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To Be the Real You

By Jan Merop

Cleveland, Tennesseeken and Jan Merop


Sitting down at the table at our ladies’ Christmas Tea last December, I discovered a lovely gift.  The wooden circle designed as a hanging ornament read, “Be who Jesus wants you to be.”

I immediately felt a connection to that thought and the gift became very personal.

I remembered many years before when my identity had become obscured by divorce.  My thoughts were muddled and confused.  I was still a mother to my precious son and that in itself gave great meaning to my life.

However, I still felt defined by my failure. Until I heard a radio pastor say, “Let your identity be in Christ.”

Those few words impacted me significantly.  That truth became a turning point in my life…a signal, if you will, to move forward using the past as stepping stones to the future the Lord had for me.

Though I didn’t have this new ornament with those words, they had been written across my heart by the One who knows me best.

As I embraced being the daughter of the King of kings, my attitudes, aspirations, and hopes were centered on him.  My faith took root more deeply.

It wasn’t long before my desires reflected my faith and I longed to serve the Lord and others with gifts I’d been given.

The spirit of gratitude to the Lord permeated my being and led me to joy despite my dire circumstances.  In turn, my strength and purpose returned.

Psalm 95: 1 & 2 NKJV says, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”

And then in Nehemiah 8:10 we read, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

The spirit of gratitude leads us to joy and the joy of the Lord living within us becomes our strength.  Why would that be?

When we practice having a grateful heart, our spirit becomes joyful because it is like telling the darkness to leave as we light the candle of thanksgiving and hope.

Being despondent makes us weak and without purpose.  But joy brings hope and in that hopefulness confidence and strength are renewed.

As it says in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

So, be who Jesus wants you to be and your life will be full of joy, strength, peace and fulfilling purpose.  Selah


A candle in the darkeness

Darkness encompassed the quiet space.

Every parishioner stood still

holding an unlit candle.

And then, the darkness was dispelled.

Just one candle illuminated the room.

Music joined in uplifting spirits,

as candle after candle reflected the joy

and peace on each face.

Go forth!  Be that candle in the darkness.

“Let your light so shine before men,

that they may see your good works

and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16


After six years in the mountains of Avery County, Ken and Jan Merop are now living in the hilly Tennessee countryside of Cleveland, TN…just outside of Chattanooga.  Ken’s photos can be seen at

Read more Christian news from Ken and Jan HERE.