I survive? Doctor’s weren’t sure. They tried everything medically possible including putting me on antibiotics. Within 24 hours, my body started responding to the antibiotics and doctors knew I would live!

While many people pray for a miracle of physical healing, I say, I am a miracle. My birth was so traumatic, I shouldn’t have even survived. I’m here today because of God’s Amazing Grace!

(Sing “Amazing Grace”.)

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Agree/Disagree; Memories of Ron Thompson

This blog is written in loving memory of Mr. Ron Thompson who was born on July 12, 1951 and went to heaven on November 1, 2018. He lived out the Awana acronym: Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. Look up 2 Timothy 2:15.  Mr. Thompson, I miss you already. See you in heaven.

I was a part of Varsity Awana at my church my junior and senior year of high school. Mr. Thompson was the guy who oversaw doing the lessons for counsel time. On the board, he would write what he called an agree/disagree statement. The statement would say something like this: “If a person isn’t growing in the Lord, it’s because they aren’t really saved.” He would read the statement, and then he would open the floor for discussion. We would have to make a case for whether we thought the statement was true or false. It was like we were in a court room and Mr. Thompson was the prosecutor. God was on trial.

As teenagers, he wanted us to think and be able to defend our faith. Conversations were lively. Moments of laughter with teenagers filled the room as we all went back and forth. It was less of a sermon and more open dialogue. In the end, he always agreed with us, but he wanted to see what we would say to an unbeliever. That made sense because Mr. Thompson grew up skeptical of religion, was a political science major and didn’t come to the Lord until later in life at age 21.

With an agree/disagree statement like the one above, we would debate things like: What if the person is a brand-new believer? How long should it take for faith to show?  How should we approach someone who is struggling with their faith in love?  He really made us think about the scriptures, and how we were living our lives. He wanted to make sure we were becoming true Christ followers who lived out the Awana prayer which states: “That all children and youth throughout the world come to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One of the greatest things I remember about Mr. Thompson is that when I was around him, I felt like he understood that it’s the little things in life that really matter.  When I was in high school, I had a friend who I was trying to bring to the Lord. I remember being in school one day and my friend had been thinking about God. She had some questions, and she asked an aide. We went to public school where people were not allowed to mention God on company time. The aide knew I was a Christian, so she turned to me and asked, “Rachael, you want to answer that?” The next time I saw Mr. Thompson at Awana, I told him what had happened and how I thought it was an accident that she asked me. He said, “The Holy Spirit is knocking on her heart. It was not an accident. He meant for you to be involved in it.”

He was very reassuring and such a great encourager. If I had questions or needed to talk, he was always there to listen. This was great because when something is really on my heart, I can talk for quite a while! Mr. Thompson always had time to listen to me. If I raised my hand in counsel time, he let me share my thoughts. He treated me like everyone else.

After I graduated high school, the college group met on Sunday mornings. I remember one Sunday morning when I arrived for the first service and I sat next to Mr. Thompson. At the end of the service we talked for a while, and he said, “Thanks for sharing in worship with me. I miss you in Awana.” When he said that it made me feel special. It let me know that he noticed my presence. He was glad to hear I was now serving in Awana. “That’s the purpose of Awana,” he replied. That was 18 years ago. Now that he’s in heaven, every Wednesday I picture him smiling as he sees me teaching at Awana. I can hear him cheering me on, “Go Rachael!”

It may seem insignificant, but people don’t realize that someone sitting at the end of the row next to me is a big deal. We live in a fast-paced, moving society. Since I can’t walk or run from one spot to another, or take the stairs in a building, while other people move around quickly, I’m often alone. Mr. Thompson was never in a hurry. Whenever he was around someone, he always enjoyed their company and made them feel valuable.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson, for the little things you did that impacted my life. I will never forget you.

 

 

 

 

The Fast Food Jesus

The last time I put up a new post on my blog, my friend Jessica pointed out to me that on blogs, paragraphs aren’t indented. That’s why most people who write blogs are able to get their material out so quickly. People don’t even notice paragraphs aren’t indented. I was shocked when I saw it! I was going by the rules I’d learned  in school, and never realized it! Jessica told me, “Think of it this way. When you go to a fast food restaurant, are you thinking, ‘What looks the prettiest?’ No, you’re thinking, ‘I just want to eat. I’m in a hurry. Just give me a burger and fries.’ A book  is like a fine restaurant where you sit down to eat.” She was trying to help me break my perfectionism a little bit and get more writing material out there. It made me laugh.

At the same time, it made me think. Many times, even as Christians, we are often quick to pray for a miracle such as the healing of a loved one who is sick. Don’t get me wrong; praying for healing isn’t a bad thing. The Bible talks about praying for healing in James 5:14. “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” However, it shouldn’t be the  focus of our Christian walk. The Bible says, “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:15.

My type of cerebral palsy is called Spastic Quadriplegia. Spasticity means muscle tightness and all four of my limbs are affected in some way, but the cerebral palsy is mostly in the legs. When I was six years old, my doctor told my parents about a surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. The doctor said, “There’s a good chance that this will help Rachael walk independently but there’s no guarantee.”The doctors did the surgery. I had started working in physical therapy when I was three years old. After the surgery, I continued working with the physical therapist to do everything I could to be able to walk independently, but it never happened.  If the surgery went the way doctors thought it would, I would be walking independently. However, God knew how the surgery was going to turn out, and He had a different plan for my life. If it was God’s will for me to walk without my walker, I’d be doing it by now.

Just like the Lord said to Moses in Exodus 4:11, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”

I’ll admit it’s hard sometimes, but even though I can’t walk like I’d like to, I have a lot to be thankful for. Even with my disability, I’m still able to serve Him by helping others.

One of my favorite spiritual mentors who I listen to on a daily basis is Joni Eareckson Tada. She was paralyzed from the waist down in a diving accident at the age of 17. She wrote a  pamphlet called “Where’s My Miracle?” In it she says,  “On a scale of one to ten, how often do you ask God to remove a painful situation from your life? On the same scale, how quick are you to tell people about the gospel, the real focus of Jesus’ coming? Remember, God saved you to tell others his good news—and your painful situation may be his best platform to showcase that.”

Amen!  I do believe God can heal someone physically if He believes that’s how they’re going to serve Him best. However, He is in control of all things. When Jesus was on earth, physical healing wasn’t His primary goal. His goal was to heal people spiritually and save them from themselves. In Mark 1:38, Jesus  replied,  “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Think about it; of those He healed, how many people came back to thank Him? Did those people want to learn about who He really was?  No. They just wanted a miracle worker. To this day, I still believe that’s true. When everything is fine, we tend not to lean on God. We don’t go to church, we don’t read our Bibles, and we don’t pray. However, when we have a hardship, suddenly we’re looking for answers and crying out to God. I believe the reason He allows people like me to have a hardship on a daily basis, is because He knows it will bring honor to His name.  Now more than ever, our world needs a deep spiritual healing the ability to walk won’t fix!

Another Quote from “Where’s My Miracle?”

I sometimes shudder to think of where I would be today if I had not broken my neck. I could not see at first why God would possibly allow it― how it could be His will―but I sure understand now. God has gotten so much more glory through my paralysis than through my health. And believe me, you’ll never know how rich that makes me feel. If God chooses to heal you in answer to your prayers, that’s great–I join you in praising the Lord for his mercy! But if he chooses not to heal you, thank him anyway. You can be sure he has his reasons.”

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me about you through my disability. As I approach the New Year, may I grow deeper in my understanding of who you are.  Help me pay more attention to the details about my relationship with you, and less attention to the details of other things. Help me to treat my relationship with you like a fine restaurant and not a fast food place.

Amen



I do not own rights to the video. I picked it because I like the quote about miracles. Watch it and you’ll see. It also has some good scriptures.

Works Cited

Costi Hinn. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://old.joniandfriends.org/radio/4-minute/costi-hinn/

Joni interviews Costi Hinn, Benny Hinn’s nephew. Hear why he left the faith healing industry.

“Unanswered Prayer: Where’s My Miracle?” Joni and Friends, store.joniandfriends.org/product/unanswered-prayer-wheres-my-miracle/?fbclid=IwAR3qyhSZly22lKlHWWpzcM8N_bcJpQiOnVE0ssW45cBHasOJCnVqGENIvqw.

Phantom306. (2011, July 19). Blessings by Laura Story. Retrieved December 30, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgKyGIWtxuU&feature=youtu.be

Refiner’s Fire: Getting Ready for Mom’s Birthday

December is my mom’s birthday month. The other day, Jessica and I worked on making her a birthday card. Whenever the day comes that it’s time to really put something together, it always takes a few practice runs for my brain to warm up. This allows the letters to come out looking good, and my brain to get the spacing of the words just right. Even though I have been practicing my handwriting, my brain is never ready to write a message on the first try. For the most part, my letters came out looking good. The one letter that gave me the most trouble was the letter “s”.

When Jessica was teaching me to write for the first time, we were trying to keep everything simple. With the letter “s” she would say, “Think of going curve to curve. That worked when I was first learning to write, but I’ve had many occasions to work on my handwriting since then. Now that we could pay more attention to detail, we were trying to work on making my letters more refined.

In order to help me perfect the letter “s”,  Jessica put coins on my paper, and told me to go in a circle to the left, and don’t stop until I get to the bottom. I did just that. Sometimes my “s”’s would come out looking like fives, sometimes “g”’s,  sometimes “j”’s; I came up with some interesting shapes.

Jessica got to my house very early in the morning, and it took me until after lunch to be ready to write the message. Even though I write my name at least twice a week at the hospital on a clipboard, and I also practice throughout the week at home, sometimes, when I sign a card my hand needs guidance to make sure letters are small enough to fit the whole message. When I really want to accomplish something like writing my name or a longer message, I really have to work at it. I’m always working on refining my writing; I was so excited when I did Mom’s birthday card. I wrote the entire message all by myself. The only thing Jessica did was give me some verbal cueing reminding me to space out my letters.

It reminded me of how in my Christian walk, the Lord is always working to refine my character, and make me more like Him in His image. Just when I think I know all the Bible verses on suffering, and I know how to have a good attitude with my disability, something happens that makes me realize the Lord still needs to work on that part of my character.

I looked up a few Bible verses on refinement and here’s what I found. My favorite one was 1 Peter 1 6-7, where it says, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Any piece of art takes great work and effort. Having a relationship with God is the same way. Especially here in America where we have all the modern conveniences and technology, it’s easy to trust God when everything is going well and life is comfortable. However, what happens when He throws a curve ball in our lives such as a loved one getting sick? Can you still say, “God is good?” or will you shake a fist at Him and curse Him?

We live in a society where many times people only want to hear certain parts of the Gospel. I believe God uses hard times in our lives to see who the true followers of Christ are. The Lord is testing us to see if we really have treasures stored in heaven, or earthly things that will fade away. As Malachi 3:2-5 says,” But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.”

Another good scripture that talks about the refiner’s fire is found in in Zechariah 13:9 where the Lord describes about what will happen to the inhabitants of Jersalum when a fountain is opened to the house of David on the day of His coming: “In the whole land,” declares the Lord,“two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Will you be part of the one-third of land that makes it through the fire? Right now, can you say,  “The Lord is my God?’ If it came time to give an account for how you lived your life, would He call you part of His people? Look at the story of Job. Satan tried to get him to curse God and he still praised Him.  In Job 1:21-22, He said, ‘The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”

If I wanted to, I could curse God because I have cerebral palsy, but then I’d be really miserable and hard to be around.  Instead, like Job, I choose to praise Him because He pulled me through my birth. I praise God because I’m high functioning and am able to help others. My disability allows me to share the gospel in a very different way. I’ve been teaching the Awana program at my church for 18 years. Many times, people have come to me and said, ‘Thank you for being my leader.” When I did my faith healing lesson last year, the fact that I shared life experiences from my wheelchair meant a lot to one girl at my table. I could share the gospel without my disability, but would it have the same impact on people? Would I focus and be able to memorize Bible verses so well? Probably not.

When I’m at the hospital, it’s not uncommon for me to be in a room for awhile. One time I talked to a patient in rehab who was new to being paralyzed and now he was going to be in a wheelchair the rest of his life. We talked for two hours. People talk to me because they can see I can relate to their hardship. The fact that I’m in my wheelchair often opens the door for deep and meaningful conversations that might not happen otherwise. When I feel the Lord nudging me, I’ve even prayed for some patients right there in the room when they’ve said it’s okay. They’ve really appreciated it. People often say, “Thanks for coming by.”

Next time you’re going through a trial, instead of trying to get rid of the pain, disappointment, etc, ask yourself, “How can I use this to glorify God, my Creator?“ How could this help advance Christ’s kingdom?”

Just like the Lord says in Isaiah 48:9-11: “For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely.  See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”

Dear Lord,

When I go through trials, help me to remember that it’s only to make me pure and holy, and bring honor to your name. You’re refining my character so I come out shining pure as gold. I look forward to the day when I’m as golden as I can be. The day when I get to heaven and you say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You are one of my people. Welcome home.” In the meantime, help me be like Job and say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”

Amen

I do not own any rights to the video. I love how it shows the process of making gold. Please watch until the very end.

Works Cited

Diaz, K. (2011, December 26). Refiners Fire, Brian Doerksen. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZtijkqQtz8

 

 

 

 

 

The Inside Story of the Jackrabbit and The Tortoise Book Dedication

My second book has been published! My friend Sarah March drew this for me. She wrote one verse for the hare and one for the tortoise. The verses say, “Point out the way I must travel. I’m all ears, all eyes before you.” Psalm 143:10. “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:32.

I dedicate this book to my friend and former caregiver, Sarah March, who inspired the idea for this story. Her words to me were, “Remember, the very same God who created the jackrabbit is the very same God who created the tortoise.Things don’t have to be fast.” Thank you, Sarah. I have never forgotten those words,They have been very meaningful to me as I’ve lived my life with cerebral palsy. Thank you for a fun and wonderful six years. Those six years were some of the best years of my life!

Also, I’d like to thank Jessica Frausto and Christina Danford for helping me edit the story and get it ready for the competition. Jessica, we sure had many laughs. It was fun listening to “Bob” on the computer. Christina, thank you for being an extra pair of eyes and catching the details. Special thanks to my caregiver Traci Gee, who takes pictures and documents special moments in my life.

Mom, thanks for teaching me to focus on what I can do rather than on what I can’t. You’ve been a great encourager for me in my dreams and in my writing. When I think of you, I think of Proverbs 31:18, where it says, “She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Thanks for taking care of me. I love our many adventures! You’re a special mother!

You can buy my book at one of these websites:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

https://www.penitpublications.com/product-page/the-inside-story-of-the-jack-rabbit-and-the-tortoise-by-rachael-benson

Training in Godliness: An Update about Osteoporosis

1 Timothy 4:8
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Well, I went to the doctor, and the results of my osteoporosis tests have been confirmed: my numbers are -2.3. Even though that’s technically considered osteoporosis, the doctor is still calling it osteopenia because I’m only 35 years old. My bones still have a few years to grow and reach their peak bone mass. The doctor doesn’t want to put me on medications for osteoporosis yet because she’s afraid of the long-term long side effects on my body.  Also, by the time I reach 40, she doesn’t want to run out of options if she feels I really need it in the future.

Besides trying to walk in my walker as much as I can, the doctor also emphasized that lifting weights and wearing weights on my hands is another good form of weight bearing exercise. This is me trying to lift weights and put my arms up over my head. I even started wearing weights when I work at the computer. I’ve often heard it said that the best way to get exercise in, is to do it throughout the day.

Just as it’s important for our  physical bodies to be fit, as Christians, it’s also important for our hearts and minds to be spiritually fit, and do a little weight bearing. If we want to grow in the Lord, and get to know Him intimately, it’s important to read God’s word daily, spend time in prayer, and be around other Christians on a regular basis. This will strengthen our spiritual muscles and give us a deeper understanding of who God is.

I understand how easy it is to get distracted in this fast-paced culture. Sometimes I really have to force myself to focus on the sermon in church and not think about the next article I’m going to write or what I’m going to do later. I often say that while my body can’t do nine things at a time, my brain can.

If I’m not careful, my spiritual muscles can easily weaken. When that happens, I start to worry more instead of trusting God for the outcome. Sometimes I get bitter about my disability, and that’s exactly what Satan wants. Some days I really have to quote Bible verses to myself, sing church songs I’ve learned, etc. When I give it to God, all my earthly concerns fade away and I can better focus on God’s goodness. It’s a constant battle, but one worth fighting. I want to get home to heaven and hear my savior say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You ran the race and finished strong.”

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the people you’ve put in my life  to help strengthen my physical muscles as well as my spiritual muscles. Help me to remember to strengthen my spiritual muscles, and have a thankful heart so I can be a strong witness, and serve you to the best of my ability.