A few things I have learned, sometimes the hard way, about resolving relational conflict:

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Recognize that time is short and none of us are promised tomorrow. Avoiding the person is not the same as reconciling. Stubbornly ignoring the problem could result in never getting back to a healthy relationship if we won’t take steps now. 🌿

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart…” Hebrews 3:15 

Try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Is it possible that in their shoes, you’d feel the same way? Have you considered how they arrived at their conclusion? Was a word misspoken or an action misunderstood? Communication is key, and simple clarification may resolve the entire thing. 🌿

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility and patience.” Colossians 3:12

We must not squander the gift of being able to ask God to help us. He longs for us to come to Him- He doesn’t want us languishing in broken relationships, and He alone can touch hearts. The first step we take should be that of getting down on our knees to send prayers up to God asking Him to do what only He can: soften our heart as well as the other person’s, asking His favor, grace and healing. 🌿

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” I John 5:14 

Sometimes conflict is the result from being treated unfairly. Is there any lesson to be learned by going through an unjust hurt or trial? I believe so- it helps emphasize our own sin before a perfect and Holy God. It also can be a vehicle to build a deeper trust in God as we wait for Him to work on our behalf. 🌿

“Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord and he will deliver you.” Proverbs 20:22

Recognize that we all have different perspectives and opinions. Non-essentials like preferences should not take precedence over unity, especially between followers of Christ. 🌿

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

If the conflict is between a believer in Christ and a non-believer, we cannot expect them to hold to our same beliefs. Pray for their salvation, knowing that the work of the Holy Spirit alone can adequately convict a person’s heart. 🌿

“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” 2 Corinthians 4:4 

Believe the best about the other person. They’re not in our life for nothing. We all have redeeming qualities, as well as weaknesses. Choose not to fixate on their faults, just as we hope they don’t fixate on ours. 🌿

“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” – Proverbs 19:11 

If at all possible, meet in person. Going the extra mile to meet face to face reflects a heart that is eager to seek reconciliation. Texting and phone calls don’t allow the mutual benefit of reading body language and expression, which can go far in helping convey not only repentance, but also sincerity and forgiveness. We cannot underestimate the ability to offer physical signs of affection. Hugs and handshakes offer their own powerful form of healing. 🌿. 

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20 

Don’t deviate from the main point of the disagreement. Bringing up old hurts that have been dealt with will only cause more damage. Keep the past in the past and your eyes on the task in front of you: resolving the problem before the chasm between you grows. 🌿

“As much as it lies within you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18

Own our part in the problem and leave room to admit it if we were wrong. Be willing to move into the space of humility and pray that the other person’s heart softens in response. 🌿

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves…” Philippians 2:1-3 

Be eager to embrace the gift of apology. Being a Peacemaker is a beautiful thing in God’s sight. Even if the bulk of the fault lies with the other person, it will not hurt us to be the first to move toward apologizing and reconciliation; in fact, we will be blessed for doing so. 🌿

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9 

Forgiveness is crucial. Do not dwell on what has been resolved. Move forward, grateful to have it behind you, and eager to look for ways to show evidence of a forgiving spirit. 🌿

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if anyone has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 

Nurture what has been newly planted with care and tenderness. If a relationship has suffered, lavish it with gentleness and love, not allowing it to fall into disrepair again. 🌿

“Be kind one to another, tenderhearted and forgiving one another even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

If the other person refuses to reconcile, accept it with graciousness, recognizing that such undemanding kindness may pave the way for a future day. Let them know you will patiently wait for them to be ready. Pray for them. Don’t speak poorly of them. Don’t grow bitter. Use the time while waiting to prepare for the day that hopefully they’ll be ready to talk. Show love and respect, and trust that God will work out the details in His time and His way. 🌿

“A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18

 

Dear Lord, give us teachable hearts, and a commitment to do what is right. Generously pour on us a compassion for those that are also walking this journey of life. May we spill over with forgiveness since we ourselves have been forgiven much. Help us stay steady in trial, hopeful in hurt and anchored in our trust of You and Your plan for our lives. In the matchless name of Jesus, I pray, Amen 🌿🙏🏻

 

 

 

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A bit of Advice to Young Adults

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Pssst! Over here – yeah it’s me- the one who looks like I could be your mom. You’re around 20, right? I just really feel the need to tell you something – something that I think could really help you. And actually, it’s a couple of things- but trust me, it’ll be worth your time to listen.
You know, I clearly remember being your age. Time seemed to stretch out in front of me forever… which was scary as well as reassuring. See, I’ve been where you are, but you haven’t been where I’m at…. truly, I just want to help give you a little advice – a few things I wish someone had told me when I was your age.

Most of my life I have regretted not going to college. The reason was dumb: fear. Yep, simple fear. Of what, you ask? I was afraid of not knowing how to navigate my way around a campus. Ha- you laugh, but trust me, it was very real, and I let it stop me. For a long time I have looked at that as one of my bigger regrets in life- but you know, I recently realized – it wasn’t so much missing out on college, although I think I might have been able to learn and do some amazing things if I had gone… It was more the fact that I let Fear stop me from doing something in life. Don’t do that. Don’t let Fear stand in your way of pursuing a dream. You are poised in the doorway of tremendous possibilities – you’re young, healthy, eager and not encumbered yet- this is the time for you to do some wonderful things in life. No, college isn’t for everyone and you can sure build a wonderful life without it. Just don’t let Fear stop you from moving forward in pursuit of some goals.

Next – stay active. You don’t fully realize what a gift your good health is. I know I didn’t. Nurture it, take care of yourself. This is going to sound very Mom-like, but drink lots of water, eat decently and get into regular sleep and exercise habits. Sure take vitamins and fish oil- thats great- but I’m talking about the basics that anyone can afford- sleep, water, regular walks outdoors and a balanced diet like they used to refer to on the Saturday morning cartoons when broccoli and carrots would dance across the screen together…. oh that really is before your time- I was right on the edge of it myself.
Look- basically just take care of your body. It’s the only one you get. Don’t do drugs. Don’t do stupid. God gave you a great start, don’t mess it up.

Let’s see… Oh! This is important- Develop an appreciation for beauty. Yes, I get it that it’s in the eye of the beholder – but I’m talking about appreciating Beauty. It is all around us, but so many people walk right on by without noticing, and it’s not only a shame, I think it’s a loss. Because life is hard. There will be days you are weary or discouraged and even tempted to quit or give up. But the person who has cultivated the ability to see Gods lavishness- his supply, his grace, his very gift of life- that person will be better able to Trust that God has a plan for their life, and it will spur you on in those moments of doubt.

Back to another point before I forget it. You know, you’re old enough now to realize that life can really stink. There are hard things – unfair trials, difficulties and things that just make us shake our heads because they don’t make sense. That’s because we live in a fallen world. It’s not how it began, but with the entrance of sin our world was cursed, and now we have to live with all the fallout from that– heartache and disease, disasters and pain. But don’t buy into the lie that life isn’t worth living. Trust me on this- there will be days when you feel confused and overwhelmed- even despairing- but it Will get better – you keep your head up, and focus on the fact that God loves you and wants to teach us a few things when He allows pain in our lives. Let it grow you into a better person, someone who can empathize with others, someone who allows the journey of life to develop their character and inner strength. God has a plan for you. Keep trusting that, and it will carry you through those hard times.

Another bit of advice – embrace where you’re at. None of us are promised tomorrow. Really squeeze all you can out of today, enjoying it fully, appreciating the good, letting go of the bad, and allowing what you learn to shape you toward the person you will become. Don’t be bitter. Don’t be foolish. Don’t be angry. Be hopeful. Be encouraged. Be who God designed you to be- because I’ve only spent these few minutes with you, and already I can see how special and unique you are with your gifts, talents and abilities – Oh! If only you could see what I see when I look at you! Let God’s plan and purpose for you unfold, and you’ll do fabulous!

Wow… well, there really is so much more that could be said, but I don’t want to put more on you than you’re ready for. We could talk about marriage and children, jobs and money choices–and about 20 other things… there’s a lot ahead for you- but you know; this is enough. For now, this is enough.

Thanks for listening. I hope you feel encouraged and ready to embrace wherever it is that you’re headed…. and in 10 years or so, if you’re still here, and I’m still here, let’s connect again. I’d really like that- and I’m sure I could fill you in on a few more bits of advice that might help you. Take care, my friend. Praying God’s grace over you. ❤

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Helping loved ones through Grief

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I am still very much in this world…but with the passing of several dear ones lately, it occurred to me that NOW, while I am still alive, I have the ability to do at least some small things that might bring a measure of comfort to the hearts of those I love. Were I to pass suddenly, I might even be instrumental in helping them keep their sights firmly where they ought to remain. Purposefully living, while loving fully…

My Dearest: You are a Survivor.

There is surely pain in the realization, because right now, if you are reading this, you more likely feel alone, abandoned and afraid.

But be assured, my precious one: you are not.

Whatever befell me was simply my doorway into Eternity with Jesus – and you need to draw comfort from knowing with absolute certainty that I am whole, healed and happy – and rejoicing with Jesus! I Thes. 4:13-18

Believe me, I understand how you are feeling – that’s why I am writing this reminder to you – for you to find when I am gone, that it might bring you comfort in your grief.

I love you. You must know that of all the gifts from God’s good hand, that of Family has been the very dearest to me!

And so, at this low point, in this trial, I want to linger a bit with you. I wish I could stroke your hair and dry your tears…but through these words, I pray I might offer help to your hurting heart. Oh my loved one – do not despair! We have such a glorious Hope!

As I write this, my mind fills with memories of happy times, so many days bright with promise…what a marvel, really, that in a sin cursed world there can still be JOY – Isn’t that a remarkable gift from God?? Oh honey: embrace LIFE and all it has to offer! Do not be dismayed, defeated or lose hope…Satan would love to shake your faith. Surely doubt follows pain – but you must remain steadfast in your Trust. You must see the Possibilities – what man sees as tragic, senseless, futile and Final, God in His Sovereignty has already victoriously defeated. So Death, in His hand is just a tool – to build a platform from which we can proclaim His sufficiency, His sustaining Power and His comfort. The truth is that trials and hardships ought to be used (and often are!) as a wake up call to those who have wandered, or have let their faith dim… (Yes, I know I am lecturing now – permit me this small indulgence – now that I’ve passed, it will be my last J)

Where was I? Oh yes – reminding you, my treasured one, that you must make the most of the opportunity afforded you by my passing. You will have no end of those sympathizing with you – after all, such a loss of our loved ones brings out great compassion in people.

Let their affections warm your heart; do not close yourself off from the reach of Comfort. Grieving without hope is left to those who have none – but that is not US – we have Hope!

I guess that is the crux of what I want to say…and yet, while I am still afforded time, I will write a bit more, that the looping figures on these pages might themselves bring a small amount of peace to you…like an old recipe written out by a loved one – not only does the actual dish offer a remembered joy, but the familiar scrawl as well, brings a smile to the one who misses the owner’s hand.

We have shared plenty of conversations through the years for you to be grounded in the knowledge of the Gospel. You must continue the work – the task and joy of sharing the Good News with others who need yet to hear of it. It is every Believer’s obligation to carry on the proclamation of God’s salvation through the cross of Jesus…and we – you and I together – will have Eternity to rejoice and revel in His provision, love and grace.

Together…isn’t that such a lovely word? This parting of ours is temporary – only for a while – oh, what a comfort we can have knowing that Christ bore separation from His Father while on the cross, to make possible the fact that we will be together forever! Amazing!

And so, though death holds us for a brief second, and we grieve its sting, it is a temporary pain, a necessary reminder to the fact that our sin cursed world groans in agony.

Aren’t you so grateful, my dear one, that “we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep, in the Savior’s love”?!

You’ll be humming that one for the rest of the day, I bet. J

What more can be said? I began by calling you a Survivor – for that is what you are…I like that term – it’s not necessarily ‘heroic’, though it could be. I think I like that within it is the very essence of ‘one who rises above their circumstances’. Life is full of tragedy. Uncertainty and danger lie all around us – human beings have a tendency to try to skirt all threats and snares – and understandably so…

BUT the believer in Jesus has the steadying truth that God is IN CONTROL.

Do you remember my quote, “Do not worry…God has already measured out all the days needed for you to get done whatever He has called you to do, so take time to do things well, and as unto Him.”?  Well, I thoroughly enjoyed each day measured out to me, with the pleasure and joy of walking my journey with YOU, my treasured family by my side.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” II Tim 4:8

I love you. May you always know how deeply thankful I am to God for giving me the gift of you! I could fill pages more with a steady flow of praise for you! (In fact, be sure to read my journals, the baby books where I related many wonderful stories that you’ll want to remember and pass along – oh and my prayer journal, and the basketfuls of cards and notes and letters…I’ve left enough material for you to be reading for months. J)

I only hope that your discovery of this letter has brought you some healing, my darling… There is a delicious little thrill in my heart knowing that this awaits your discovery. I seal it with a prayer that you find great comfort in this, our final time ‘together’ on this side of Heaven’s Gate.

Know that I’ll be looking for you when your time comes ~ and we will delight together, forevermore! Now dry your tears ~ LIFE Awaits you! And it’s a wonderful Gift from our Father’s loving hand! Live it out fully, for Him and you won’t regret a moment…

All my love,

Sarah

Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, and Friend, but mostly,

Follower of Jesus Christ, my Savior

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The Fruit of the Spirit in Action

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In this red-hot environment of political debate, both “sides” have fallen into pits of self-righteous indignation, having ‘clays of opinion’ that quickly harden, without allowing outside thoughts to permeate that might soften the jagged edges that have formed.

The subject matters are more numerous than there are Olympic sports; stretching from Immigration, Abortion, Taxation to National defense, Cabinet picks, Supreme Court justices and beyond. Everything’s up for battle.

The methods of dissemination vary as well: protests, arguments via volatile comment threads, op-ends, Facebook posts, Twitter jabs, late night TV skits, University rallies and, far too rarely, discussions over cups of coffee. (Best not choose Starbucks for now)

Worn and stale labels are slung like so many horseshoes, each side hoping for a ringer, while both are guilty of assumptions of understanding, without actually communicating anything fresh.

But the truth is, no one understands fully the vast majority of the problems that beset us. The issues have become far too complex and complicated; cloaked in controversiality and beyond human reasoning.

Oh sure- I can say that I stand on God’s standard when I stand against such a thing as abortion. (And frankly, I do believe that). But my friend, with equal claim to the grace of God through the blood of Christ, stands just as adamantly for the legitimacy of organizations such as Black Lives Matter, citing past wrongs that caused the formation of such a group to begin with.

Who is “right”, and who is “wrong”? And who gets to decide? And what to do with the umpteen other topics, some that intertwine like bowls of spaghetti, confusing and chaotic? On principle I believe we all have the right to our opinions on many matters if based on the framework of God’s Word. But where does that get us as far as actually persuading anyone?

Certainly I would like to think that every human being could agree that a recent example, a woman, a teacher of pre-schoolers, no less, who was recorded screaming racial epithets and demanding that “all white people give up their @!$& homes and money and give it to black people now!” would be unanimously given a thumbs down. That it wasn’t is highly disturbing, and a clear sign of our times.

The fighter in me wants to insist that “the liberals had 8 years of policies enacted that conservatives had to cope with, and it’s our turn to show them the wonderful good that conservative principles can do for all, if only given a chance.” However, that just inflames the already heated atmosphere.

The weary part of me wants to pass along non-controversial pictures of funny pets and dinner recipes, and hide away from the raging debates. But if Christians won’t engage in the public discussions, are we ceding our voice of reason, and the ability to fight against our nation’s cultural and moral decay? Passivity and apathy are avenues to usher in tragedy, as seen in plenty of world horrors where good people did nothing to fight evil.

But, I wonder if there is another option?

One that invites differing opinions to be heard in an arena of open, respectful discussion; where labels are prohibited (as well as name calling and nasty language). Where thoughts are presented, with the underlying belief that everyone participating has our nation’s best interests at heart, and that one’s allegiance to and love of Jesus Christ isn’t debated, even if perspectives might be challenged, with kindness and cordiality.

That such a board of banter and thought, diverse yet fraught with – dare I say it?: Love, could exist, gives my heart a tug of hopefulness.

Perhaps, by adding a “water” such as Love to our clay, our opinions may form more gently, giving a chance to smooth those jagged edges away with which we have been slashing at one another, preventing the cuts that wound deeply, and instead, helping one another arrive at conclusions based on truth, justice, respect and love, as well as a willingness to wait patiently and prayerfully for one another as we walk this journey of life together. In fact, evidencing the fruit of lives that are controlled by the Holy Spirit –  of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

In this age of rages and rants and rampages, imagine how much better it would be, how mutually beneficial and edifying (let alone, providing a model for our children!) to come up with a better way to conduct public discourse that is solidly built on a platform of respect, kindness and love.

Is it possible? I don’t know… but I am willing to try it and see.
I Corinthians 13:1-13

What do you think? Let’s talk – you know – between friends.

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Words of Wisdom

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A letter I wrote recently to my children (edited for length). I pray it is a blessing to you, as well. If you have some words of wisdom you’d like to share, I would love to hear from you! Let’s talk – you know – between friends. 🙂

My precious children ~

This world is confusing. Noisy with congestion of thought and opinions that make it hard at times to know truth from falsity. The newest revelations demand to be hailed; but ground your understanding in God’s truth, and it will guide you always.

You will make mistakes. That’s part of life. Learn from them, and they won’t have been wasted.

Water the flowers. Enjoy God’s beauty. Be wary of your own. Do not let vanity be your downfall. Do not get too caught up in pleasing yourself, but lavish on others.

Love. Like. Avoid. Never hate, unless it is directed at Sin, not Sinners. We all have need of compassion, forgiveness and second chances. Be sure to offer all.

Find comfort in knowing that God knows the truth. Always. About everything. It will free you from the urge to fix everybody and everything.

Spend time more carefully than you would gold – money can be earned, Time alone is parceled in lots that cannot be purchased.

Swift is the Unexpected – it comes rushing in… don’t fear, but make the most of what you’ve been given.

Be aware that jumping out to frighten people can come back to haunt you.

Laugh deliciously… the kind where you roll on the floor in tremendous mirth feels the very best.

Tears are not to be feared. Nor scorned. In fact, tears can release pent up emotions … allow yourself a periodic cleansing, if needed.

Don’t skimp on good sleep nor good food. They are the fuels that drive the human body.

Use wrinkle cream.

Regrets are best avoided by applying wisdom and good sense.

Having said that, don’t let past regrets dominate your present or your future. It’s a tremendous waste of time and energy. Learn and move on. God can use both good and bad to shape us, if we let Him.

Balance is best achieved by putting God first, and letting everything else fall into line behind Him.

Good dental and hygienic care will never be out of fashion. If they are, don’t you participate.

Learn to do activities you don’t think you’ll enjoy: spending time with those you love is worth sacrificing your own pleasures. And who knows? You may discover a new interest.

Take up a new hobby periodically… the world is spilling over with a magnificent array of activities to enjoy, and you will be a more interesting person.

Appreciate diversity. God in His glorious splendor made people unique… we all bring a fresh perspective.

Listen with a heart that aims to please God and love people.

Discussion is best done by listening well, then speaking if you have something worthwhile to add.

If you’re not sure if you should say something, go with that impulse. It’s easier to stay silent than to take back a hasty word.

Read good books. Enrich your mind.

Kindness is never wrong.

Don’t worry… it does no good and robs you of joy.

Live cleanly, but partake in small indulgences – denying all delights will not help you embrace the understanding of God’s lavishness. He made the cocoa bean just as He made broccoli.

Do a thorough clean out periodically- just give stuff away. It blesses others and releases you from the burden of having to care for so much.

Gain wisdom from God’s Word. Gain empathy from observing those hurting around you. If you are able to, alleviate the suffering of others. But recognize that God has His purposes in allowing pain in life, as well. His Sovereignty should be our comfort.

Be charitable, hospitable, loving and loyal.

Walk humbly.

Develop a few skills that you can quickly employ to bless others – a meal, a dessert, a Bible verse memorized, a stash of cards to mail- think and plan ahead.

Trust is a precious gift: do not trample any given to you.

Never be too rushed to see the beauty around you. Loveliness in all its forms come from God’s good hand. Let His poetry speak to your heart and the richness of His beautiful creation dazzle your soul.

Never be afraid to sing out loud and let your voice mingle with that of the angels.

Cultivate a myriad of interests that express your uniqueness and you will never be bored.

Keep an eye out for the lonely.

Simple action is better than eloquent emptiness.

Kindness to animals is a must.

Never harm others on purpose.

Live purposefully. Set goals. Aim for some things and don’t let naysayers deny you your dreams.

Embrace whimsy. It is a light hearted innocence that can turn dreary days into delight.

A sincere apology is quickly done. Asking forgiveness is the best way to discover if your apology was accepted.

Look people in the eye when you speak to them, but do not stare at those who are different from you.

Learn to see people’s hearts from their actions, before you judge based on their outside.

When you fail, do not quit. Attempting and failing is part of the human experience, and it brings more of a thrill to finally Succeeding.

Ask God’s guidance before you rise, for His mercy and loving kindness. Spend time daily with Him and marvel in the awesome fact that The Almighty wishes to have a relationship with us!

Wipe your feet at the door and save yourself unnecessary work.

Only find shortcuts that don’t jeopardize quality. Remember – Excellence in all you do- do not hasten. Don’t worry, God has already measured out all the days needed for you to get done whatever He’s called you to do, so take time to do things well and as unto Him.

Remember back to those who have helped you and acknowledge with affection all who walk alongside you. Take time to say Thank You. We are all on the journey- be patient.

Learn a few good jokes that can be pulled out as needed.

Make your bed each day. It will get you started in the right direction.

There is a difference in Being and Becoming. Being is how one is; becoming allows for growth and change… Be someone who is Becoming more like Jesus.

Use the time you’ve been given to share with others — if you’ve found something that brings a smile, or relief, hope or help, a joy or a sweet encouragement – share it. Keeping something for oneself alone can never bring the soul satisfaction that God designed that sharing can.

My final hope is this: knowing how much I love you and treasure the gift that parenting each of you has been, will you show me this last kindness and forget anything I may have said or done, that didn’t line up with these words here? My prayer is that you would see my heart for you, and forgive my foibles and shortcomings, remembering only the deep love I have for you, and that in your mind, you might preserve just the good, and with a gentle puff of breath, blow away any hurts that may linger from past foolishness on my part. Know this – I love you. I say to you now, if I could go back and do it all again, I would, with a hearty “Amen!”, and with great delight for such a chance as to relive this life with you, my precious ones.

Keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on Jesus, do not forget what you’ve been entrusted with – a heritage that points to Jesus as our only hope and Savior. Do not squander what you’ve been given. And remember this: we will glory in heaven together forever.
All my love to each of you– Mom

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. Psalm 11:7

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