Souls Informed by Truth

Souls Informed by Truth

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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Souls Informed by Truth

My verse of the day today was Ecclesiastes 11:5.

“As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” -Ecclesiastes‬ ‭11:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Temptation to Minimize the Truth

I was trying to look up articles or blogs about the importance of being a pro-life Christian to post on social media today in lieu of writing out something that had already been said well. To my dismay, I found more that instead tried justify abortion and death. I went down a googling rabbit hole of reading and it has honestly left me deeply discouraged this afternoon.

As believers, we should be informed by Truth in our lives. I fear that many of us are more concerned with popularizing our faith by minimizing the Truth. I am plagued by this temptation regularly.

I was reminded of Romans 1 at Church this Sunday. That passage is convicting for everyone but it also reminds me that sometimes under the mantra of Christian love, or for fear of offending, we actually forget to tell people the Truth, which is the whole reason for Love in the first place.

How much are we shortchanging precious souls by being ashamed of the gospel or glazing over the Truth about who God is and how to serve him?

Jesus Calls Us to Abundant Life

Jesus ate with sinners and he loved the “unlovable” but he required of them a change. He did not have them continue to wallow in sin, he brought them up to Life so they could have Life abundantly.

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
– Jesus, John 10:10

He commanded to us to sin no more and to live in the Truth because it sets you free. John is the book of Christ’s love but He asks us to follow him. To give up this world and live for Christ, not to walk in darkness.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
– John 8:12

Jesus was and is attractive to sinners because He deeply and authentically loves us, we are all created in the image of God and made intentionally. However, he also provided a way out, a way to live differently. A way to no longer be a slave to the sin and evil of this world but to live with a purpose and with joy.

Living Truth

In “Christian-ese ” we call this process of living more and more like Christ “Sanctification.” What that really means is that God has the power to change hearts and lives so radically that we are no longer recognizable to the world as we were before. He calls us to be greater than we are, greater than how we exist separate from God.

Truly, the way we live, the way we vote, the way we speak and the way we serve should be informed by Truth and we need to consider what it looks like to not conform to the world or the culture and to not be ashamed of God’s word and what is commands.

In the spirit of speaking the Truth, abortion ends a human life which is inherently valuable. It also hurts the mother both inside and out. The argument that so-called pro-lifers don’t deeply and genuinely care about the well-being of both of those souls is deeply untrue.

Jesus loves them both.

We love them both.

We would to do well to remember the Truth about God’s love, for everyone, and stand for that which is so deeply important… human souls. 

Becoming a Parent Who Is Slow to Anger

Becoming a Parent Who Is Slow to Anger

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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Becoming a Parent Who Is Slow to Anger

How often do you find yourself feeling angry toward your children? This is hard question to ask myself. I make significant effort to be gentle, but truthfully, it is quite often that I notice myself raging inside as my eldest, almost 4 years old, is becoming more familiar with right and wrong.

My moment of internal strife might play out in this way:

Why won’t she just listen and obey? What if someone gets hurt? What if she behaves like this in Bible Class? 

I can’t let her act like this! I have to show her who’s boss! 

In my anger, I lash out. The power struggle begins.

I make irrational statements in awful tones. I give ineffective punishments.

I feel horrible. She feels horrible.

Later on I hear her talking in the same ugly tone. Hmm… where did she learn to speak in that way?

Why is it that anger is the first instinct for so many of us, especially in regards to parenting? I believe most parents have good intentions. We want our children to act respectfully and we burn inside when we can’t convince them to cooperate. We are desperate. I believe that James, the brother of Jesus, and servant of God, speaks to the heart of this issue.

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20

Anger Won’t Bring about Righteousness Living

In our Bible Class we recently studied this passage, and though James doesn’t specifically mention parenting, my heart couldn’t help but hear these words from a parent’s perspective. How often am I angry with my daughter because I want her to live righteously. Yet anger won’t bring about this righteousness- in myself or in my daughter. It is my experience that hasty anger often only brings about shame.

Let’s read on to hear the solutions that James offers.

“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:21-22

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27

Righteous living is something that our children will learn through a lifetime of observation and loving instruction. James makes it very clear that being religious is about guarding our hearts and humble service.

Do our children see that in us?

Do our children see that we are humble and compassionate, ready to listen, and slow to become angry?

Do we have a tight rein on our tongue when we speak to our children?

There are many different styles of parenting, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. Often parenting requires direct and assertive responses, but I believe this can be done gently and in love. It is my conviction that the instruction to be slow to anger also applies to our interactions with our children. Does this mean that we will never be angry? No, of course not!

It means that our instinct will be patience,  kindness, and gentleness rather than anger.

We will have open arms and listening ears.

When it is time to be direct, we will try to stay calm. We will be our children’s “safe space.”

This type of parenting does not come naturally for me. I pray multiple times each day for the Lord to help me. I boldly pray for the fruit of the Spirit to be displayed as I interact with my daughters. This passage in James was a strong reminder that I need to make a conscious effort to tame my tongue and be slow to anger in my responses to my children. I absolutely can’t do this on my own. I need Jesus to work through me as I train up my children in the way they should go. We all need him to!

Praying Over Our Hearts

I’d like to end this thought with a prayer.

Father God,

You are our Heavenly Father and we praise you and thank you for wonderfully making our children. Work through us as we train them in the way they should go. In us, express your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Help us to be slow to anger, with tongues that are tamed through faithful dependence on you. May our children see glimpses of you in our interactions with them. Forgive us for our selfish ways and for the times we respond poorly to our children. Give us strength and help when we need it. Soften our hearts and help us to find your joy every day. 

In the name of Jesus, Amen 

 

 

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

My Personal Babel and Making Much of Me

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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I’m pretty sure I would have been the one to lay the cornerstone for the Tower of Babel.

My Personal Tower of Babel

I didn’t always think this. In my blind pride, I used to read the story in Genesis 11 and think, “Good night moon! These people are really thickheaded!”

But here’s how I know I could have been the one to place that stone; I have thought to myself what they said out loud at Babel,

“…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4, NIV)

I confess, I have wanted to make a name for myself.

I have craved all the glory for a job well done.

I have thirsted for all the recognition for doing “good” deeds.

I have hungered, above all else, for the love and approval of people.

Though these are broad examples, you can probably imagine some specific ways these general desires might manifest in my life or maybe even in yours.

The truth is, all of the craving and thirsting and hungering leaves me empty no matter how much I receive. And leaves me in shambles when receive none. This name for myself is a dangling carrot that is never caught, and like an addiction, always leaves me grasping for more. More glory, more approval, more…

It never satisfies.

It is exhausting.

But I know that an exhausted, unsatisfied, shamble of a life is not what Jesus means for any of us. He says he “came that they may have life, and hive it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

Jesus says there is more.

That more is this truth:

I was not created to have a Name.I was not created to have a Name.

In vain, I have searched the scriptures trying to find justification of building myself a tower; for making myself a name. It isn’t there.

But, I did find a Name. It just wasn’t mine.

“My name will be great among he nations from where the sun rises to where it sets… my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 1:11, NIV)

I found God’s name.

He says His name WILL be great.

One example in particular struck me hard. Jesus calls for God the Father’s name to be glorified.

Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28, NIV)

I claim to be a follower of Jesus. What have I not been following Jesus in this? I’m struck with this discrepancy in my Christianity. The truth is that I have been so occupied elevating my name, that I lost sight of the only Name that is worthy elevation.

Searching the scripture, I found that everything I am and everything I do is actually for the glory of God’s name, not my own.

I am created for the glory of His Name.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV)

Not that the task of elevating His name is mine to bear with my deeds or my life. Oh no, God is not depending on my performance to make His name great. What trouble He would be in if He were to depend on me with my false tower of Babel building and other missteps!

It is freeing to worship a God who is so powerful, He needs nothing from me. He needs nothing from me, yet He offers me a place to work by His side. He is a God who gives and has no need to take.

Now that is One whose Name is worthy of glory. Not mine.

So, I have come to the point where I am earnest about tearing down the idol I’m pointlessly trying to build of making a name for myself. I’ve been asking God to change me. To crumble my personal Tower of Babel. And because He gives, God is changing my heart to not just want, but to actually crave to place God and His Name in the rightful place: glorified above all else. And I am enjoying the freedom that comes from it. 

John the Baptist is an inspiring example of one who did not seek to make a name for himself. Ironically, he did in a way have a name for himself. People came to him to be baptized and forgiven of their sins. He actually had his own disciples!

Then Jesus comes on the scene.

When people around John see that those who were his disciples are leaving to become followers of Jesus, they say, “…-look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” (John 3:26, NIV)

John replies, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him… He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30, NIV)

Now, instead of thinking what those at the Tower of Babel said aloud, “…so that we may make a name for ourselves…” I think I need to start thinking what John the Baptist said aloud.

“He must become more, I must become less.”

I’m trying to filter my actions and thoughts through this one question: How can I make more of Him and His Kingdom and less of me in this situation?

I am Free

With this in the front of my mind, I am free in Christ to serve Him.  Free from the weight of bearing a name that I can never obtain because I was not created to bear a name. I can just be me.

I am free to be nothing because He is everything.

I am free to fail because He has already succeeded.

I am free to be rejected because He accepts me.

I am free to be me, when I recognize God for Him: Glorious.

I am realizing that this is where my cravings, thirst, and hunger for a name will be satisfied. It’s not in trying to fit into a role I was not created for. Much like pants that are too tight, I’ve been uncomfortable in my misplaced striving to make a name for myself. But in starting to live to make much of Christ who loves me and you more than His own life, I feel as though I’m slipping into my favorite jeans. It fits well.

Cravings are ceasing.

Thirst is quenching

Hunger is fleeing.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35, NIV)

Jesus, I come to You and I place Your Name high.

Ah, satisfaction.

In what ways do you make a name for yourself over making much of Christ?

If you can’t think of any, ask the Lord to reveal to you if you are missing anything. I am asking Him that too.

 

Looking Forward in Marriage: Retirement

Looking Forward in Marriage: Retirement

Toni D

Toni D

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Toni D

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Together through Almost Everything

My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-six years.  During that time, we have been through so much.  We have been together through most everything listed in our wedding vows.  God has brought us through good and bad times.  At this point in our lives, our oldest child has completed his second year in college, and our middle child will be a senior in the fall.  Our youngest will be a high school sophomore.  So now we are looking to our future.  We recently started discussing what I would do after our children graduated.

I have been a stay at home/homeschooling mom for almost twenty years.  The thought of going back into corporate America does not exactly set well with me.  When I was in college, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I changed my major numerous times, finally settling on one because if I changed again it would take me longer to graduate.

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

Once I got my degree and started a career, I was never truly satisfied with my job situation.  (Now, I can see God’s hand in this.)  The position and money was never good enough.  I always felt like something was missing, and it was not until we had our first child that I finally knew what I wanted to be: a mom.  Now, I am looking back at square one. What do I want to be when I grow up? Or rather, what do I want to do when the kids are grown and gone?

My husband and I recently discussed this.  He asked me if I planned to go back to work when the kids graduated.  I had been thinking about it and really could not decide what I wanted to do, even with prayer.  I could not discern if it was God telling me or just my feelings of what I wanted.  The more we discussed it, the more I knew.  I decided that I want to retire!  I am serious!  My husband is six years older than I am.  By the time our youngest graduates, my husband will be just a few years from retirement.  He would like me to retire when he does, so for now that is our plan.

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Looking Forward to Retirement

We have been discussing what we want in our retirement, and we agreed we wanted to travel.  So for now, that seems to be our plan. Hopefully our plan will agree with God’s plan for our lives, too.  We have learned through the years to always listen for what God wants us to do. I am sure we will continue to discuss this, pray, and change our minds, but right now traveling sounds good and corporate America does not.

What are your plans for retirement?

The Mission Field in Your Church Building

The Mission Field in Your Church Building

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Hebrews 10:24

I love going to church. Growing up as a minister’s kid, church was my life. This joy has stayed with me into adulthood. That being said, I realize this is not the case for everyone. Some people have been so turned off by an experience they have had with a church that they’ve completely turned away from the Lord. Some people are just on the fringe–perhaps they wonder why they even bother coming.

Can you think of anyone you know who might not enjoy church?

It truly breaks my heart to see this, and perhaps it hurts me the most because I know that I’ve been a part of the problem.

Do you view your church as a mission field?

Think about it…we can do all the outreach and evangelism outside the church walls that we want (and should!), but if our church is not welcoming every person who steps through our doors with warm love then we are failing. What good is it to get someone through the door if they never experience Christ’s love within his church? Our church building is a mission field in so many ways, but I’m going to try to stick with one very important way: relationships.

Hebrews 10:24

It’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves when we go to church services or activities. Our desire to fellowship with our friends can sometimes cause an unintended, but detrimental effect. Nothing sends the message “You’re not welcome here” like a church full of cliques. Yet this happens, maybe without us even noticing.

Missing the Mission Field

Sometimes, during the distractions of entertaining our personal friendships, we miss those around us, and we miss opportunities to show Christ’s love.

We miss

  • the visitors, the elderly, or the handicapped.
  • the ones who are hurting or who need help.
  • the new members who haven’t made any connections yet or the new Christians who need support and someone to study with.
  • the children and the teens who need to know they are important.

I don’t put this blame on others, as I’m very guilty. I’ve been on BOTH sides of this and it’s very likely that you have too. So what can we do about this?

fellowship

Mission Field, Not Social Club

Let’s change our mentality when we are within the walls of our church building. Let’s view our church as a mission field rather than a social club. “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)

We love visiting with our friends, and we should because Christian friendships are important. Fellowship time is a huge blessing, but we’ve got to open our eyes to those around us and realize that some have no one to fellowship with. Our moments of fellowship at church can’t just be about those with whom we are comfortable; we must reach out so that every person in our church building or at our church activities experience what the body of Christ is all about: love.

I get it, there isn’t much time to talk to our friends, much less other people. Have church friends over on a Tuesday night for dinner. You can even invite someone you don’t know very well! Get together with another church family on Saturday and go to the zoo. Find time to build relationships and enjoy the company of your Christian family! But how about during church gatherings we make it a goal to see the mission field? Maybe we can even get our friends on board with us! 🙂

 

During Visiting Time:

  • Here is what often happens: We say “hi” or smile to those we don’t know and we have conversation with our friends. Let’s reverse that! Start conversations with those you don’t know and give a wave to your friends, or even better, introduce your friends to this person. The moment we walk through our church’s doors we should be on the look out for those who might need our encouragement or friendship.
  • Be a greeter! I’m sure your congregation likes for people to stand by the door and greet people as they come inside. This is so important!

 

During Class:

  • MEET THE VISITORS! This seems like a no-brainer, but in my experience it’s more normal to be ignored when you’re visiting. Would you want to come back to class if it felt like you weren’t even noticed? Seriously–we can visit with our friends later. But if we don’t make the effort to walk across the room and meet a visitor, we might never have an opportunity again. What’s more important?
  • Volunteer to teach or help in a class. The functionality of a church should be a community effort. We should never go to church expecting everything to be done for us. There is always a way to pitch in and help. Talk to the ministry leaders at your church if you don’t know where to start. By doing so you will have the opportunity to see others and show them Christ’s love.

 

During Worship Service:

  • It’s tempting to go straight to our usual spot by our usual people, and it’s OK to do that sometimes! It’s also fun to change it up though. You will get to know new people and you can hear new voices praising Jesus.
  • Help in the nursery or children’s worship. Who doesn’t want to snuggle with a baby? By doing this you have the opportunity to help out and encourage young families. You might even be the first friendly face for visitors, and giving their children loving care shows Christ love so beautifully!
  • Sit with someone who has no one to sit with. Sit by a family or a single parent with young children who might need an extra hand. Sit by a mom who just watched her last child go off to college. Sit with an elderly couple who lives away from all of their family. Sit with a visitor. Sit with someone hurting. Sit with someone who might need your help. Realize that the pew you choose to sit on might very well be a mission opportunity from the Lord!

 

meet someone

 

Find a Way to Show God’s Love

Life is hard…sometimes we don’t feel like we have anything to give. We might feel empty and broken and needing to be filled. Pray that someone will find you, my friend. Reach out to someone. Draw close to Jesus every day of the week.

Is your church family one that radiates God’s love to all who walk through your church building’s doors? I certainly need to work on this more. It’s easy to fall into what’s comfortable. You might be more of an introvert, so this concept might have your knees shaking in anxiety. There are also quiet ways to serve and encourage, like sending cards to those on the prayer list. You don’t have to meet everyone, but try to find someone to invest in and love on. Let’s hold each other accountable and look for opportunities to serve God and bring him glory during our church gatherings. Let’s have Hebrews 10:24 on our hearts always!

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

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Prayer for Moms Across the World

Prayer for Moms Across the World

Lori S

Lori S

I'm Lori! My husband and I have been married since 2008. We adopted our son in July and live in Memphis, TN. One of the things I love about Creating a Great Day is that it is focused on inspiring women to the woman that God wants them to be. Every woman is different, and we all have talents to honor God and walk alongside each other in this spiritual journey called life. Have a blessed day!
Lori S

My husband and I adopted our son almost three years ago. Ever since we decided to adopt, I have had a wide range of emotions on Mother’s Day. Knowing that I will always share that day with my son’s biological mother encourages me to think of other women who may experience grief and joy on this day. This reflection helps focus my thoughts and prayers during this time. Join me in honoring these women in our thoughts and prayers this week!

A prayer for moms everywhere

Dear God, we come before your throne today, asking for your intercession in the lives of women across the world. We pray for…

  • the women who become moms today. Guide their hearts, minds, and emotions as they experience motherhood for the first time.
  • the moms who have lost children. Bring them the peace that comes only from you.
  • the mothers who work outside (or from) the home to provide for their children. Whether they work one (or three) jobs, help their work and sacrifice to be appreciated and noticed.
  • the moms who stay home with their children. Help them feel loved and appreciated by their children and spouses.

Father, we also pray for the moms who…

  • have chosen to place their children into adoptive families. Give them the peace and clarity they need in their lives. Help those around them celebrate their choice for life, but allow those moms an emotional space to grieve.
  • live in poverty. Help give them the emotional, spiritual, and financial supports they need to lead their family toward you.
  • are raising their children on their own. Remind their neighborhood or church communities to rally around them so those moms never feel alone.
  • became mothers through adoption. Bless their motherhood journey and give them the strength and clarity needed to raise their children in a new family.
  • became moms through foster care. Give them courage to fight for what they know is right and the ability to love even when it hurts.

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We pray for…

  • the moms who protect their children from violence, war, and abuse. Let them know that there is still light even in darkness.
  • the women who have lost their own moms. Encourage us to surround these women with love. Help us give them the space they need to celebrate and grieve simultaneously.
  • the women who suffer from depression, anxiety, or mental illness. Put people in their lives to encourage them and help them get the support they need.

And we lift up these women as well…

  • the moms who love their children but not their spouses. Help them realize that one of the best ways to show love to their children is to love their spouse.
  • the moms who are struggling in their relationships with their children. Let them know that you are with them. Always.
  • the women who are “mother figures” in the lives of children in our homes and communities. Equip those women to engage, mentor, and love children.

We ask you to cover these moms (and others) with your love, peace, and mercy. May we never forget the importance of what the word “mom” means. In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Six Tip to Prepare for a Mission Trip Praying the Psalms We all struggle  A Mother to More than Your Own

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