Don’t Run, Don’t Drown

Isaiah 43:2  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

I recently landed myself in an online Bible study. I love Bible studies and always learn and grow through them.  However, I was unprepared at what was about to happen and this Bible study set things in motion that I frankly felt I wasn’t ready to deal with.  With my broken heart and voids that apparently are crater sized, I set out on what I thought would be a fun study with a few ladies I regularly attend church with.

I got my book and opened it up (in the app) and began eagerly reading. For about one minute.  I was immediately shaken by what I was reading and even called a lady that was doing it with me and told her I didn’t think I wanted to continue with the study.  She convinced me to carry on and I did so.  What happened next was nothing short of life changing for me.  Also, note that I am still in the midst of this study and the urge to blog is overwhelming so I guess I had better do it huh?

I took a deep breath and moved forward. After that first chapter, it is like this book was sent just for me.  All my junk, all my voids, all my pain, all my sins……exposed like raw and gaping wounds pouring out what I can only describe as the infection I have collected over the years of carrying hurts and pains that God never intended for me to carry.  I have stuffed so many things down so far that I thought they would never surface again.  Things I am so desperately ashamed of.  I thought if I put these things into some imaginary closet in my heart and locked the door, I might eventually get over them and forget them and grow into a fine Christian.

As I continue to read, word after word, scripture after scripture, God is talking directly to me in a way that scares me to death. I realized real quick what God was asking and if I’m honest, I didn’t like it.  My end of the conversation may have been somewhat like this:  “Wait!  Back the bus up!  You want me to do what?!?!?  No.  I already lived this pain, I am NOT going through it again.”  I hang my head when I admit that I began to run as hard and as fast in the opposite direction as I could.  I mean after all, I can not unlock that door right?  Why would I?  It’s locked away, safe.  No one wants or needs to see or know anything about what’s behind door #3.

So here I go on a self-destructive run from God. As if…like there is anywhere I can run that he can’t find me.  As a younger me, when things began to get to heavy, to real, to hard, to scary, I ran to the thing that comforted me and made me feel good…..even if only for a minute.  It always left me hurting more in the end, but in that immediate moment, I felt better.  I tried so hard to run this time.  I was seeking out that rush, the release, that pain relief.  I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t feel I could face the demons behind door #3.  I would surely drown….Let me say I nearly drown.  For real.

All my running must have made God say, “Ok have it your way. You always choose the hard way so here it is.”  In my mind I see a Hercules looking God in a white robe and sandals kicking in that locked door to get where he wanted to be.  When that door shattered I freaked out!  Complete panic consumed me.  All the hurts, pain, sadness, sinful natures, EVERYTHING that I had hoarded behind that locked door came spewing out that door in a tsunami.  The hurts I had hidden and tucked away as a child came flashing back in my mind like real time movies with sound.  Every wound that I had ever collected ripped wide open and stared me in the face.  I tried running some more, even after the realization that there was no where left to run.  I cried, I begged, I self-destructed in many many ways.  I turned to my Christian friends who were supportive but firm in the fact that I had to quit running and face it head on and Let God do the work.  Guys, seriously, I thought I was going to drown right there.  I was gasping for air and couldn’t get my head above the water.

I’d like to tell you that I immediately stopped running in that moment and reached for God who is now standing on the bank with an outstretched hand and a look of, “You bout ready to give in yet? You are being ridiculous.  I can make all of this go away if you will just LET me.”  But NOOOOO.  I just kept digging myself in deeper!  What is wrong with me?!?!?  I am scared.  I am terrified to turn these collected wounds over to God, because that means so many things.  Feeling that pain as he removes it.  Surrendering control.  Finding a new way of coping with things this flesh just cant.  Filling voids with God, which also means getting closer to God, which also means he may ask me to do things I do not want to do.  GULP.  That may include talking about this.

Now, all that being said, I am refocused. I have decided to reach for his hand and trust where he wants to lead me.  Reluctantly as it may be.  I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m standing (or maybe laying on the bank catching my breath, not sure).  I’m struggling with this release, but I’m not running any more.

If you are like me, if this makes sense to you, my heart and prayers are with you. We WON’T drown if we keep our eye on God.  That’s a promise from God.  Read it over and over.

Isaiah 43:2  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.

A favorite passage in the study for me is this: Lived for Him the loudest, in glorious color for all to see.  That’s my prayer right now.  I want to live for God the loudest, in glorious color for all to see.  If that means I have to live the hurt to release it to God and be able to draw closer to him, to rely more on him, then lets get to it God.  Heal me.  Use me.  Fill every void with you.  Help me LET you do it.

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Lord, It’s Me Again

 

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Today I want to touch on sin and failing. The Bible is full of people just like us.  People who want to do good and just somehow keep failing.  Sometimes I feel like God surely has to get tired when he hears my voice coming at him in prayer.  Like maybe he slaps his hand over his face and says, “For Heaven’s sake, get it together girl!”

Just to give an example, here is a short list of some of the people who keep messing up in the Bible:

The Apostle Paul

King David

Moses

Tamar

Simon Peter

Jonah

When you have a minute I suggest you look them up and study them. It is quite interesting.

Today tho, lets go with King David. I chose him because not only does he have a bit of a rap sheet, he has a pretty big one.  In fact, he broke like HALF of the 10 commandments.  If anyone probably relates to saying, “Lord, it’s me again.”  It is probably David.  I picture at some point that King David probably kicked some pottery across that castle and said, “LORD, WHY DO I KEEP GETTING IT WRONG?!?!”

God said that David was a man after Gods own heart, yet over and over David messes up and God forgives him. Whew! I mean, if God can forgive David’s sin he can forgive mine.  That makes me feel a lot better.

Those commandments that David broke were pretty big deals. (One side not here.  If you like an interesting book you should soooooo read the Bible.  The twists and turns in there are better than any soap opera and in the end you learn about God’s love and mercy.  That’s something you’ll never get outta the soaps) Moving on….David’s sins were doozies. Don’t believe me?  Please read First and Second Samuel.

Picture it, 202 A.D. (random #, excuse my silliness, I had a Golden Girl moment there)  David is walking around and spots, in the distance, a beautiful woman bathing.  He wants this woman so he sends someone to get her and bring her to him.  She is married and he knows it is wrong, but he sleeps with her.  She becomes pregnant and suddenly David has to start covering his tracks.  He orders the womans husband to be sent to the front of the battle line so that he will be killed and he can take her as his wife.

Now girls, you tell me this doesn’t sound like a soap! So David, messed up real big and I can only imagine how many times David had to pray the prayer of shame and say those words, “Lord it’s me again.”

I have said the prayer of shame many times and cringe when I have to say, “Lord, it’s me again. I know you already know, but boy have I messed up this time.  Please God, forgive me.”  God forgives me over and over and gives me that unconditional love that only he can give.

As I look back over all the “Lord, it’s me again” moments in my life, I see a pattern. A pattern of growth.  As I come back again and again asking for forgiveness, I am learning from these mistakes and they are molding me into the Christian God wants me to be.  God uses each mistake, each hard spot in the road, each failure, to teach me so that I may be able to not only learn from my mistakes, but that I may be able to use them and the knowledge gained from them to minister to someone “just like me”.

So, Lord, it’s me again. This time I just want to thank you.  All I ask is that you keep growing me into the woman you want me to be and guide my footsteps down paths that bring glory to you.

May God Bless you

Be Proud of Where You Are

1 Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

It seems like life in general is one big race.  A race to have the most, be the most, do the most.  This person can run a marathon…..better hurry and run a marathon too or I am not enough and my efforts mean nothing.

Why are we like this?  Why am I like this?  I have a massive amount of weight to lose and let me tell ya, it is overwhelming.  I go to the gym and see all these good, able bodies doing the things I want to do and I start to feel like what I CAN do just isn’t enough.  I can walk on a treadmill and be winded and uncomfortable at 2.5 miles an hour and on the hill setting.  My friend seems to walk effortlessly 3.5 miles an hour.  Another friend jogs.  If he can jog, I should be able to jog too.

I want to jog, really I do, but the fact of the matter is that I just can’t do it yet.  I could go for maybe a minute and then I would pass out from lack of oxygen.  So why is my 2.5 winded walk any less valuable than a 3.5 walk or a jog?  IT’S NOT!  I feel like it is, but in reality it’s not.  What really matters is that I show up and I am doing the best that I can do.  I should be proud that I chose the gym over the couch and not worry about what everyone else can do that I can’t.

I have found that this is true in many areas of life, including our walk with Christ.  Even in what we expect of our new converts.  Walk this way, talk this way, dress this way, act this way.  I believe that there are many “levels” to our Christian walk and I believe that is what the Bible is saying in reference to milk and meat.

You wouldn’t dream of giving a newborn meat.  Why?  The baby isn’t ready for meat.  They have to have milk.  They have no teeth or chewing ability yet.  They would choke.   You can compare the milk stage to “Level 1” of our walk.

LEVEL 1

Newly saved.  Folks, those who are newly saved need milk.  They do not need anyone to jump on and start piling on the “rules”.  We should be proud of the newly saved and if you are newly saved GOOD FOR YOU!  On another note, it’s not our job to correct their clothes, hair, tattoos, or anything else we “more mature” Christians feel the need to do.  God saved them and he will change their hearts in all areas of their life, putting them right where HE wants them……even if sometimes we think that they should be somewhere else.  SURPRISE!!!! GOD DOES NOT NEED US TO HAVE OUR HANDS ON ALL OF HIS WORK! Give them milk and let them grown and be proud of where they are in THEIR walk.

If you are newly saved be so very proud of the steps your are making to live your life for God.  Don’t worry about where others are in their walk (it will overwhelm you) or how someone else got this blessing that you wanted and felt you deserved.  You don’t know where they have been or what they have been thru or what the future holds for that person. Hold your head up and be proud for choosing to live for God and pray for your own spiritual growth.

LEVEL 2

I feel like most days I fall into this level.  I need more than milk, but maybe less than meat.  I am growing all the time in my walk but I am not where I want to be yet.  I go to church….check.  I know my spiritual gift….Check.  I study my Bible….check.  I try to live in Gods will for my life….check check.  So maybe I can eat some stage 3 baby food with my milk.  Some softer foods like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.

I look at all those people out there eating meat and I want it, but there are still areas in my life that aren’t ready for meat.  I’m getting close, just not quite ready.  Realistically tho, man I am proud of where I am.  I was so lost, so wrong in my ways and now I lead an amazing life drawing closer to God every day.

If you are a level 2 please stop looking around and be PROUD OF WHERE YOU ARE today!

LEVEL 3

These are the big boys.  Chewing up their meat and loving it.  They have it figured out.  They are ready to drop everything and do whatever God says.

God:  Drop your life and run to Africa with no one and nothing.

Level 3:  Sure, I have no money and no idea what I will do for work, food, or a place to sleep, but you got this and you told me to go so here I go.  (insert the image in my head of a level 3er in a pair of hiking boots and a kavu bag kickin up dust on some African safari dirt road.)

Level 3er must be super proud of where they are, but they didn’t get there over night.  It takes work and time to grow spiritually, just like it takes work and time to be able to jog on that treadmill rather than move along at a snails pace 2.5mph.

If I focus on Mr. or Mrs level 3, my accomplishments seem so small and unworthy.  I feel overwhelmed and defeated.  If I focus on myself at level 1 or even before level 1, I feel pretty good about where I am.  This is not a once size fits all and it is not a race.  We must stop comparing and be proud of where we are right here and right now.  Trust God to grow us in his timing and be thankful for the steps along the way.

Disclaimer:  These are not actual levels listed anywhere in the Bible.  Just a simple minded woman trying to get the words from her head to the screen in a way that makes sense. 🙂

May God Bless You

 

 

Like A River

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about seeking God.  I am going with the above verse for its simplicity.  It says that if you seek him with all your heart, you will find him.

A friend and I recently set off on a kayaking adventure.  Now, anyone who knows me at all knows I am in my element when I am on the river.  Especially the river I grew up on.  This float was planned and moved several times due to weather and my heart was so anxious to be back on the river I nearly couldn’t take it.  For the weeks and months leading up to the trip I remapped everything and all the stops I wanted to make along the way so I could show my friend all the “treasures” I loved.  I took time to locate the “treasures” and try to figure out at which hour we should float past them as not to miss them.

As we approached the treasure for this leg of the float I kept my eyes peeled.  We nearly floated right past and my friend began to paddle up stream to get there.  I had doubts that I could make it, but with her encouragement, I paddled hard and made it.  We took the short hike and just as glorious as I remembered, there it was.  This treasure in the woods.  The history of an old mill (a mill that in history was MY families).  All that remains of the mill these days is a giant, glorious, rusted up wheel.  It stands proud and tall in the middle of this spring creek.  A glimpse of days gone by.

A bit further up the trail is another glorious sight.  The mouth of the cave where the spring flows from.  Just out from the mouth of the cave is a small waterfall and the tradition is to sit below that fall, in the freezing water, and let it wash over your head and body.

As we walked back out and started to get back in our kayaks, I noticed something.  Tons of canoes and kayaks floating by and never even knowing (or maybe not caring) that this treasure was RIGHT there!  It’s free to all who wish to enter.  It hasn’t moved, EVER!  It’s RIGHT HERE!  YOU’RE MISSING IT!  I wanted to get their attention, wave my arms, and yell, “HEY!  OVER HERE!  COME SEE!”  But I did nothing…….I did NOTHING to show them the treasure that I had and knew existed.

God spoke to me after this float.  What if we, as Christians, took the time to seek out God the way we do scenic treasures?  What if we watched diligently for God and worked hard to get where he is?  What if we were outraged that people didn’t know or care that God is there?  What if instead of standing on the banks watching them go by we started waving our arms, jumping up and down, screaming to get their attention and teach them what we know?

Our churches would be full.  There wouldn’t be nearly so many people floating down the river of life never knowing about God and what he did for them, how much he loves them.  They would look up from the canoe or kayak and say, “Hey, there must be something cool over there.  Look at that crazy lady.  She really wants to share something with us.”

To many times we stand on the bank and do nothing as our opportunity to share the treasure of God floats right on down the river.  We don’t prepare for it, we don’t seek it out, we certainly don’t put in any extra effort to get there, and we just stand there, on a bank, doing nothing.

So today, I am praying that we all start doing these things in an effort the spread Gods word to as many people as we can.  Seek the treasure, watch for it, paddle hard, speak out!  Its our job to invite people to our church.  To share the treasure we have with all we meet.

ARE YOU LETTING YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE FLOAT ON LIKE A RIVER, OR ARE YOU FLAGGING PEOPLE DOWN TO SHARE THE TREASURE YOU KNOW IS RIGHT THERE, WAITING FOR ALL WHO WILL HAVE IT?

Content

Philippians 4:11-13 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Oh how I want to master this!  I am growing and learning it, but to master it….MAN, what freedom this would give me.  I have lived a blessed life.  Yes, I have had times of hardship and times of plenty, but in all, BLESSED.  I mean, lets be honest, there are others who are way worse off than I am or have ever been.  I can’t think of one single time I had to go over yonder and fetch a pale of water or a time when if I didn’t succeed at hunting I would have NOTHING to eat at all.

For many years of my life I could say that I stressed way to much over way to little.  I was never content with where I was.  Always searching for the next step up.  I needed a better car, house, more money, more friends…..whatever.  As I get older and grow in my spiritual walk, I find that these things don’t matter so much anymore.  I mean sure nice cars, homes, friends, and money are all great things, but that is no longer my goal.  My goal is simply to be pleasing to God.  To be content with whatever God wants me to have or not have.

Knowing that we can do all things thru Christ who strengthens us is a powerful thing.  If we knew that in our hearts of hearts and could find contentment in that how much more at ease would we be?  I want to find that contentment in every area of my life.

Not such a great job?  It’s all good.  At least I have a job.

Not a great car?  ok.  At least I don’t have to walk everywhere or take a bus.

House not so great?  Its fine, I have a roof over my head.

I mean its not like any of these things will go with us to our final destination.  None of this earthly junk will matter.  I am typing this sitting at a desk of a job that simply pays the bills.  No benefits, no paid time off or vacation, no paid holidays.  My earthly self would love to focus on those negatives, but the fact of the matter is this:  I needed a job and God gave me a job.  Not only does it pay the bills, it is not a stressful position, I get off in time to take my daughter to gymnastics, and if my childcare is unavailable for a day I am allowed to bring my kids to work with me.  It’s actually not so bad when I think about it.  I am able to be content because “I can do all things thru Christ.”

I am also learning to be content because I am learning to trust God.  I know things may look rough right now, but I also know that God has a plan for my life.  Not just a plan, but a good plan.  I am content with my life just as it is because I know who holds my future.

I urge each one reading this to seek this contentment talked about in the scripture above.  Learn to trust God and be content in whatever you have been given.  God loves us so much and he will supply our every need.  Find peace in that.  Love the life God has given you and set your heart on being content with where you are.

May God Bless You

When Praying is Hard

It seems I am learning a lot about my prayer life these days.  I definitely learned how NOT to pray in one instance as you can read in “Careful What You Pray For”.  As my dad’s sickness progressed I said tons and tons of prayers.  Prayers for dad to wake up, prayers for the intubation to be removed, prayers for healing, prayers for more time, peace, comfort, understanding.  The list could go on for days.

As life began to slowly drain from my daddy, in my head I knew there was NOTHING I could do to stop this.  God’s will was going to be done and all I could do is hang on for the ride.  My heart however would have moved mountains to change it.  This is when I noticed my prayers changing.  I don’t claim to be right or wrong in my prayers.  I am simply saying they changed.

My dad made the decision to NEVER go back to the hospital.  To live the rest of his days at home whether it was one minute, one day, one month, one year.  Talk about a kick in the lungs.  I was stunned.  I mean after all, he is the strongest, most stubborn man in the whole world.  Why are we giving up?  FIGHT!!!!

The next days were a blur.  I was so hurt and so angry.  I started praying.   For what, I am unsure.  Just praying.  It was too hard.  I couldn’t pray right.  The days passed.  It felt like an eternity and still I didn’t know what to pray.

When dad got to where he couldn’t walk across the room, then needed help to even go the few steps to the bathroom, something shifted in my heart.  Yes he has always been strong, fought for everything he ever had.  BUT when I looked at him that day, my precious Daddy was tired.  He was hurting, he was sick, he was living his last days out in horrific conditions.

My prayer shifted that day and I prayed some very hard prayers over the next portion of dads life.  “God show your mercy.  Don’t let him suffer.  If you are going to take him, make it fast.  Have your way Lord, do your will.”  As badly as I wanted my Daddy to live and be here with me, it was selfish to pray for that.  He was in pain.  He was sad.  He wanted to go home and never be sick again.

I thought these were the hard prayers.  But when he took an even worse turn and didn’t wake up anymore, my prayers turned to begging.  He laid there and fought for every breath he took.  To say he suffered was an understatement. I closed my eyes and begged, “God, have mercy.  Take him now.  Don’t let him suffer another minute please.”  That was the hardest prayer I have ever uttered.

Where I am trying to go with this is that God has a good and perfect will.  You can trust him and his plans.  When it’s to hard too pray, you don’t know what to pray, or you are begging for mercy, God is still in control.  You don’t have to be afraid.  God knows whats best and he knows our hearts.  Those prayers were HARD.  God knew I didn’t want him to take my daddy, but he also knew I couldn’t bare to see him suffer like that.  He knew I simply wanted peace for my Daddy.  Even when that peace would come only when my Daddy would no longer be on this earth with me.

Don’t stop praying just because it’s hard.  It’s a God Thang and he will see you thru.  Keep praying

 

May God Bless You

 

 

 

 

Careful What You Pray For

     So it has been a while since I lost blogged anything, but this one is a doozy!  My son is in 9th grade these days and no one ever prepares you for teen boys!  We started the year off pretty great and then a few months in we started having some teen rebellion.  First, he was caught with a vape and quickly had a great reason it wasn’t his and some kid he didn’t even know shoved it in his hoody and he was simply giving it back and got caught.  Second, a child was actually caught vaping in class.  Yeah, I said IN CLASS!  My child was named as said student to which again he quickly stated it was NOT him and that this was a substitute teacher and she just went off the seating chart and that child happened to be in his seat because they sit wherever they want when a substitute teaches.  OK, we all get the point, my child has the worst luck of any human  being on the planet, right?

     In all my motherly wisdom I had to come to the conclusion that someone was not being honest, but actually there was no solid proof.  The first time actually could have happened and the second time there was never even a device found, just a teachers word against a students word.  So, as a mother how do you know you are doing the right thing and how do you punish when there is no real proof? Well, we did punish by taking away electronics and hanging out with friends and so forth, but my son didn’t really have to face the guilt or the shame of being caught red handed and knowing that we know what he has been up to.

     I prayed a prayer that I thought was a good prayer.  I prayed that God would bring to light what my son was doing in darkness in a way that he could no longer deny what he was doing and I could really try to get through to him with PROOF.  Now, my momma heart was totally in the right place, but I never dreamed that prayer would be answered in the way it was and frankly I regretted that prayer.

    You see, it was the day we wait for every year….Young Christian Weekend and Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.  My husband and I are blessed to be a part of taking this young group of wild teens to a weekend filled with learning about God and rights and wrongs and fun rides.  We eagerly dropped our son at school at about 7:10 and headed on over to drop the puppy at the vet for boarding.  That’s when I got a phone call that will haunt this momma for the rest of her life.

     “Mrs.  (fill in the blank), this is the high school security officer and we need you to come and  pick up your child.  He is in the nurses office vomiting, shaking, hallucinating, and saying his entire body hurts.  We believe your son is high.”

     Of course we run as fast as possible to get him and rush him to the local emergency room.  There we are put thru a number of events and my 15 year old child is given a drug screening.  It turns out that my son was in the bathroom using a vape, which he believed only had nicotine in it.  He started to feel sick and dizzy and ask what was really in there and the child that gave it to him said it was just nicotine.  By the time my child reached the nurses office he was deathly ill and didn’t really have control of his body movement.

     At the hospital we were told the drug test was clean.  {Thank you God}  I took the results to the school and allowed a principal to be very hard on my son because I felt as though this young man still didn’t really grasp the gravity of his situation.

     For months we had stressed the importance of grades and attendance and it always fell of deaf, angry, little ears.  The first this the principal did to help him make a punishment decision was look at my sons grades and attendance.  {BOOM!  NOT THAT MOMMA TOLD YOU SO OR ANYTHING}  So to kind of wrap this up…..kind of.  The device was sent to a crime lab to be tested for drugs, my son is spending the next ten school days working off his crime at home and I am spending the rest of the next ten days sitting in a public library so he can do his school work and not FAIL the 9th grade. His offense is being treated as a drug offense until that crime lab deems there were no drugs in that vape.  That is on my little boys school record.  “School Drug use”  Talk about a mommas heart breaking.

    I prayed that prayer in hopes that I could catch my son in the act and be able to reach him some how.  God knows exactly what he is doing and I trust him whole heartedly, but I do wish maybe I had prayed that prayer a little more specific, like “God, please let my son be caught on video putting a vape to his lips and blowing the smoke out, so that I can deal with him knowing 100% what I am dealing with.”  Instead I was upset and vague and spat out something like “God whatever he is doing in the darkness bring to light in a way he can no longer deny it.”  God is faithful and he did just that.  At first I was like “Really?!?!?  Why did you have to be so extreme?”  Then, after I settled and could reflect I felt differently.

     My son, much like his momma at that age, has a sort of rebel heart, impulsive.  Because God did this the way he did, my son was hit really hard with a lot of realities that he needed.

*It only takes one time  *The decisions I make today can change my entire future  *If one can overdose on nicotine and have that horrible of a reaction, what could stronger things do to me?  *What is done in darkness really does come to light sooner or later.

God knew that his rebel heart needed a stern slap to get through to him.  That’s a God Thang.  Yes he is going through a lot now in the aftermath of this decision, but if there is anything I have learned over the years, it is that God uses what the devil meant for bad and turns it into good.  I know that this experience will some day be used for good for both me and my son, but next time I pray, I’ll probably be a little more careful about the words I use 🙂

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!