Category: <span>thoughts by Kathy Cheek</span>

I had already walked nearly a mile along the woods, across the creek, along a field and by the small lake when I looked up and noticed a teenage boy walking my direction. He was wearing a bright red t-shirt and jeans and when he was close enough I could read the words printed on the front. The top line said in big white letters:

God Forgives

Great! He is a Christian I thought to myself. As his next steps brought him even closer I could see what was printed under it in even bigger black letters:

But I Don’t

I could not believe my eyes. I was shocked!

We passed each other and I was already thinking of at least ten scenarios that would explain the depth of anger and bitterness that resulted in him wearing that bold proclamation.

Do people ask him what is the story behind the words on his t-shirt?

Who won’t he forgive?

Why won’t he forgive?

It would have started in a huge painful event of course…

My heart felt heavy thinking of his pain. My thoughts ran in all different directions considering what must have happened to him at a very young and tender age.

I am never going to know his story. I am never going to know who he won’t forgive. I am not going to know why it impacted him so strongly that he is declaring it on his t-shirt.

Remember the first line, he is right. God forgives. I think it is amazing that this young man put that on his t-shirt. God forgives.

I hope a time will come when the young man will choose to forgive. Maybe he will make a new t-shirt that says:

God Forgives

I Forgive

I hope he does. There is power and freedom in our forgiveness of others who have hurt us.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~ Matthew 18:21-22  

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

I read a devotion the other day on trusting God through the fog, the writer recounting a difficult drive down a foggy mountain road and trusting God to take her safely home.

I have not had that experience of driving down a foggy mountain road. And yet, recently…I created my own fog on a bright sunny day.

Nothing had changed. A blinding fog did not roll in and obscure my view. I just took my eyes off what God can do and let circumstances overwhelm me with doubt and fear. I was not a friend to myself. I was a saboteur of my own journey.

For a while I let a thick fog swirl around me and swallow up my hope and faith and pull me into a dark place where discouragement filled my heart.

We all have those days when praying, waiting, and working toward something are met with discouragement. We often find we derail our confidence in the Lord with our own weakness and wrong thinking because for a while we take our eyes off of Him and instead let a fog of doubt and worry surround us. The fog comes rolling in when I take my eyes off of the Lord.

It is a miserable place to be when we feel like we have lost our way and can’t find a clear solution.

There are multiple possibilities for our discouragement. Here are just a few:

  • We become impatient because we have already waited a very long time for answers.
  • We might convince ourselves we have asked for too much or too big and back down from our asking.
  • We don’t see any signs of change in our difficult situation and hopelessness leads to great frustration.
  • Our task looks too complicated to complete and we feel like giving up.

We will all go through discouragement when faced with the above type scenarios. But will we let discouragement rule our lives, or will we place our trust in God to work those things that we can’t comprehend? Will we remind ourselves how He has worked for our good in other difficult times?

When I realized that all the negativity I was experiencing was a product of my own doing and that my reasons for discouragement were based on feelings and emotions run amuck, the fog began to lift and clear thinking prevailed. I stood my ground with faith and trust and let the sun break through all the fog.

When my self-imposed fog lifted and I experienced the fresh air of hope and faith once more, I truly felt a wave of energy surge through my body, heart and soul. God’s indwelling spirit renewed me and I welcomed His faithfulness to me as His strength overcame my weakness and I felt strong and whole. The sky was blue again, the sun was shining and all fog had lifted away.

Isaiah 40:31But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Control. I hear this word too often in discussions as I sit in circles of chairs or sit around tables in Bible studies, and the other word I am hearing too often is perfection. Yet, from the same group, the same mouths, I hear these other words…anxiety, stress, fear, and exhaustion.

I don’t understand it. How can we ever think we have control? Why do we demand it and think we must have it? Why does it dominate our thinking when we absolutely do not control anything? Maybe we think we do—but we don’t. And if we think we do, it is only a matter of time until we find out, we certainly do not. Eventually a set of circumstances will occur in our lives that will have us throwing up our hands in helplessness and we will know only God can help us now.

Only God has control. He is a Sovereign God. He is perfection.

We can let go of what we have thought was control, and we can stop striving for unattainable perfection, and we can be free. When we let go and turn it all over to Him, we gain freedom in return. When we walk in freedom, which is a result of fully trusting Him—the anxiety and fear will not control us.

It is hard to live in freedom when we hold so tightly in our grip that which God wants us to release to Him. Why is it so hard to let go? God has a hold of it…far better than we do. Why not trust? Why not yield fully to Him?

Does all of that control bring anything besides control? Are we going to allow control to… control us?

Control, or freedom. We can’t have both, they will not co-exist.

Let’s choose freedom and fully trusting God and not ourselves.

Proverbs 3:5Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

I often refer to these verses because they are how I live my life. I have a devotion titled In God I Trust which is now in my book that talks about why Proverbs 3:5-6 are my life verses.

What does it mean to trust God with all your heart? According to the second part of verse five it means trusting in Him instead of ourselves. Do you think God knew we would instinctively try to handle everything on our own?

To trust Him is to take my questions about troubling circumstances and place my worries in His hands.

Choosing trust is to believe He is working in ways we cannot see and to understand His ways are higher than ours. (See Isaiah 55:8-9)

For me Choosing Trust has meant:

–   Trusting God’s plan for my life even though it included being raised in a home with an abusive father.
–  Trusting God through the death of a newborn baby who lived less than 48 hours.
–  Trusting God when both sisters died at an early age, one in a car crash with her husband on her birthday.

Trusting God is the choice I made instead of choosing anger and bitterness that a Sovereign God did not prevent any of these things from happening.

I am glad I chose trust because through it all I knew His love and comfort, His strength and healing.

Coming out of the abusive environment and starting a new life after high school, I experienced God’s love and healing and understood He had a plan and purpose for my life and I was not going to let holding on to pain and bitterness hold me back. I wanted His healing and freedom which He abundantly and freely gave.

After our baby died, the worst pain of my life, I could genuinely say there were moments and days I could feel God’s arms holding me and I knew a supernatural comfort that turned to healing.

After my sisters and brother-in-law died, I was once again reminded that our days are numbered by the Lord. I realized that while we are here on this earth we should live our best lives and I worked even harder to see my dream come true to have my book published. I saw God open doors to make a way and now the desire of my heart for my writing has come to pass.

A life of choosing trust is a life of trusting God with all your heart.

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Here is where I breathe You deep inside my heart,
Here is where You make me strong and make me more like You.
Here is where You pour Your love like a river over me,
Here is where my heart finds more of You.

Here is where I come to You, Lord,

With all that I am,

You come to me

With all You made me to be.

Where is Here?

The place…
The time…
Any place, any time of the day that I draw aside and spend time alone with the Lord, purposing to draw near to Him in close and intimate communion.

Here

Is where I am with Him and He is here with me.
He made us for this!
Let’s not miss out on the richness of drawing close to Him.

Oh, Father, I am glad I don’t have to look far or seek long to find You. I can look into a great big sky and always find You near. I can look into my heart and always know You’re here.

Jeremiah 29:13

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Psalm 27:8

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Acts 17:27-28

So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’

By Kathy Cheek

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

I want to be counted among those who intentionally draw near to Jesus—near to the One who saved us, loves us, and pours immeasurable grace and mercy into our lives; the One who leads and guides us, strengthens us, and never leaves us alone.

I remember others long before me who are known for drawing near:

I remember Mary, at the feet of Jesus.

I remember John, the beloved disciple, leaning on the chest of our Lord.

I remember David, the psalmist whose soul thirsted for God.

I remember Enoch, walking close beside Him—so close, in fact, that God just walked him on up to heaven, completely bypassing death.

The list could go on and on. I want my name to be included with those who have deeply desired intimate communion and fellowship with the Lord. Don’t you?

I want to draw near to the Lord who wakens me each morning and reminds me that this new day He has made is a day to be glad. And I am glad—deep-in-my-heart glad that I am His and He is mine. I am grateful that I have the privilege of walking in close relationship with Him.

Let’s live each day for Him and with Him and be counted near. There is no better place to be. 

Psalm 145:18The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

By Kathy Cheek

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 

Do we take God at His Word? This is an important question because for some people it means that we have to logically understand everything He says–and that is impossible. Does that mean we don’t take Him at His Word, or does it mean we engage our faith?

Yes, we must engage our faith to take God at His Word. God’s ways are higher than our ways and we will never understand everything He has written to us in our Bible. But we can believe what we don’t understand…by faith.

Faith is definitely required to take God at His Word and it begins the moment we exercise faith to receive Salvation and is integral in living out our new life in Christ.

It is also important that we read our Bible and know what God actually says in His Word and not just rely on teachers and preachers. We need to read our Bible and allow God to teach us. Not everyone is a studied theologian, but everyone can read Genesis through Revelation and ask God to teach them and increase their knowledge and wisdom.

Everyone can also benefit from the use of a concordance that is either in your Bible or buy one to use when you read the Bible. There are so many convenient and free online tools that can help with Bible study and we need to reap the benefits of the resources that are now online.

Why is this so important? We need to know what we believe and why we believe so that we can be grounded and rooted in our faith. We need to know God’s Word so that it can help us navigate our life.

We need to know God’s Word in order to benefit from the many promises He has given us.

His Word tells me if I believe on Him then I am saved: John 3:16, Romans 10:9

I will take Him at His Word.

His Word tells me once I am saved that I am His forever: John 10:27-30

I will take Him at His Word.

His Word tells me nothing can separate me from His love: Romans 8:38-39

I will take Him at His Word.

His Word says He has a plan for my life: Jeremiah 29:11

I will take Him at His Word. Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

By Kathy Cheek

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

I have traveled down many winding roads and couldn’t see what was ahead. There have been twists and turns I didn’t anticipate. There have also been dead ends I didn’t expect and forks in the road where I didn’t know which way to go. There have surprises and interruptions and changes that weren’t in any of my plans or on any of my lists.

It is hard to let go of wanting to know where I am going, when I will get there, and what exactly I will do when I reach my destination.  Following God does not mean we have all these answers before we begin a journey. Instead of answers, we need a strong faith that trusts Him.

I have traveled long enough to know our journey through life is often down an uncertain road. But it is a road not traveled alone. Even when we don’t know where we are going, God’s sovereign direction is taking place in our lives. And if that life is fully surrendered to the Lord, we will experience the peace in knowing He is in control and that He knows where the road leads.

As you follow Him, He will take you on a journey you never would have imagined and it probably won’t look like the journey you envisioned for yourself. We will never fully understand His mysterious ways and all the twists and turns in the paths we travel in relationship with the Lord. But I would rather travel the roads of life with Him than any other way.

Psalm 25:4-5

Show me Your ways, O LORD;  
Teach me Your paths.
 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,  
For You are the God of my salvation:   
On You I wait all the day.

By Kathy Cheek

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

On my walk yesterday when I arrived at the bridge I did what I always do.

I slow down. I stop. I lean over and peer through the side of the bridge on one side and say hello beautiful creek, it’s good to see you and watch the water below.

Then I cross over to the other side and say hey there creek, it’s good to see you this evening and watch it wind through the woods flowing the way a creek should.

I have this little talk with the creek because I remember the drought in 2011 when the creek was only a small trickle. I hope we never have a drought like that again.

Then I stood in the middle of the bridge and breathed in the beauty of the moment standing in the shade of the trees towering above. I whispered aloud oh this feels so good.

I had already seen four cottontails frolicking in an open field I love to call the meadow. I even encountered an armadillo which was a surprise. And then I enjoyed the moments on the bridge with a light breeze and sunlight streaming through the trees.

I continued my walk across the bridge. At the end of the bridge to the left in a small clearing in the woods are several benches. Two people were sitting on one of the benches. My first thought was, did they hear me talking to the creek? Did they see me stand in the middle of the bridge with my face toward heaven just breathing in the beauty of the day?

I shared this with my husband when I returned. Now he knows his wife of thirty four years talks to the creek. I told him, if that couple watched me and heard me then they know the lady who leans over the bridge and talks to the creek was enjoying life! Would they also know what she was really doing was enjoying the goodness of the Lord?

What about you? Are you enjoying the goodness of the Lord? 

Psalm 107:8-9 
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

By Kathy Cheek

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.Hebrews 12:15  

When I engage in conversation with people I don’t know very well, it usually does not take long to figure out who is holding onto bitterness in their life. This always saddens me because holding on to bitterness does so much damage to the person who cannot find a way to let go. Bitterness is like a thorn left in one’s flesh causing a deep untreated wound.

A hard and deep bitterness allowed to fester will grow a deep root whose tentacles will spread a poison to every aspect of one’s life. It will derail us. Stop us. And eventually, we will find ourselves going backwards.

Lingering bitterness will lead us to justify, rationalize, and reason that we have every right to feel this way until we even convince ourselves that we have made peace with living with this bitterness in our life.

This is a dangerous place to be. God does not give us permission to live a life rooted in bitterness. He warns us against this because He knows the damage it will do to our life, and to our testimony. It truly is God’s will for us to allow no place for bitterness in our lives. Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Simply put, there is nothing like bitterness to make a life bitter. But there is good news…

We can remove the thorn. It does not have to remain. We can let it go. We can remove the thorn and heal, and breathe the fresh air of a life free of bitterness.

Where there is bitterness

There is brokenness

Where healing should be

Can be

Will be

When the bitterness is gone

Psalm 147:3He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

I remember a difficult time when I was allowing a troubling circumstance in my life to heavily weigh me down. The flow of negative thoughts and worries surrounding the details of this situation were flooding through my mind almost constantly. I could feel it on my shoulders when I walked through the rooms of my house. I could hear it in the sighs that repeatedly escaped my lips. And I could do nothing to change the situation, I was helpless to make a single bit of difference, it was just that kind of circumstance.

I thought about my response to what was going on and realized I was making it worse by letting it trouble me this much. Instead of worrying and fretting, I needed to let it go and give it to God and free myself from the weight anxiety was pressing on me.

I knew to keep praying over this situation. I knew to trust God. When I made a fresh commitment to both of these, and reminded myself of some verses in the Bible that talk about giving our cares to the Lord, I began to feel that weight lift from my shoulders.

My attitude changed and the gray clouds of worry in my mind cleared away and in their place I could see blue skies and sunshine again. All that worry had become a dark cloud following me around, hovering over me, even glued to me on some days! Worry makes everything look dark.

But when I let it go and committed to trusting God to take care of this trial, my heart grew lighter, and then my steps grew lighter. That heavy weight was not sitting on my shoulders any longer. What a difference I experienced when I stopped allowing the worry to consume me by choosing to let it go. I gave this burden to the Lord, and He lifted it from my shoulders. Oh how freeing was that!

Are you casting your cares on the Lord? Are you letting Him lift your burden?

Matthew 11:28
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

1 Peter 5:6-7
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Have you ever heard someone say, “Once the storm passed and the trial was over, I could look back and see that God had been with me, after all.” This statement implies they did not see God all the way through, from beginning to end. When you find yourself face to face with a difficult trial, in those early moments as fear descends upon you, please know that God wants you to see Him now!

Let there be no doubt, God is with us in the midst of our fiery trials. He knows what is happening and walks with us through our circumstances from beginning to end, working what only He can do. He wants us to see Him at the beginning, not just after it is over and looking back and realizing that He indeed had been there all along. God is always there (Deuteronomy 31:6) never leaving us, never forsaking us.

Sometimes, we miss seeing Him at the beginning, because a crisis rapidly befalls us and we are swept away in a current of fear and overwhelming anxious thoughts. We are caught up in a storm that moves so quickly upon us – that we forget there is a Solid Rock we can cling to, and we find ourselves in the middle of chaos, trying to fix everything ourselves.

We go to Him as if our crisis caught Him unaware and now we worry the mess is too messy for Him to untangle. Did we forget He is an all-knowing God and He precisely and intricately knows all the details of our lives? His desire is that we see Him in the first moment a trial overtakes our lives, and from that first moment – know beyond a shadow of doubt, He is already there working things we cannot see.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to find comfort and strength in knowing He is our Rescuer, Deliverer, and our Refuge in life’s storms. Psalm 46:1 reminds us

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.”

God’s word tells us in Isaiah 41:10

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you, I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

These words assure us that He will be with us – whatever we face in our life. In the midst of the most fearful times that fall upon us, when we place our faith in His promises – we will see Him now

By Kathy Cheek
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From: First Breath of Morning: Where God Waits For You Every Day.

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
Ephesians 4:26-27

A friend was going through a difficult circumstance and I was always very careful about how I approached the sensitive subject with her. She still had a lot of anger and I was giving her space and room to work through it.

After many months had gone by I asked her if she was experiencing God’s nearness, His presence, His comfort helping her through the process of coping with what had happened.

She quickly said, “No, not at all.”

I was silent. I was silent because I was surprised.

That didn’t sound like how God is.

He is our God of comfort.
He is near.
He is with us.
He understands what we are going through.
He is our helper. 

I realize there are extreme circumstances when anger is where we live for a while and we can hardly even deal with God at that point. But this was not that kind of circumstance.

In her answer I still heard the anger. The kind of anger that is unhealthy. My friend already knew that and so I didn’t spend much time trying to remind her. I knew I risked offending her at this point and backed off and decided to approach her about it again at a later date.

Prolonged anger is completely different than initially experiencing anger and then finding a healthy way to deal with it. When we are hurt and angry we are extremely vulnerable to veering off in a direction that takes us away from God and not closer to Him for the help we so desperately need.

Anger is certain to hinder the nearness of God and the healing work He desires to do.

When we lay our hurt and anger at His feet and let it go, then something amazing happens. He moves us out of the place of anger and into a place of healing. The weight that anger was pressing on us is lifted and we will experience the nearness of God again. He never moved. Anger moves us away from Him.

The only way to manage anger is to let it go.

By Kathy Cheek
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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women

Far too often I hear variations of this statement: “I’ve tried everything I know to do, and nothing is working, so now I’ll give it to God (or now I just have to trust God).”

When bad news comes, we are presented with a choice. We can give it to God first, with a heart full of trust; or we can give it everything we have in our own strength first and eventually, after multiple failed efforts, give it to God.

This important choice to trust doesn’t mean everything suddenly turns to sunshine and roses.

Circumstances do not instantly resolve themselves and fall perfectly into place. That’s not how it works. Instead, we find that our choice to trust God will bring a presence of peace we didn’t have before. This is the kind of peace we read about in Isaiah 26:3:

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

When I follow the pattern of first instead of finally, I am comforted. I know God is in control, and trusting Him allows me to approach every difficulty or stress with a much calmer state of mind. When I fall into the pattern of finally instead of first, I ultimately regret that I didn’t give it to God in the first place.

When will we learn to take everything to God, which is what we need to do first instead of finally?

Let’s take our challenges to Him in prayer…    

“Lord, we give these situations to you; they are in your hands. You have the answers. We know you are with us, and we trust you with our life challenges. Please lead and guide us, and grant us wisdom. We know these circumstances are not ours to handle alone. Amen.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding. “

By Kathy Cheek
Used by Permission
From: First Breath of Morning: Where God Waits For You Every Day.

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Someone recently commented to me, and it is the same comment I have heard from others, that what I write makes them want to have a deeper walk with God. What I write makes them realize it is possible.

They thought it was complicated but it isn’t. It is as simple as opening your heart to it…constantly and consistently. It is not a big secret for just a select few. It is for everyone who calls Him LORD.
 
An open heart is a heart that welcomes Him in.

An open heart is a heart that makes time for Him.

A lady once told me in one sentence that she doesn’t have time for a quiet time in her schedule and in the next sentence she admitted that she gets up at 5:00 multiple mornings a week to run and train for marathons.

What are we making time for in our schedule?

It is easy to look at our schedules and find them jam packed and then we wonder why we don’t feel close to God.

I am not saying we shouldn’t get up at 5:00 in the morning and run.

I am saying that if we make time for running, then use that same kind of effort and dedication to also make time for God in a close and intimate way.

One of my favorite hymns, which I sadly haven’t heard in church in many years, but remains a favorite of mine is the beautiful song In the Garden.

This writer gets it. His words tell me he had a wide open heart and God filled it up with joy.

The heart that opens to the Lord is a heart He delights to fill.

Chorus from In the Garden, (C. Austin Miles 1912 

And He walks with me,
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

By Kathy Cheek
Used by Permission

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You can read her devotionals at: www.kathycheek.com

Comments: If you don’t see our response form, please go to https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/kathy-cheek_open-heart/

Learn more about knowing Jesus at: http://thoughts-about-god.com/four-laws/


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Thoughts by All thoughts by Kathy Cheek Thoughts by Women