Do You Know Your Real Name?

Gina Butz identity, loved 1 Comment

Do you know your real name?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

There is power in the names we’re given.

I’m told my parents originally planned to name me Cindy Joy. Then I showed up nearly a month late. They took one look at their overripe, bald baby girl, and thought, “Nope. Not a Cindy Joy. Let’s call her Gina Marie.” So here I am.

Names give definition, identity. They remind us who we are and whose we are. Yet there are moments in our stories, places author Dan Allender calls, “shalom shattered”- times when we lose our identities because of sin, lies, pain.

In those moments, we are renamed.

Sometimes, it’s other people who name us. Unwanted. Rejected. Outsider. Betrayed.

Sometimes, we name ourselves. Unknown. Powerless. Not enough. Lost.

We carry those names into every story in our lives.

They become the ways we define ourselves. When shalom shatters again, those names echo in our hearts, reinforcing the idea that those names really are us.

But the truth is, they aren’t. We have new names.

When we lived in Singapore, I was in a small group at church about listening prayer. One of the exercises we did in that group was to ask God how He sees us.

It was, to be honest, a weird exercise, but I am a good student who does her homework, so I asked Him, “How do you see me?”

The response I heard was, “Precious Lamb.”

Full disclosure? I was not thrilled initially, because what instantly came to mind was Precious Moments figurines, which are not my favorite thing that Christians have ever put out there. They rank up there with Testamints and Bibleman for me as far as the cheese factor goes. (the irony? I had one Precious Moments figurine growing up. It was a lamb. I can’t get away from this).

So given my reaction, I know this thought could not have originated from me. The more I sat with it, the more I realized this is how God sees me, and how I need to see myself.

To bring this truth home, soon after that time my brother sculpted this figure for me:

(The crazy part? I hadn’t shared this name with him. He just felt inspired to make it for me).

God knows our names.

In scripture, we see God literally shift the course of someone’s life by changing their names. Abram to Abraham. Jacob to Israel. Sarai to Sarah. Simon to Peter. Saul to Paul.

God calls us by name. He calls us Precious Lamb, Beloved Child, Chosen, Redeemed, Wanted, Known, Seen. He strips away those shattered places and heals them with the truth of who we really are.

For every broken place in our stories, where we claimed a label that says we are something less, God wants to rename us.

The names He gives us redeem, shift the course of our lives, alter how we see ourselves, and therefore how we relate to Him and others.

But to do that, we have to stake a claim to those new names again and again. Each day, we must choose to call ourselves by our new names, the names He gives us. We repeat them until they ring true.

When the old names echo and call us away from home, we tell ourselves who we really are. If others try to call us by those names, we shake our heads and turn back to our true selves. It is not easy, but it is possible.

Do you know your name? Of all the names we gather along the way, the only ones that matter are the ones He gives us. Call yourself by those names today.

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5 Reason to Be a Burden

Gina Butz relationships 1 Comment

5 reasons to be a burden

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, “I just hate to be a burden” or, “she doesn’t want to be a burden.” A friend once even told me she admires people who don’t want to be a burden to others.

I don’t.

When we say we don’t want to be a burden, there’s usually lies fueling it, lies rooted in our worth.

Those lies tell us that speaking needs places our worth on the table for examination. Am I worth the time, attention, and energy of others? Will they still want me if I appear weak, needy, or foolish?

Some of us respond to the lies by diminishing ourselves. Others of us (ahem, looking in the mirror), respond by determining that we will never leave the worthiness question for others to answer.

And yet, we should let others carry us.

Here’s why:

5 Reason to Be a Burden

  1.  It dispels the lies about our worth.

    When we choose to offer our needs to others, rather than stumbling on alone, we break the power of the voices that tell us it’s not ok. We declare ourselves human and worthy of space in the world. That’s a brave and beautiful thing.

  2. We find healing.

    Not only healing but rest, strength, grace, hope, and help. We need each other-that’s how God made us. I sometimes hear people express an idea that all they really need is God. But what God gives us, He often gives through others. The help we need comes from God, through others.

  3. We give others an opportunity to use their gifts

    when we ask them to carry our burdens. Withholding our needs from others robs them. Ministering to us might be the way God wants to use them today. Who are we to deny them that?

  4. Our humility invites others.

    Sometimes it seems we’re all wounded soldiers, triaging ourselves, insisting someone else needs more attention. But when one of us cries out for help, it frees the rest of us to cry as well. The enemy wants to keep us silently wounded. But we defy him and lead others to healing if we ask for it ourselves.

  5. Bottom line? It’s Biblical.

    Galatians 6:2, “Carry each others’ burdens, for in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? To love God and love others. When we offer and receive the weightiness of our burdens, we love.

“In their created limitations, Adam and Eve were held together in a bond of naked vulnerability . . . that is because in God’s design we do not manage our needs, we confess them. Intimacy demands hearing and telling the truth . . . [and it] recognizes that we will be inadequate to respond to the needs that are shared. We don’t mend each other’s brokenness, we just hold it tightly.”  Craig Barnes, Yearnings

In God’s design we do not manage our needs, we confess them.Twitter

We don’t manage needs, we share them. And when we do, it’s not anyone’s responsibility to fix us; we simply ask them to hold us. It requires vulnerability and humility-both challenging, both necessary.

So be a burden, today, if you need to be. Confess your need. Let someone carry you. This is how God made us. This is how we love and are loved.


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What God Doesn’t Need Us to Tell Him

Gina Butz anxiety, dependence on God, faith, prayer 2 Comments

What God Doesn't Need Us to Tell Him

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

Sitting in a time of silence one morning, I felt led to pray for our son. In the words that poured out, I sounded like I was informing God of our son’s situation. Like He didn’t know.

I do this sometimes. Talk to God about my life like He needs more information. Like if only He really knew what was going on, He would spring into action in a way He seems to not be.

Alongside this news briefing is a desire to get God to care as much about the situation as I do.

As if He doesn’t.

I beg God to love my kids as much as I do. Care about this crisis in my life as much as I do. As though He’s indifferent.

Why do we do this? Why do we pray this way? God is not a sleeping giant we must rouse to compassion and action on our behalf. He doesn’t come help the ones who scream the loudest and seem the neediest.

God already knows

He is able to do more than we ask or imagine. We are engraved on the palm of his hands. Nothing escapes Him. He’s got this. He’s got us.

Even the care we feel about our part of the world pales in comparison to how He loves it. He IS love. I can’t say that about myself, even toward those who most have my heart. He aches for what we love, more than we ever could.

May that perspective fuel our prayers.

Rather than screaming for God’s attention, may we sink into the awesome awareness that we already have it. Twitter The hairs on our head numbered. His thoughts of us more than the grains of sand on the shores of the world.

Every one of those thoughts fueled by love, goodness, compassion, grace, mercy. Fortified with wisdom, power, insight, sovereignty.

Then our prayers won’t be us waving our arms to be seen but raising them in praise and gratitude. Instead of wringing our hands, we open them to release these things we love and hold so tightly. Rather than pleading, our prayers will bring us to peace and perspective.

We join in with what He’s already doing for our people, the world. Step into the confidence that comes from knowing He is at work. Rejoice that our hearts are known, and already His plans are laid for us. He doesn’t need us to tell him anything. He just needs us to trust.


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For the Moments When We’re Not Ready

Gina Butz faith, parenting, transition 1 Comment

For the Moments When We're Not Ready

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

“I’ve been waiting for this moment and now it’s here and I’m not ready.”

This is what my daughter said to me the night we sat in our car on a dark street, waiting for another soccer family to pick her up and take her away for a weekend tournament.

The weeks ahead of that one moment were marked with anxiety, not knowing the family well, wondering how she would do without me.

So often life feels like that. Moments we knew were inevitable, but we just aren’t ready for them.

I Wasn’t Ready Either

Back then, I wasn’t ready for our son to drive on his own (could I just always be in the back seat?). I wasn’t ready for colleges to send him invitations (back, vultures, back!). Our kids were gearing up to fly to South Africa (SOUTH AFRICA) without us on a mission trip for 6 weeks. Life just kept coming at us.

If I thought I felt unprepared then, how much more now, as those college invites DID come, and he just left? And his sister, who also just got her license, and a job, will follow him before we know it.

Life relentlessly marches on, and these moments that feel unbearable keep happening.

I Thought I Would Be Ready

When they were little, I thought I couldn’t wait for these moments. I couldn’t wait for them to do it on their own. I couldn’t wait for my time back. I couldn’t wait.

I’ve been waiting for this moment – the moment when our kids would grow up and stretch out, becoming independent, learning to live without us.

And now it’s here, and I’m not ready.

But just like I told her at that moment, He is with us.

He has brought us to this moment, and He will carry us through.

And just like I promised He would be with her in those moments when I wasn’t there, I have to tell myself the same truth – He will be with them when I am not.

When we said goodbye to our kids that day at the airport, our friend who accompanied them saw the fear in my eyes for my 14-year-old and gently said, “We’ve got her. She’ll be okay.” And she was.

We walked through that, and college applications, and teenage drivers, and we’ll get through this too.

He’s Always Ready

Sometimes we’re just not ready, but He is.

From that first day of kindergarten to the last day of the place you love.

The first scary step into a new dream, or the death of an old one.

The last goodbye.

The first anything.

He is more than enough for those moments we feel inadequate to face. Twitter

The next season that feels so huge, scary, undesirable even, you will get through.

So we do it scared. But we never do it alone.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you . . . for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43: 2, 3


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A Steady Diet of Truth

Gina Butz dependence on God, truth 2 Comments

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My daughter and I recently watched a few seasons of Survivor. It’s fascinating. I would be terrible on Survivor for so many reasons, one of which is that I get seriously hangry when I’m deprived of food. I would be useless in the challenges. Grumpy around camp. They would vote me off SO fast.

Nearly starving yourself in extreme conditions looks insane, but that’s the way many of us can live. I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about truth.

Why We Starve Ourselves

When we get busy, one of the first things that can get pushed out of our schedule is time with the truth.

We might have the best intentions to spend long periods of time soaking in scripture, parsing verses, digging deep into a word study. But then we stay up too late and sleep in and decide to skip the word that morning.

Or the responsibilities pile up and instead of feeding on truth, we take up the time with one more task. I know that’s been the case with me the last few weeks in the rush of graduating a child. It’s, “I’ll pray while I walk,” or, “I’ll listen to a spiritual podcast while I (cook, do laundry, etc).” But instead of praying my mind wanders, and instead of spiritual podcasts, youtube seems more entertaining.

For a while, we can get by that way. But if we do it for too long, we begin to be people who truth snack our way through life. We eat just enough to get by. When our souls feel a little weary, we throw them some scripture, a short devotional, a few minutes of prayer.

And so we starve.

But why?

Why do we just get by, when we could be gorging our souls on what they desperately need?

We can gorge ourselves on truth.

If there is one area of our lives where we can eat until we are stuffed, it’s on truth. Reading scripture. Spending time listening to God. Filling our minds with what is true, instead of listening to ourselves.

And we need food for our souls not only on a regular basis, but even more so in those difficult times. The times when our souls are strained, pushed to the limit, when more is asked of us.

When we are most tempted to get by is when we need to stop and gorge ourselves. Admit our human need for something greater to sustain us, and eat what is good. Feed on the bread of life. Drink the living water. The more we do, the better able we are to face the trials that come.

Feeding Ourselves Takes Time

In some seasons, I wish things were easier and I didn’t have to eat so much. I wish I didn’t feel so needy, or that it didn’t slow me down. But that’s when we need to get over ourselves and surrender.

In Isaiah 55, God invites us,”Come and eat. Buy wine and bread without cost. Feed on me.” Why would we say no to this invitation? There’s no reason for us to starve. We can always be going back and asking for more, finding that truth that satisfies our souls, that carries us through the day.

Our son is going to college this summer. We had to choose a meal plan-either pay through the nose for an all-access plan in the dorms, or do what they call, “Declining Balance.” In other words, put money on a card that they can use anywhere. This plan leans heavily on finding cheap ways to eat-think cereal and ramen. Seems like a sure fire way for our son to lose weight and/or contract scurvy from lack of vegetables.

Friends, we don’t have to choose. We have the all-access plan, and the glorious part is that it’s free. We don’t have to live on a declining balance. Stopping to eat does not slow us down-it fortifies us for the journey.

So friends, let’s eat.

“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55:2b

We Grieve and Then We Hope

Gina Butz grief, hope, transition 0 Comments

We Grieve and We Hope

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

“I don’t know if I’ll ever find what I have right now again. There’s just so much that’s unknown.”

That was our son’s deep cry as we talked one night. He’s slogging through the final weeks of his senior year of high school, staring down freshman year at one of the country’s largest universities. It’s a big transition.

His days are consumed with studying for AP tests, shifts at the local grocery store, graduation parties, and college prep. This chapter is closing in a flurry of activity, so much so that finding the emotional space to prepare for the next chapter is difficult. He despairs in the loss, and fears for the future.

We all come to places of transition where the temptation is to despair or fear. Instead, we can choose to grieve and hope. Read the rest of the story today at SheLoves magazine. 


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When Grief Surprises You

Gina Butz grief, transition 0 Comments

When Grief Surprises You

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

I’m in a season of grief right now. Oh, I’m not sad all the time. It surprises me, actually. It comes in waves, like the ocean.

I’ve become more acquainted with the ocean now that we live 45 minutes from it. I love walking along the beach at sunrise. The waves are so unpredictable. They surprise you sometimes, coming up further than you expect. You can’t predict them.

Sometimes the water stays far away. Other times it stretches out and touches your feet, even washing up to your ankles if you’re close enough.

That’s my experience of grief.

If only it were a linear, predictable process. Hard at first, and then gradually subsiding. Less and less over time, until you don’t feel it anymore. A clear timeline with a precise end date. You do your grieving and then you’re done, praise Jesus.

Instead, grief feels like a stranger popping out from behind doors at the most unexpected times.

When we walked onto the stage to stand with our son at graduation, I was surprisingly calm. Later, as one of his good friends stood there with her parents, I lost it.

When I have thought about graduation in the past weeks, I have felt more pride than sorrow. Then a week ago I read an email from friends overseas and the tears spilled over at how well they’re doing.

His graduation party was all joy, then last week I folded one of his never-to-be-worn-again uniform shirts and I broke down.

That’s the thing with grief-it’s all right there, but we can’t control or predict it.

I’m often frustrated by this unpredictable guest. Probably because it reminds me that I am not always doing as well as I would like (or like others) to think. It keeps me vulnerable, never knowing when a wave of grief might catch me off guard, when I might start crying about some random person’s life, when it’s really just touching my own.

But I’ve been learning these last few years that grief is a necessary companion. In fact, it is a doorway to wholeheartedness.

I know that part of the reason my grief comes out sideways is that I don’t want to deal with it. It’s easier to stay focused on my to do list, buying dorm essentials and harping on him to finish those thank you notes (I swear, he’s working on them), than to let the waves crash so hard I lose my footing.

But losing our footing in grief is what we must do sometimes.Twitter More and more I am learning to stop and walk straight into the waves. To let myself dwell on what we are losing, and how much it hurts to lose. To say a proper goodbye to this beautiful season we have lived.

When I do, I find that those waves don’t drown-they heal.

And I’m learning that I cannot navigate the waves alone. It’s easier to weather waves of grief when there are people walking beside us, holding us up. They hold our hands and make us brave as we walk into the waves. We need those people who will life preservers, keeping us afloat while we to swim in the grief for a little while.

We can’t fight the waves. Instead, we can accept that they are a natural part of the journey. We can give space to our souls to process the grief when it comes. And we can invite others to hold space for us to feel all of it, so when the waves do come, we can swim.

Let the sorrow come and touch you. When we do that, we let ourselves be human. We live wholeheartedly. Let grief surprise.

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Permission to Make Mistakes

Gina Butz grace 2 Comments

Permission to make mistakes

Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash

A friend of mine called one afternoon, in tears. She messed up. No way around it, no sugar coating. She made a mistake. It left her feeling disqualified.

I resonate with the feeling. I’m an Enneagram 3-failure is my kryptonite. The accompanying shame is my greatest fear. That’s the kicker, right? The shame. The sucker punch in your gut that you can’t shake. That feeling not just that we did something wrong, but that there’s something wrong with us. 

Mistakes happen. We all know that. We all make them. But there’s this pervasive sense that we shouldn’t.

If only we had planned better, worked harder, been smarter, caught ourselves sooner, it wouldn’t have happened. Mistakes feel like an indictment.

Lies, all lies.

We are too hard on ourselves

Gosh, I wish we could let ourselves make more mistakes. I wish I could let myself make more mistakes. Later that afternoon I texted my husband about a decision I made that resulted in us missing a deadline, and I told him, “now I’m questioning all my life choices.”

It was a $20 mistake.

His response, “So you’re questioning all your life choices over $20?”

Yes! Yes, I am. Let me have this! It feels proportionate!

But it’s not. I’ve said it before, and I will say it until my dying breath-we are too hard on ourselves. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else is. What feels disqualifying is just evidence of being human. It’s an opportunity to brush ourselves off, laugh, keep going, and maybe learn something in the process (like pay closer attention to deadlines).

When my friend called that day, she said, “It feels like grace has run out for me.” (One of those, “I know it’s not true, but right now it feels true,” statements).

I get it. That $20 mistake came on the heels of a much larger, much more life-changing mistake we made a few weeks prior regarding our son’s housing for college that stung. Hard. We’re understandably a little gun shy. It feels like grace could run out any minute.

But it won’t. It doesn’t. Not for us. Not for her either. Cause grace doesn’t run out. (say it again, this time with feeling!)

Grace. Doesn’t. Run. Out.

Mistakes don’t shut the door to grace-they open it. Twitter They are an invitation to others to come alongside us and speak the kindness and gentleness we need. It’s easy to believe that people stick around because we’re doing it right. Every time we fail, we give others the chance to prove that those who really love us stick around regardless.

Look to The Source

Oh sure, the reality is some won’t. From some people, grace may run dry. But (and I say this with great love for all the people) people are not a reliable source of anything.

A source, yes, but not THE source. And those who can’t offer grace usually don’t because they struggle to receive it for themselves. People can’t give what they don’t have. So while we may hope for grace from others, we can always rely on the Source.

The Source of grace never runs dry. God is overflowing with unmerited, never-ending grace.

So let mistakes be a reminder that our souls are thirsty, and the well is never empty. Let them lead us to admit that we’re human, limited, fallible, weak, and needy. Failure humbles us and causes us (hopefully) to reach out for just a little more grace.

Be a grace giver

And friends, we need to grab that grace. Not only for ourselves but for others. The more we give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to be human, to stumble and fall and get back up, the more we let the people around us do it too.

Then we end up living in a world where we’re all less afraid. We take risks because failure isn’t fatal, just humbling. When we learn to live with mistakes, we become the grace givers. And the world needs more grace givers.

So where did you fail today? How will you give yourself permission to make some mistakes? There’s more grace for you. There’s more grace for all of us.


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Why I Love Parenting Teenagers

Gina Butz parenting, relationships 2 Comments

Why I love parenting teenagers

photo by Trinity Kubassek

“Just wait until they’re teenagers.”

This is the phrase older parents throw out to younger ones when our kids are little.

As if it’s not enough trying to figure out how to sleep through the night, let alone do the dishes or laundry, now you have this forecast of impending doom. Fabulous.

It’s like when you start a new exercise program and people say, “Oh, just wait until you get to week 5. Week 5 will kill you!” Now I don’t want to get to week 5.

I used to imagine that our sweet, enjoyable children would turn into zombies when they became teenagers. All we had invested in them would be wiped clean. Despite our best efforts, they would slide into the inevitable. I kept waiting for it to happen.

I waited. And I waited.

Friends, I would like to report that, contrary to these dire predictions, I really, really, really love being a parent of teenagers. Let me tell you why:

Why I love being a parent of teenagers
  1. They are independent

    The day we realized we could leave our kids at home alone felt like the clouds parted and the angels sang. Sure, there are phone calls like, “Hey-you told me to go to the dentist, but you didn’t leave me a car,” and “help! I left the cardboard under the pizza and now the top’s done but not the bottom!” (seriously, these things happened), but it’s all good. Not having to meet all their day to day needs means we have more energy to simply enjoy being with them. They’re learning to figure out life on their own, and we get a little bit of life outside of parenting back. Win-win.

  2. We have adultish conversations

    Gone are the days when I’m desperate for an adult conversation because I get to have them on a regular basis with these kids who suddenly have minds of their own. More and more, we get to engage in deeper topics with them-faith, politics, relationships. Bonus? While they can talk on this level, they’re still willing to listen to our viewpoints and generally believe them. One of my greatest joys? Our kids are versed in Enneagram, which is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It’s like they just showed up to my party.

  3. They challenge me

    While I love seeing them, our daughter, in particular, keep up with my snarkiness, that’s not the only reflection of my character I observe in them. Nothing like seeing your own faults in a mirror, right? Yet it’s a good check in my spirit to reflect on myself and what I’m modeling for them. But more than that, our kids are gaining wisdom of their own. One day, my husband walked into the kitchen and commented on the challenges of leadership. Our then 16-year-old replied, “If you’re leading, and everyone still likes you, you’re probably doing it wrong. ” Indeed. They drop these wisdom bombs on us from time to time.

  4. They still need their mama

    Despite all the independence and adulting that’s happening around here, they still come to us for advice, encouragement, and help, and I love it. Most mornings, our son’s first stop is on the couch next to me, content to just be. I’m still the go-to for problems our daughter encounters (cause she still thinks I’m smart. That may change. Fingers crossed it doesn’t). They’re walking that line between child and adult, and it’s such a blessing that they still want us to walk it with them.

  5. They are becoming their own people

    One day after we checked out at Walmart, our daughter immediately opened our newly purchased box of Quaker Oat Squares and started eating them, which is exactly what I had been thinking to do. “We’re literally the same person,” she commented. Yes, but no, in so many ways. She can’t understand my love for the spotlight. I am baffled by our son’s engineering mind. She has far surpassed my athletic ability (didn’t take much, but still). They struggle with different Achilles heels (after all, they are different types than me on the Enneagram!). More and more they know who they are and who they are not. I love seeing their uniqueness unfold in this season.

I won’t pretend that parenting teenagers isn’t hard. Some days it’s, “I’m not cut out for this, where’s the counseling degree I need? Calgon take me away!” kind of hard. I’m fully aware that for many people, this is a turbulent, heart-wrenching season. Trust me, we’ve had some rough patches too.

But my desire in writing this is to call us to hope. Dire predictions can slide into self-fulfilling prophesies if we do not hope for better. My point is that it’s possible to enjoy this season, especially if we’re on the hunt for the good in it.

So chin up, future parents of teens. It might just be better than you think.


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Learning To Be

Gina Butz Uncategorized 0 Comments

Learning to Be

Late November, I hit a wall.

A panic attack out of nowhere led me to spend a week in bed recuperating, watching Hallmark channel movies to the point where there was nothing else in my YouTube feed. (I know, they’re terrible, but everything works out in the end. It’s so comforting).

The attack forced me to examine my life and make the tough decision to drop some significant responsibilities in my life. The mere thought of letting something go brought all the crushing lies of the enemy, “People will be so disappointed. This is proof that you can’t hack it. They’ll finally realize you’re not as great as they thought.”

Those lies dissolved the second I made the decision to quit and focus on less. The decision gave my soul freedom to take a much-needed breath and exhale fully.

But in this new found space, I wondered, “What will I do now?”

Pondering this question one morning on a walk, I felt the Spirit whisper, “What if you didn’t do, Gina? Why don’t you just be with me? Could you do that? Could you just be with me, and enjoy me?”

God continues to speak to me about slowing down and just being. Read the rest of the story at the Mudroom Blog!


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