In Sickness and in Health . . .

There are so many people sick right now, or we know of someone that is fighting an illness. So many are struggling. The stastics are overwhelming – I don’t even want to listen to the news. When will there be relief in sight?
One way God gets my attention is when I’m sick. I don’t feel like watching TV, seeing old movies, or reading. I just default to laying there feeling sorry for myself, thinking about all I need to be doing – and when can I get back to “normal”?
I’ve had two significant non-COVID health battles this year. I’m back to “normal”now. During the sessions of rotating from the couch to the bed – I noticed it was an internal time for reflection, repentance, and recommitment. My big takeaways have been, and maybe you also can relate:


1) My faith isn’t as strong as I thought it was. It is so easy to read my Bible, belt out worship tunes, pray, and bless those around me – when things are going well and I feel healthy. Some of the biggest issues brought to light were how much I was going to Google with my questions instead of God. Scrolling through Twitter instead of the Scriptures. Piddling around on my phone instead of prioritizing prayer. 

2) There are so many hurting people that need our help right now. It is overwhelming to look at it big picture. It’s very easy to throw up our arms and say “I give up – what difference can I make?” One solution might be to minimize it down to just helping a single person out. A text, an email, a call, a finanial contribution, a socially distant visit, a gift card – such a variety of little things we can do to take the focus off of ourselves and give someone else a tiny sliver of hope. Just start with someone you know is hurting right now. A few days ago I sent a text to a former employee that was about 3 sentences long – and I immediately received a joyful response! It felt like she had been waiting all this time for that message.

3) Prayer is the one of the most amazing, baffling, powerful, and un-figureoutable things we can do. Why do some get prayers get answered immediately the first time? And then other times it has been years with seemingly little or no changes? Why do we pray and things appear to get worse? I don’t know – but we must trust in the fact that God sure does know.

“As high as the heavens are above the earth – so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (Isaiah 55: 9)

One of the toughest questions to ask going through sickness, tough times, disappointments and crisises is: “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”

God continues to prioritze and personalize that internal growth:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen in temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Hello! You should have received an email newsletter with my blog this month. Word Press is my host website, and they have changed their format. I’m unable to edit or save on it at this time. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, here is an inspirational quote from the great Jon Gordon to get you through your day:

“It’s never going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be. Life is good and then bam you get hit with adversity. Don’t give up. It’s how you respond that determines the future you create.”

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Is This the New Normal or Something Else?

I apologize for not writing in a while. Part recharging, part rest, part overwhelmed with life, and part not knowing what to write.

Like many of you – I’m wrestling with a host of unanswerable questions: When will this virus end? Will we ever go back to the “normal” we had about a year ago? Will me or a loved one catch the virus? What is going to happen to the economy and our personal finances? Am I the only one struggling with these things right now?

In one of my newsletters at work, I stumbled upon a great article by an educator named Daniel Patterson. Here is a portion of his insight:

Grief. It’s a polarizing word. Grief is messy. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unpredictable. And it beckons conflict and chaos when not adequately acknowledged and proactively addressed. Grief in its most familiar context is deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. But grief sneaks into the corners of everyday life disguised as sorrow, anguish, sadness, misery, pain, agony and distress. If we were playing emotional bingo, it’s safe to say everyone would be a winner.

Our education system is in a grief cycle, but most aren’t calling it by its name. Instead, many prefer to throw around terms like “new normal” to express the disconnect between the routine and familiar tenents of education, and the tangled web of uncertainty tossing educators and students around in a sea of variables. “New normal” is not even close to a dignified term for what teachers and students are experiencing: substantial direct and indirect trauma stemming from a pandemic, remote learning, isolation, economic uncertainty, elevated poverty, death of loved ones, a civil rights movement, and political polarization.

Grief, as you might recall, has stages. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And, acceptance. These stages, of course, are not concrete. They ebb and flow. As we head into the new school year, it’s critical to acknowledge that your entire school ecosystem is in some stage of grief.

Wow, grief – I haven’t looked at it from that perspective. I am guilty of throwing around the term “new normal”, or proclaiming to others, “Just give it some time, things will go back to “normal.” A wise woman once said, “Normal is a setting on your washing machine.”

However, it seems that everywhere I look – families, businesses, schools, places of worship, entertainment, sports – there is some type of a layer of sadness that we just can’t get past.

Whether it was a social media post, advice, a podcast, quote, or article – here are some words of encouragement out there that have helped me:

  1. Don’t compare or minimize your pain with someone else. It is yours and it is real. We have to have a trusted friends we can vent to and be a listener for them also.
  2. Fight to keep moving forward, even tiny steps. It can be a fight to cook, do homework, laundry, pay bills, socialize, go to the store. An enticing temptation for all of us is to stay in bed or spend hours on the couch.
  3. If it is a struggle to show up for yourself -show up for others that are depending on you – children, spouse, the elderly, friends, co-workers, customers, the lonely, the poor. Someone needs YOU right now.
  4. Cling to your faith for hope, even though the circumstances are difficult, we keep asking “Why?”, and it feels like God is silent. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. Don’t expect to just be able to “snap out of it.” Watch that negative self talk like, “I should be able to move past this – what is wrong with me?” A trusted friend once told me, “You don’t get over grief. You move through it.” Give yourself time.
  6. Exercise of any type. It helps you get your mind off what is going on, and you feel better afterwards.

This was a tough one to write. It helps to get it out of my system and “name” some of the things going on internally that I’ve experiened or have watched others go through. We’re in this together – and we are going to make it! 🙂

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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The Hour of Power During a Pandemic

Many of the personal development gurus have repeatedly proclaimed the message of, “Do what you can now to come out of the Pandemic a better version of yourself.” “Now is the time to practice that skill, get in shape, plant that garden, save your money, read that book, write that book, start your side hustle” – and on and on it goes. If you’re like me, most days I feel that I’m falling short of the lofty goal of becoming a better version of myself:

I don’t belong to a gym (most are closed at this time anyway).

I fall asleep after reading one chapter in a book.

My creativity “tank” is feeling incredibly low.

I haven’t been able to go into my church building since March 2020.

My side hustle was a small speaking business at live events – and that completely shut down.

How about a different perspective? I’ve also heard a lot of the experts talking about the power of small habits and routines. The whole law of compounding interest – applied to any area of your life. Celebrating the small victories. Less is more. Rejecting perfectionism. Creating goals that are simple to achieve. Here is something I call The Hour of Power. Dedicating 20 minutes spiritually, 20 minutes mentally, and 20 minutes physically each day to yourself. Maybe you’re a night owl and that would be the best time for you. Personally, I love the mornings. You don’t even have to do the entire hour simultaneously – I split it up and read before I go to bed at night. Here’s what it looks like broken down:

  1. Physical – Speaker and author Rachel Hollis proclaims, “Get your body moving every morning for at least 20-30 minutes.” I think that is great advice. After you wake up, have your favorite cup of coffee or whatever – and then give it a try. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost anything: walking, yoga, pilates, stretching, free exercise YouTube videos, washing a stack of dishes or laundry. The blood starts flowing, the brain gets going, and you feel better equiped to take on the challenges of the day. If I don’t have the time to exercise, I always walk my dog unless it is a torrential downpour. We both love it, and I leave my phone at home. 
  2. Mental – My encouragement for this 20 minutes is to completely turn off the news and any screen devices. Do something that stimulates your mind and brings you joy: reading, puzzles, writing, journaling, games, gardening, art, creating, dancing, photography, etc. This goes with the old saying of “doing something that you are so immersed in – that you lose all track of time.” As mentioned above, I enjoy reading right before I fall asleep. Probably not the best reading habit – but I’m not striving for perfection 🙂
  3. Spiritual – We are complex individuals made up of a mind, body, and spirit. During this time of a global pandemic is when we need faith in something greater than ourselves and the overwhelming current events. As a Christian, my goal every morning is to pray, journal, read the scriptures, and be still – doesn’t always happen, but that’s okay! Even more than exercise – this strengthens me for whatever challenges lie ahead. A tool that has helped me the last several months is an app called “The One Minute Pause.” It is free, and has a setting that goes off at 10 am and 2 pm everyday. It is a disruption during the day to stop, slow down, and pause for one minute reflecting on God. A basic prayer is even provided if you want to use that. For a small motivator, the app keeps track of how many days in a row you take part in this practice. As of this writing – I’m at 100 days with a pause!

Give The Hour of Power a try. In the comments below – let me know how it goes or if you have your own system of habits and routines. It is something we can control in an out of control world. Glancing at Jesus’s example for growth:

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. (Luke 2:52). Mentally, physically, and spirtually.

Blesssings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

 

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The Amazing, Incredible, and Enviable Life of Ian Philips . . .

Ian Philips has achieved the American, if not the Worldwide Dream. He owns 3 homes including private property on Malibu Beach. He has been faithfully married for over 25 years (his wife is seen in the picture enjoying the glorious view from one of their smaller homes). Both parents can humbly say that they made the majority of right decisions in their journey of raising kids. All three of their children have either internships or high level positions in Fortune 500 companies. Even though Ian is the CEO of his company – he has been able to successfully balance the demands of work and home. He and his family are able to take time off to travel the world when restrictions aren’t in place. For a hobby – Ian tinkers with and occassionally races the four sports cars that he owns. He even has an onsite mechanic to take care of his family and recreational vehicles. To top it all off – a five star chef lives in their guest home and makes delicious and nutrious meals. He has dined at the finest restaurants here and abroad.

In an interview he proclaimed, “At the moment I have all I need – and more!” A true success story. Wow, it really is a wonderful life!!!

Gotcha!!! I totally made up the story of Ian and you believed it!!! I know, that wasn’t very nice, but hang with me. Honestly, weren’t you thinking: I would like to have just a little of what Ian has??? It seems like he has every material possession we would desire, and a life free from the everyday hassles you and I just can’t seem to get past???

Why would I make up this story? First of all, the only true part of the story is the quote. Those words were spoken by the Apostle Paul – while he was in prison!!! Philip Ian is a backword play on words for the book of Philip – pians in the Bible. Again, in prison Paul proclaims,

“At the moment I have all I need – and more!” (Philippians 4:18)

This was a prision cell in A.D. 61. No AC or heat, no electricity, the floors were dirt, no toliet or plumbing, rats as cellmates, no exercise area, no medical attention, no lawyers, no balanced meals, or no idea how long your sentence is.

Being transparent, his situation makes me take a look inside and I’m embarrassed what I truly get upset over – traffic, waiting for a train, cold take out food, unreturned phone calls for reference checks, too many emails in my inbox, the internet connection going out for an hour or two, lack of control over the future, and on and on it goes. One of the greatest lessons that keeps getting hammered into my brain is having joy in spite of circumstances, not having joy because all my circumstances are aligned in the direction I want them to go. The perspective that everything should go my way always leads me down the road of disappointment and wondering if I’m doing something wrong. Don’t you sometimes feel that way???

How does Paul do it? Read the 4 chapters of the book of Philippians slowly, here is a partial summary. He never loses sight of his life mission. He writes a book while in prison. Shares his faith and hope with anyone that will listen (even the prison guards). He keeps a laser like focus on others. Paul chooses prayer vs. worry. He knows the power of the mind and meditates on the good. Paul is able to keep an eternal perspective in spite of his current conditions.

Today he is in Heaven with the One he kept focusing on and serving. And guess what – Paul has a 1000X better life than Ian Philips could ever imagine!!!

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Having a Lieutenant Dan moment with God . . .

One of my favorite scenes from the classic movie Forrest Gump is when Forrest and his buddy Lieutenant Dan are caught in a wild storm during their shrimp catching expedition. Lt. Dan is already extremely frustrated at life because he wanted to die a war hero like family members did generations before him. Forrest rescues him at the last moment during an ambush in the jungle. Lt. Dan has to have surgery and both his legs are amputated, leaving him incredibly bitter and hopeless. So . . . as the storm is raging, Lt. Dan is as high as he can be on the mast – shouting at God, cussing, and challenging God to bring it on. Everything that had been bottled up for years internally – he is finally getting out.

The next morning after the storm is completely gone,  Lt. Dan has a look of peace on his face for the first time in who knows how long. He plunges himself into the water and takes a relaxing swim. Forrest watches and comments, “I guess Lt. Dan made his peace with God.”

A pastor recently said there’s a difference between questioning God and asking God questions. We can’t figure out the mind of the Almighty Creator of the Universe. However, I do believe He wants us to come to Him with our tough questions, our frustrations, our hopelessness, and our brutally difficult circumstances:

When will this virus end?

Why did I lose my loved one?

How can I find a job in this economy and pay my bills?

When will this feeling of hopelessness go away in the pit of my stomach?

Why does the future look so gloomy and uncertain?

 

It’s okay to complain, question, and express our feelings of anger towards God. It happened all the time in the Bible with iconic folks like Moses, Elijah, David, and Joseph to name a few. The key is what you do next.

The prophet Habakkuk is an amazing example. His story is found in four small chapters of the Old Testament. I would encourage you to read all of it to get the complete context. The subtitles provide an insightful summarization:

Habakkuk’s Complaint

The Lord’s Reply

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

The Lord’s Second Reply

Habakkuk’s Prayer

What he did was:

1) He got it all out, now he was going to look above and beyond his circumstances and watch and wait for what God is going to do.

2) He prayed for help.

3) He worshiped God even though his circumstances didn’t change.

Check out the last 3 verse of the book with my own comments added in parenthesis:

-Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, (even though it seems my prayers go unanswered)

-and there are no grapes on the vines; (my job is gone and I can’t pay the bills)

-even though the olive crop fails, (I feel that I’m going through this struggle all alone)

-and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, (even though it seems this virus is never going away)

-Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Conclusion: What will it take to move us from fear to faith? From helpless to hope? From worry to worship? From endless pondering to prayer?

Hang in there like Habakkuk did. And let’s keep looking for help beyond ourselves.

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Custard’s First Stand . . .

On Friday night, I finally felt hope after a long time without it.
Unfortunately during this crisis, I’ve struggled to find anything to write about. Part of it was that I perceived I had nothing new or enlightened to say. The other part was the creative section of my brain just hasn’t been “feeling it” the last month or two.

Anyway, back to Friday night. So myself, my daughter, and my Golden Retriever (who has been living her dream life since the virus hit) – got into the car and headed to our local Andy’s Frozen Custard to reward ourselves for whatever reason. When we arrived, I felt a tiny spark of light inside my heart. 

We had to wait for our turn behind five cars in the drive-through – people were out supporting the economy in a small but powerful way.

The four workers were hustling and bustling inside to fill orders – people were at work again.

A “Now Hiring” sign was prominently displayed – people are hiring.

The walk-up counter was open – people were in groups talking (while practicing social distancing of course).

And finally, when we drove away. I kid you not – the drive-through line was at least twelve to fifteen cars deep! I had a brief flashback to the final scene of Field of Dreams.

There was hope. Community, socializing, work, business transactions, and happiness were all prominently on display at that little custard stand. 

And this hope will not lead to disappointment . . . (Romans 5:5)

Thanks for reading – the creative gene is slowly making a comeback 🙂

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

 



 

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3 Quotes

Hello! Here are 3 encouraging quotes I’ve found during this challenging time:


The Bad News: “A lot can change in 30 days.”
The Good News: “A lot can change in 30 days.”

Rachel Hollis

“People make more mistakes when they’re afraid.”

Jon Acuff

 

“As you go about your week, remember that fear and faith both believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet. Fear believes in a negative future. Faith believes in a positive future. Be smart. Be prepared. Take action and choose to believe in a positive future!”

Jon Gordon

 

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Back In High School I Was Able To . . .

A while back I was competing in a charity softball tournament for my organization. The coach was asking who wanted to play what position? I boldly proclaimed, “I’ll play shortstop!” Why not? On my high school baseball teams, I played a variety of positions including third base (which is a challenging throw across the baseball diamond mind you). After high school, I played for a couple of years in some local and college competitive/intramural softball leagues in whatever position they needed me.

Back to the tournament. Our team played defense first, so we started throwing the ball around the infield to warm up. My turn. I snatched up the grounder from the first baseman like my glove had glue in it. Time for the perfect throw to first base. Oops, must have slipped or not had a strong grip on the ball. My throw took two bounces to reach first base and was incredibly off target. The second chance came around. Again, perfect backhand scoop with my glove – let’s fire a bullet to first base this time! Oh no! This time it took three hops and the first baseman had to go leave the bag to go retrieve the ball. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – I’m not the same player I was in high school and college! I didn’t have the throwing strength to go from shortstop to first base! What an embarrassment 😦

Hopefully, I’m not alone in this thinking – why do we go back to high school or college as default or baseline of where we should be now with our abilities, looks, and energy levels?

C’mon, hasn’t the thought crossed your mind with one of these comments?

In high school/ college . . . .

I was able to eat _______ and not gain a pound, actually, I lost weight!

I was able to work two jobs and had the energy to hang out afterward.

I was able to bench press _______ pounds and run a marathon with minimal prep.

I was able to wear a size _________.

I was able to throw a softball from shortstop to first base!!!

We know the truth – We were younger, fitter, had a faster metabolism, had more recreational time, and had much more disposable income. It’s silly, but I guess those are the only memories my brain can go back to sometimes.

It makes me think about a t-shirt I saw a guy wearing that said: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” Whether it be social media or water cooler chats, my challenge persists not to compare or be envious of what someone else has or is doing. A whole new layer is added when we start comparing ourselves with our former selves. Good night – that was over 30 years ago for me!!! So my mind needs to shift to the “today me”:

Five push-ups are better than no push-ups.

Thank God I have a job that I enjoy and can go to. Big deal if I don’t have energy afterward.

A twenty-minute walk with my dog isn’t a marathon, but it’s something.

I can still eat the foods I ate in high school, but need to exhibit some self-control (three slices of pizza instead of a large by myself).

Three pounds lost are better than three pounds gained.

Now when I get together with people we talk about our latest aches and pains instead of athletic and social accomplishments. 🙂

Final anecdote. Last week we had three straight days of heavy rain. During one of those days – a torrential downpour hit right as I was getting ready to leave for the evening. The forecast app said the storm wouldn’t be letting up for about an hour. My vehicle was parked about 100 yards away. I couldn’t wait for an hour. I sprinted toward my car like Tom Cruise in a scene from Mission Impossible! Made it! Drenched to the core – I also noticed I was breathing like I had just completed The Boston Marathon in record time. No lie, my first thought was: Why am I breathing so hard? Back in high school, I used to be able to . . . STOP!!! 🙂

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

Do you also struggle with this? If not too embarrassing, please share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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Are You a No-Name??? . . . Perfect!!! (Part 2)

Note: Part 1 (October 2019) is about a man named Bezalel who was commissioned by God to design The Tabernacle and six pieces of furniture including The Ark of the Covenant (later discovered by Indiana Jones 🙂

After watching a movie, it is amazing to observe the credits roll showing how many people it took to create that film. Those folks that worked behind the scenes countless hours to bring this vision into a reality. A few days ago I read that a 20 minute new Apple Product presentation/launch/demonstration takes over 250 hours of prep time! And yet, it is usually only a handful of people that we see on the stage.

Recently I discovered a woman in the Bible named Tabitha that I never knew existed. Were she alive today, I would hedge my bets that she would be feverishly working behind the scenes in some activity that touched the lives of people one by one and furthered the work of The Kingdom of God. Her life models multiple life lessons. Check out this passage in Acts 9: 36 – 41:

There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha. She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”

So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.

A few insights we can glean from this story about Tabitha is:

  1. She faithfully was completing the job and using the gifts God had given her. She didn’t get caught up in the comparison or tallying results trap – she just did it. No questioning or complaining. She wasn’t above meeting the needs of the poor. Tabitha didn’t need a stage or her name in lights. You and I: Are we content where God has put us, or are we fast forward-thinking wondering what the next big thing is? Do we sometimes wrestle with the appearance that God is underusing us? Who are “the poor and widows” we could be reaching out to right now?
  2. Tabitha was 100% in the middle of God’s will when something “bad” happened to her.  Notice the scripture emphasizes the phrase “she was always doing kind things . . . ”  It also mentions that in the room where her dead body laid “was filled with widows . . .” On the surface, it appears she was still needed and her special life mission wasn’t complete. Maybe it would make more sense if she became “The Prodigal Daughter” and left her ministry to pursue a selfish and hedonistic lifestyle? Why take Tabitha, why not take some crooked or evil person instead? You and I: This is the age-old question I struggle with all the time: Why do bad things happen to good people? However, can we keep moving forward in life when it doesn’t make sense or we don’t have all the answers? Can we stop playing in our heads the “what’s fair and isn’t fair” game? When our time does finally come – what will be caught doing?
  3. Tabitha gave the “Three T’s” (Time, Treasure, and Talent). One of the many things that stood out to me was the sentence: The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. She had gone above and beyond meeting the needs of this group. They had physical objects Tabitha had given them to that they were proudly showing off while they mourned her death. Her legacy wasn’t only in love, kindness, and memories – but also in clothing that she invested her own time and money in expecting nothing in return. You and I: Several years ago we lost a family member and received great comfort from the family and friends that came to offer condolences. However, several days after the funeral, a friend showed up on our doorstep with restaurant gift cards that he and his kids had picked out for our family. The last thing we wanted to do during that time was to cook a meal and clean dishes. I will never forget that “Tabitha” act of kindness and have tried to imitate it when the opportunity arises. You see, it is way too easy for me to say – “I’ll be praying for you” when someone is going through tough times, and then not do anything about it (usually even forgetting to pray I must confess). Actually, a mentor once showed me how to overcome this. Whenever someone asks for prayer – do it right then and there (or over the phone) so you don’t forget. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a public place – act like you’re talking if it is that uncomfortable 🙂

Conclusion – Even if Tabitha hadn’t been miraculously raised from the dead – she did what author Max Lucado refers to as “Outliving Your Life.” She invested in people, thrived where God had put her, and used whatever resources she had to make the world a better place.

This is the only section in the Bible where Tabitha is mentioned. Even though she died, God wasn’t finished with her. He also wanted to display His mighty power as the Church was starting to build and grow.  Plus, Tabitha was able to join a select group of individuals that had been raised from the dead – including the Son of God. I look forward to meeting her in Heaven someday.

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

 

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