7 Days

Each day brings with it great possibility and great mystery. Each day is filled with Goodness and Mercy. The thickness of His Presence is felt in each moment.

I’ll spare you the recap of the past 130+ days, but will give you a small taste of the last 7.

Friday: Rehearsal Dinner For My Oldest Son. My left hand still bears 2 burn marks from the fury of cooking an epic Mexican Throwdown in honor of the beautiful couple. My son. His new bride. My family beautifully expanding as June 2016 brings a beautiful new granddaughter and a new daughter to the garden of my life. The dinner was sweetly kissed by the presence of a God who loves, pursues, and delights in us.

Saturday: Recover From Rehearsal Dinner. Time to emotionally commit to my Mother of the Groom Dress and learn words to song my son and daughter-in-law asked me to “sing” at their wedding. I visit my new baby granddaughter at Children’s CPCU, where she is fighting in the HLHS post-Norwood Procedure Eating Challenge. “Go Elsy!”.

Sunday: My Son’s Wedding Day. The tangible realization of how sacred and beautiful life is. The sweetness of family and friends. I would like to say I carried myself with grace and dignity, but the truth is: I broke wide open during the Mother/Son dance. People use the term ‘ugly cry’ so flippantly these days. I broke wide open. A breaking of gratitude for his very life and for the privilege of being able to love him so abundantly. Because of his life, I am deeper, more compassionate, more empathetic and more understanding.  He made me better.  Thank you, God.

Monday: “Recover” From Wedding. Put on my big girl pants and go to work like a reasonable, professional, godly woman.

Tuesday: Elsy’s Homecoming. 10:00am text from daughter with words like “car seat challenge…pulse ox machine…discharge happening…we’re coming home…are you available to head down soon?…we could fill up your car with a few things to bring home…” I responded in a perfectly reasonable fashion. More Goodness and Mercy.

Hours later (same day): Driving Home With Elsy on I-70 in Epic Rain Storm. While following Amanda and Jeremy home, their car breaks down at the Harlan Exit with my new granddaughter in the back seat, having survived open-heart surgery and a miraculous recovery. Oh the humanity! The almighty, towering injustice of it all! It’s safe to say my hysterical back-to-back-to-back 911 calls might some day be entertaining fodder. I wasn’t angry, exactly. My voice was calm. Like a furious fireball of calm, destroying everything in sight. When the officer finally showed up and asked ‘ma’am, are you with the hit-and-run or with the infant-on-oxygen?’, I gently replied, ‘the infant-on-oxygen, and I need her safely transferred to my car. Right now. Thank you so much.’ Way to shut down I-70, Elsy!

Wednesday: Recover From Driving Home With Elsy on I-70 and Help Elsy’s Amazing Parent’s Get Settled At Home. Holding my infant granddaughter at home felt as though I were being brought back to life, like a wilting plant being watered. I could see color seeping back into the world.

Thursday: Return Elsy to Hospital With Low Pulse Ox Saturation Numbers. This time I’m truly calm, because we are intimate with the God who is with us when we pass through the waters and walk through the fire. The phrase that is ‘You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have’ is no longer cliché.

Friday: Visit Elsy and Her Parents. At 6:30 am, I begin this day by returning to the familiarity of the CPCU, perched at Elsy’s side, whispering and declaring Psalm 59 over my precious, ladybug girl. Patiently waiting to kiss her pumpkin empanada lips again. Trusting the Healer to bring her through. Knowing He will.

A Letter to My Granddaughter

My dearest and most precious Elsy Rose,

You are my first. My very first grandchild. Your mama was my first of five children, and you are my first of many beautiful grandchildren.

I have already enjoyed dreams of your thick brown hair in my hands. Gathering it, brushing it, and containing it in handfuls of ponytails. Before I even knew you were a girl, I knew your thick, heavy brown hair.

Your arrival in June is a joyous addition to our family summer celebrations: Your Uncle Craig’s wedding is scheduled for the same day as your arrival.

A few weeks ago, your mom and dad found out you have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a severe congenital heart disease.  The left ventricle of your heart is not developed.

The options presented to them were: 1) terminate you 2) let you die shortly after birth, or 3) restore/replumb your heart through a series of 3 operations.

They are choosing option 3.  Life.  Your first surgery will be at 2-3 days old, your second at 3-6 months and your third at 2-3 years old.

We are also choosing option A.

Option A is for God to do a CREATIVE MIRACLE and develop your left ventricle while you are still growing in your mama. Once you are born, the amazing doctors will work at replumbing your heart to work without the left ventricle, but they cannot ‘create’ a ventricle.

Psalm 103 “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals ALL your diseases”

Psalm 139 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

My precious girl, your name means “God is Perfect”. He most certainly is.

I am busy preparing for your arrival. Praying night and day for the miraculous. Praying for your mama to have a healthy, peace-filled pregnancy as you continue to grow. Waiting to see your delicious brown hair.

I love you, My Elsy Rose.

Jubilee Gratitude

Next Sunday, August 30th, our church is throwing a party. A 50th Jubilee. To celebrate Faith Bible Chapel’s 50th, as an exercise in gratitude, I decided to reflect on the 50 people who influenced my life over the years. Quickly, I began to see how many of these people were actually teams, or groups, or families, because church community uniquely flows in numbers.

Since 1977, with a small break as I served on staff at a church in Longmont, I have belonged to the same ‘congregation’ of believers called Faith Bible Chapel:

con·gre·ga·tion/ˌkäNGɡrəˈɡāSH(ə)n (noun): 1. 
a group of people assembled for religious worship. 2. Parishioners, churchgoers, flock, faithful, followers, believers, communicants, laity, brethren, membership, throng, company, assemblage.

Staying in the same congregation for the majority of my life has been an amazing journey. It’s been sweet and messy. Always comforting and sometimes complicated. It has required the asking and extending of forgiveness, the giving and taking of grace, and the receiving of a priceless heritage. Just like family.

Above all, it has given me the richest and most important relationships of my life. Some are still with me, and I get to roll up my sleeves and work with them every single day. Some have graduated to heaven. Some are far away, but remain close to my heart.

Each and every one has touched my life. Urged me forward and upward. Inspired my walk with the Lord. Made an indelible mark on my spiritual journey.

To these and so many more, I say thank you:

  1. Pastor George and Cheryl Morrison – Thank you for your faithful, tireless, and genuine love every single day. I love you. 
  2. Pastor Bob and Carol Hooley – Thank you for your passion for the Word of God. It still urges me on.
  3. George and Dee Latham – Thank you for your hospitality and wide arms, willing to welcome others into your family.
  4. Dean and Patti Whalen; Gary and Linda McDaniel; Bob and Mary Strickland; Gordon and Julie Weathers – Thank you for showing up. You made all the difference.
  5. George DeGraffenried, Brad Pelsue, Dave Edwards, Mark Kersting and John Negron – Before iPads and Power Point, and before Planning Center, there was a group of young men who gave their all as ‘song leaders’. This girl was watching and learning, and is thankful for you.
  6. Vi Newcomb – Thank you for serving every single one of us.
  7. Mark and Mary Cooney – Thank you for laying it all down for us, even before you had children of your own. Thank you for displaying the same grace and beauty in the joys and losses of life.
  8. Dennis and Cindy Connor – Thank you for your sweet, big-hearted love. I stand in the long shadow of your legacy.
  9. Tom and LaVonne Gloyd – Thank you for loving us and leading us well…On the Wings of a Snow White Dove.
  10. Anthony and Suzette Romero – Thank you for loving me like a daughter.
  11. Marlene Teague – Thank you for showing me the possibility of leadership.
  12. Len Scrogan – Thank you for taking a young girl to the Student UN and for thrusting her in front of the General Assembly. You entrusted me with things too big for me, and I am grateful.
  13. My Fellow Bright Promisers – For the laughter, the rehearsals, the choreography, the singing in malls and churches. For the joy of knowing each and every one of you, I am thankful.
  14. Esther Negron – Thank you for the beauty and the friendship. Oh, and the music. Thank you for the music.
  15. Craig Schultz – You are not number 15. This is a timeline, so forgive me. Thank you for coming to Faith Bible Chapel from Redeemer Temple and meeting me. I love you.
  16. Natalie Wolf – For the miles in your car, for the laughter, for teaching me to drive a stick shift, and for the years. I am thankful.
  17. Jamie King – Thank you for the sweet days.
  18. Elling and Sherry Myklebust – Thank you for showing the Newlywed Class the possibilities.
  19. Jim and Sharon Hanon – For the sweet, young small group days. Thank you for launching it all, and inviting us into the adventure.
  20. Russ and Lana Frase – Thank you for moving here from Texas and making us your home.
  21. Roger and Leigh Gerard – Thank you for your lasting friendship to my parents. You have made a huge impact.
  22. Peter and Terry Trahan – For the sweet, young family years with you. For the hours in your home. I am so thankful.
  23. Bible College Graduating Class of 1989 (Frank and Patsy, Denes and Libby, Tom and Val) – Thankful for the deep wells we dug together..
  24. Rob and Iona Morrison – Thank you for your amazing display of faith, and for the generosity behind your great big smiles.
  25. FBC Northers – Thank you for a great season of planting.
  26. The Strait Family – For my dear Helen. For her sweet family. I am thankful.
  27. Life Group – As Hillary Clinton said, ‘It takes a village.’ Together, we created the most awesome village ever.
  28. Tribe of Women – For those who shared in the baby years, the little years, the teen years, and now, the adult children years. I am thankful.
  29. Cheryl, Linda and Helen – I have mentioned each of these women separately, but as many of you know, they will always share a space as a trio in our hearts.
  30. Brenda Wygant – Thank you for the graceful days.
  31. Connie Bousselaire – Thank you for shining your light on others. Always.
  32. My Fellow International Singers – from the very first days of Elisha telling me (in Hebrew) to put down the American’s luggage at El Al, to the final days of watching my daughter dance, and all the days in between. I am thankful.
  33. Pastor John and Diana Hagee – Thank you for making my Israel-loving Mexican heart come alive! I love you.
  34. My Homeschool Families – Thank you for the near-Amish-denim-dress-wearing-bread-making, Abeka-book-ordering days. They were sweet.
  35. Tim and Donna Lovell – Thank you for loving deeply.
  36. The Sonshine Choir kids – Thank you for the years and years of sweet memories. I saved every single book I taught you.
  37. Stan and Kim Sinclair and the FBC Choir – For all the days in David’s Court. For all the alto and tenor parts. I am thankful.
  38. The Band: Sandy Ficca, Adam Rey, Mark Allen, Nathan Downey – not The Band that played ‘The Weight’, but the band that rocked ‘Lord You are Good’ so. many. times.
  39. Jude and Cindy DelHierro – Thank you for loving people like you do. For loving Denver. For bringing my childhood yeshiva back to life.
  40. Shannon Wexelberg – Thank you for the kindred sister years. And for never finding hats to fit us.
  41. The Hegarty Family – Thank you for the sweet days.
  42. Steve and Kelly Johnson – Thank you for the decades.
  43. Shawn and Laura Caldwell – thank you for the Pond days.
  44. Troy and Stephanie Kunau – thank you for the loyalty.
  45. A Capella Christmas Carolers – For the many, many, hours of rehearsals. For the Starbucks song. For the out of control laughter. For the spilled cottage cheese.
  46. My Return Team, including Chrysti, David and Jill – when I returned to FBC from LifeBridge, you were the sweetest welcome home.
  47. Ginn Tribe – Thank you for the dance classes!  Seriously.  We need to keep dancing.
  48. My Current Team, including Rod, Jeff, Jason, Cindee, Heather, Zach, Tony, Terry, John, Shelli, and Joe – thank you for every single day.
  49. FCA Teachers – thank you for your friendship. Thank you for teaching my children.
  50. Marcia Boom – thank you for your beautiful alto voice.

Things You Will Never Hear Me Say

As I approach 48, I reviewed the past two years’ posts, and  I recognized  a very sincere and severe tone to my thoughts as I approached each milestone.

In honor of my 48th year,  please allow me to lighten up for a moment and share with you the list of ‘Things You Will Never Hear Me Say’, based on actual things I’ve heard people say.

Disclaimer:  if you have said these things, please know I love you and respect your personal opinions. 

1.  “That time I went skydiving…”.  …never.  just never.

2. “I forgot to eat today.”  …really?  I’ve had busy days, but ‘forgot’?  no.

3. “My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” – (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) …this one actually came my way via Pinterest.  for the record, my soul will never long for the secrets of the sea.  ever. 

4. “I’ll bring a kale salad to the potluck.” …what is kale, anyway?  no, really.  what is kale?

5. “I’m tired of Mexican food.” …how is this possible.  for real.  how is this even possible?  

6. “No Christmas music before Thanksgiving.”  …I don’t understand you people, but my prayers are with you, Mr. Ebenezer Grinch.   

7. “My groom and I went on a date tonight.”  …this isn’t actually said by women, but often said by men when going on a date with their ‘bride’.   I hear what you’re saying.   she’s your ‘wife’ now.

8. “Lets get sushi.”  …see number one.

9. “I’m sad vacation is over, but I am looking forward to clean eating again.”  …I just assumed everyone felt like ‘clean eating’ was a punishment from the fall.  my bad.    

10. “I hate getting old.”  …for good measure, I like the sound of 48.

Remembering Robin

_1380134099When Cyndi Grecco reprised the catchy Give us any chance, we’ll take it/Give us any rule, we’ll break it/We’re gonna make our dreams come true, it meant one thing:

Laverne & Shirley was over, and the fuzzy Boulder-dwelling alien was next.

To the young girl planted on the brown plaid 70s sofa, this was my Thursday night routine.  This Mork from Ork , however, was anything but routine.  He transported and transfixed me.  His absurd quickness.  His brave genius.  His vulnerability and kindness.  His outrageous wit and raw energy.

 He painted with new hues in the ‘laugh track’ sit com landscape I knew so well.

Yesterday we experienced a collective heartbreak as this beautiful creature was torn from our world.  My heartbreak was met by my children’s own personal connection to the man behind their childhood worlds of Jumanji, Aladdin and Hook.  Today, the news sunk further as we learned the details of the pain that tore him away.

It’s interesting how some might be tempted to think comic and artistic genius is born from hidden pain.  It is my experience that we are all broken and in pain.

All of us.

A Wounded Healer named Jesus came for the many, many faces of our brokenness, pain, and hidings.

Robin Williams was battling severe depression, which led to a hopelessness, which led to the tragic taking of his own life.

Like many of you, I have known seasons of sadness and heaviness.  A weariness of soul which felt as if my body was full of lead and the earth a magnet.  I suffered a season where I clung to the faithful words and wordless faith of a few close friends.  In the midst of the sadness, I was held together by the thick, adhesive grace of the Living God.  His very Presence pulled me together and held me in my heaviness.  As I was pulled down by the magnetic force, He was there.  With me.

If you are hiding in brokenness and pain, cry out to the One who is near.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed.  (Psalm 34:18 CEB)

If you know someone who is hiding in brokenness and pain, let them know you are near.

Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2 CEB)

Remember Robin by remembering one another.

O Holy Night

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, 
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. 
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. 
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, 
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! 
O night divine, the night when Christ was born; 
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! 

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, 
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. 
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming, 
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. 
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; 
In all our trials born to be our friend. 
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, 
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! 

Truly He taught us to love one another, 
His law is love and His gospel is peace. 
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. 
And in his name all oppression shall cease. 
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, 
With all our hearts we praise His holy name. 
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, 
His power and glory ever more proclaim! 
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

The Story of Jesus spills over every single line of this song.  Each year, I continue to be swept away by these words: ‘His law is love and His gospel is peace’…‘Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother’…‘in His name all oppression shall cease’…‘Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth’..‘Truly He taught us to love one another’…

This year a phrase not often sung is washing over me:

‘He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger’

My husband spent the night at the hospital with his newly-widowed mom, who was wrestling with a kidney stone; My brother-in-law’s precious mom needed emergency surgery yesterday for a tear in her stomach; Claire Davis’ mom is suffering a heart ache beyond description.

Christmas Eve.

Weakness.  Need.  Heartache.  Sickness.

He knows.

Beloved, if you are weary, weak and sick.  If you are wasted from sin and loss.  If you are oppressed and unloved – I give you the good news of this song!

His very Presence is available.  Breaking your chains.  Ending your oppression.  Giving worth to your soul.

 

The List

I thought about making a list of Christmas songs gone bad.  You know, the list that would include Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart’s ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ and Annie Lennox’s eerie ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’?  As it turns out, I’m not snarky enough to do that list justice.

This list, however, is just too good to not share.  Again.

My top ten timeless Christmas songs.  Enjoy!

1. ‘Winter Wonderland’ by Ray Charles.  3 minutes and 32 seconds worth of pure Christmas.  Tony Bennett also has a great big band version of this song, but there is something about the Wurlitzer electric, jazzy, Ray Charles thing that makes this untouchable.

2. ‘Someday at Christmas’ by Stevie Wonder.  As a little girl, my listening ritual included holding the album, and I can still remember singing to little Stevie’s image tucked inside a Christmas ornament.  You can add his ‘The Day that Love Began’ to the list of Christmas goodness.

3. The entire soundtrack to ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ by Vince Guaraldi.  Enough said.

4. ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ by the Carpenters.  I realize you can’t go wrong with Bing Crosby’s timeless version, but there is something sublime about Karen’s depth.  I’m also going to give a serious nod to her ‘Merry Christmas, Darling’.  Especially after the greeting cards have all been sent and the Christmas rush is through.

5. ‘Joy to the World/For Unto Us a Child is Born’ by Amy Grant.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Amy’s  ‘Home For Christmas’ Album.

6. ‘The Christmas Song’ by Nat King Cole.  Hands down.  Ok, every single Christmas song by Nat King Cole.  Including ‘Buon Natale’ and ‘The Happiest Christmas Tree’.

7.  ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong.  John Legend also brought it down on this one.  Art Garfunkel has another great one with the same title.  Different playlist.

8. ‘Sleigh Ride’ by Johnny Mathis.  And after you’re done listening to this, try Ella’s version.

9. ‘O Holy Night’ by Martina McBride.  Can’t get enough of this song, even Sara Groves’ unique spin.  Something about Martina’s version gets it right.

10. ‘White Christmas’.  Bing Crosby.

Did I miss one?

 

Gratitude

‘If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this universe, Who daily spreads a table in my sight, surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence.’

~ G.A. Johnston Ross

Before the Thursday feast, my church gathers on Wednesday evening to say Thanks.  Getting my family ready for our Thanksgiving Eve Communion Service doesn’t look like any other holiday.  I have no matching shirts to iron or colors to coordinate.  Just a text reading:  ‘Don’t forget Thanksgiving Eve Communion tonight.  I’ll save you a seat.’

No presents to wrap or baskets to prepare, yet it is my favorite gathering of the entire year.

There’s something about a simple assembly focused on genuine corporate Gratitude.  Souls joined together, around the Banquet Table of all Tables to say, ‘Thank you, God.’

It’s palpable.

Whether those gathered are living lives marked by Gratitude, or simply wrapping themselves momentarily in the garment of Gratitude, like a warm sweater, I appreciate the intention of the gathering.

Gratitude commands our attention.

Gratitude bestows respect.

Gratitude reveals our character.

Gratitude exposes outdated lies and misunderstandings.

Gratitude reminds us.

Gratitude prunes us.

Gratitude preserves moments of grace and joy.

My pear/cranberry crisp still needs to come together.  I still need to cube and dry the stale bread for my stuffing.  My tablecloth and napkins need to be ironed.

First, I will gather with others and turn off the voices of anxiety, judgment, doom, and worry.  I will lift my voice in Gratitude and say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord.  Our God and King.  His love endures forever.’

Neat and Tidy

‘Please excuse the mess, we are in the middle of life, and it’s been crazy around here..’

You know the feeling.  Stumbling over your words as you gather armfuls of misplaced and mismanaged items as an unexpected guest stands sheepishly in your home.  Gently tossing armfuls in the coat closet doesn’t quite take away the sting of the out-of-reach mess still hanging inside your peripheral vision.

We crave neat and tidy.

We admire neat and tidy homes.  We pin images of these mysterious homes.

I wouldn’t know, but I imagine keepers of such neat and tidy homes live with a comfortable sense of superiority over women like, well, me.  I get it.

What I don’t understand is how this ideal crept into the expectations of every corner of our personal lives.  Every moment of every day.

How did we get there?

Recently, I rescued three friends on three separate occasions, as they stumbled about in everyday conversation ‘excusing the mess’ in a corner of their lives.

One friend stood at my desk, shamed by the messy weight of an outburst with her husband.  I assured her I understood seasons of being steady one minute and weepy the next, unable to get ahold of myself.  I was acquainted with moments of hearing my voice slide into ugly hysteria, having very little to do with the issues at hand, but a product of deeper layers of disappointments.

One friend sat at book club, shamed by the messy exhaustion of a season-taking-too-long.  I assured her I felt the dull sadness, settling itself on my hopes like a thick fog while waiting for a break in the storm of a season dragging on too long.  I remember the untethered moments of feeling as if gravity had disappeared in the waiting.  I remember being tired.  

One friend stood at a farewell party, waiting for the woundedness of her life to come to a neat and tidy conclusion, so she could minister to others.  I assured her there is a Wounded Healer who’s very stripes are life-giving agents.  His very present compassion literally means ‘to suffer with’ others, and how awesome the ‘suffering with’ others that could be born from her own wounds.

I still crave neat and tidy, but what I crave even more are the moments where I wrap my arms around a friend with a messy corner, and create a sacred space where tears are free to slide.  A space outside the boundaries of self-protective pride.  A space free of subltle one-upmanship.

‘Please excuse the mess, we are in the middle of this thing called life, and it’s been crazy around here..’

The Blessing

My fourth child turned 16 on Sunday.

The celebrations included a dinner in Boulder with the immediate fam and significant others, an extended family home-cooked dinner, and multitudes of gifts and prizes.

Among these gifts, a car.

The highlight of our children’s 16th Birthdays have traditionally included a modest set of wheels to take them to and fro.  By modest, I mean modest.  Take it or leave it.

2 years ago, our son started a lawn business with his brother, and some of his earnings were added to the traditional car budget resulting in a few notches above the modest cars his siblings drive.  Or his mother, for that matter.

All to say, this car should have captured the prize for ‘best gift of his 16th Birthday’, or at least the icing on a beautiful weekend cake.

A letter of blessing from his grandfather who passed away in April took the top prize.

Zach only knew a kind, but ill grandfather who was home-bound by emphysema.  He doesn’t remember playing outside with his grandfather.  Or fishing.  Or hanging out at a baseball game.

The sickness held him long enough to write a blessing for each of his children and grandchildren.

I share it as an encouragement.  A picture of the power of words.  A reminder that even 16-year old boys know the weight of eternal words when they hear them.

A Grandfather’s Blessing

Zachary, I love you!

You are very special to me, and I am proud to be your grandfather, and am thankful for the privilege of being able to watch you grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually under the guidance and love of your parents, and under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

I bless you with total abounding health and strength of body and mind, and of spirit and soul, and that you will flourish and continue to grow strong and mighty, as a tree planted by the rivers of water.

I bless you with faith in Jesus, through whom all things are possible, if you only ask and believe, and with the faith to be able to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit when choosing the path of your future.

I bless you with wisdom and spiritual understanding, and a close walk with Jesus, and that He will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path, and that you will not stumble or falter on your way.

I bless you with spiritual strength and influence, and that you will be a light to the world and salt to the earth.

I bless you with the ability to speak positive words at all times, and in all circumstances and of all persons, for death and life are in the power of the tongue, and I bless you with the ability to forgive your enemies, and to bless those who curse you, for by doing these things you protect yourself and your family.

I bless you with leadership, that you will always be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

I bless you with an abounding love for this life and all of its experiences, trials and tribulations, no matter how difficult, and with an abounding joy in this life.

Have a great 16th Birthday.

Grandpa Schultz