Cottage on Hill, Manteo, NC

Our family vacationed this year at Cottage on Hill in Manteo, NC.  This is our take on the place!  The owners Mr. and Mrs. Bell were friendly and responsive to our needs not only in deciding to rent from them almost seven months ago but also the week we were there.  They live near the property and can help with anything that may arise during your stay.

Down a long dirt road you will travel until you reach the very end of the road, in which, the sign “Cottage On Hill” is located.  The cottage is positioned on a hill with steps leading up to the porch and front door.  The cottage has a deck in the back of the house leading out of the kitchen/eating area.  Each morning, I would either sit on the back deck, or travel down the private beach access path to watch the sunrise.

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The private path to the beach was like a secret garden with well-kept flowering bushes.

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They provided kayaks (one adult; one child, or small person).

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One of my spiritual awakenings came while kayaking the luminous path of the sun’s rays! I was travelling into the path of the sun! The sun on my face was invigorating!

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You can fish from your private beach, but remember to get a fishing license at Fishing Unlimited Tackle or Whale Bone Tackle in Nags Head, just a few minutes after you cross the bridge from Manteo into Nags Head.  The cost was 12.00, and you pay in cash.

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You can kayak over to a sand island, or bar within 5 minutes. The sunrise is worth getting up early for.  I would take my Bible study, coffee, and they provided chairs near the beach. I would sit and wait for the sun to rise.  It was truly a worshipful experience.

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One morning, I was so overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord, I had to write about it on another post. I hope you can visit the post called Brand New Day

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There was a master bedroom with a full bath downstairs.  This was helpful for my daughter and her husband who had recently had a baby.  They had access to the kitchen, a bathroom, and a quiet space for those middle of the night feedings.  The two bedrooms upstairs with a shared full bathroom between them was perfect for my husband and I, along with my other two daughters (twin beds in their room).  The outdoor shower on the front porch deck provided extra shower space during those moments everyone wanted to shower.


The town of Manteo is filled with charm and a family feel.

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Some spots we enjoyed were

Olde Towne Creamery

They had wonderful ice-cream, fudge, treats, and the best hot dog!  I ordered the hot dog with their slaw–divine! They have space inside to eat out of the heat, or shaded areas outside with comfortable seating.

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The shops and restaurants of Manteo

Just a few we enjoyed….(please click on store names to go to their websites)

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My Recycled Life is in the variety of artist’s shop Coastal Carolina Kaleidoscope

As you walk in and to the right you will find recycled boards with inspiring quotes and verses like the one below.  I purchased this one!  I had a difficult time selecting an item, because all the quotes seemed to speak to you–the verses had a universal theme.  With each board, I thought of someone.  All the items in the store were perfect gifts for that special someone or occasion!  I left this shop feeling warm, welcomed, and inspired.  The shop owner is free to talk about her work and a down to earth kind of gal!

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The Laughing Lollipop

This shop has the old time candy from your youth and fresh cotton candy! I purchased gummy bears, my personal favorite, and an old fashioned sugar cane root bear!

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His Shells

Ortega’z Southwestern Grill

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Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop

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They have many odds and ends shops, antique stores, and unique crafters displaying their treasures. In the pavilion area, they have a bike rack.

On Saturdays in Manteo, they have a farmer’s market that will blow you away!

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A favorite tradition is to go shopping at Tanger Outlet Mall.

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Another tradition is bucket grilling on the beach.  We use E June Street Access. For our favorite recipes go to this post called Bucket Grilling on the Beach

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We like to order our crab legs from Sugar Creek and family dine at home.

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They also have a restaurant with specials and discounts for early birds from 4:00 – 5:00

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We went to the lighthouse in Manteo, NC for our last night family pictures at sunset.  We missed the sunset by a few minutes, but the night was beautiful.  These were taken by using our cell phones!


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They may not be professional but the memory and time spent together springs forth when I look at these photos.

A day at the beach….

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Manteo has sidewalks for bike riding.  The owners provide bikes for the renters in a sturdy shed that is near the cottage.  You can also store your beach items in the shed.  They provide a grill for outdoor cooking.  There is a service station just up the road from the cottage if you need air in your tires.

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There are local grocery stores in Manteo, or you can ride into Nags Head for more options.

The greatest gift was having my first grand-daughter with us.

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What a blessing to see her parents so in love with her, and meeting her every need.  Of course, I was ready to jump in if needed…

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For more information about Cottage On Hill go to:


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Brand New Day

My favorite spot on vacation is early morning sunrise. Before the busy of the day, my soul and all my senses take in God’s glory, His creatures, and the faithfulness of the sun to rise. This morning I was able to visually see the moon and sun out at the same time. Birds sing, take flight, and dive for breakfast. Every insect is announcing the night has gone–brand new day! His glory shines forth until the luminous rays make a path all the way to the shore line-a guided path and promise that we are changed from glory to glory. A dog rushes to the water, stops, and stares at the same scene, and, even he is in awe of it all. God’s masterpiece.

Each of us comes to a place like this with our story–our work.  We can be intentional, or not. I chose to not only rest and play, but to also work. Reading FerVent, by Priscilla Shirer, has been right on schedule. I’m amazed, and, honestly, frustrated with the areas we neglect to pray for and acknowledge. Although my body was still, my spirit staggered about like the first steps in the morning after the alarm clock goes off for the third time.  I closed my eyes to pray as the heat from the sun covered me and a cool breeze found its way to refresh and add comfort. Clicking on my music the first song to play was Brand New Day by Van Morrison–Pandora’s choice. At first, my fingers were quick to switch to Big Daddy Weave or my Amazing Grace selections, but the words pulled me in, like the ocean’s gentle current. I was drawn into the presence of God as He spoke to my staggering soul.

When all the dark clouds roll away
And the sun begins to shine

I see my freedom from across the way

And it comes right in on time
Well it shines so bright and it gives so much light
And it comes from the sky above

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Makes me feel so free makes me feel like me (Be the you I’ve called you to be! No fear! No comparisons!)
And lights my life with love


And it seems like and it feels like
And it seems like yes it feels like
A brand new day, yeah
A brand new day oh (Deep breathe in His love, exhale the old; The new has come!)

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I was lost and double crossed
With my hands behind my back
I was longtime hurt and thrown in the dirt
Shoved out on the railroad track
I’ve been used, abused and so confused
And I had nowhere to run (This verse reminded me of my book–all the areas that the enemy tries to still your joy, uproot you from the presence and guidance of God’s love, and the battle we face each day.)

But I stood and looked
And my eyes got hooked
On that beautiful morning sun


And the sun shines down all on the ground
Yeah and the grass is oh so green

And my heart is still and I’ve got the will

And I don’t really feel so mean

Here it comes, here it comes
Oh here it comes right now

And it comes right in on time
Well it eases me and it pleases me
And it satisfies my mind


God sent a loving heart in the sky–literally wrote this in the sky for me a few months ago….I was reminded of this.

I walked up the path, up the stairs, and walked into the house where my family was still sleeping. I sat in my chair and closed my eyes–Lord, when I get up from this chair a brand new day will happen–I will be forever changed.

The song on video:

Brand New Day, Van Morrison


Jelly Toast

I grew up in an older home from infancy until about sixth grade.  My years there were filled with warm summer nights with box fans in the windows, crickets serenading me to sleep, and a pretty pink canopy bed, with pink shag carpet. My yard had large oak trees, and one tree was well suited for a tree house and rope swing.  We’d jump from the tree house ledge on the rope swing and fly through the air.  That was the closest I ever got to flying as a little girl, and it was pretty close.  My brother closest in age to me, loved to dare me to do things; and I aimed to please.  He dared me to fly on the first jump off the ledge, meaning, I would be at the highest elevation.  That day I flew high; however, with gravity, what goes up, must come down. Down I went. Hard. I landed on my feet, and I can still feel the sting. I impressed his friend that was visiting.  I can still see his eyes wide and mouth open.

I’d give a million dollars to have a picture of that tree house and our swing.

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My mom sent me this picture of our home. Much has changed. Trees have been taken down, businesses have popped up around what used to be my backyard, and they have modernized the home.  In fact, the home is a business. Looking at the front yard, my mind went back to a revival night.  We provided worship music, a message, and watermelon.  It was a night of adventure and mystery.  In the dark of the night, we worshiped and poured out love to our neighbors. Folks sat on blankets and sang along with the musical talent on the front porch. When the watermelon was passed around, as a child, I was thrilled. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted watermelon again quite like that night–sweet, filled with water, crisp, and smelled divine.

My family is away on vacation. I’m much older with a full life. I recently became a grandmother. Becoming a grandmother forces you to reflect.  I watch my oldest daughter with my grand-daughter; and I go back. Memories I’ve stored in the recesses of my mind spring forth like a pop-up book–taking you by surprise at the beauty and details. This side of the memory has more meaning. You close your eyes and imagine your grandchildren’s memories they will make with you.

Jelly toast.

Our kitchen had the largest table to fit the whole family for meals. My mom was an amazing cook. One afternoon, a friend was visiting, and she served coffee and jelly toast. I was sitting next to my mom across from the friend.  The window was open, and the toaster on the table.  She would toast the white bread, smother the softness with real butter, and then the grape jelly. Up to that point, I had not really experienced the process of jelly toast.  I guess it was the company, the breeze, the simplicity of the afternoon, but my mouth had never tasted such heaven. I loved the way she toasted the bread just enough to make it warm, but not crisp, or burnt. What was equally unusual was my mother’s change in the rules.  She was conservative.  You ate three balanced meals a day, no snacks in between except for fruit, and over eating was not encouraged.  I thank her for this.  I’m healthy today because of her wisdom and discipline. This time was different. She picked up on my experience of heaven and decided to serve my fantasy of jelly toast.

Like Oliver, I asked for “more”, and instead of turning me out, she served me.  I think I ate about four pieces of jelly toast that day.

On our vacation, we had breakfast together; we had jelly toast. Grape jelly.  Butter. Warm toast.  I told them my pop-up book memory, and my youngest smiled at me. “Grandma made me jelly toast, too.”  We reminisced together.

Life is much like jelly toast stories. We experience the daily grind–work, cleaning, disappointments, chores, going, and doing. The necessary prevails.  In fact, the necessary provides the structure to experience the jelly toast stories. Simple things you do out of love will be remembered and treasured for a life time. The next time you are doing the ordinary for someone extraordinary it matters. You are creating a beautiful pop-up book, in which, your love will be the thematic thread woven in the legacy of your family story.


jelly toast

My house is filled with a thousand dreams….

“I just pray that hope will go on living
In this house of a thousand dreams” Martina McBride

When I hear this song–I go back, smile, and the happy tears flow….


The Writings of Charles Spurgeon Lifted Us!

He did it again. My prayer devotional book, FerVent, by Priscilla Shirer has connected me to other believers who read my blog and with strangers during the course of the day.  Friday, while eating breakfast with my husband, my mom came over expressing her thoughts on the post about The Notebook.  My father and mother took the time to read the post and prayerfully consider my soul work.  Thank you.


With joy and a smile, she exclaimed that their daily devotional had a similar focus and added to my post.  Glory!  God connects us and affirms His message. Below is the beautiful devotional from the book Morning and Evening–the writings of Charles Spurgeon. Biblegateway also provides this devotional online.

“I am married unto you.”
Jeremiah 3:14

Christ Jesus is joined unto his people in marriage-union. In love he espoused his Church as a chaste virgin, long before she fell under the yoke of bondage. Full of burning affection he toiled, like Jacob for Rachel, until the whole of her purchase-money had been paid, and now, having sought her by his Spirit, and brought her to know and love him, he awaits the glorious hour when their mutual bliss shall be consummated at the marriage-supper of the Lamb. Not yet hath the glorious Bridegroom presented his betrothed, perfected and complete, before the Majesty of heaven; not yet hath she actually entered upon the enjoyment of her dignities as his wife and queen: she is as yet a wanderer in a world of woe, a dweller in the tents of Kedar; but she is even now the bride, the spouse of Jesus, dear to his heart, precious in his sight, written on his hands, and united with his person. On earth he exercises towards her all the affectionate offices of Husband. He makes rich provision for her wants, pays all her debts, allows her to assume his name, and to share in all his wealth. Nor will he ever act otherwise to her. The word divorce he will never mention, for “He hateth putting away.” Death must sever the conjugal tie between the most loving mortals, but it cannot divide the links of this immortal marriage. In heaven they marry not, but are as the angels of God; yet there is this one marvelous exception to the rule, for in Heaven Christ and his Church shall celebrate their joyous nuptials. This affinity as it is more lasting, so is it more near than earthly wedlock. Let the love of husband be never so pure and fervent, it is but a faint picture of the flame which burns in the heart of Jesus. Passing all human union is that mystical cleaving unto the Church, for which Christ left his Father, and became one flesh with her.  Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening



The Notebook: A great expression of God’s love for us

Strategy 4, Your Family.

By now you know I’m reading the book FerVent by Priscilla Shirer. The chapter on “Family” was familiar.  I have three beautiful daughters, and I’ve been married for 27 years.  Most books and Bible verses on marriage, I’ve read a thousand times, or heard lectures with similar themes and messages. I’ve been to multiple marriage retreats, and we’ve led marriage workshops.  I offer premarital counseling as a therapist.

I praise God that I never quite arrive, and my marriage is a constant work in progress.  Because of this, His Word is fresh and new, and I have amazing encounters with Him.

I will admit, I skimmed over the chapter.  I know that my marriage is supposed to be a living example to the world of the covenant relationship we have with Jesus.  My husband offers me his life in a covenant relationship; He protects and loves me as Christ loves His church.  I am his wife who accepts and honors this love–clinging to him and surrendering to a love that provides security and joy.

Lets be real.  We strive for this example, but all marriages fall short. Don’t hang out there. Remember we talked about not focusing on the weaknesses and circumstances, but to trust and believe in God’s promises and provisions–what HE CAN DO!

Last night our family watched The Notebook.  I’ve seen the movie multiple times–a classic love story.  As we all gathered in the dark room, you could hear sniffles, mild moaning, then sobbing.  One of  my daughters said, “I’ve cried a river over here.”  As their mom I talked about the joy in the movie–their love, their full life, and their passion. In their youth, because they have not experienced marriage, they could only see the sadness of her illness and the loss. There is no amount of talking that can fill your children with all your life experiences–it’s their future story with God.

This morning, in Bible Study, I closed my eyes after reading the “Family” chapter and reflecting on the movie.  I loved Allie’s unbridled joy when she was with Noah. Her joy was brazen and untamed. With him, she was free to explore her dreams, talents, and take risks. Noah pursued Allie, kept his promise to build their house, and never left her side. Their relationship was filled with arguments and questioning, but their love for each other never ceased.

The Holy Spirit washed over me and connected the last 12 hours.  I worshiped and praised His name!

My favorite scene (video) is posted after these few lines.  In order to view the YouTube video of the closing scene of the movie, you have to be on your computer, or physically click on the post to go to the blog website if you are on your cell phone.

In this scene, Allie is on her death bed with dementia, and Noah, her husband, is in the same assisted living center with his heart issues.  He breaks the rules to come visit with her after his return from the hospital. Although she has difficulty remembering him, she misses him while he is away, which may be the reason she recognizes him during this scene, and, she calls him by his name, “Noah”.

Noah (or Duke) begins the conversation.

“Hi sweetheart” (Jesus calls you His beloved)

“I was afraid you’d never come back to me.”

“I’ll always come back” (Jesus promises to “never leave us, nor forsake us.”)

“What’s going to happen when I can’t remember anything…What will I do?”

“I’ll be here.” (Our Savior is always near.  He is gentle and keeps His promises.)

“Do you think that our love can create miracles?”

“Yes I do…that’s what brings you back to me each time.” (Jesus pursues us even when we turn away from Him, forget, or live in fear.)

“Do you think that our love can take us away together?”

“I think our love can do anything we want it to.” (His love for you can produce miracles and joy unspeakable!)

“I love you….Good night.”

“I’ll be seeing you…”  (His Word promises that “we may weep for a night, but JOY comes in the morning!”  One day we will awaken in the arms of Jesus.  We will see Him face to face. )


Why did my girls weep when they have not experienced this type of love with a man? It’s because God has placed in all of us this canyon sized void that can only be filled by His love. Not even realizing “why” themselves, they are responding to love–God’s love.  His perfect love. Our earthly marriage will always pale in comparison to this perfect love, but what a joy and challenge to try to emulate this perfect love that will never cease.

If your marriage is in the worst state it’s ever been, you are single, your spouse has gone to be with the Lord, or maybe you’ve just experienced a divorce–please hear THE love story.

Jesus loves you more….

He loves you more than any person or pursuit.

He wakes you up each morning calling you His beloved, and His love for you creates miracles.  He is building a house for you right now–He promised.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

As for me, I have two goals after reading my Bible study, reflecting on some Christian friend’s comments about the movie, and my personal reflections….

Passionately accept and enjoy my first love–Jesus.

Cling to my husband with unbridled joy and trust.

A verse that spoke to me this morning.  I want this above all else…

Matthew 11:28-30

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

I pray you will take the time to worship with this beautiful song on video. This song explains and connects the message–wraps it up in a beautiful song.  You are His bride!

Beloved- Tenth Avenue North


Keep throwing sticks in the water

Imagine living in 848 BC. You have no modern conveniences, and you are working hard out in the heat of the day to build a home. In order to build this dwelling place, you had to borrow an ax to cut down trees, one-by-one, to provide safety and shelter.

In 2 Kings 6 the sons of the prophets and Elisha, a prophet, went to build a larger dwelling place. One of the men borrowed an ax, and, while diligently working, the cutting edge flew into the water. The man went to Elisha in a panic, crying out, “The ax was borrowed!”.

Several life applications to notice in the beginning of this story.

  • A movement forward and a risk was taken to leave their current station and seek an opportunity
  • They were working hard and doing good things
  • The man immediately went to Elisha when trouble hit

Are you following this pattern? It’s a mixed bag of thoughts and emotion. I read this story in God’s Word and in FerVent, by Priscilla Shirer.

Reality of our circumstances can blind us to the purpose and opportunity. I read this story and prayed for God to send me an Elisha. You are like me; I’m sure of it! It’s universal.  You move forward with hope, seeking, and risking, only to find yourself with your cutting edge thrown into the depths of chaos and confusion.

Did you notice I missed the whole point of the story?  It was not until I spoke with my mother, as she witnessed to me, and re-read my book, did I literally notice my ignorance! I have 24/7 access to an “Elisha”.


My prayer warriors, Tom and Louise

Let’s finish the story.

This desperate, confused, tired, hard-working man experienced a miracle.

Then the man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, the man of God cut a stick, threw it there, and made the iron float.

Then he said, “Pick it up.” So he reached out and took it.  2 Kings 6: 6-7

You can’t fathom this as a miracle unless you consider the historical context and the back story.  Although scripture does not give details of all the conversations and thoughts of the people, we can place ourselves there and imagine. This man could not run up to Lowe’s.  This was critical.  He had a vision–a dream–and his hard work, in the moment, was not paying off.

If you are here in your journey–a place of hard work with your cutting edge in the bottom of the river, seek God.

It’s that simple and refreshing.

Don’t stop working hard. Maybe God will call you to adjust, shift, or change your focus, but don’t stop because you feel defeated by someone or something.

Don’t stop believing in miracles and the intimate details of your life belonging to God, not man.

Don’t let the reality of your situation defeat you.

Listen to me.  Nothing–nothing!–is too far gone that your God cannot resurrect it.  Even your cutting edge. So go to Him to get it back.  Don’t try to regain it yourself. Don’t set your hopes on other people or circumstances to fuse it back into the fiber of your being.  Trust it into God’s care.  Only His miraculous work can make it bubble back up to the surface where it belongs.  And He is more than willing to do it. (Shirer, 2015, p. 34)

Focus on God’s Word and His leading.  This focus will cause you to move, shift, and possibly say, “no” to some patterns and life choices. For every “yes”, we also say “no”. Believe that God will provide not only for your physical needs, but also for your emotional needs and the needs of others.

My mom’s last words to me as I hung up to figure out parking in the city–

“Keep throwing sticks in the water.”  Good advice.





A Single Word Can Make Your Heart Open

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open 

Rachel Platten, Fight Song

My daughters love this song, and I have grown to appreciate the passion and message behind the lyrics.  I believe the song has a message of the simple but miraculous.  How can a single word make your heart open?

On Mother’s Day, my youngest daughter danced a beautiful lyrical dance for her grandparent’s Bible study class at church .  The song she danced to was Tell Your Heart To Beat Again by Danny Gokey.

We printed the lyrics for the class for better understanding of the message behind the song.  One particular lady at the end of class pointed to “a single word”.  Her heart was drawn to a single line….

Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again

The busy morning of teaching, sharing, and singing paused for me. I was standing in the midst of the busy, and Martha interrupted with, “Anna, I like this line.”  She pointed to the line with her finger, and then she spoke–“I don’t live there anymore.”  Whatever she was pondering about yesterday, she was claiming God’s grace and closing the door.

Her words opened my heart. Her sweet, gentle spirit invited me into her life, and, with her obedience, she touched my life for the better.

A few months later my mother shared that she had gone on to be with the Lord.  I  closed my eyes and remembered her gentle face and spirit telling me–“I don’t live there anymore.”  Her eternal hope of heaven had come.  All the hymns about heaven that we sang together, she was now experiencing them. She flew away, and when the roll was called up yonder, she was there. She loved singing the old hymns, and I loved watching her. She had such a sweet expression on her face.

Fast forward to July.

God reminded me of her word spoken. In a moment, I remembered her sweetness, and I thought of her.  I was in complete worship and prayer when the song Gentle Savior by David Phelps came on.

My past surrounds me like a house I can’t afford
But You say, “Come with me, don’t live there anymore”
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Let Your Spirit light my way
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Hold me close and keep me safe
Lead me on, gentle Savior
I determined in my heart for God to help me with a specific area to “not live there anymore”. That worshipful moment was filled with power, determination, and gentleness from my Savior.  Martha’s obedience to speak a word made a difference.
No.  It’s the Holy Spirit manifesting himself in our lives through the ordinary–the miracles.  It’s seeking to be present in the opportunity of difficulty and pain and to not allow the pain and frustration to consume God’s glory at work. It’s being obedient to seek the will of God and to lean into Him. It’s listening and connecting to others like Martha who willingly share their God story.
Our fight song resides in the threads of our tapestry-our God story. One thread in the hand of our Creator seems insignificant, but when He places the thread within your story and fits the pieces together, you will experience the miracle of each thread. The color, the texture, the timing, the moments there seems to be no progress, or weaving–all of it–important and resounds your story.
Ask Him to help you connect.
Live expectantly.
I will admit that when I hear a powerful song like the Fight Song, I have grand notions of taking on the world and my dreams.  God has big sized dreams for us, but there is more in the simplicity that echos your Fight Song than accomplishing big goals. Your job title, degrees, marathons, and trophies are admirable, but nothing compares to the glorious riches in knowing Christ Jesus, our Lord. Martha loves Jesus, and she shared that with others.
My parents live with us.  Last night as I was doing dishes from the very busy day, I glanced over to witness them in prayer.  From my kitchen, looking out through my bay window to their window of their apartment, I saw them engaged in conversation with Jesus
Another “single word”– a moment, or thread etched in my heart and woven into my tapestry.
What word is God conveying to you today?  How can you be used by God to speak a word into someone’s life?
Here are the songs from today’s post if you would like to worship:
Gentle Savior
Tell Your Heart to Beat Again
The story behind Tell Your Heart to Beat Again (talk about a MIRACLE!)  Please watch this video!  Worth it!