Beautiful and Beloved

SAM_4291                      Beautiful women are quite diverse. Some wear cute dresses with coordinated eyeshadow, others wear jeans and oversized tee shirts. Some are stay at home mommas while others manage companies. Some lovely women are divorced, single, widowed or married. But I will tell you what makes a woman beautiful. A gorgeous woman is one who is fixed on Jesus. Her clothing style, family status and hair color matter little to her identity. This woman finds herself worshipping Jesus in the middle of the chaos. She cries out to Jesus to speak the Truth to her when the lies thunder on her heart. When the painful moments come, she raises her hands and cries out to her Abba Father who hears. A lovely woman doesn’t look to others for approval, identity, or worth because she knows she belongs to the King of Kings. While she does take care of herself, she is not the focus. Jesus is and bringing others His love is her upmost concern.
Maybe, like me ,some mornings, you don’t wake up feeling gorgeous. Maybe you don’t even feel loved. Where is your focus dear sister? Where is your focus? Jesus loves You!! I heard this ever since I was a little girl but recently it has actually started to plant deep roots in my soul. No longer is “Jesus Loves Me” just a song, it’s my heart cry. When the lies come and make me feel shameful and gross I must choose to remember that King Jesus left Heaven’s splendor because He loves me and dear friend, He loves You too!
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9 (NKJV)
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the Light of His glory and grace.”
Sometimes the pain of this earth overwhelms me. I cry out for relief wishing God would erase what I don’t want etched in my story. But He is the Author of my life, not I. In the middle of the painful moments I must lift my eyes to Jesus and through the tears sing hallelujah. He is worthy to be praised. When I stand on the mountaintop, He is worthy to be praised. When I am wandering in the desert of doubt, He is worthy to be praised. When I am lying in the valley, He is worthy to be praised.
Someday, for those who have trusted Jesus, we will be in Heaven. All our wrinkles, blemishes, stretch marks, broken bones will be gone! The brokenness, insecurities and lies will be gone and we will no longer remember the pain of the past. We will no longer lie awake tossing and turning over former regrets. Being free will be so wonderful! But somehow it won’t matter quite as much as we might have thought. All we will see is Jesus’s face.
JESUS, the one who bore our sin and took our shame. Emmanuel God with us. Only this time He will really be with us. In the light of His glory, all I will be able to do is worship. With arms lifted as He wipes the tears away, I will sing, hallelujah.

Now that’s what I call beautiful.

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❤ Anna

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JESUS, My Forever Refuge

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What in your life is making your days difficult and your nights torturous? I’ve been walking a journey of chronic pain and am learning to trust God in ways I never thought possible. Most days I struggle to get out of bed. I constantly battle fatigue, constant headaches and a myriad of other health problems.
But GOD is so good.
Yet many times I only see me, and my suffering and fail to look up into my Father’s face. He is Jehovah Rapha, my Healer. He is the Almighty, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is my refuge and my strong tower. I can always run to Him. He is my always. He is trustworthy and in control. My hope is to encourage you through this blog by pointing you to Jesus and His omniscient perspective. We have darkness in our sin. Apart from Jesus we will stay in a state of hopelessness. But in Him alone there is eternal hope. Our struggles to overcome sin can seem like such a daily battle that many days we are too weary to fight. We have difficult situations that no one can begin to understand. We have trials that couldn’t possibly make sense no matter how matter questions we ask God. We say why God? Why? Why would You allow this to happen? Why would You allow someone I love to make this choice? Why would You allow this suffering, this pain? But God is not confined to our darkness. God is not confined to our pain and grief. He is not confined to our finite brains.

HE is SO much bigger.

He is the Maker of Light. He is Light. My suffering is to glorify my Savior and to make Him known. Remember God Almighty was here long before you had a name or a beating heart. Before there was anything, He knew your name and your story. He made you to reflect Him. Dear child, don’t fret. God’s got this. Love you.
Anna ❤

 

How It All Began
– Parts of Gen 1 &2 with artistic license. Read Gen 1& 2 for the full and accurate version.

Darkness
Silent and still
In anticipation.
As its Creator dipped His fingers,
Swirling the emptiness
And in a moment
A split second
That forever defined eternity
Four words were spoken
“Let there be light.”
It had no choice but to obey.
And the darkness was forever changed
Never to be the same.

God smiled.
The masterpiece before Him
Was astounding.
He spoke and created
Mountains, layered upon layer
Sunsets, rivers running into the ocean.
Animals roamed freely
And harmoniously.
It was all so lovely
so perfect.
What could possibly be better?

But God turned to the Holy Spirit and to Jesus
And they knew.
They knew what was missing.
It was time to for the best part
Their magnum opus.
The one that would outlive eternity.
It was time.

Time to create man and woman after Their image.
Smiling as He thought of what would come
Grieving as He knew of the pain that would be undone
Of the times when they would turn away
Cause devastation
And run away.
Times when they would blame Him and shout in His face.
God foresaw when He’d have to send His dearly Beloved Son
To pay a price His image bearers
Could never afford.
But knowing and understanding what only He could
God created man.
First.
Out of the dust.
Because out of the ashes
Beauty will rise
Out of the dirt
God restores our lives.
Apart from His breath
We are dead
We are silent.
We must allow The Almighty to shake us
And breathe into our nostrils
The breath of life.
So, with His hands
He: with the breath of eternity
God created man.
In His image.
And behold,
It was very good.
But The Sovereign God
Was not done
With His great plan.
No, this man
Needed
A companion.
One that was like him in shape and size
With a different kind of beauty
One that would mesmerize.
She would also reflect the image of God
But differently.
She wouldn’t come from the dust
But from the man’s rib.

God smiled
Knowing what was to come.
As a skilled and gentle Surgeon, He
Softly hushed Adam to sleep.
Adam obeyed and was soon dreaming
quite deeply.

Meticulously
And carefully so
The Lord crafted a woman
From His side
And brought her out of the man
To be his bride
His companion
Fit only for him.
“Oh, my word!”
Adam declared.
“I can’t believe it!”

He was speechless.

God brought her to Adam
And performed the ceremony
Right then and there.
No need for a long engagement.

Only Adam spoke the words
That God needed.
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh
She is like me
And was taken from my side
I’m not complaining LORD
Yes, she will be my bride!”

They were both happy and free before
Their LORD, Creator, and Father
Just as they should.
They took long morning walks with God
And learned all about how He formed the sod.
They talked of the bats, bugs, and the bees
And how He created each individual tree.
And their intimacy with God and each other grew
Everything was as perfect as the sunset’s hue
As lovely as the morning’s dew.

All was happy in paradise.
Perfect communion with God
No need for any of sacrifice.
If only life could stay this way
But that’s another
Story….
for another day.

So, whatever you’re facing don’t ever forget
That God created you!
You’re made in His image!
When you forget who’s in control
Look at the stars scintillating in the sky
The rivers, the tall oaks
and the people passing by.
Trust Him.
HE is LORD
Even when you can’t understand
Your painful why.

 

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Photos taken by Anna. 🙂

He is Waiting, With Open Arms

20190711_080011As I stood over the oven as my momma took the chicken out of the oven, as she had a thousand times before: something hit me.  Below my sincere excitement to marry my childhood sweetheart was the realization that I was leaving. When I get married, I will not be with my family and though they will always love me, it won’t be the same anymore.
I was reminded that God is with me. He is here, right now. My Jesus, Abba Father is with me as I prepare for this next chapter. When I think waiting is too hard, Jesus is with me. When I don’t understand, Jesus is with me.  When I move away Jesus will be with me as I start my new life and attempt to take the chicken out of my own oven. 🙂  My Jesus will be with my mom as she pours her afternoon cup of coffee alone and  prays for me. It’s a sad knowing that as an adult I cannot have all those I cherish near at the same time.  I will probably always miss someone. Some days I miss my grandpa in ways I haven’t  before. I wish he was here to share in these special moments of anticipation. But I am thankful for all the memories I had with him. Now these memories have become treasures I cherish.

It is such a comfort and a joy to know that my Jesus is always present. He is there in the quiet when no one sees, when no one hears. He is there in the moments of sheer joy and laughter. He is there amid our noisy, chaotic lives. He is there, with arms open. He is there when I am nervous and the lies creep in and the doubts dare to sabotage the Truth. Jesus is my protector as He covers me with His shield of Truth and reminds me of the promises of His Word. He is there. Waiting to be our refuge. Waiting and wanting to be our everything.

 

Recently, I have read Psalm 91. It’s  assuring to know of God’s sovereignty and personal protection. When I am too weak spiritually and physically, I must allow God’s Word to wash over me. When the lies come and sin entices me I want to saturate myself in His promises and cling to His Word.
“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net, from the destructive plague. He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.” Psalm 91:1-4 (2104) (HCSB)
Jesus is waiting and wants you to run to Him so that He can cover you. Is He your refuge tonight? Only He can truly satisfy.

Dear friend, I don’t know who you yearn for tonight. Maybe you ache for a child who has left home, or  for your marriage to be healed, or for a loved one who has died. Jesus is here. Jesus is waiting for you to run to Him. Jump into His loving arms. He is here. He is waiting. ❤

 

Anna. ❤

 

 

Holman Christian Standard Bible; The Study Bible for Women [Book]. – Nashville : Holman Bible Publishers , 2104.

 

Whining or Worshipping?

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Waiting and Whining or Waiting and Worshipping?
Let’s face it. We all have to wait. We wait for the ramen in the microwave, for the light to turn green, and for bigger things: job promotion, an increase in pay, or growth in relationships. Prolonged anticipation is never easy. I think the hardest time to wait is when you don’t know if the wait will ever end.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. “James 1:2-4 HCSB

When God’s teaching me patience it can take a long time….. I think this is because I don’t listen and try to hurry the process along. While I am in the waiting waters, I struggle to stop and listen to what God is saying in the present time. I become blind to His blessings and instead hold a laser gaze on what I want NOW. I do not allow patience to be molded into me by the trials God allows into my life. I let myself think that I am suffering because God has withheld something when in fact God knows that it is not the right time for me to have what I want. Through this withholding God wants to cultivate richer intimacy with Him. Because once I reach my goal there will be something else to be reached and I will squirm again as God tries to teach me patience and cultivate a quiet heart towards Him. The goal cannot be getting what I want. Rather the goal must be receiving more of God, learning to enjoy His presence, and listening and obeying His voice. In the Old Testament Sarah grew tired of waiting for her promised child and so she took matters into her own hands. This resulted in years of heartache and regret. She did not allow herself to seek God first during her wait. How many times later did Sarah feel pangs of regret over her quick fix? What we do in an instant can impact and change those around us long after. (See Gen. 16 for full account.)

During a winter of waiting I am more susceptible to sin because I feel that it’s justifiable. I wouldn’t verbalize that, but I act that way. I complain and am more critical of those around me. I glaze over my sin and focus on the sin of others and think I am more spiritually for it. (Matt. 7:1-6) I also give into more of my whims and indulgent desires all to help ease the void in my life rather than turning to God during moments of emptiness and longing. All these things are a way of my acting in rebellion towards God’s season of waiting. I can make my waiting season longer simply due to my lack of obedience and surrender to His plan.

God’s withholding  may feel like suffering, but that’s because I can’t  see the whole picture. God may give me what I want now and then I wouldn’t use it for it’s God intended purpose. When I was about seven years old, I had a super cool Cinderella umbrella with a blue handle. Was that umbrella used in the rain? Uh,no way! Why wait that long? I ran around the backyard waving my umbrella singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” at the top of my lungs! My umbrella was open and with each wind gust I was certain that I would actually begin to fly. But after flying day after day, my umbrella began to tire a little faster than I did. And then there was the sad day when my umbrella broke. I was sad. No more Mary Poppins adventures.

Sometimes I think my dreams and deepest desires are similar to my Cinderella umbrella. I want it now and God knows that if I get what I want now that I will not be able to use it for its intended purpose. I will be like a seven-year-old who is happy for a short time before reality strikes. I’m sure it rained shortly after and I was wet because I had misused my umbrella. I had to wait before I could get another one.

God also chooses to wait. He could have Jesus come back right now to rapture the church and yet He waits because He knows of one more person that is so close to letting Him in, and He knows of another person that everyone says is too far gone for Jesus. God smiles because He knows better. He knows what others cannot know and sees what others cannot see without eyes of faith. God waits for people to come to Him, waits for His children to desire more of Him. God could make us change but He blessed us with free will and He gently waits, calling us closer to Him.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

In the garden after God had created everything He rested.
“Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Gen. 2:1-3.
God could’ve been anxious about all the people He would make and the happenings of the world.  But God was not in a hurry. He is outside of time. And so, He waited and rested from creating on the seventh day. He rested. Knowing He was in control. He set a precedent of trusting Him to guide the course of our lives.

So, I can imagine that you are waiting for something. Look for ways to grow in your relationship with God. Rather than becoming bored in the wait, look for new ways to be renewed in His presence. Go look at the sunset, see the dew drops after the rain or sense God’s power with the hurricane. Crack open your Bible. His Word is so alive that it speaks to me something different every time! Don’t waste this beautiful time of waiting, anticipation, and longing.
“Wait on the LORD and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait I say on the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
Much Love,
Anna. ❤

 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.

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Even So, It Is Well With My Soul

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When you’ve been hurt deeply and when you stand in the shadows of grief how  do you move forward?  When the voices of the past call to haunt and the perfectly packaged lies beckon you to choose a life of ease rather than purposed pain and joy in Christ, how do you walk forward? How? Somedays the pain is so great getting out of bed is a chore as you force your led feet to slip over onto the carpet and face the day. When the wounds of the past dare to rip you to shreds and the lies continue to circle in your head it is then that a choice must be made. A choice must be made to remember the truth. Not the truth of the pain, but the truth of Jesus who is unchanging.  A resolve must be made to walk forward with arms raised, confident of His strength. Confident that when I wait on the LORD that He will renew my strength and that with Him I can run and not grow weary. Because of Jesus I can walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31. During seasons of brokenness I must rest in the hope of Jesus. I must choose to saturate myself in the truth.
When I think no one loves me I remember His love was great enough to go to the cross. Romans 5:8
When I feel lonely, I remember He will never leave me or forsake me. Heb. 13:5
When I feel that my sin is unforgiveable, I remember that I am saved by His grace alone and that if I confess my sins that He will forgive!  Eph. 2:8-10. 1 John 1:9
When God’s love seems distant I remember that nothing can separate me from His love. Romans 8:37-39.
When I feel overlooked, I remember that God chose to be mindful of me. Psalm 8:3-4
When I am hurt, I remember that Jesus is the healer and the restorer of the broken. Isaiah 54:11-12
When I cannot sleep, I can run to Jesus who never sleeps. He is always there. Psalm 121:4
When I am surrounded by chaotic circumstances, I can rest in the fact that He is never changing. Heb. 13:8.

Even though it hurts hard enough to bring you to tears, “even so, it is well with my soul.” Because I know who holds me. I know who holds the past, present and future in the palm of His hand. God is the author of time. He will bring healing, but it is in His time. So, during this season when your heart stands guard at the graveyard, dare to dig deeper into God’s Word, deeper into God’s character. See His loving hand woven into every conversation, every drop of dew, and every sunrise. It is through my deepest valleys of suffering and pain where intimacy with my Savior blossoms. Through the valley of the shadow of death I can experience a deeper closeness with Jesus.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; You rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Much Love as you draw closer to Him.

Love,

Anna ❤

 

“It is Well” was written by Horatio G. Spafford.

 

Jesus, You Make the Darkness Tremble

 

20190419_142600 The sky carries many messages from God. There is a tendency to focus on the tear jerking sunsets or the sunrises that fills your heart with renewed energy and hope. But dear friend, God speaks just as loud if not louder in the storm and the loudest in the silence.

When Jesus died on the cross there were many storms going on. There was the physical storm. Darkness eerily blanketed the land and the ground shook in holy fear. (Matt. 27:45,54) Then there was the spiritual storm.  People and soldiers mocked Jesus and scorned Him, as was predicted by the prophets. Their words are the mirror image of my sin and the moments when I allow apathy to be Lord instead of JESUS.  As Jesus hung on the cross the taunts and insults defaming His Lordship were slung like mud upon His face. And yet there was silence in Heaven as Jesus begged His Father for answers. “Why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46)  Why? The love of Jesus was so great that it far exceeded making sense. It was life altering and earth shaking and in Christ’s love He bore the pain of silence in order to shout His love for you!

You couldn’t have been in Jerusalem that day and not have been changed.  The sky turned dark at an unusual hour and the earth fumbled beneath you. What you thought your life was founded on was sinking. What you thought was allowing you to see was really making you blind. And you longed for healing: to who would you turn?  If you were in the temple you would’ve seen the temple curtain torn in two from top from bottom, an act never done before or since. This demonstrated that God broke  the divide between God and man. Jesus made it possible for us to enter the throne room with grace.  If you were in the graveyard when Jesus died you might have seen a relative jump out and start praising Jesus. Because of Jesus, death has lost its sting. Nobody could’ve ignored the cross that day, but Jesus could’ve been ignored. Nobody could ignore the fact that their plans had been altered and something different was stirring in town, but did they really know why Jesus was there? Did they stop long enough to listen to the sound of His earth shaking love that made the darkness tremble?

Yesterday was Good Friday. The clouds were onomious and the wind howled. I think the weather was a picture of the first Good Friday. Everyone in town, was talking about the storm, racing to the store to stalk up on chocolate, milk and bread. (the essentials of course) There was a state of frenzy and fear. You couldn’t be in town and not hear about this storm or feel it’s power.  And yet people weren’t discussing  who made the storm or the power behind the breath of God’s  mouth. But it was God’s day as is everyday, rain or shine. Through that storm and every physical storm, I believe God speaks to people as a whole and as individuals.  Everyone saw the storm yesterday, but I think only few really let God speak to them through the wind, and the billowing clouds. Sometimes God speaks in the storm and sometimes in a still, small voice. And sometimes God speaks to us in the center of our silence and our cry to Him in the deepest moment of our pain. Even when it feels like He does not answer He is still there. Jesus died on the cross for everyone who has and who will ever live. But there is a message of grace and hope for you dear friend, personally. Jesus doesn’t just see a throng of people, He sees indiduals with personalities, smiles, giggles, heartaches that rip you, and dreams that make you cry. Jesus knows you inside outside and upside down and He still chose to die for you. Now friend, that’s love.

Give Your heart to Him, open Your eyes and choose to see what He has for you. It will not always be easy, but with your hand placed inside of His scarred hand, there is comfort that you will never walk alone.

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“But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

Much Love and Happy Easter!

Anna ❤

 

The song “Tremble” (which was used in post) was written by Hank Bentley, Mia Fieldes, Andres Figueroa and Mariah. Check out the song and the story at this link. 🙂

https://www.essentialworship.com/songs/mosaic-msc/tremble#STORY

 

 

Jesus ,Take Me to the Cross.

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I love a good snowfall! Don’t you? The snowflakes tenderly cover the thirsty, yearning ground. When I look out the window instead of seeing dry grass, I see a covering of cold and peaceful  perfection. I think the snow is a picture of God’s amazing grace. When God looks at us, He could choose to see everything we’ve ever done wrong. But instead when we say yes to Jesus, God see His son reflected in us. Jesus is my covering. It is only because of Jesus that I have any purity. The only righteousness I have is because of Him. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9. (NKJV)

Dear Jesus, thank You for the cross; for forgiving me.                                                          Love is much more than kisses, chocolates, and random romantic gestures.  Love is deeper, messier, and more complicated, than a perfect life free of arguments or misunderstandings.  Simply, look at the cross. The cross is the deepest symbol of love.
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (HCSB)
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for my sins, thousands of years before I was born. Jesus already knew what sins I would commit, and He paid for them anyway. Jesus still loved me with all His being, all of His blood, beatings, and scornful insults that were wrongly thrust on Him. Most of us are familiar or have heard of Lam. 3:22-23. “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  I am so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning. But I cannot simply be thankful and harbor bitterness and hurt feelings. Every morning when I wake up I must extend God’s mercies to those who’ve hurt me and who will hurt me. I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. “The people closest to you will hurt you the most.” So, does that mean that I avoid people? Do I avoid loving people because I struggle to  forgive? Because I struggle to forget? No.

Jesus died on the cross for everyone, knowing that many would reject Him. But Jesus still took on the pain. Jesus chose to forgive. I must also choose forgiveness.Matt. 5:14-15.

“He heals the brokenhearted. And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:3-5.
“Satan aggravates wounds from the past to devastate your future.” (Linda Barrick, Beauty Marks.)

Whenever I am tempted to criticize or become bitter when someone I dearly love fails me, I must look to the cross and remember Jesus.  What else can I do but simply surrender and forgive?  Jesus  continues to bring me back to the cross. He continues to bring me back to 1 Corinthians 13. He shows me how much He has forgiven me and therefore I must forgive.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail, whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away ….For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am also known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8,12-13. (NKJV)

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Prov. 17:9 (NIV)

So dear friend, I don’t know what hurts wall up your heart. I can imagine that it is wrenching to thing about. Maybe you’ve shed some tears or tossed and turned unable to fall asleep. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving. That time will never come. Forgive in faith. We must forgive if we want to move forward with Jesus and His amazing grace.

 

Much love,

Anna ❤

 

“Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47.