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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

BENT OVER WITH BURDENS

The Bible Study I am currently attending is using the book


I have a love/hate relationship going on with this study.  The problem is not with the book--it's with me.

I love to backpack, hike, and camp.  There is a serious problem when I overload my pack and try to carry too much weight.


The weight guidelines suggest you not try to carry more than a third of your body weight when hiking.  I error on the side of caution and carry way too much food (peanut M&M's are NOT light) and clothing.  Add to that the required bear canister and I am loaded down.  It did not make for an enjoyable trek.

The book addresses those things in life we are burdened with--be it past or present.  My refusal or inability to shed the weight of past and present disappointments, hurts, and anger are weighing me down.  As we continue our trek through life and we are thrown curve balls, we become bent over by the weight of the negative.  


My refusal or inability to give it all to Christ and allow Him to set me free is creating a barrier between who I am and who I could be.  Last meeting I told the modulator, the author makes it sound easy.  I have given it up over and over--only to find something dredging it all to the top again.  She reminded me the author spoke of her tears and torment before she was finally able to turn it all over.  Perhaps the problem was the flatness of the emotion when transferred to the written word.  I must admit I find it very difficult to convey my deep emotions when turning to pen and paper.  There is something about the human voice that can only truly impart our emotion and then only in part.  How do you ever explain what your heart and soul are feeling?


This is where the Holy Spirit comes in.  When we are able to truly confess our burdens--without hesitation or reserve, He is our interpreter.  Only He can translate the pain, grief or anger into the deep groaning of our spirit.  My willingness to let go has a direct impact upon my ability to let go.  

This book is challenging me.  I refused to answer part of the questions in this section.  Telling the group, this book is meddling, is only part of the story.  I am hesitant to dredge the past up and perhaps I keep thinking I can do this on my own.  On the surface, I am doing just that--deep down--in the recesses of my soul--I am not so sure.  I have lost my desire to write--and I wonder if that is a reflection of what is rolling around spiritually.  



Can we ever give it all up this side of glory?  Does it create a gap in my relationship with The Father?  Do I choose to stand tall or allow the burdens of the world to keep me bent over?  Deep thinking--

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A CLEAN HEART


RESTORE UNTO ME
THE JOY OF THY SALVATION
AND RENEW
A RIGHT
SPIRIT WITHIN ME

HAVE MERCY!



MAY YOUR SABBATH
BE FILLED WITH BLESSINGS,
DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, October 28, 2017

MEANWHILE IN THE LOUISIANA HOOD

TOOK AN IMPROMPTU
TRIP TO SOUTH LOUISIANA
WHEN MY SWEET FRIEND
OFFERED ME A RIDE

 WENT FOR A COUPLE OF HIKES 
WHILE THERE 

MARY BROWN NATURE CONSERVANCY
PROVED TO BE A LITTLE MUDDY
AS I WROTE IN 
YESTERDAY'S POST



WE ALSO EXPLORED
THE PORT HUDSON STATE PARK TRAILS


AND THEN
FIRST RAW


AND THEN
GRILLED


AND IF
YOU NEED
A LITTLE
LOUISIANA TREAT



YOU GOTTA LOVE
LIFE IN THE SOUTH!

Friday, October 27, 2017

OUT OF THE SLIMY PIT

While in South Louisiana visiting dear friends, we took a couple of hikes.  The first day found us at the Mary Brown Nature Conservancy.  Beautiful trails through the deep woods and bluffs of South Louisiana, I was prepared to enjoy a frolic through the forest.  



What I did not realize was two days before the area had 10 inches of rain fall in a very short period of time.  The National Highway had been closed for a period of time due to flooding.  AND there are beautiful streams that run through the land.



Add to this the unusually dry past few months they had experienced and you have all the ingridents necessary for a flash flood.  The dry ground had turned to sand and the vegetation was had died from lack of rain.  Then the waters pouring through the area pushed the sand and dirt down the dry creek beds.  It all comes to a halt when there is an obstacle such as a wooden bridge and the mud drops.


The first couple of bridges we crossed presented no problem, but then we found ourselves at the bottom of the ravine.  The mud was soft, gooey, and deep.  We began to explore ways around the deep mud filled trail.  It is NOT a pretty sight to see me pulling myself up the side of a deep ravine trying to get above the quick sand like obstacle.  My first try lead to turning around and retracing my steps to try the other side.  As I cling to trees and bushes trying to pull myself up and keep from sliding down, I am holding The Wonder Dog.  He may be traumatized for life.  FINALLY I make it to the edge of the bridge by walking the railing.  THEN there is another field of mud on the other side.  At this point, I get wise and follow in the footsteps of my friend, Mark.  Carefully placing my foot in the deep prints left when he crossed the mud filled path, I was able to get to the other side and climb the ravine to go around the remaining mud.  It was NO walk in the park.


While thinking this over, I began to realize how like life this little hike was.  The trail is often beautiful and luring us into a false sense of safety.  We turn a corner and there is the mud filled path staring us in the face.  Trying to get around it can prove to be a dead end and often we have to retrace our steps.  It often takes trial and error to realize someone is right in front of us pointing the way.  A trail of footprints, or crumbs, or arrows point the way for us.  All we have to do is stop looking at our toes (right past our navel) and glance in front of us to see we have been left directions on how to continue down the path.  

The mud of the trail and the mud of life can all be washed off.  The beauty of the trail can only be enjoyed if we work our way through the mud and continue down the path.  At the end of this trail was the most beautiful sight of the entire hike-

We would have missed it all had we not gone through the mud.  It was more than worth the struggle.


He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; 
he set my feet on a rock
 and gave me a 
firm place to stand.
Psalms 40:2

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

FITS LIKE A GLOVE

Once upon a time a life time ago, there was a unique small group-- I was blessed to be a part of this unique group.  Not unlike a family, members floated in and out over the years, but once a member of the family always a member.  There is a special bond that forms when you live life together and nothing can break the tie that binds. Something about living through the good and bad; lean and plenty; ups and downs tightly knits you into a lasting relationship.  How many times have I heard one of the members say how much they miss the group.  Each and every time I reply, "It was a once in a lifetime experience--never to be recaptured."




Then there was the group formed around the common interest of running.  With age and injury, this group has certainly changed greatly over the years.  Nothing can take away all the miles we ran together, all the laughter, the tears, and solving the problems of the world.  With a wide assortment of athletic ability, some took the sport far more serious than others.  One thing we shared though was the love of community when pounding the pavement in all kinds of weather.  Oh, the stories we share.



Some groups come in very small sizes.  There are relationships that span half a century.  Though they change with circumstances, nothing can ever take away the hours of discussion and the trials and successes of life lived together.  With time comes a familiarity not to be equaled.



Perhaps the nucleus of forming community begins with a family.  The very root of where we learn to live life with others.  The give and take, love and bickering, triumph and dismay of standing shoulder to shoulder with those of our own and walking the path through this life creates our first community group.



The circles of love and friendship in our lives is amazing.  When we sit down and think of all those we are connected with in various ways it is amazing how richly we are blessed.  Connection and relationships are what this world is all about.  No two groups are the same and all are filled with individuals which create the one of a kindness never to be imitated.

In each and every group or community we are blessed to participate in, we bring our unique personality.  What we bring to the table in each one is our birthright gifts.  The role we play in one group may be entirely different from another.  We are charged with using the gift which best suits the needs of each group.  When we identify and fill the role we are meant to play, then the group functions at its best cohesiveness.  Only when we all perform to the best of our abilities for our unique tasks does the group achieve its highest function.  




Groups have come and gone over the years--some will be eternal--some for a season.  God created us to live in community and we are responsible for seeking out the community which fits like a glove.  Close but not binding--protecting but not stifling--warm but not smothering--I am always seeking relationships which fit like a glove.



Monday, October 23, 2017

YOU TOO?

The past weeks have seen a fire storm of "Me Too's".  What started as a blown whistle on an influential member of the Hollywood elite, has grown into a social media viral epidemic.  The question seems to be not who is a member of the society of "Me Too," but who is the rare individual who has never been initiated.



The fire storm has lead to plenty of discussion, and what I have walked away from almost every encounter with was a profound and deep sadness over the deep injury that has been wrecked upon more than I would have ever imagined.  The field is littered with bodies of not only women, but even men who are some point in their life have been inappropriately taken advantage of in a sexual manner.  It's not a new thing---the stories are legion for young and old alike who have been scarred.  The strong taking advantage of the weak is as old as the beginnings of time.




Why now has it come to light?  Somehow the barrier of shame has been torn down and the cleansing has begun.  We didn't talk about these things most of my life--the shame of allowing an incident to happen always sat squarely on the shoulders of the victim.  As if somehow we could prevent a stronger, more influential, more powerful, and sometimes dearly loved attacker from making their lewd advances.  Silence came from shame---the victim was the one who bore the mantle of shame and sadly--the attacker walked away with no consequences to strike again.  The mantle of shame is heavy and can only be stripped away with the admittance of what happened.  With time, the mantle becomes part of the daily uniform one would never walk out the door without.  Shame is a powerful emotion that influences the vision we have of ourselves.  It influences each and every relationship in our lives.  Until it is stripped away, we are never free from the burden of self condemnation.




Thankfully many are being released from their burden of shame by coming forward and shouting, "Me Too".  Perhaps social media is not the best place to release the mantle, but better there than never.  At some point, one must face what happened, lay the blame with the perpetrator, and walk away free from the shame of something you had little or no control over.  Swallowing the lie that somehow one is complacent becomes a chronic life altering weight.  The worst part is telling the story the first time.  When one sees they are not blamed or loved any less, the path to freedom begins.  With freedom from this unmerited shame, life begins to be lived with greater joy and renewed purpose.

SHAME on those who cross the boundary of decentness and take advantage of another by forcing uninvited advances.  There is NO justification under any circumstances for refusing to acknowledge, "No".   There is NO SHAME for the innocent victim --and hopefully freedom from this lie from Hell will lift-----when that first step of telling someone,


"Me Too"

is taken.  And the best news I have for those who have been victimized, Jesus is in the business of redemption and restoration.  He WILL deliver us from our distress!

6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
 and he delivered them from their distress.
Psalms 107:6



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

HEADED TO BANKRUPTCY!

It can prove to be a delicate guessing game to have enough funds to last until we leave this terrestrial ball for a better place.  My in laws saved their entire life for "The Big Illness".  In his 80's, my father in law had to have open heart surgery and my sweet mother in law was incapacitated with dementia.  I told Pappaw one day, during all of this, that the Big Illness he had saved for his entire life was here and it was time to spend some of that stash.  He was still reluctant--you never know what might lie down the road.




One of my long term client's step mother lived long into her 90's.  He took care of her finances and told me she ran out of money for all the expensive extensive end of life care the month she died.  He was greatly relieved she had enough funds to last her until that final curtain call.



I am at the point in life where this is a concern for me.  Though I have end of life plans in place, I do not have a crystal ball and so far God has not revealed how long I will be here.  I live a quiet non-extravagant life trying to ensure my needs will be taken care of by the savings I have.  I hope to be like the client's step mother and have just enough to make those final payments with no need to file bankruptcy.


This brought to mind a statement made to me by my sweet friend who is a therapist.  She told me that we give a piece of our heart to everyone we love.  I often quote this and reflect upon the validity of this.  I have a host of family and friends I love---and they each hold a piece of my heart.  There is still plenty of heart to go around to the new family and friends God Blesses me with.  It is risky to love and give away a piece of our heart.  It is gone forever once we allow another to claim a piece.  It is a risk I am willing to take.  I had rather die bankrupt of heart- with not one piece left than to stop taking the risk.  Something tells me if we hold on to our heart--it becomes hardened-calcified and is of little use to anyone.   The beauty of it all is with each piece we give away--God fills that void with His presence.  He will never allow us to become bankrupt of heart by loving others.  His presence provides an unending supply of love---for God Himself is Love.  Go ahead and give away all you want--His supply is endless and there is never a threat of bankruptcy of heart--when God is the fountain of endless love.


Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love
I John 4:8

Monday, October 16, 2017

YOU HAVE BEEN REPLACED

I recently heard a story about someone being replaced in their job.  After giving their all and creating a successful program, they decided to join a new venture.  The change has not transitioned as smoothly as hoped.  Human emotions and expectations get in the way and when the almighty dollar is involved it puts an entirely different spin on things.  The ability to replace us is a big life lesson.



As I thought this over, the current controversy over taking a knee by professional football players during the  "National Anthem" shot to the surface.  This post is NOT about  your position on this hot button.  I have though thought of the movie from many years ago, "The Replacements".  The news seems to indicate the corporate headquarters are feeling the wrath of the people and their bottom line has been affected.  There is threat of a new rule--take a knee--don't play.  You will be replaced.




When I walked out of my CPA office for the last time, I knew I would be replaced.  The fact of the matter is I could have sat behind that desk until my last breath.  My clients, Bless Their Hearts, would have paid their respects and begun the search for their next CPA in the same day.  Realizing this is how mankind works made it much easier to leave the pencil behind and walk out the door.  These are the facts and I am not hurt or upset one second about it.

We can be replaced in almost every role in our lives, someone can step in and take our place.  The chair seat will hardly have time to cool before someone else plops down to enjoy the warmth we left behind.  When we start thinking we are irreplaceable--we are headed down the path to disappointment.  Someone else can always step into our shoes.



HERE IS THE REALLY GOOD NEWS---NO ONE can fill our unique shoes.  We bring something to the table in each and every relationship which is unique.  God created us all different and we act and react differently from our fellow man. We might be replaced, but we take our unique personalities with us when we walk away.  Perhaps the bitterness of swallowing someone taking our place can be mellowed with the sweetness of our uniqueness.  I take great comfort in knowing I am uniquely and perfectly created for His good purpose.  I celebrate our God given uniqueness.


I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
Psalm  139:14

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

I was a little nervous about what I would write about the local hood once I moved to the innocence of small town living.  An old friend invited me to join a group on Facebook "Ruston Rants".  He assured me there would be plenty of writing fodder.  



A closed group of an intimate 14,198, you are not allowed to be a part of the fun unless you have Ruston or Lincoln Parish ties.  I would write about it, but I don't  even know where to begin.  There are some ANGRY people here in small sleepy North Louisiana.  Not only are they angry, but they also feel the need to publicize all their grievances on this Facebook page.  I am astounded!



The big news in The New Hood is the land behind this small neighborhood has been clear cut.  In case you are from the city and do not understand--ALL the beautiful trees have been cut for acres.  The logging company leaves no sign of green behind.  What once was a beautiful curtain shielding us from the outside world has been systematically cut down.  We are exposed!  The neighbors are not happy--but what can you do?  If you own the property, you can do as you will. Sadly, it will take years for there to be any semblance of the beauty of the forest.


Halloween is approaching and signs of the approaching free for all have begun to appear in the neighbor's yards.  I'm no especially fond of this holiday, but always have candy on hand for the visiting parade of ghosts and goblins.


Hero, The Wonder Dog, is still psychotic, but he is slowly adapting to his new home.  He recognizes his house and turns in the drive and heads for the door when we go for walks.  Not so sure we are making friends and impressing the neighbors since we ALWAYS have a hissy fit when we see their dogs and cats.



The calendar may say Fall, but the temperature is still summer.  Thankfully it is a LITTLE cooler at night.  Will I ever get to use the outdoor fireplace??




Sure do miss these little people.  We facetime a couple of times a week, but that doesn't make up for the hugs and kisses I am missing!




If you see me, give me a hug and tell me it's for the grands!


HUNTING FOR THE FALL---HERE IN THE HOOD!



Friday, October 13, 2017

FINALLY FRIDAY

It is now OFFICIAL---I am indeed a resident of my home state of Louisiana.  The DMV says so!



It ONLY took three trips to two offices of the DMV to establish my official proof of being a citizen of the Great State of Louisiana.  Considering what I went through when transferring to Texas, I consider this a bureaucratic miracle.  All you have to do to obtain a license is take along every piece of paper you have ever received proving you were indeed born and proof that you DO have a house of some shape, form, or fashion.  THAT and a BOAT LOAD of money will get you a license plate and driver's license.


  

Obviously the DMV employee who takes the pictures for our license transferred from the state prison admission's office for death row inmates.  Haniball Lecter's picture made him look quite normal compared to my latest license.  AND---I get to look at it for SIX long years.  It is so bad they may question it being me when presenting it as identification or possibly question whether I am indeed suffering from a terminal illness.  WHY do I always have my eyes shut and WHERE did that double chin come from?  It's GOOD to be known around the town of Ruston and HOPEFULLY NOT asked for identification.



Further proof of being back in the verdant state of Louisiana is one leg being covered by poison ivy rash.  WHO KNOWS WHERE I came into contact with this wonderful vine.  Could be in my own flower beds or on my walks in the park--YOU NEVER KNOW--especially since poison ivy looses its leaves long before anything else.  Unfortunately the vine still causes the rash.  It leaves me clawing at my leg in the privacy of my own home and trying to subtlety scratch when out in public.  Subtlety is not my strong suit.



The other leg has fire ant bites all over it.  It seems I stood in a fire ant bed while Hero sniffed every blade of grass in the ditch .  NO PEOPLE---this is NOT my leg.  I HAVE shaved my legs--at least once since I moved!

SO YOU SEE---I am official---the real deal---bona fide--and certifiable (NOT A MISTAKE) citizen of the GREAT STATE of Louisiana!  


It's GOOD to be home and I am thankful it is Friday!




Monday, October 9, 2017

WHO IS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT?

The world has gone slap dab crazy!  The media---all kinds of media--confirm this fact blow by blow--moment by moment.  The headlines scream of disaster, tragedy, despair, lying, cheating, no good politics, and on and on.  I remembered why I quit watching the news a few years ago when I began watching once again.  I just could not take one more sad-mad-bad story.



My talks with dear friends have further confirmed the sad state of affairs in which we live in the midst.  Death, disease, destruction, decline of all kinds fill our hearts with fear and dread.  The phone ringing or the latest news break interrupting seems to mean only one thing--MORE BAD NEWS!



We all know those narcissistic-psychotic-neurotic --hanging on to sanity by one shear thread neighbors down the street.  Those who abuse, threaten, use, terrorize, and victimize the world in general.  Those individuals who deny the voice of reason and cling to the sound of crazy.  

IT"S ENOUGH TO DRIVE THE MOST SANE OF US CRAZY!

It will drive you to the edge of despair---or drive you to Jesus.  I much prefer Jesus.  When the world turns ugly---when your neighbor becomes a crazed homicidal lunatic---when there is no answer and you are absolutely helpless.  There is help in Jesus.  

He has been the closest---I have most felt His presence---I have known His comfort--when I was absolutely at my lowest.  All I had to do was cry out to Him---and He answered in a real--sometimes tangible--always comforting way.  HE IS WITH ME!  I can let the world drive me over the edge--or allow Jesus to take the wheel and steer me toward the hope that rests in Him.  Who is in the driver's seat?



Sunday, October 8, 2017

HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING

WHAT THOUGH MY JOYS
AND COMFORTS DIE?
THE LORD MY SAVIOR LIVETH
WHAT THOUGH THE DARKNESS
GATHER ROUND?
SONGS IN THE NIGHT HE GIVETH






BLESSED SABBATH,
DEAR FRIENDS

Thursday, October 5, 2017

CONFESSIONS OF AN ADDICT

I am back in my former "Really Small Group" I wrote about in my book.  It is small enough to be honest and transparent with one another without fear.  We are studying a book, that I must confess, I was not very excited over.  In the very early weeks of the study, God is using it to teach me--drag me along--even with my heels firmly dug in--He is revealing new truths to me.




Though the book is NOT about shame---somehow I came away from the first discussion with revelations about the destructive power of shame in my life.  I laughingly told the others, in today's culture, what has shamed me so grievously would be laughingly passed off as "Is that all you've got?" today.  It is NOT small potatoes to me.  I have given it free rein to rule who I am for far too long and it has managed to stifle and obscure  the important truths of Who God Is and What He says about me.





I need to attend a weekly meeting and stand up before all my fellow addicts and announce, "Hi, I'm Lora and I am addicted to approval."  I have spent a great deal of my life seeking approval to atone for past mistakes and current life status.  My focus has been on being good enough to negate the past and the truth is---I could NEVER be good enough.  I love the words from the Communion Ritual repeated in the Methodist Church, "I am not worthy enough to even gather up the crumbs under thy table."  I am a sinner---and only by His grace am I worthy to approach the table.




The rejection of a few has fueled the compulsion for approval.  No matter how many wonderful friends I am blessed with---I hunger and thirst for more and more.  I have allowed a handful of rejections to cloud my vision of the blessing of the love of many, but especially the love of God.  When I look in the mirror, when I replay past scenes, I often dwell on the negative and ignore the positive.  Though God has forgiven me, I have not forgiven myself.  I have negated the wonderful thing He has done for me by refusing to accept His sacrifice as being enough.  When I refuse to leave behind the shame, I am not accepting His gift of grace.  In my stark refusal to surrender my shame, I am saying there is something I can do to atone for my mistakes.  WRONG---WRONG---WRONG--on so many fronts this is wrong thinking!




SO how do we surrender our mistakes, leave our sins behind?  We've followed the instructions, done all the steps, and yet we are still plagued by shame.  I have found it necessary to surrender my shame to Him--more than once--sometimes almost daily.  I have to be willing to let it go---allow Him to take it---remember what He has done for me and live beyond my narcissistic shame.  YES--shame is narcissistic.  By allowing shame to shape who we are, we are putting more emphasis on us and our actions than on Him and His mercy.  By God's grace and with His help---I will leave shame behind and glory in His approval.


For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? 
Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men,
 I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10


Post Script---GIVE ME JESUS

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

PRACTICING ENOUGH

Occasionally I hear a statement which hits me smack dab between the eyes.  During the message Sunday, I was bowled over when the pastor asked, "Do you ever experience God not being enough?"  OH MY!  This has rolled around and around in my thoughts.  THIS WAS NOT even the point of the teaching--but  it was my primary take away.  God works like that!


The more I have contemplated, the more I have come to one conclusion--
We must practice experiencing enough--in all areas of our lives---to understand how to draw upon the concept of God being enough.



Eating is a very good example.  I try to make it a habit when I have had enough to eat to stop.  Push that plate away and cease and desist with the gorging.  It works well for me, but when I loose sight of being sated and allow my gluttony to rule the meal---I ALWAYS PAY!


Our age of consumerism is another prime example of never allowing ourselves to experience "Enough".  Bigger and bigger houses; cars, cars and better cars; clothes to the point of bulging closets---you name it and we have gone over-board.  We have gone from the day when an outdoor kitchen was the bane of man to the must have of all the latest and greatest in our outdoor kitchens.  Somehow duplicating all the bells and whistles of our indoor kitchen in the great outdoors has become a marvelous idea.  No nation is as consumed with consumerism as our great nation.  Even in the small town of Ruston, we have stores upon stores filled with retail enticements luring us into the "Never Enough" trap.


Cell phones and personal electronic devices are a great example of how things get out of control.  I have a lap top, a cell phone, and a kindle which is similar to a tablet.  Sit in any waiting room and look around you--everyone is glued to their cell phone.  We have all become plugged in and tuned out to the world around us.  We cannot get enough of social media!

As I thought all of this over, I began to understand contentment and satisfaction need to be practiced to learn how to experience it.  Just as we practice over and over to get the best golf stroke, souffle, painting, or whatever-we must practice experiencing enough in our day to day life to experience the feeling of contentment in all areas of our lives.

When I first heard the question posed, my heart sank.  I do not walk around in a constant state of knowing God is enough.  My head knows it, and my heart has experienced it, but the world has a way of clouding the truth.  I loose sight of that truth--HE IS ENOUGH.


I need to practice recognizing the truth of God being Enough.  With practice, I will then develop "Spiritual Memory".  When times are hectic, the world is racing by, and malcontent has raised its ugly head, I can call upon the spiritual memory---of God is enough.  Falling back upon the truth of His fullness, completeness and faithfulness, I will remember---What more could I need?---
HE IS ENOUGH

5 You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. 
6 How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! 
7 I praise the Lord, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. 
8 I am always aware of the Lord's presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me. 
9 And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure, 
10 because you protect me from the power of death. I have served you faithfully, and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead. 
11 You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever.
Psalms 16:5-11