“When we are most turned outward, we are most true to the spirit of our Lord.” Chuck Poole

Jesus said unto him, “Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

I have been sitting in my cozy office this afternoon decompressing after a fast and furious couple of weeks. Fall is definitely in the air at long last, and we have just had two solid days of rain—blessed rain that has ended a several month drought here in Ridgeland. I am surrounded by photographs of family, and they chronicle decades of my journey. They make me smile, but it wouldn’t take much to send happy tears spilling down my cheeks. I guess I am having a moment of real clarity counting my blessings and realizing that in this crazy and chaotic and uncertain world, it is a wonderful thing to love and be loved, to enjoy relationships, and to share life with others.

Thanks be to our Lord that we are each one precious and loved by Him. Wherever you are at this very moment, remember you are incredibly loved! I wish I had these kinds of reality checks more often. They simplify a lot of the complexities and gibberish of modern life. Struggles are real and they are life-long. It is beyond wonderful when you realize occasionally that you really are being still and knowing that HE is God. He is in charge. We are not. Makes all the difference for this “slightly past” middle-aged girl who tends to fly by the seat of her pants most of the time.

About ten years ago I ran across a book, Jesus in Blue Jeans, and I probably read it through three times. I cannot believe I cannot find it this afternoon, but I have lots of books and I have moved several times, and like I said, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants. But before you judge me, I have to say, it is in my genes. My mother lived that way before me. But Jesus in Blue Jeans spoke of authenticity and everyday discipleship in a way that transformed my life. I suddenly did not want to live my life in separate compartments anymore. If God is God on Sunday morning in the middle of a reverent sacred worship service, He is still every bit God, the ever present Lord, on a Monday morning when nothing is going exactly the way I planned.

I think the best verse I ever ran across was Hebrews 13:5: “Never will I leave you: never will I forsake you.” I don’t always act like I believe this, but on this rainy afternoon after a season of challenges, I know it is true with every fiber of my being.

I love this issue. I know you are not surprised. I say that a lot! But I really do. Trey Long became so convicted that there was more to loving Jesus than just memorizing Scripture and studying his Bible. He had a major epiphany after one of his pastors challenged his Sunday School class to “take the pew to the pavement.” He did, and he did not do it half way. I can’t wait for you to read the story. I think the greatest summary of it all is in the statement he made at one point, “God doubled the double.” It is the loaves and fishes in modern life. After all, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is a God of abundance. Amen.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention Tara Dowden’s story on New Beginnings, an adoption agency in Tupelo. I recently attended their annual fundraiser dinner and was blown away by what they do. So many children from across the country and across the world have found loving forever families because of New Beginnings.

If you think about it, what is closer to God’s heart than adoption? After all, weren’t we all adopted into His family? And but for His love and big heart—where might we be?

Thankful—that is what I am today. I think you will catch the “thankful” bug as soon as you read this issue! Happy Thanksgiving. God is good, and He is good all the time. We can trust Him even in the middle of “iffy.” There is a lot of “iffy” in this world!