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I have so much to say about reading! If I am an enthusiast about anything, it is the concept of teaching children to read well.

I will be writing more about the subject in upcoming blog posts, but for now, I would like to make the following recommendations.

Whatever reading program you choose, make sure it is phonics-based. Phonics gives your child decoding and word attack strategies. Basically, it teaches the sounds that each letter and letter-grouping make, enabling any child to sound out any word, which is the key to literacy.

Many years ago when I taught our first child how to read, I invested in what was at that time the “Cadillac” of reading programs. It was wonderful at the time, but since then I have learned that teaching a child to read should be fairly easy and can be inexpensive.

One program I have used for some of my own children and also for tutoring children in Kindergarten through high school is Alpha-Phonics by Samuel Blumenfeld.  It is simple to use, effective, and very reasonably priced. It is not juvenile in nature so it can be used with dignity at any age. An ideal thing about this program is that it can be used as a quick review – with any gaps in knowledge being found and learned along the way.

Regardless of which phonics program you choose, I hope you will spend focused time daily with your young reader, and that you will make it an enjoyable time. After 30 years of homeschooling, some of my favorite memories are of our daily 10-minute phonics lessons and, following that, being read to on the couch by our newest young reader.

More than that though, those long-ago phonics and reading days provided the tools our children needed for adult success. Without learning to read well, there would have been no reading (or crippled reading) in all the other subjects, and our children would have never reached their current level of success.

Teaching reading well was pretty painless (except for one of our children, but that’s another story). Those 10-minutes-a-day daily sessions paid off a hundredfold.

If you are shopping for readers, Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen are totally fun readers.  Ours have lost their covers from being read over and over. They are very simple with black and white illustrations which can be colored by your little artist.

And really, that’s it. Unless there are vision issues or certain learning disabilities, it should be that straight-forward and can be that inexpensive.

If you are teaching a young child to read, make it a pleasant time. Go over the short, daily lesson each and every school day. Not one hour once a week! Remember, daily short time periods over long periods of time is a key to success in reading!

If you have been teaching phonics, but your child does not seem to be learning, reach out for help. If you have annual assessments done for your homeschool, that certified teacher would be a good place to start.

*If you are experiencing trouble teaching your child to read and don’t know where else to turn, feel free to contact me by filling out the contact form here.

The post Teaching Reading: Straight-Forward and Inexpensive appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

Our seventh child was just four weeks old. We had moved a thousand miles from our home in the country where our kids had played happy and free. Now, we were living in a gated community in a big city.

My husband had been home with us the past year, but now his new job demanded more hours and more of his energy than our family was used to.

The lifestyle and cultural changes coupled with the disappointments that brought us here were palpable.

Settling in was just plain hard.

But heavier than that was my postpartum depression. It seemed to get worse with every baby and this time it was intense.

I felt like I was in a bubble and alone – even with all those kids surrounding me. I did the next thing outwardly but inside the depth of darkness threatened to overtake me.

One morning as I was making our bed, I heard in my spirit the words, “Look Up.” I stopped everything. I hadn’t just been praying or anything like that, I was just making the bed.

I reached for my Bible, which is what I do when I think the Lord has spoken to me, thumbed through my concordance and found it.

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28

In this particular passage, Luke is encouraging the faithful to look up when these troubles come. To look up in hope, faith, and prayer; and with confidence and cheerfulness. We can lift our heads with joy knowing that our redemption is near.

Knowing how much it can help with depression, my husband always encouraged me to go for walks. This new warmer climate helped too. Typically, the just-turned-three-year-old would push her own pink baby-doll stroller while I pushed the 1-1/2 year old and newborn in the double stroller.

This particular morning I looked up. It was cloudy that day, but after looking harder, I found it – the small patch of blue sky that reminded me that no matter how dark a day can seem, there is still light. There is still a blue sky above the clouds.

God is there. Whether we can see through the clouds and darkness or not does not change the Biblical truth that God is there.

That same day, my husband came home and told me that at lunch that day he had seen an elderly woman lead her husband to their seat in the restaurant. The poor man’s posture was permanently hunched over. It was impossible for him to look up to even see where he was going.

How awful that would be to lose the ability to look up.

Scripture tells us that “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 1 Corinthians 4:16b

We cannot guarantee that our bodies will not bend as we age, but we can know that we are being renewed inside every day. There is nothing that can stop us from looking up to the Lord. Some days we will need to strain to muster the faith to look up, but it will always be worth it. God will always be there for us.

I needed to remember this today. If you needed it too, remember that we can look up to him today with confidence, knowing that he loves us and cares for us.

Let’s lift our heads with joy, knowing that our redemption – salvation, freedom, recovery, deliverance, release – is drawing near.

The post Look Up appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

Teaching your children to read well is one of the best gifts you can give them in life. It is the core of all other subjects and a foundation for future success.

Do you know the best place to begin?

By reading aloud to your children daily and from a very young age.*

Our oldest daughter had been in kindergarten for just three months when I met with the school principal to remove her from school to homeschool her. Thirty years later, I still remember his parting advice – take her home and love her and read to her. That was easy, we had been doing that from the start.

We don’t just need to take my word for it or the school principal’s word for it. The studies have been done and the evidence is clear – reading to our children from a young age paves the way for life-long success.

According to the National Commission on Reading, “The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.” If you haven’t already instituted the habit of reading to your young children, make it a priority to do it now. It’s easy enough and only takes a few minutes a day.

According to another study, “By the age of 2, children who are read to regularly display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers.” Imagine that! By the age of just two! And again, in just a few minutes a day.

“The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.” (Reach Out and Read, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence, 2008) Do you want your child to be a life-long reader and learner? Here’s the key. Take the time now to sit on your couch and enjoy some good books together.

And how easy is it to read aloud to your young children? If you keep age-appropriate books by your favorite chair, then when you’re ready to sit down for a few minutes, you’re ready to read.

How long does it take to read a book like The Hungry Little Caterpillar by Eric Carle or Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans? Less than five minutes.

It does require setting aside our phone, or what otherwise might distract us. It can be way too easy to trade the significance of ensuring our child’s future success for our own trivial distractions.

It’s 35 years later for me now, and I attribute much of our adult kids’ success to just this. The humble beginning of introducing our children to books and reading aloud to them from a young age has created life-long learners who have nothing holding them back from anything they choose to do.

*If your children are too old to be impacted in this way by reading aloud to them, consider this statistic.

“Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months.” (Harris, Louis. An Assessment of the Impact of First Book’s Northeast Program. January 2003) Spending some quality time with your “older” child at the local library could spark all kinds of new interests, including tripling their interest in reading itself!

Also, children at any age enjoy having books from a higher reading level read aloud to them. Our children’s ages stretched from toddlers to teenagers when my husband read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series. Our regular read-aloud time was before bed, but sometimes we were so into it that we couldn’t wait until the next evening and would have to sit down and read more over lunch!

Many times when our children were growing up, I would hear one child reading aloud to another as I would walk by their bedrooms. These, too, are educational, memorable and bonding times as the children share the experience.

No other activity is more educational and bonding than reading aloud to our children, and it’s so easy. If you are not already in that daily habit, will you give it a try today?

The post Read Aloud to Your Children appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

My cherished Israel plate crashed to pieces on the floor. The cause was due to the unbridled exuberance of our normally responsible preteen oldest daughter and son.

That was a bad day.

My dear friend had brought the plate all the way from Israel for me.

The few things that were special to me were all broken now. That plate represented my last special “thing.” (Which brought about its own new-found freedom from “things,” but that’s not my point here.)

My point is that raising children comes with sacrifice.

Sacrifice, as I am using the word here, means “to give up something that is valuable to you in order to help another person.”

There is plenty of that in parenting and homeschooling.

Financial sacrifice is a big one for many of us – it certainly was for us.

Time is another sacrifice. What would you be doing with your time if you weren’t changing diapers or teaching composition?

On my knees praying one day, I asked God what I should do. I had five or six children at the time and was homeschooling, but it didn’t feel like enough. I was feeling like I wanted to go out into the world and make a “real” difference.

God, in his awesomeness, made something very clear to me that day. If I were to continue what I was doing, then when our children grew up, the just-one-person that I was would be multiplied by our children as they went into the world to make a difference.

And make a difference, they have. Each one. The difference I alone could have made has been multiplied over and over.

One of the things I wanted to be was a nurse. I now have a daughter who is a nurse practitioner and her husband is a nurse.

Our other children are writers, lawyers, Marines, and more. More than I could have ever been. I am not just talking about professions here, but influence.

As I observe our adult children from afar, I am grateful to God. Our children have surpassed me in many ways. The sheer generosity of some, the strength and courage of others, the integrity and grace adds up to more than my efforts to teach them. Their influence is bigger than they realize.

As moms, our emotional investment and sacrifice can be tremendous. The ups and downs of motherhood and homeschooling are of the type that other professions don’t encounter. We are shaping souls, and with that comes joy and pain like few others.

Our willingness to sacrifice – to give up something that is valuable to us in order to help another person – is something of beauty to God.

It is not just for our children either. These thirty years later, I can say that the sacrifices are for our good also. The women that we become as we loosen our grip on what is valuable to us in order to help another person, is sanctifying and God-pleasing.

Oh, and the Israel plate. It’s been replaced three times now.

Our oldest children – the two who originally broke my plate – each brought home a replacement plate from Israel. They were both there at different times and for different reasons. Then another son, who actually broke one of the replacements, brought back his replacement after a side trip to Israel during a deployment.

What are the sacrifices you are facing today? Can you trust God that your sacrifices will benefit your children and yourself, and are not in vain? 

The post Be Willing to Sacrifice appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Distraction is defined by Dictionary.com as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.”

If we’re not careful, distractions can creep into our lives and go unnoticed. No one decides to be distracted.

I first started thinking about this when I realized that our children were waiting for me to finish cooking or laundry or something so that they could be taught their school lessons. I remember a couple of our children waiting and asking, “Mommy, when can we do our school?”

Mothering and homeschooling are such worthy investments of our time and talent, that we need to reign in our distractions in order to “give full attention” to what is best.

Basically, most distractions fit into just a few categories. What distracts you?

Your Phone, Social Media and Electronic Devices

Used carefully, none of these need to be distractions. Something as simple as placing your phone in a different room can be a great distraction solver. Mine is in the other room now as I write.

Consider removing the Facebook app and other apps from your phone so that when you do pick up your phone, you are not so quickly and easily pulled in.

Use your phone and other devices when you choose to use them. Don’t let them steal your time from giving full attention where it belongs.

Household Cleaning, Cooking and Laundry

Cleaning, cooking, and laundry are obviously important, but they can distract us from our children just like anything else.

If these are your main distractions, consider enlisting the help of your children, if they are old enough. (And they don’t have to be too old to want to be helpers!) If you are willing to adjust your standards, your children can put away dishes, clean bathrooms, and so on.

Freezer meals can be very helpful. The one day spent cooking for a week or a month is definitely worth it.

If your children are too young to really help, do your best to include them in what you’re doing. For example, your toddler can help “sort” the laundry or at least play nearby.

Our Own Selves

Recently I realized that I was cleaning under our whole king size bed when I was supposed to be writing a blog post. It was innocent enough. I had decided to put something away (again, instead of writing) and then ended up cleaning under the bed. The cleaning was not a bad thing, it was just the wrong thing at the time. I was distracted from giving my full attention to my first priority, which was writing.

My point here is that we can be our own worst distraction. If that’s you too, then focus and self-discipline is the answer.

Outside Distractions

Outside distractions can be all sorts of good things like volunteering, field trips, or Bible studies.

It is important that you value your mission enough to prioritize so that you can stay focused on what you have decided to “give full attention” to.

When trying to decide whether or not to be involved in a certain activity, ask yourself, “Will this enhance my mission or distract me from it?”

“No” can be very difficult to say, I understand, but when it comes to doing what is best for your family, stay focused and say no as necessary.

In Conclusion

What is your desired outcome? If it is to pass on your faith to your children and prepare them for mature and responsible adulthood, then no distraction is worth keeping you from it.

There are all kinds of creative solutions to whatever distractions you may have. For the sake of your children and your family’s well-being, solve your distractions, and stay focused on what is most important.

Thirty years later, I can tell you that you won’t regret it.

The post Figure Out Your Distractions and Solve Them appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

I really blew it that day.

I have blown it many times, but the lesson I learned on this particular day is priceless to me. Without that lesson, our family would look much different today.

Happening more than three decades ago, the details are fuzzy, but as far as I can recall I got frustrated and yelled at our precious two-year-old daughter.

I felt horrible.

When my husband came home from work, I told him what I had done and how terrible I felt.

Then he said it.

“Well did you apologize?”

Silence.

Apologize? I never thought of that!

(Honestly, I don’t think I had ever used the words, “I’m sorry” before. But that’s another story.)

I thought about it.

Then I got down on my knees where I could look right into her eyes and humbled myself to my two-year-old daughter.

“I am sorry,” I said.

Then I hugged her. She hugged me back and I explained to her that she could say, “I forgive you.”

Then I felt better. And everything was alright. The power of a simple apology.

The secret sauce is not found in perfection, but in the humility to admit when you are wrong and apologize.

You are going to blow it with your kids. You know that already, right?

Blowing it is not what matters. What matters is what you do with it.

Will you humble yourself and apologize the next time?

If you will, let me tell you what is in store.

First of all, peace is in store. Once those heartfelt words roll off your tongue there is a new and refreshing peace in your soul.

But there is even more.

Before long, you will hear your child apologizing to his siblings, and to you. As homeschool moms who are willing to humble ourselves and apologize, we are opening the door for our children to do the same.

You will create a household culture of apologies and forgiveness when wrongs are committed.

While sometimes it’s easy enough to apologize, there are times when I HATE to apologize! Since I hold myself accountable to apologizing when I wrong someone, the pain of the potential apology sometimes keeps me from saying the thoughtless thing in the first place.

Recently, I apologized to one of my adult daughters. She and I had hit a rough patch with some things a couple of years ago. Things seemed okay since, but through some other circumstances, I became aware of how she must have been hurt by some of my words and actions. I approached her, and with sincere tears, apologized. She was so sweet and gracious to hug me, forgive me, and tell me that those things had been used for good in her life.

Maybe I could have gotten by without apologizing. I am not sure my conscience would have let me, but let’s just say it did. I would have missed that opportunity to set things right, and I would have missed that beautiful moment.

Are you willing to commit to apologize the next time you blow it? That simple commitment could change the trajectory of your life and the lives of your children.

The post Say “I’m Sorry” appeared first on Patti Wright.

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It all seems so easy. As a Christian mom, my ordered priorities are God first, then my husband, and then our children.

But wait. Is that realistic for a homeschool mom, or any mom? Those squeaky wheels – I mean children! – seem to need our constant attention. They can certainly turn our priorities upside-down.

Of course, that’s not what we want, but I have been there and I know that it can sure feel that way sometimes! So how can a busy mom keep her priorities straight?

Begin your day with God. Even if it’s just when you first open your eyes in the morning and you’re still in bed, connect with God and place the coming day before him. Ideally, you will take the time to read Scripture and pray, but if you don’t have the time for that, don’t wait until you do!

As you sit (or lie) for those few precious moments, ask God to fill you for the day. Just like charging our phones, we are recharged by plugging back into the True Vine. Taking the moment to plug back in can take you through the day charged and ready for what awaits.

We do not serve a demanding God; his yoke is easy and his burden is light. It is for our good – and to honor God and remind ourselves that he is first in our lives – that we take this morning moment before our day gets going.

Connect with your husband in the morning with a smile. Regardless of your mood or anything else, you can do this. Studies show that our smile makes us more attractive and can enhance our own mood by releasing endorphins and serotonin. From what I understand from my husband, though, it is worth even more than that. It can make him feel like he is doing a good job as a husband – and makes him want to please me more. Don’t underestimate the power of your smile toward your husband.

After first having grounded ourselves in our relationships with God and our husbands, we’ll be on firm footing to begin our day in our roles as nurturers and educators. The time and energy we invest in the lives of our children is absolutely well-spent, and we can do so while keeping our priorities in order.

The post Two Easy Steps to Help Keep Your Priorities Straight appeared first on Patti Wright.

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What is your daily routine? Your morning routine? Do you have a routine? If you do, you know what a “servant” it can be. In a way similar to habits, a routine can work for you.

Routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed.” Routine’s synonyms are regimen, practice, and my personal favorite, groove.

For example, when we had two toddlers, our bedtime routine was to serve a cup of warm milk with story time about 30 minutes before bed. Once the stories were over, we tucked our toddlers in bed and enjoyed the rest of our evening.

Of course, once we started homeschooling our routine became much more complex with each individual following their own portion of the family routine.

If part of your routine includes planning healthy meals for your family and regular grocery shopping, chances are you are saving your family money and everyone is healthier than they might otherwise be.

If part of your routine includes regular laundry days, chances are you don’t run out of socks midweek. (My husband says the other option is to buy lots of socks!)

If your kids adhere to a regular school routine, you probably have more calm than chaos.

Don’t miss out on the benefits of having a routine!

After you do your regular morning grooming (which in and of itself is a routine), what comes next? If you don’t know, or if what comes next isn’t working, then now is the perfect time for you to create a fresh new routine.

  • Ask yourself, What is most important? What should be done first? Second? Third?
  • Is there something that needs to be done every Monday or Friday? If so, the routine on those days will look different from the other days.
  • What should your older kids be doing while you’re teaching your youngest how to read? What should occupy the toddler while you’re preparing dinner?

If you create a routine on paper based on these things and tweak it over the course of a real week, your life could improve!

The routine that will serve you and your family best will be one that works for you. That’s the whole point of routine. When you find a good one, you have your groove, you have found that sweet spot where everyone is doing the next thing without having to think much about it.

There are so many benefits of routine that I don’t want you to miss out on. Consider the following areas and see if they are working well for you, or if now is the time to create or make adjustments to your routine.

  • Wake up and bedtimes
  • Meals and meal times
  • Housekeeping and laundry days
  • And of course, your school routine

If you feel like a slave to your routine, then it’s not working for you. You’re working for it. Stop!

Adjust and readjust until it’s working for you. You will need to readjust with each new baby, new school year, and so forth. Life is full of adjustments and adjustments to routine need to happen. Adjust until you hit that sweet spot where your routine is working for you and your family.

In addition:

Just like God created the seasons (a routine of sorts) and so we know what to expect next, it is a gift to our children to create a workable, balanced routine so that they too know what to expect. It has been my experience that children excel in a routine where what is expected of them is reasonable, unambiguous and consistent.

The post Does Your Routine Work for You? appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

Is something tripping you up that’s making it hard for you to press on? Think about it for a minute. Maybe you’re able to list a dozen things, but can you single out just one?

What’s the one thing that, if fixed, would offer vast improvement?

Is the house such a wreck that you find it hard to concentrate? Are you having to micromanage every detail with your kids? Are you worried that you’re not doing enough?

There is hope for you today!

The solution may sound underwhelming, but here it is. Habit.

If you focus in on just one new habit to overcome that problem area, you could be on your way to a much better year.

Habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency.”

Everyone knows what habit is. The best example is brushing your teeth in the morning or fixing your coffee. You don’t think about each step, you just do it – and sometimes with your eyes still closed.

There is power in habit.

The more good habits we can create – the things we can do or teach our children to do without even thinking – the more streamlined and peaceful our days can be.

One habit that worked well for me when our children were young was “4:30 Clean-up Time.” Everyone knew the areas of the house they were responsible for cleaning, and when the word “4:30 Clean-up” went out, the job got done. This created a nice transition from homeschool and “day” time to Dad coming home from work and getting ready for dinner and the evening.

There was no “This isn’t my job!” or “I didn’t make this mess!” Just habit. It was our “settled tendency.”

I love the habit our daughter has created with her four children ages 2-6. When it’s time to leave our house and go home to theirs, they take turns in the bathroom changing into their pajamas and putting their shoes back on so they can walk out to the car. (Even though they prefer to have a grandparent, aunt or uncle carry them to their vehicle!)

There is no fussing, “Wahhhh, I don’t want to leave,” blah blah blah. She hands them their pajamas and off they go.

The power of habit. That wonderful settled tendency where even young children find their calm in knowing what to do and doing it.

It is not easy to create a new habit, or everyone would.

Creating a habit requires effort. But as I have learned over the years, not nearly as much effort as haggling with my children over every little thing that really should just happen without my intervention.

I am not feeling overwhelmed so much anymore, not as I did at times during my homeschool years. But these days, I have started to worry. It seems my mind can always find something to worry about.

My habit this January is to breathe. Maybe you need to breathe too. In the overwhelm or worry of the day, we can take a moment to just breathe. Inhaling to me is proof that I am alive, that my body is working, that I am God’s. I can inhale God’s promise for me that he’s got this, and exhale the worry, recommitting myself in that moment to trusting God.

Is there one thing that you can think of today that would be helpful to you? A habit for your own self, or one to work on with one or all of your children?

Jump in today and create that habit! Bring your family along and encourage one another as each new day leads to greater peace and a happier new year!

The post One Small Change: Big Results appeared first on Patti Wright.

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Patti Wright by Patti Wright - 2M ago

In the first week of this new year, my Dad was hospitalized with Congestive Heart Failure, my brother was diagnosed with Cancer, and our family’s beloved Pediatrician and friend of 30 years took his own life after struggling with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

I am wondering what kind of start your new year is off to. A wonderful one, I hope! But if it’s off to a start like mine, I would like to encourage you.

The Scripture Habakkuk 3:17-19 reads like this:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

That same Scripture, in the following fill-in-the-blank version, has been kept for years on a colorful index card in my Bible.

  • Though [            ] and [            ],
  • Though [            ] and [            ],
  • Though there are no [            ] and [            ],
  • Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
  • The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Over the years, I have filled in those blanks in so many ways:

  • Though I am sick (and worried) and there is no relief in sight,
  • Though the curriculum isn’t working and I see no other options,
  • Though there are no guarantees for the outcome and I feel so unsure,
  • Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
  • The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Do you need an index card like this? How might you fill it in?

My fill-in-the-blank Scripture card served to remind me countless times, that whatever my troubles, to rejoice in the Lord. Not despite them, but in the midst of them. In the midst of them, God our Savior is right there with us.

Think about that.

Right in the middle of our troubles, he wants us to look to him and find joy in him. To find our strength in him and to let him enable us.

I don’t know about you, but this is good news to me. I can do this. I can rejoice in the Lord, find my strength in the Lord, and oh so easily today, look to him to enable me.

Rejoice in the Lord, be joyful in God your Savior.

The post When the Fig Tree Does Not Bud appeared first on Patti Wright.

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