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STILL Before The DAWN by JODY BENNETT REICHEL “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” — Mark 1:35” (NIV) One morning I bolted out of bed, looked at my alarm clock, and it was only 4 a.m. I got back into bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I just lay there restless for hours with many thoughts spinning around in my head. Before I knew it, the sun was up and it was time to wake the kids for school. This lack of sleep went on for weeks! I knew it had to be the Lord waking me up. I grabbed my Bible, pen and journal and went out to the screen porch. God truly had me right where He wanted me, “in that solitary place.” I fell to my knees and started crying out to God. Why 4 a.m.? Wasn’t I spending enough time with Jesus during the day? He knew just what I needed! My heart was burdened with so much: my brother-in-law had throat cancer, my mama was battling terminal illness, all four of our children, ages 14-25, were facing their own intense challenges. There was pain and adversity all around me. After reading some scripture, I started sharing my heart with the Lord. The more I prayed, the more the Holy Spirit kept pouring Himself over me and giving me His words of comfort. After filling many tear-stained pages in my journal, I soon realized the sun had come up and God had soothed my troubled soul. This time my writing to God was different. My words were in a rhyming prose. 38

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October 2016

I knew this was from the Lord, as I don’t write this way. I showed my husband, Rob, and he too was amazed. This dreaded 4 a.m. wake up call soon became my sweet, anointed date with Jesus. The journals started filling up with not only poetic words of comfort for me, but for many others God put on my heart. Through scripture and prayer the Lord began to speak to me, not only in the wee hours but also on my beach walks, bike rides, anywhere, anytime. I started sharing my poems with those for whom I was praying. I prayed that the words He had given me could bless a wider audience. Amazingly, my poems were soon published with Dear Cards, a Christian greeting card company, my lyrics were sung by a Christian recording artist, and my framed writings were sold in stores. Many years have passed since that first early porch time with my Lord, but it is still my place of communion with Him. As I have continued to seek God’s purpose for my poems, He led me to compile my writings into my new book Still Before The Dawn to help bring encouragement and hope to the soul. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” — II Corinthians 1:3,4 (NIV)

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