I have spent some time this morning in worship and my hope is rising and my God is bigger than ever. I came to Christ humbly because of an explanation to a very special 5 year old , explaining why “we do not offend the homeless man in front of us in line at the grocery store because he is smelly. Jesus died for that man because He loves him just as much as He loves you and me”; and for the first time in my life it hit my heart that God could love the unworthy and that was me! I had such a hunger for His love and for that little spark of hope to grow that I searched His word and prayed for Him to show me it was real. I will never forget the first time I heard His voice, I was reading about the fruits of the Spirit and He revealed the change in my heart. It was very small and I had to read it several times but I was so excited that I began to cry. The realization of how far my heart had been from the truth and how wrong everything I thought truly was also made me realize how far I had to go. The struggle of that first year brought me through so many emotions and I wanted to quit many times but God has this gentle way of picking me up and His patience is unrivaled. The amount of times I had to say I was sorry is almost too embarrassing to mention but so many things were tangled up in my beliefs and in my head and true to His character His grace is sufficient. My hardest struggle has been from day one my lack of skills in what I can only describe as “Christian lady edict”. I have avoided every situation possible that involved me joining into polite “Christianize”, “bless her heart” conversations, and I still do. That is not to say I have not had some very gentle, sweet ladies that I have tried very hard to learn from, there have been many along the way that truly are gentle souls and I believe God has brought them into my life to teach me balance. God’s word is very clear about older women teaching the next generation how to live out their faith and I have seen that demonstrated very well and very badly; I’m sure I have been guilty of both! However the stories of each lady, young and old, are different for a reason and if I pay attention there is so much to be learned from each of them. “To whom much is given, much is required” the amount of mercy and grace given to me would be impossible for me to contain so why not give it away as easy as I received it. So again God has a purpose for me and a calling on my life that I have to share, that could be as simple as just loving someone who is different from me or trusting Him to catch me when I behave like a fish out of water at a ladies function. I can’t be the only one that has dealt with this or I just learn slower than most because you can put me in a room full of construction workers and I can talk and laugh all day but ladies terrify me. God is showing me that different is not less and the gifts and talents He has for me are special to me just like the ones He has for everyone else. God has been personal to me from the very beginning but His refusal to withhold love when I fail Him is a boundary I have pushed for years and His faithfulness is what has brought me to this point. I understand that we are just at the next step of untangling the lies in my head and regardless of how hard they are to let go of, His promises are true and we have walked together long enough that I have an entire arsenal of answered prayers to lean on. That reminds me of the best advice I have ever received “God is not worried about cleaning up the outside when He has so much work to do on the inside”; so again I need to get off the throne and let Him make the changes that will last forever. “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint” my God is ever faithful and He is still making me.