The False Summits of Adoption

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In hiking, a false summit is the portion of the mountain that appears to be the highest point; however, upon reaching it, a mountaineer sees that the summit is higher. Unless prepared for such false summits, the effect on a hiker’s psychological state can be damaging.  So much so, that the she may give up and begin a disappointing descent.

In the summer of 2015, our then family of four hiked the majestic Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs Colorado. It was the most difficult hike to date that we have hiked as a family, and it has proven to provide so many parallels to obstacles we have faced in our adoption journey. The two-thousand feet gain in elevation over a mile at the front end of the hike was almost paralyzing to my psyche. I wasn’t sure we could complete this hike with success, but we ventured forth anyway. The people along the journey were so encouraging. They couldn’t believe that our five and seven year old children were attempting such a hike.

The real kicker came as we were approaching what seemed the top of the incline. Another hiker told us, its a false summit. The top is still a ways up. What? There was more? We had already had to make accommodations for one child to poop while on the trail (that was a first and only so far!) and our other child started off battling a bit of an asthmatic episode and had to be carried for part of the initial portion of the hike. A false summit! Okay, time for a snack and to regroup and prepare ourselves for the remainder of the journey to the summit.

In order to complete this hike we were on all fours, lifting children, encouraging children, and taking multiple breaks. The good news is… we made it! The victory welcome at the top from the other hikers is something our children will never forget; and I am almost positive, some of our fellow hikers will not forget either. In particular one man named Don.

Our adoption journey which we had temporarily laid down for nearly two years was reinitiated after we returned from that family vacation. That summer multiple videos were released which exposed Planned Parenthood for selling the body parts of aborted babies and killing them in such a way as to gain the most profit from their organs. These videos were the tipping point for us to take another step towards adoption. We had fostered for 13 months in the hopes that we would foster to adopt. However, our hearts were so wounded  and raw after the reunification of our foster son, that we knew a time of refreshing and regrouping as a family was necessary. As we all know, the Lord will not let us rest forever. That summer He was calling us back to the work of adoption and orphan care.

In July of 2015 we decided not to recertify as foster parents but to ask that we go straight into the adoption process. In short, much misinformation was communicated to us which has further complicated our adoption journey there on out. However, in September of 2015, through the fostering of a baby by friends of ours, we met a beautiful blonde-headed, blue-eyed boy that we are now in the final stages of adopting. For ten months we daily made multiple phone calls, sent numerous emails, and advocated on behalf of the best interest of this child before he was placed in our home as a pre-adoptive placement in July of 2016.

You may rush by that last sentence; but for us, the living out of those ten months was long and arduous.

With high hopes that the adoption would be finalized in October of this year (2016), we awaited the go ahead from the attorney to schedule the court date. We inched closer to the anticipated court date only to discover that our son was not yet free and clear for adoption, but that a paperwork error had occurred and we were essentially back to a holding period.

Was this a false summit, or merely a strenuous portion of our hike?

With that knowledge in mind, I boarded a plane in late September and went hiking for two days in breathtaking Washington State with a dear friend. No false summits in sight on our hikes, and so far, none our adoption journey.

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Until…

Two days after my return home, we were told that our adoptive son’s mother was pregnant and would give birth to his sibling within a month.

False summit identified.

Stunned, is probably a good word for our reaction to this news. Overjoyed, is the word for our children’s response! Little had we known that Emily, our oldest daughter had been fervently praying for a baby sister. Now, she saw that her dream was within reach.

So today, we find our family expanding–at least at present, and Lord willing forever- to a family of six. Emily was right, the baby is a girl. So as we ascend this (what we perceive to be) the final portion of the adoption summit, let our story be one that encourages and informs you. Few adoptions are expedient, and none are without loss and pain. False summits happen all the time in hiking and perhaps with more frequency in life.

We are looking forward to that mountain-top view. The summit shall surely be worth it. We anticipate sharing in the joy and telling the God moments. To God be the glory!

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Walking By Faith: Responding to the No and the Yes of Jesus

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Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left. (Isaiah 30:18,21, ESV)

A few weeks ago, I was strolling alongside a newly-walking one-year-old. He had tired of simply watching the gymnastics lesson and wanted to try out some moves of his own. Instead of letting him onto the gym floor with my kids in class as he first attempted, I took him outside to walk on the sidewalk. I wanted to hold his hand to protect him from falling and getting yet another bump on his face. He’s gained the nickname “Bruiser” because of all his recent spills.

Needless to say, newly walking one-year-olds think they have the whole walking bit down. He didn’t want to hold my hand this time. He hadn’t asked for assistance, but rather, he had a taste for freedom.

As I grasped his hand and wouldn’t let go, I considered that all he was hearing was, no, no. 

No, don’t pull away from me.

Continue reading at iBelieve.

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Investing in Eternity

 

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3, NIV, emphasis mine)

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Investing in eternity. That’s what parenting is. We plant the seeds of God’s word, prune and trim our little saplings, and bring rain and sunshine with life giving words and consistent discipline. Indeed, there are days where our words pour forth torrentially, but most days are steady streams of sunshine mixed with necessary watering and pruning as the need arises.

Our second sapling, Joshua, turned six last week. Over the last six years, we’ve diligently laid down tracks we pray he will continue to follow in the future as we tend to and nurture the young warrior God has given us. One discipline that we wanted to initiate in his sixth year, and soon to be our daughter’s eighth year, is that of saving. We’ve preached and modeled giving to God’s Kingdom, then enjoyed encouraging their dreams of giving their money away. But we haven’t as consistently modeled saving money for future use or for unforeseen needs.

On Wednesday afternoon of this week, I taxied Emily and Joshua to the local bank to open his savings account. He decided to place all of his birthday money into the savings account, which I thought was a wise decision. As we waited for the banker that would be assisting us, the lead teller walked by and we told her of Joshua’s plans. She said, “That will make your money grow!” Joshua looked a me and said, “Really mom? Will it make my money grow?” I smiled and answered his question as simply as I could to a degree satisfactory to him.

Finally, our turn arrived to fill out the appropriate paperwork for Joshua’s savings account. We gave the banker the necessary documentation (for future reference, be sure and have your child’s social security number on hand, I had to drive home and get his) and waited for him to process the request. As the banker walked away to gather the account number, he too stated, “Are you ready to watch your money grow?” When he had left us, I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me to share with Joshua the ways in which we watch our money grow.

“Joshua, come here sweetie, I want to tell you something,” I coaxed as he hopped into my lap. “There are two ways to watch your money grow, one is to invest your money in a savings account or investments which will grow your wealth on earth. The other, is to give it away to missions, or the poor, and by doing this, you grow your wealth and rewards in Heaven.” He looked at me and nodded his head in understanding, I continued, “I am so glad you are starting this savings account, and I am also glad when you give your money away to God.”

As Joshua nodded and said, “okay mama, I understand,” I gathered that was enough of a money lesson for the time, but I could not ignore the weight of this teachable moment upon me as a parent. Each time we invest in teaching our kids about godly and biblical principles, we are investing in eternity. That moment it happened to be about finances, but it could have easily been something else to do with friendship, honesty, loyalty, or discipline. Each lesson waters the saplings our children currently are to enable them to become mighty oaks planted by streams of Living Water.

What are the teachable moments you have had with a young person or peer this week? How have you sensed the Holy Spirit prompting you to make a disciple? Please share your moment so that we can learn and rejoice with you.

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Being the Ten Percent- Gracious Gratitude

Thanksgiving Post 2015 Living the 10 Percent

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”  And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all your possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

(Mark 10:17-22, NASB)

Gratitude is not greedy for power, possessions, or prestige. Gratitude graciously bows out when it is time.

Perfect peace is found not in trying to achieve power, but in using the power and platform God has given you for such a time as this. 

Only a few men in history have set themselves apart for the power they graciously relinquished. They knew when to walk away in order that the greater good would be served in their absence. Consider:

Moses, relinquished the rights of an adopted grandson of the Pharaoh in order to remember the plight of his people. In so doing, he hastened his humble service to rescue God’s people from slavery and captivity.

(Moses) considering the reproach of  Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

(Hebrews 11:26-27, NASB)

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, “a man who neither sought power nor held on to it when his duties had been fulfilled.” (The Cincinnatus Association) Cincinnatus, for whom the city in Ohio is named, was a Roman citizen who was offered endless power and, instead, returned to his farm after saving his country in battle.

George Washington, known as the American Cincinnatus, was not only America’s first president, the model for all who would hold the title after him to emulate, but a man who walked away from power twice so that the great American experiment would not falter under the unbearable weight of a king.

Who can imagine that the liberty of millions might depend on the character of one man? What was it that gave him the strength to do the right thing when the temptation to do something less noble must have been overwhelming?

More than two hundred years after Washington’s death, his willingness to relinquish power–twice–is the most remarkable thing that we remember about him. These refusals to seize power for himself were the greatest acts of one of history’s greatest men.

(7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas)

Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, left the honor and majesty of heaven to come to the squalor and filth of earth. He left His throne in heaven to be laid in a cradle, and later hung on a cross before conquering the enemy of death and sin once and for all. (See Philippians 2) It is to Jesus that we owe all gratitude and praise. If it were not for His modeled call to lay down our lives, His example as He resisted the urging of even His closest friends and disciples to siege power over people before the appointed time, then we would not one day receive the power to be joint errs and rulers with Jesus in Heaven.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

(1 Timothy 6:17, NASB)

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

(Philippians 2:3, NASB)

We, like the rich young ruler in the first passage above, may have choices in our future to posture ourselves in gracious gratitude and service to Christ, or to walk away with our possessions, power, or prestige in hand; heavy in heart and guilt. Being the gracious ten percent includes knowing when to walk away from the things of this earth in order to walk toward the person and mission of Christ. May we choose to follow Christ’s example.

 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” (James 4:6, NLT)

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5 Lies Satan Wants You to Believe and Scriptures to Combat Them

Scriptures to Combat the Lies of Satan

He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44, NIV)

Satan wants nothing more than to make you ineffective in ministry. He wants you to quit before you start, falter in all your attempts, stray from the truth, and feel isolated in your quest. Don’t fall for his lies. Here are five lies Satan wants you to believe and scriptures to combat them. If it worked for Jesus, certainly it is a model we should follow.

Your goal is impossible and will end in disappointment; quit while your ahead. Our generation is programmed to believe that if what we aim to achieve isn’t quickly given it must not be worth while. We hate the wait and the work that impactful endeavors require. Let’s face it, we are often tempted to quit. However, God urges us to keep going–one faithful step after another–to overcome and be rewarded.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9, NASB)

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7, NASB)

You are alone in your struggles. Recall the song, “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrows?” Satan would have you believe that you are all alone and nobody can empathize. Not so!

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. (1 Peter 4:19, NLT)

If you make yourself your number one priority, everything else will fall in place. Selfishness never leads to serenity for yourself and certainly not for others. Yes, we should take care of our bodies, soul, and minds as they are a temple unto the Lord. However, our temple is not a shrine and our chief aim is not the satisfaction of ourselves but our sanctification.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:4-7, ESV)

…but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:8, ESV)

Their is an end to your desires; therefore, obtain, achieve, or accumulate X, Y, or Z and you will be filled. We so easily fall for the lie time and time again that if we obtain this one thing we will be happy. If we achieve this one goal, then we will be enough.

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)

Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes. (Proverbs 27:20, NIV)

What you can see, feel, taste, or smell is all there is. The devil would love to have us think that all we see is all there is, after all, according to him, you only live once.

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (Revelation 19:13-14, NIV)

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 
(John 20:29, ESV)

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17, ESV)

What would you add to these five? What scriptures do you use to combat the lies with the Sword of the Spirit?

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Overcoming Temptation

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Growing up, I found Scarlett O’Hara as beautiful as her clothes and as charming as the gentlemen did that surrounded her in the opening scene of the film, Gone with the Wind, as she is seated at the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. What I didn’t realize until my late twenties and early thirties was though Scarlett embodied earthly beauty and charm, she also personified the fatal characteristics of our sin-nature; she always wanted more and better than she thought she possessed.

Now that I see Scarlett in a different light, what is there left to glean from this both iconic and fictitious character’s life and personification?

Scarlett O’Hara’s character always wants more. She wanted another’s husband, a larger bank account, and a pantry full so that she would never go hungry again. She embodied greed and self-interest.

Contrast this constant desire for more or better with God’s teachings of contentment. God teaches us to be content with what we have, constantly giving thanks in all circumstances. Remember, we came into the world empty handed and naked, and so shall we leave.

Continue reading this post over at iBelieve.

Thanks for stopping by!

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15 Action Steps to Take to Promote A Culture of Life After You Have Prayed


 

15 Action Steps To Take To Promote Life After You Have Prayed

Many of us are dumbfounded, to say the least, after viewing any or all of the 10 videos put out by the Center for Medical Progress which exposes the money making arm of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood and Stem Express are making money off the sale of aborted baby body parts. This news leaves many of us asking, what can we do to put an end to this barbarity? Here are 15 action steps for you to consider and take after you pray for an end to abortion, a defunding of Planned Parenthood, and a respect for life from conception to grave.

1. Give to and/ or volunteer at your local pregnancy center.

2. Call your congressman and senator to petition them to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and legislate an end to abortion.

3.”Adopt” a single mom and her kids.

4. Foster a child. The difference a Christian family can make in pointing children in need to Jesus cannot be measured in this lifetime.

5. Adopt. It is a slow and painful process and you are not guaranteed your child will walk with Jesus. However, you are committed to making a disciple and ending a family cycle of drug abuse, domestic violence, and a host of other problems that plague our society.

6. Vote your moral convictions and not your pocketbook.

7. Spread the gospel and let the seeds bear the fruit that they will. We will not reap what we have not sewn.

8.Make disciples within your church who make disciples. Moms and dads change the cultural fabric of our world one child at a time. For good or for evil.

9. Volunteer with children in the foster care system, a local school, or an orphanage. Mentors change lives by the power of Jesus.

10. Give to organizations like the Center for Medical Progress who expose the truth of abortion and the sale of baby body parts for “medical research.” Or, help fund a friend’s adoption. Many times families who want to adopt don’t because of the money.

11. Educate yourself with the facts. Read and research for the truth. You will likely not hear the facts nor the truth on the evening news or in the New York Times.

12. Do for one mom, teen, child, or orphan what you would do for all.

13. Get creative! Use your artistic abilities of paint, pen, or graphic design to get people’s attention and point them towards life.

14. Include your kids in ministering to the poor, elderly, and the orphan. Developing compassionate Christ-centered lives starts early.

15. Run for office and be involved in politics. We need godly leaders in every area of local, state, and federal government.

What would you add to this list? I welcome your thoughts.

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Making People a Part of Your Journey

Life Lessons on Manitou

A month ago, our family attempted our toughest hike to date. The famous Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs, Colorado.The Manitou Incline is a converted rail-car track. It is an intense one mile ascent with a 2,000 foot elevation gain. Not for the faint of heart or those lacking determination!

Our family was excited and as ready as Floridians could be for this hike. One portion of the experience that I had not factored in were the people we would meet along the journey. We thought we would arrive early enough that very few people would even be on the trail. That was an inaccurate assumption! The trail was full even at 6:00 AM on a Saturday.

There were military service men and women hiking for conditioning, a local set of twin brothers and their younger brother who hike the trail everyday and twice on Saturday, and a woman with a prosthetic leg, along with a host of out-of-towners and tourists just like us.

One man in particular made our acquaintance and a lasting impression as well. His name was Don. Don is a father of three grown boys and a first timer at hiking Manitou. He stopped periodically to ask us questions about our kids and comment on what a great job we were doing as parents for having our kids attempt something so difficult at such an early age. (We may have been crazy, but we accepted commendable too.) He encouraged us and visited with us when he could have carried on and continued with little thought of the family of four attempting the same journey he was on.

But he didn’t.

Don made people a part of his journey, and we benefited from his encouragement and company.

As we neared the summit of Manitou, there was Don waiting on our family and cheering us on to the finish. He waited to take our picture and celebrate with us. He took the time to text the pictures to my husband and give him some pointers for navigating the four mile descent down Barr Trail. Don wasn’t obligated to go the second mile, but the second mile is why he is more memorable than many other people we hiked the Incline with that day.

As we bustle about our everyday jobs and activities, let’s strive to make the second, memorable mile for someone who is walking the same direction we are. Who knows, maybe in taking time to encourage and celebrate another person’s journey will forever change our own.

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*Photo courtesy of our friend, Don.

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A Living Lighthouse

Living Lighthouses

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Lighthouses line our coasts from sea shore to sea shore and the interior of our Great Lakes and some major waterways. They warn ships of impending trouble lest they run ashore and among rocky coasts and  dangerous reefs beneath the sea. Lighthouses serve to guide ships into a safe harbor or urge them out to sea. So the message of the lighthouse varies from a cry of danger to this is the way. Therefore, lighthouses serve as navigational markers to let sailors and boaters know exactly where they are and where they do not want to go.

As Christ-followers, we are bearers of the light of Jesus Christ and the gospel message. We serve as lights in this dark world to point people to the Way, the Truth, and the Life found in Jesus Christ.

When we hold firmly to the teachings of the Bible–God’s Word which is the same yesterday, today, and forever–we serve as navigational guides to the lost and dying world signaling to them by the power of the Holy Spirit, this is the way, walk in it. Or warning them of impending doom if they do not turn from their wicked ways, repent, and follow Jesus.

If or when Christians decide they will bend to the moral tide of our culture, we darken our light, the light within us of the Holy Spirit, from shining as a beacon in the night. We forfeit our purpose, and our responsibility, to be the city on a hill Jesus taught about in Matthew 5. We no longer guide our fellow-men to The Light when we ourselves are cloaked in the darkness of the world.

The Christian opinion has never been the popular opinion; though a watered-down version of Christian teachings may have in fact been the popular opinion. No more; and, so be it, in order that our light may shine ever brighter until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Who are we shining God’s light to today? In what way are we acting as living lighthouses telling and showing the way toward Jesus Christ? May we live on mission in every area of our life pointing our fellow men and women to the Light of the World.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

John 1:6-7

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Often a Smile and Acknowledgement Goes a Long Way

Seeking the Imago Dei

I was stopped at an intersection while driving home from church a few Sunday’s ago. There, crossing under the overpass, was a man and woman walking to the nearest shopping center. Many people walk this way to get to the nearest Publix, Target, or fast food restaurant. That’s not unusual, but this couple was different. Honestly, I can’t tell you if they were a mother-son pair or a couple because I didn’t look at them long enough to gather detailed information. You see, this man and woman were physically and, by appearances, mentally disabled. Their gait was severely labored and their outward demeanor, even at a glance, was that of people who have a tough time getting by.

Instinctively, I looked away and focused my attention on the red light in front of me. I didn’t want to stare at this man and woman in an attempt not to draw attention to their obvious physical weaknesses. Looking back, I wonder if that was the right response.

Often, when I see others with visible handicaps, my first reaction is to turn away after a quick smile in order to not embarrass them. By embarrass them, I mean draw more attention to them than any other person I pass in the super market or restaurant. I inwardly assume that they have faced the mocking of peers or ignorant jests of misguided people, and I do not want to even hint at drawing on their differences. Rather, I simply acknowledge them as fellow people worth treating with dignity, respect, and assistance if I can provide any. But I wonder if, by ignoring their differences, I am ignoring something special that God wants me to see.

Please join me over at iBelieve to read the rest of this post. Join me here.

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