Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To the Survivors of Newtown, CT

I know I just stated in my previous blog post that I wouldn't be writing until 2013.  But I want to briefly remark about the events of last Friday.  God just laid something on my heart again from the book I just read this morning.  In this book, The Purpose of Christmas, Rick Warren shares the full "Serenity Prayer."  I never knew there was more to that poem and prayer than the first few lines.  What a shame that it is rarely quoted and printed in its entirety--the rest is pretty great, too.  The events of last Friday have shocked and appalled me on a new level.  I keep thinking of all the children, teachers, and staff who survived, and all the hurting families of the ones who were senselessly murdered last Friday.  I pray the following "Serenity Prayer" for them all.  What a horrific thing to endure at Christmastime. 

To the survivors:  God is with you, even if it feels He has abandoned you.  He will make this right, even if it isn't in your timing.  I pray the Emmanuel of Christmas makes Himself known to you all--to each and every person involved, affected, and hurt by this incident.  The "Emmanuel" of Christmas, the "God with us," is exactly what you need and deserve at this time. Blessings and healing to you all.

Stephanie Teagarden
Former Educator and Blogger

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next."

The Purpose of Christmas

I did not intend for this blog post to become a book review, but I just spent two hours reading the book by Rick Warren entitled, The Purpose of Christmas.  Rick Warren is the author of the #1 NY Times Bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life.  This book, though an easy, quick-read, is quite meaty in substance.  It truly blessed and helped me refocus on the "reason for the season."  It also convicted and encouraged me on some personal issues with which I have been afflicted and searching for peace.  I highly recommend it, and though it is a crazy-busy time of year, it will be the best two hours you spend this month.  I've read several fast-reads such as this, and can honestly say that this one is the best of the best.  If you feel in any way that your life is lacking or void of anything on any level at all, read this book.  Even if you feel your life isn't measuring up to all you want it to be, at no blame to you--read this book!  As for the credibility of the author, Rick Warren was quoted as being one of Forbe's "100 Most Powerful," (and was the only one listed there who was characterized as, "trustworthy").  He was also named as one of Newsweek's "15 People Who Make America Great," one of Time's "100 Most Influential People in the World," and called one of, "America's 25 Best Leaders" in U.S. News & World Report.  So you can feel assured that reading it will be worthwhile, even if you don't trust my opinion.

I used to be one of those women who at Christmastime, was about as bound-up in nerves and anxiety as a girl can get.  My Christmas "do list" robbed me of nearly every joy of the season.  I would put immense pressure on myself to do so many unnecessary things that by the time the actual day rolled around, I was completely exhausted, grouchy, and void of any Christmas "spirit" or meaning (the perfectionist in me would trump better judgment).  I recall many painful moments spent sitting in church during the Christmas season asking God to forgive me for having such a lousy attitude during the celebration of His Son's birth.  I look back on that now and shudder.  Why could I not "get" it?  Why did I think I had to be the "wonder woman of Christmas" when all God ever expected or wanted of me at Christmastime was to acknowledge and celebrate His Son--to relish the free gift of salvation that He gave me in Him?  

The answer to that question is a simple one--societal pressure.  Our culture lays a standard of expectations on us at Christmas to which no one can meet (or at least, most can't).  Expectations of buying the perfect gifts (and plenty of them for people who need nothing to begin with), baking the perfect food (again, do any of us need to be eating ridiculously huge portions of rich, heavily-carbed, sugared food?), decorating the perfect tree and house, and the list goes on and on.  None of these things are expectations given by God, and when we place higher value and importance on them than we do on celebrating and recognizing the Savior's birthday, we end up empty and void of anything purposeful or meaningful at Christmastime.  I lived it personally for too many years.

Matt and I have had a busy month.  We began December attending his 100th Annual KLA Convention in Wichita (so I lost an entire week to prepare for Christmas right there).  Then we were both sick prior and afterward (so I lost some time there due to not feeling so well and playing "catch-up" from being down with illness).  Then, I spent five nights total (in rehearsals and shows) singing in my church's annual Live Music Christmas Light Show (which is very important to me and is really the only ministry I do at Christmas now).  Suffice it to say, we don't even have a tree up yet.  Am I concerned about this?  No, not one bit.  Would the Stephanie of say, five years ago have been okay with this?  No, not at all.  She would have been hyperventilating, making every one around her miserable, and certainly wouldn't have spent two hours reading some Christian Christmas book while sipping leisurely on coffee, as I did this morning.

So what has changed with me?  Some would say I have gotten old, unmotivated, and lazy.  Some might even characterize my lack of concern at being unprepared for Christmas (by the world's standards) as apathetic and complacent.  You could even suggest that I'm depressed or acting a scrooge.  But honestly, I don't think I've ever felt more peaceful, blessed, and relaxed in the month of December as I do this year.  I am simply sick and tired of being pushed into the mold of killing myself at Christmas.  I am tired of overspending, overexerting, and under-appreciating Christ.  I am tired of giving gifts to people who need nothing when there are children all over the world who are starving, homeless, shoeless, naked, and dying.  I am weary of feeling so empty due to being physically drained by the time the actual day of celebration arrives.  We women place too much emphasis on stuff that just doesn't matter at Christmas--stuff that is not eternal or necessary.  I hear it all the time--women complaining, stressing, and grieving over their "do lists" and the fact that they feel drained of any real Christmas joy.  Actually, I heard it come out of over 10 mouths just this past week, so I know I am not alone.  And all the undo stress we place upon ourselves (or that societal pressure places upon us), doesn't even scratch the surface of what is going on with most of us this time of year.  Many people have deeper issues during the holidays--things like dealing with family members who are not, "easy" to be around; prayer requests that we feel God just isn't hearing; personal struggles and battles on which we feel we'll never get a handle.  Our list of hopes and expectations is pretty high overall.  It is just a lot of stuff to face, and deep down we all have this Chevy Chase, "Christmas Vacation" mentality that we want the "perfect Christmas," which essentially means we want the perfect life.  This just sets us up for a guaranteed disappointment.  The truth is, Christmas isn't about us or anything in our current life--it is about Christ.  I think this is what has changed with me.  I finally "get it."  Christmas is about Christ.  I always knew this in my head, but my heart was not embracing that truth.  I was still failing to place Christ first at Christmas, and instead, would overload myself with the world's and other's expectations for me during the season (as well as, my own, which were the heaviest of all).  Then I'd pile on top of that, all my own personal desires and needs, hoping that this year would be "different."  I had a major rebellion and personal upheaval with this a few years ago--and it was a much-needed one. 

Rick Warren's meaty little book lays this all out so beautifully.  For the sake of time (yeah, yeah, I know, this is already really lengthy), the book talks about how there are really only three purposes for Christmas to solve our three greatest needs.  The first purpose is that it is a time for salvation--realizing our deep need to be saved from something, by Someone bigger than us, and for something meaningful.  The second purpose is that it is a time for reconciliation--between us and God (through Christ), and between us and others (even if that means we only get peace and reconciliation in our own hearts from God concerning the hurts, brokenness, and battles we have with others).  The third purpose is that it is a time for celebration--celebrating Christ, Who He is, and what He came to do for us.   Rick Warren discusses how if we fail to recognize, accept, and unwrap these three purposes for Christmas, these three indescribable gifts (2 Cor. 9:15), our Christmas will be a guaranteed colossal disappointment.  I couldn't agree more. 

I wish I could lay out all the notes I took as I read this book, but it would not only ruin the book for you, you'd be reading this blog post for half an hour at least!  Instead, I will just mention my favorite points and end with some Scriptures that Rick Warren cited that really blessed me.  I wish you all a very, Merry Christmas and a blessed time of salvation, reconciliation, and thus, celebration of the birth of our Only Hope and Lasting Gift--Jesus Christ.  Thanks to all my faithful readers who have taken the plunge with me in this blog this past five months.  I prayed a special blessing on each of you this morning, and I sincerely wish you all a richly blessed 2013.  I will not be posting until the New Year, as I need to focus on Christ and my family during the season.  But I hope you will continue to journey through life with me next year and I will do my best not to bore you...God bless you all!

Key Points and Scriptures on Rick Warren's, The Purpose of Christmas:

*Christmas is for SALVATION (by God, through Christ, from hell, and for a purpose)!
Luke 2:11, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

Ephesians 2:8-10, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

1 John 4:10, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

*Christmas is for RECONCILIATION (between us and God, & us and others)! 
Luke 2:14, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests."
James 3:18, "Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."

Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

2 Cor. 5:18, "All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation"... 

Proverbs 13:10, "Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice."

Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You."

*Christmas is for CELEBRATION (of the free gift and freedom given us by the CHRIST of CHRISTmas)!
Luke 2:10, "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.'"

Psalms 118:21-24, "I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad."

John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

2 Cor. 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Timeless and True

My husband just celebrated another birthday a few days ago.  Due to having a lot of recent stress with work (good stress, but still, stress) and being pretty sick with an upper respiratory infection from "you know where" for a week, I could tell that the coming of another age-marker was pretty low on the totem pole for him.  Once you're "in" your forties, birthdays pretty much stink.  But as they always say, it's better than the alternative!

One thing that pretty much made Matt's day was the news that our little niece, Wylie, had accepted Christ as her personal Savior, ON his birthday!  What a delight it was to hear that our precious little loved one had made the most important decision of her life at the ripe ol' age of five (same age as our Allie was).  Matt was elated.  We both discussed how we would never forget that Wylie prayed that prayer on his birthday.  Pretty great gift to get on your birthday.  The Bible says that the angels and all of heaven rejoice when even one person comes to Christ.  We seriously felt that, too!

We went on with our evening to enjoy a basic birthday celebration--dining with our daughter and her husband at one of Matt's favorite restaurants of all time, "Coco Bolo's."  Coco B.'s, as our family calls it, is a high-end, southwest cantina of sorts in Manhattan, KS ("Manhappiness," as our K-State friends call it).   They serve the most delectable entrees, and the beef dishes in particular are sinfully scrumptious (thus, it's one of my beef-man's faves).  Our family loves Mexican/southwest food, so it is a good fit for us right away.  Matt ordered his favorite, the carne asada, and all was well with the world.

But it was really just another day for him.  I could see it on his face.  I felt some guilt for not making a lot of hoopla and glitz over the whole thing, like I typically try to do.  We have both been ill, have had a lot on our individual plates (and I'm not talking about the meal at Coco B.'s, though that was also true), and with Christmas rapidly approaching, Matt's birthday kind of became an after-thought this year.  I hate that--poor guy.  He likes to teasingly declare quite dramatically (with his fake, ornery grin) that he always gets the shaft with having a birthday two weeks prior to Christmas.  So throughout our marriage I have tried my level best to make that distinctly untrue, but I failed miserably this year.  However, my T-bone (the nickname given to him by our card party friends) never complains.  He is a man who defines contentment, and I am richly blessed.

I found myself taking some moments to really look at him on his special day though.  He looks so great--heads above others his age.  And he carried so much stress caring for a wife and baby at eighteen and getting himself through college in three and half years.  He is such a hard-worker and strives to do his best in all his does, regardless of where he is and whom he is serving.  In looking at him and giving him this affirmation that night, I recalled a precious conversation I had years ago with one of my fellow band-mates at church.  He was sharing about the fact that no matter what age his wife hits, she still looks the same to him as the day he married her--and in fact, even more beautiful.  He shared with me that though she felt insecure at times in the "weathering process" she was experiencing in getting older, he truly viewed her as more beautiful than when he had married her.  He remarked about how it is a neat blessing from God when a couple ages together and yet still sincerely view each other as the people they married.  It's as if the wrinkles, loose skin, age spots, and other frailties aren't even there. I pondered this and have many times since the conversation.  How I long for this to be true.  I mean, I've never questioned my love for Matt or whether I'd still love him as an old man.  But I've worried about the opposite--will he love me as I change?  Will he still see me as me?

Let's be honest--in our society, men are given much more leeway with regard to aging.  It doesn't matter if it's fair or not, or if your spouse believes this or not, it is a simple fact--women aren't supposed to get old.  We're told this from our teen years--that being young, beautiful, and perfect in every way possible are basic requirements to not only getting, but keeping a man.  We all know as females and are warned early on that if the little "rush" our man gets when he sees a beautiful woman is bigger than the rush he gets for us, we're in trouble--or at least, we should be cautioned.  So, a lot of people have profited off this belief and fact in our world.  Just walk into any Dillard's or Nordies and look at all the freaking makeup--there's more of it than anything else in the store!  It is truly unreal how much money a woman can spend trying to look good for a man.  My band mate also mentioned the fact that when you age together as a couple, and you aren't blind to the reality of your own aging process, younger people just look like children to you.  He said, "Anyone in their right mind isn't attracted to someone to whom they could have given life."  I have to agree, totally.  If you aren't attracted to your own reasonable age group, your self awareness and identity are way off-base--sorry, just my opinion.

Matt and I recently took a trip down memory lane and looked at our old wedding photos.  We always end up in total laughter because we look like children playing dress-up in wedding attire--seriously!  It is actually rather sad to look at the two young, dumb kids standing there on that altar, smiling like they have it all figured out.  Boy, were we naive.  We had no clue what we were getting into or all that we were about to face!  But it is also pretty cool to look at the man I married and realize that he looks so much better to me today than he does in those pathetic wedding photos.  In those pictures, Matt is just a blind, dumb, teenage boy in love, who needs to gain about 30 pounds, is wearing a really bad tux, and who I no longer know.  But in reality today, he is so many greater, deeper things to me.  He is an intelligent, witty, charming, refined, driven, thoughtful, generous, educated, loving, gentle, joyful, content, God-fearing, confident, handsome man.  So, I get it.  I really get it.  When you truly love someone, and you watch them grow into a person of distinction, character, and immense quality, of course they only look better as the years pass--even as the outside appearance fades.  It's all that stuff underneath that gives enormous value to the attraction and the overall appearance.  I don't care how good looking someone is--if they are selfish, proud, arrogant, rude, cruel, and untrustworthy, their looks fade immediately.  The outside value will take you about as far as a day.

So though I sort of blew it for my devoted hubby's birthday this year in not making it some major celebration, I write this blog in his tribute.  T-bone, you are an amazing husband and father.  You are an immensely special person.  You are a Godly man who loves to serve the Lord with gladness--and that my friend, is divinely attractive.  You make me feel like a goddess, and you bring great security and joy to my heart and life.  I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 5:18, "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth." Thank you, babe, for always doing that.  And happy birthday...you look amazing.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Discouraging Detours

We all like to think of our lives as being somewhat mapped out.  We chart our courses, make our plans, and hope to cheerfully arrive at our desired destinations after diligently working to stick to the directions laid out before us.  But sometimes, even without our realizing it, we end up on detours.  Most of us don't like detours--they are an annoyance.  When we come upon one in the literal sense, we usually grimace because they are typically unplanned, they are usually not simple or short, and we are faced with being late to our destination.  Detours throw a kink in our plans.  On top of all that, we feel our time is being wasted because the recommended, typical, and desired path is blocked, and we are forced to go distances we really don't want to go.

We end up on metaphorical detours in life, as well--chosen and unchosen.  Sometimes we purposefully take detours--maybe we are struggling to make a decision about something, so in an attempt to buy more time for ourselves, we lolly-gag around in avoidance, and waste time off the path on which we really need to be driving in order to arrive at our unique, particular destination (or worse, we aren't really that focused or driven to achieve it in the first place).  Other times, we find ourselves on a detour when we thought all along that we were on the main path toward our desired goal.  These are the tough ones--they can actually be pretty devastating.  We feel lost.  When we put our heart and soul into a plan, and find that our time was wasted and we got no closer to our desired destination, it is stifling to the spirit, to our vision, and to our hope. It just isn't fun or encouraging to face the reality that we've been driving around aimlessly on some dirt road when we've worked our tails off thinking we were on the straight and narrow turnpike working toward an ambitious venture with purpose.  And it is even less fun when others with whom we are working aren't truly focused or driven to achieve the goal and they force us to take detours with them without our approval.

So what do we do on an unwanted detour when we realize we are on one?  In the literal sense, we typically sigh and forge ahead to get ourselves back on the appropriate course to head toward our initial destination.  We try to keep our cool, rely on our determined focus, and revamp our time in accordance with the change of plans.  Maybe we even try to enjoy and appreciate the change of scenery, though this is not likely for those like me who would prefer to choose to enjoy a change of scenery at a more appropriate time (not have it forced upon them)!  For detours of the metaphorical nature, we need to do the same thing, but it is more excruciating and difficult for sure.  Detours of the metaphorical type affect much more important things in life than just adding a few minutes to our day.  They require an entire reassessment of our life, our plans, and at times, even our purpose.  They aren't typically just a few miles and we typically lose stuff that we've worked toward at the end of it all.  When we realize we've been on one of this kind, we've usually put some miles on the odometer, and we aren't pleased to face that we now have depreciated value or wear and tear from the journey!  Sometimes we find that we not only have been on a detour, but our particular detour wasn't even heading us in the right direction.  We've gone backwards and are farther from our destination. So then there is that issue of added grief with which to deal. 

I have recently found myself on such a detour.  Pouring my heart out to God, He reminded me of that timelessly true Scripture verse, Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  That verse has sustained me in many times of struggle, frustration, and when my perseverance, endurance, and hope are being severely tested.  God also showed me that when we choose to put ourselves on a detour due to disobedience, lack of focus or vision, or indecisiveness, we pay for that.  That is of our own choice and doing.  But when we are taken on one unknowingly, against our will, and have our time and energy stolen from us (time that He alone gives and should direct), God makes this right--it wasn't our fault.  He doesn't like it when we are deceived, blocked, tricked, used, or taken down detours that aren't in His will, either.  He doesn't like it when others aren't honest, do not stick to plans, or do not keep their commitments.  He doesn't like time-wasters.  He is as frustrated with them as we are.  God honors people who keep their word and do right by others.  He blesses those who are steadfast in their deeds and actions, are committed to purposes in life, are committed to others, and who help others achieve and head down paths that are fruitful for them.  He is pleased when our time is orderly because He is a God of both time and order.  He is also a planner--much planning went into the order of the universe, and all truly great things come out of thoughtful, extensive, creative planning.  All truly great things come from sticking to such plans, as well.  We can plan all we want in life, but if we never commit to any of those plans, we might as well lie on the couch with a bag of potato chips and call it a day.  If we have found ourselves on detours that we were dragged down blindly, we can rest assured that God will right the wrong.  We can also rest assured that He will bring purpose and meaning to that unwanted journey, even if we don't see much initially.  He has a way of blessing us on those undesired detours and will shed light, in time, on things we cannot see.  He can also speed up our later journeys to make up for the time we lost being taken on an unwanted detour.  God is faithful and He can be trusted with our plans, time, and life's journey. 

I also believe wholeheartedly that God uses detours in accordance with His will.  Maybe He was protecting us from something else.  Perhaps He was growing us in some area for a bigger and much better purpose down the proper road (our main, toll road of life).  Maybe He had to "buy time" Himself so that He could align us with something or someone who wouldn't be driving along our desired path at the right time if He hadn't detoured us for that later, bigger purpose.  We also meet lots of interesting people on detours and at intersections along the way--people who feed and bless us, and maybe that was the whole point.  We also must remember that we all face delays and obstacles whenever we are seeking to arrive at a great destination.  Nothing really good or noble ever comes easily, and we all know God loves to test our faith (trust), our patience, and our endurance.  In fact, I am convinced that those are the three most frequent tests we all have in life (well, you could easily add tests of "love" to the mix, too)!  But we can rest assured that God always puts His children on the right path when they are truly seeking His will and His destination for them.  If we are seeking our own will and our own destination, and either of those are not in line with His ultimate desire for us or are in conflict with His will, we are bound to end up on many detours.  If we are His children, He isn't going to put us on the toll road of life if we are we're headed in the wrong direction.  He'll use detours to get us in line again.  Sometimes it feels as though God is like "Suri," the annoying lady on our iPhones, restating to us that we aren't following the perfect directions given, and that our plans are now going to be recalculated and remapped!  But most of the time, I believe detours are God-ordained.  He uses them and they aren't always a bad thing.  

The main thing God has shown me the past couple of days as I face yet another detour, is that He wants nothing more than for me to arrive at my goals, desires, and proper destinations in a timely fashion.  He isn't trying to be my arch nemesis or my adversary by allowing detours in my life.  He isn't trying to stifle and constrict me--even if other people are allowed time and space to do so temporarily.  He wants the best for me and for my life--His best.  He also knows intimately my desires and dreams.  He knows my afflictions and passions, and He isn't avoiding me.   So I pray--hard.  I persist with much endurance and perseverance.  First, I pray for God to remove any desires in my heart for things not in accordance with His perfect will for my life.  I make it clearly known to Him that I want Him to give me the desire for only what He wants for my life--this includes my plans, goals, and other people (because people can drain our time and energy, and can keep us on detours in dirt-road bondage causing us to spin our wheels incessantly and preventing us from accomplishing anything). Other people can also piously try to make their own goals and destination become our goals and destination, when that is not our charted path or journey--God hates that, and He alone will decide.  Secondly, I ask Him to give me wisdom, patience, endurance, and strength to chart my new map and my new plan in order to get myself on the right road headed in the right direction.  This includes bringing the right people into my life to help me along my path--my true, destined sojourners.  Third, I ask Him to bring discernment, peace, and understanding to my life as I seek to protect myself from further detours.  I ask Him to shelter and protect me from things and people that will steal my time, energy, and efforts fruitlessly and aimlessly.  I ask Him for guidance and wisdom in seeing any red flags along my path so as to avoid anything and anyone that raises them.  Fourth, I ask Him to bless my efforts, my energies, and my time, and to bring fruitful blessing and profit from it.   And I exert much faith and hope that He hears me, and hasn't given up on me and my dreams.  

I saw a couple of quotes the other day that really stuck with me.  One was by Napoleon Hill and said, "A goal is a dream with a deadline."  I loved that.  No one accomplishes anything in life without deadlines. Dreams are just illusions without plans and deadlines.  Another said, "Look for the dream that keeps coming back.  It is your destiny."  There are a couple of "dreams" for which I am praying for my life right now.  They are things I desire greatly for God to bring to fruition and restoration in my life.  One prayer item is afflicting me so much that I find myself asking Him daily to just remove the desire if it is never going to happen or if my asking Him for it is in vain and void of any hope.  It's been nearly two years now and He just won't remove it.  It just keeps coming back--unwanted even, at times.  I believe there is a reason for this. I also fully believe that when someone has an ability or gift coupled with a big passion or desire to use it, there is a reason for that, too.  God gives both gifts and passions, and He desires to use those for our benefit and His glory.  He has big plans for each of us if we'll only trust Him on both the toll roads and detours of our lives.  He wants us to enjoy the journey, too.  Pray on...

Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Proverbs 16:9, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Psalms 34:7, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."