Back in the saddle!

It was a long, but fulfilling weekend.

On Friday, May 15th my beloved husband, the love of my life, the absolute apple of my eye, celebrated his 30th birthday. Unfortunately/fortunately for me, he looks like he is a grade-school student and I am often mistaken for his mother (I actually think it’s funny. I do not take offense). I would have loved to have been able to throw him an elaborate birthday bash in a rented hall, with delicious catered food and perhaps a DJ. Luckily, my husband does not expect for a lot of fuss to be made over him.

Initially we had discussed a day trip to Cedar Point in nearby Ohio, but that was before my stupid weak leg gave out on me and I fell in front of the grocery store the previous Monday. I will admit–I was kind of going back and forth as to whether or not I was going to tell anyone I had fallen, because I did not want my little bit of independence further jeopardized. But it is what it is, and I resolved not to hide that important information from my husband, although I figured that he (and my mom, and also my mom-in-law) would forbid me from going anywhere alone until someone finally figures out what is wrong with me.

Since I could not be trusted to make it around Cedar Point, I thought fast about what we could possibly do. The idea of bowling was floated back and forth, but finally I decided on a day trip that I could handle–to Frankenmuth, Michigan. The day of Matt’s birthday, I invited our families to our house for a surprise gathering of sorts. In preparation for the party, I went to the grocery store to get the fixings for one of his favorite dinners and for two cakes (he has a raging sweet tooth and had requested two cakes); gotten a couple of balloons at the Dollar Store; tidied up the house a bit and prepared the cakes and the food, with the help of my kids. Luckily his mother kept him out of the house so I was able to get everything done that I needed to do in a short period of time, but by the time I was done fixing the cajun chicken pasta, garlic bread, red velvet cake and Snickers cake, I felt as though I could pass out.

If I had been thinking I would have posted the pics of the food. But in case anyone is interested, here are the basic recipes I use (I always tweak them to add more of what I like and less of what I don’t like :-). My Snickers cake did not look exactly like this one, but it was pretty doggone delicious, if I might say so myself…

http://www.itisakeeper.com/9496/snickers-poke-cake/

I got the recipe for the Cajun Chicken Pasta from the Pioneer Woman. It is absolutely amazing.

TPW_6385

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/cajun-chicken-pasta/

The Red Velvet cake came straight from a box. I just tried to jazz up the whipped frosting.

My husband fully appreciated the effort. I could tell he was still tired himself from having worked the night before, but he is always happy to have the people that love him the most in his presence. So although my body was aching from head to toe, I was happy to see him happy. He deserves that and so much more. He has been my everything while I have been sick.

matt 30th blow out candles matt 30th sing happy birthday

The next day we went to Frankenmuth. If you ever have the opportunity to go, I suggest you do so. It is referred to as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” in homage to the German settlers that founded the city. It now has a series of quaint shops and delicious restaurants. We bought fudge from one of the candy shops…

me and herman the german

(Me and Herman the German)

Strolled through souvenir shops, sausage shops (there was even a store that sold like 50 or more different flavors of sausage. I had no idea that was even possible), toy stores, and ate at Zehnders, which served us quite possibly the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted.

Daddys girl at zehnders

After our time in Frankenmuth we went to the outlet stores at Birch Run, and it was there thought I fought the urge to collapse. I attempted to keep my fatigue and pain to myself but it became painfully obvious as I kept having to sit down and the grimaces on my face became more and more constant. I was happy to go home and get right into bed, only to find that for no apparent reason I could not sleep. SMH. But, whatever. I have always enjoyed going to Frankenmuth. If you ever have the chance to go, I suggest you take it. They have a couple of hotels there with indoor water parks (which were way too expensive for that weekend).

frankenmuth

My husband was beyond content with his birthday weekend, and I am always happy to do nice things for him. Lord knows I give him enough grief :-)

This weekend trip also proved that my husband was right when he canceled the Cedar Point idea, because I had initially resisted the idea that we not go because of me. He was right. There is no way I could have walked around Cedar Point or stood in lines for three hours.

So it was good. Family time is always good. After almost ten years of being together, I still desire and long for my husband and no one else. Believe it or not, but I have yet to find any other man that catches my eye like he does.

Awhile ago, I had started documenting my journey through the Bible. I have read the Bible once from cover to cover, and again using passages that were covered during Moody, Sunday service, or from Scriptures that I decided to read on a whim. When I misplaced the notebook I had been using that had my notes from Exodus on forward, I stopped blogging my Bible commentary. It has been bothering me for awhile, and at this point there is no reason why I should not at least do that in addition to any other blog posts I made. To get myself back into the spirit, I will post the last Bible commentary I did on the book of Exodus, which is one of my favorite books. Although I had gotten through Numbers in my notebook, this is where I will pick up.

This is from Exodus 17. When I return, I will begin at Exodus 17. For any who are interested, my Biblical notes from the preceding chapters and the book of Genesis are in the earlier posts of my blog.

Exodus 16

When we last discussed Exodus, the Israelites were celebrating their victory over Pharaoh and his minions at the Red Sea with song and dance, the first time those activities were recorded in the Bible. You would think after such a victory, seeing their enemies drowned under a crushing wall of water, their faith would be high, right? WRONG!

The Israelites start to complain again to Moses and Aaron as they camp out in the wilderness that is Sin (interesting name. Pun intended? I do not know). They have again focused on their physical self instead of their spiritual blessings and complain of being hungry. They lament over the pots filled with meat and bread they ate as slaves in Egypt. In response, God tells Moses that he will rain down food from heaven, and the people are to go and pick up as much food as they need for the day. They are told to gather a double portion on the sixth day, because, of course, the seventh day is to be a day of rest. God issues this as a challenge to the Israelites, as he wants to see whether or not they are capable of following these simple instructions.

I like that Moses and Aaron continually remind the people that their complaints are not against THEM—they are against God. Admittedly, this is something I need to remind myself of more often. I have to be honest—living in this small apartment with five people causes me a great deal of distress. I often wonder if I am supposed to be content with the fact that I have a roof over my head, and does God look at my dissatisfaction and complaints about this place as me not appreciating what he has given me, and me not trusting that he plans to give me more?

Getting this job was a humbling experience. I have a quality that the Israelites as a group possess—impatience and wavering faith. If my faith were as strong as it should have been, I would have been certain that one day God would put me right where he wanted me to go. But like the reverend said at church today, we have become a microwave society and are accustomed to having our needs met in an instant. Not so with God. Look at what he did for me… I was passed up by tons of jobs, only to get the perfect one.

Back to Exodus.

Now here is where it gets even more amazing. God reveals himself to ALL Israel.

“And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel (there were a lot of Israelites and they did not have microphones back then… how did everyone hear him? Just wondering), they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud” (Exo. 16:10).

The Israelites keep getting example after example after example of God’s power, yet they continue to complain and be dissatisfied and selfish. As I have said before, if the Israelites do not symbolize us as humans today, I don’t know who does. God is showing us sign after sign after sign, and we are so caught up in the things of this world—that is designed to meet our immediate, physical needs and selfish wants and whims—that we are paying him no attention.

I can only wonder how much that grieves our loving God. He took care to create each one of us to glorify him, and we turn around and deny his very existence? Wow. He gave his Son as a sacrifice, and Jesus suffered a painful death, yet one needs not even believe on Him and can be redeemed? Double wow.

Anyway, that evening an innumerable flock of quail come in and cover the camp. The next morning, the ground is covered with dew that evaporates and becomes a flaky substance. The Israelites have never seen this substance before. It is, of course, bread of heaven—manna. Moses relays the collection instructions to the Israelites, and explains that only enough food is to be collected per day, and no leftovers are allowed. Of course, someone disobeys, and maggots appear. Moses is, understandably, angry with those who disobeyed.

Even as the temperature rises, this flaky substance does not evaporate or disappear. That is the wonder of God. God, the author of weather, can control it to suit his purposes.

Next, the Israelites are given the Sabbath day as their day of rest. When the leaders come to ask Moses why they ought to gather more food on the sixth day, (just like us, they can’t follow a simple instruction, they have to know the meaning behind it. I am guilty of this, I cannot lie), Moses responds:

“He told them, ‘This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow” (Exo. 16: 23).

Sigh. I do not know about you, but a complete day of rest sounds perfectly lovely to me. I remember my grandmothers and parents often discussing how nothing was open on Sundays years ago, except for churches and maybe a few gas stations. There was nothing else to do but go to church and spend time with family. In the days before outrageous gas prices, families often enjoyed Sunday drives. Sounds ideal to me.

Rest=rejuvenation. A lack of rest is why so many of us are irritable, weigh too much or too little, have bad attitudes, cannot focus, etc. God was trying to help us with that. Although the Christian day of rest is not Saturday, as is the typical Sabbath day of observation, the more important concept is that of rest. Sundays are supposed to be, in my opinion, a day of rejuvenation after a long week, a day to refresh, clear, and restore your mind to its rightful state. What better way to start a brand new week than with worship and family? God even goes so far as to call this day a gift: “They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you…” (Exo. 16: 29).

Moving on… Recall a few passages ago that there were some Israelites who disobeyed Moses when he told them not to keep leftover food, and when they did, maggots appeared. This time, the food that is stored for the day of rest is uncorrupted in the morning.  However, some Israelites are STILL not satisfied, and go out looking for food! They do not find any.

Is this how some people go about their life journey? They have the goodness and fullness of God staring them dead in the face, yet it is not good enough, and they go and seek membership and acceptance of cults and other sects. It’s like having a perfectly-cooked steak (with A-1 of course) and potato dinner, with yummy asparagus in front of you, and deciding to forego it for a Banquet TV dinner. (No disrespect to Banquets, but I am a foodie, and I love steak and asparagus!).

A further instruction is given for the Sabbath: The Israelites are told to each stay in their place. Again, this tells me that God intended on this day to be restful and for quiet reflection and worship with family.

The Israelites name the food that has fallen from the sky manna. A description of manna follows: It is white like coriander seed and tastes like honey wafers. Now, as insolent as the Israelites have been, God could have rightfully made the manna taste like soap or something disgusting. BUT, since it was of God and from heaven, it had a delightful taste.

God instructs Moses and Aaron to fill a two-quart jar with manna so future generations will be able to see how he took care of the Israelites. Even then, God knew that man and his stubbornness would demand proof of God’s goodness. Word of mouth has proven not to be good enough for some.

Aaron did as told, and this jar of manna was eventually placed in the Ark of the Covenant (we’ll get there eventually). For forty years until the Israelites arrived in the land in which they would settle, God provided them with this manna.

But let’s digress. The forty years are not yet over. And the Israelites are complaining again.

At the beginning of Exodus 17, we find thirsty Israelites complaining to Moses about their lack of water at their new camp in Rephidim. According to the Bible, the Israelites were “tormented by thirst” (Exo. 17: 3). Notice that the Bible does NOT say that Moses faced this same torment. Moses’s hungers and thirst were quenched by God’s promises.

Again, the Israelites opine that they were better off in Egypt (don’t you wish they’d get some new material?). Instead of causing the earth to swallow them up and quiet them forever, as some of us may have done, God lovingly provided them with what they needed, and it did not come from just anywhere. He tells Moses to take his staff, the same one he used in Egypt to perform miracles before Pharaoh, and go to the Nile in the presence of some of the elders of the group. There, God will stand before him on the rock at Mount Sinai. Moses is to strike the rock, and water will gush out for the people to drink.

See any parallels here?

For the Israelites, manna was the bread of life that came down from heaven. Jesus, our Bread of Life, came down from heaven and took on a human fleshly form. Jesus is our rock, who was struck on the cross, and water (and blood) gushed from His body. The rock of our lives is Christ. The Word is ours to drink and sustain us.

In the next Scriptures we are introduced to one of my favorite Biblical figures, Joshua. As soon as we meet Joshua, we see that he is a fearless, courageous warrior. While the Israelites are still camped in Rephidim, they are attacked by Amalekites. According to Biblical archaeology, Amalekites were descendants of Esau who preferred to live in mountainous terrain. They were enemies of Israel, and thus adversaries of God. This makes sense if we consider the history of Jacob and Esau, although the two brothers were later reconciled.

Moses commands Joshua to choose some men to go and fight against the Amalekites. This lets me know that Joshua has already proven himself capable. The next passage lets me further know: “Joshua did what Moses commanded”… Joshua is fearless AND obedient, two qualities that are necessary for soldiers in God’s army.

During the battle, the Israelites gain an advantage as long as Moses’s staff is held high in the air. Whenever he dropped the staff, the Amalekites gained footing. When he gets tired, Aaron and Hur (I have no idea who Hur is, but assume that since he is not fighting that he is one of the elders) find a rock for Moses to sit on, stand on either side of him, and hold his hands up for him (I like that). This enables Moses to hold his hands steady until sunset, and Joshua and his army are victorious. After the victory, God commands Moses to document the victory on a scroll and give it to Joshua as a memento. Undoubtedly, Joshua is already being groomed for the role he will play in Israel’s journey after Moses’s death. Moses builds an altar at the site of the victory.

Remember Moses’s father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian? He comes back into the picture in Exodus 18. We met Jethro back in Exodus 2 when Moses killed the Egyptian, fled to Midian, and met Jethro’s seven daughters as they come to draw water from the well against Moses is resting. In Exodus 2, Jethro is referred to as Reuel, and the daughter he gives to Moses in marriage is Zipporah.

Jethro has heard of all the good God has done for his people. The Bible tells us that Moses had previously sent his wife and sons Gershom and Eliezer to Jethro; now Jethro comes to visit Moses in the wilderness (there were no maps and navigational systems, how did these people find each other???). He brings Zipporah and the two boys with him, and Moses fills his father-in-law in about everything God has done for them. Jethro is delighted and brings a burnt offering and sacrifice to God. As far as I recall, this is the first instance of Israelites participating in a sacrificial meal to God outside of Egypt. Sidebar: I wonder if the Israelites worshipped God while they were in Egypt, or if they were forbidden to worship. Did they even know God, or were they only knowledgeable about Egyptian gods? I have something new to research! My assumption is that God was relatively new to them, and they were thus babes in Christ, which would partially explain their lack of faith).

Get this… Moses is also a judge. The day after the sacrificial meal, it is recorded that Moses sat down to hear disputes among the people. The Bible goes further to say that Moses heard disputes from morning till evening. The idea of patiently listening to people go back and forth makes for a good horror film. Jethro sees how tiring this is for Moses, considering everything else he is doing for the people, and wonders why he does it alone. Moses says that “…the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions” (Exo. 18: 15-16).

Here is God setting up the Israelite government.

Jethro gives Moses sound advice: To select from the Israelites honest, upright leaders who will judge groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. Moses should continue to be the leader and teach the people, but Jethro knows Moses cannot do it all himself. These lower level leaders should be able to handle smaller disputes, and Moses will continue to hear more serious cases. Moses follows Jethro’s advice, and Jethro soon returns to his own land.

Jethro was a pretty smart guy, wasn’t he? He cared enough about Moses to be concerned about his innumerable responsibilities, and offered a good, Godly plan. We all need help from time to time. Moses, as great as he was, was just another man. However, I kind of go back and forth with this particular event. God had given Moses a job to do, so was Moses supposed to follow this advice, or did God have something else in store? Was this an example of Moses leaning to his own understanding, or was this the type of government God had intended all along, and he used Jethro to implement it? I do not know, but I have more research to do.

Alas… I have gotten onto a roll and now duty calls. Adios.

My son, a.k.a TenderHeart

I pray for my kids everyday. Not just my kids, but all kids. I try not to take it for granted that my eight-year-old son goes to school and comes home everyday, because I am quite sure that the parents of the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School, for example, fully expected to see their kids again after school on December 14, 2012. I am willing to bet that moms and dads to Columbine High School students were thinking of what their families were going to eat for dinner on the afternoon of April 20, 1999. Basically, I understand that we truly have no idea what is going to happen from one minute to the next. While I feel that my son’s school is safe, I am sure parents of those students in those schools felt the same as well. So it is a priority to me to pray for the safety of all kids at all schools across the land daily.

My prayers for my kids are different. I do not lump them together, because they are different people with different personalities and different needs. My three-year-old daughter is the far more independent one. Whereas my son is perfectly content to allow me, his dad, grandmother, grandfather or whomever wait on him hand and foot if we allow it, my baby girl wants to do everything on her own, sometimes getting her into painful accidents. Their temperaments are quite different as well. My daughter is pretty fiery and quick to throw hands. My son refuses to stand up for himself, and that bothers me.

My husband and I do not agree with how kids are expected to handle conflict these days. I had my fair share of people who attempted to bully me when I was a kid. I had awful Coke-bottle glasses (it was the eighties when I first started wearing glasses, and I think everyone who was alive then can remember how ugly and thick the glasses were) and was very much into my school work, reading and writing. I tried to walk away each time when someone was bothering me, but in the end, if someone got physical with me, I retaliated swiftly and strongly.

And you know what? The best rehabilitation for a bully when I was a kid was a black eye.

I am not trying to advocate violence, but from what I have learned is if you allow someone to keep bothering you, that is what they will do, and it will continue to escalate. Back in the eighties, kids fought and then were able to respect each other and become friends after. I am friends with everyone I got into it as a child. We can look back and laugh. None of them picked on me for long. Now, kids are not expected to do anything but tell a grown-up, who, particularly in a school setting, may or may not handle it appropriately.

My son has come home on many occasions and talked of his classmates in bulk making mean statements to him. His father and I have been teaching him that it is okay to walk away from words and to try not to let the words bother him, but we have also been letting him know that he does not have to remain quiet. I have tried to tell him to be assertive. He does not have to fight, but he can let people know not to speak to him any kind of way. When I told him this, his response was heart-wrenching:
“But I don’t want to hurt their feelings”.

In my heart, I feel a great sense of success. I have always hoped that my kids would be better than me, and that attitude lets me know that my son is just that. Although those kids hurt his feelings, he still does not want to hurt theirs. It bothers me that he does not stand up for himself, but it brought tears to my eyes to think that he is willing to shoulder pain in order to shield others from it. He just wants to be everyone’s friend. Even after someone hurts him, he is so willing to forgive and move on.

I am proud of him but don’t want to see him getting hurt. I have still been trying to tell him it is okay to stand up for himself, and his words don’t have to be mean enough to hurt anyone’s feelings–a simple but firm “don’t talk to me like that” is fine. But a few of his classmates told him it was inappropriate for him to talk about God in school. He prays over his lunch and apparently some kids took umbrage to that.

I was equally offended. Number one, I am confused as to, unless my son demanded that they pray as well, how it affects ANYONE other than the person praying if someone is having a quiet, intimate conversation with God. I was confused as to why they didn’t just mind their business. If I were to see a Muslim with their rug stretched out praying, I would pretend I didn’t even see them. I don’t agree with Islam obviously but their prayer does not bother me. It is their will and their personal experience. If someone of a different faith asked for me to pray with them, I would be pleased to do so, as long as they understood that I pray in the name of Jesus.

I asked Jayden what his response was to them. He told me he didn’t say anything for his usual reason: “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings”. This was when we were in the car on our way to school, and it turned into a deep discussion about the world system and how the world is changing just as God said it would. God stays the same. It is this world that is going to hell in a hand basket.

In elementary school in the eighties, most of my classmates either believed in God or at least respected the idea of there being a God. I remember there were some Jewish kids in my classes and Muslims as well, and the only discussion or even mentioning of faiths other than Christianity occurred during Christmas. Why? Because it was fascinating to us that the Jewish and Muslim kids didn’t celebrate what was the happiest holiday of the year for us. It then became interesting to learn about other faiths and other traditions, and there was no disrespect. It was just different, but it did not keep us all from getting along.

Now parents have gotten so smart that they don’t believe their kids need to be taught about God. They just want their kids to be good people and think they can find their own spiritual path. I once had a co-worker who got into a discussion with a client about how she was allowing her kids explore different faiths, and they practiced a lot of different customs and religions in her home. They studied Judaism and had dreidels. They also celebrated Christmas and had attended a local Catholic church. She mentioned several others that I cannot remember right now, but her point was that she just wanted her kids to find their own way, and it was just important that they be good people.

My co-worker, knowing my identity as a Christian, turned and asked me if I took my kids to places where they could learn about other faiths, such as synagogues and mosques. When I told her and the client no, they both asked me why I didn’t want my kids to make up their own minds. My response?

“Because I don’t want them to go to Hell.”

I cannot control what my kids decide to do when they get older. But as far now, I am planting the seed of Christianity in them. Christianity is the key to a moral, productive life, and more importantly, everlasting life. I think that is the misconception of a lot of people. Christianity isn’t just about life on earth, it’s about being a part of God’s kingdom in heaven. So no, I am not going to confuse them and take them to synagogues and mosques. When they are older, I would actually encourage them to go. I have. I have taken classes to learn about other religions, out of curiosity because I like to be able to learn about people. It never swayed me to question my Christianity. All my curiosity did was help me be able to serve people better. The more I know about people’s backgrounds the more I can understand them and appreciate them.

I explained to my son that the world has changed even since I was a kid and a lot of people do not believe in God. Some do but are afraid to talk about him for fear of reprisal. I explained that you cannot be a soldier of God and be a coward. I said to him, “Jayden, you’re so worried about hurting their feelings, but how do you think God feels? I mean, he made those people, and yet they are saying that you shouldn’t even talk about him?”

“Bad,” he said.

This is the world he will grow up in. A recent Pew study confirmed that fewer adults are identifying themselves as Christians, and these are the people that are bringing up their kids to think it is their prerogative to intervene in someone’s prayer (http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/). I told my son, as I always do, that it is okay that he is sensitive to others, but he cannot shy away from people who try to interfere in what he knows he is supposed to do for God. He asked yet another question:

“But what if someone tries to kill me?”

It is a difficult question to answer, but I did anyway.

“There can never come a time when you deny God. It is God who gave you your life and he will take care of you regardless.”

Christians need not fear death, and this is what I explained to him, because we already know, no matter what way we leave this planet, we are going to heaven when we die. I would hate to deny Jesus then die and see His sad face: “Why did you deny me?” How would you respond??? Jesus did not deny us when He went to the cross for us.

That day at school Jayden prayed for his lunch and the same kids commented. This time he told them boldly, “I am going to pray anyway, whenever I want to.”

The kids have said nothing else since.

We are to pray without ceasing. Whether or not people know, believe or understand, the world needs it. America definitely needs it. Interesting to me that the less people in our nation identify as Christian, the worse it gets. Ah well.

IMG_20120524_171024

He has long hair like Samson in the Bible and is often mistaken for a girl.

He is the sweetest little boy. Optimistic, happy-go-lucky, and endlessly kind.

That picture is old, but it is one of my favorites.

Another blasphemous “Christian” reality show to lead more astray, Yippity-skippity…

Sigh.

The sigh I just uttered is an exasperated one, a sigh of irritation and annoyance. I have gotten accustomed to looking at news as related to the Christian experience that I can share with my classmates on Tuesday evenings. Within the last few months, I have shown them churches that have a “Pastor and First Gentleman” as opposed to a “Pastor and First Lady”, which obviously means that two individuals blatantly living in sin have decided to forgo the Word of God and lean to their own understanding and desires; a Satanic temple that is less than twenty miles away from where I live; and as I have discussed on this blog, a pastor who decided to open his church for spring breakers to party. SMH.

Those of us who are diligent Bible students know that this world is full of false prophets and false doctrines. The Bible tells me that these people who add to or take away from the words of the Holy Writ are going to pay for it (Revelation 22:18-19). But I suppose in order to care you have to first A) truly be a Christian and B) study the Word to know and understand what it says so that you can apply it.

Apparently the women in this clip have not fully read the Bible, or for some reason have decided not to apply it, and my guess as to their motivation for what would influence any Christian to willfully decide not to apply Biblical learning, particularly in this case is financial and because of an un-Godly elevated sense of pride:

Lifetime Preach Reality Show

preach Uh, No....Another Church Reality Show  This Time Focus Is On Prophetesses (video clip)

Here we have four women who claim to be “prophetesses” (WRONG!) and believe they…not GOD... they, have the gift to heal. If you read the excerpts or bios that follow the 30-second video, you will see that one of them believes she has the ability to predict child birth and heal barren wombs; another has been called the “Beyonce of the Preaching World” (what, is she in the pulpit half naked, swinging her hair and twerking??); the third is a White woman who has been referred to as having the ability to “preach Black” and can get the crowd to roar and stand on their feet (OK… Lil Wayne can get people to their feet but that does not mean he is saying anything good…); and the last is having difficulties finding a husband.

Where, oh where do I begin…

Let’s start at the term “prophetesses”, or, if I may, hearken to the “prophets” of our Bible. These people were men and women that God used as his mouthpieces. Unlike the “prophetesses” of this spectacle, Biblical prophets received no training. They did not have a MENTOR. If you notice, each of these women have a protege that they are molding to be the next succession of prophetesses. Why can’t people immediately see the foolishness here? Why would one who was truly called to be a prophet of God need to be trained? All Biblical prophets had to do was say exactly what God wanted them to say, and prophecies were usually given as a response to or foreshadowing a major event. In the link above, notice that it says that one of the women, Belinda Carter, “considers” herself a “Major Prophetess”. Since when does one take it upon herself to wear such a title???? Does she think that the OT prophets referred to themselves as major or minor prophets?? Point blank, God chose prophets for a reason, and the reason was never to act as a psychic to an individual for something with no Biblical relevance at all. No, God’s prophets spoke to groups of people about their indiscretions and coming judgment and deliverance.

Why did the people of the Bible need prophets? Why don’t we need them? Simple.

We have this book here. Those people back then did not. So how else would God get His word to entire groups of people?

Anytime one claims to be a prophet, I wonder why they have decided to give themselves such a title and if they understand the ramifications of such a title. If a person was truly a prophet of God, the words they spoke ALWAYS came to pass (Deuteronomy 18:22). If they didn’t, they were held accountable: In Deuteronomy 18:20, the Word states that a person who claims to be a prophet who speaks anything other than what God has told him or her to speak or speaks in the name of other gods can be put to death!

Old Testament prophets–emphasis on Jeremiah, the Weeping Prophet–were often burdened by their message. They did not glorify in their calling or what they had to say. They were not popular. They were not flashy and did not call attention to their prophetic gift. Today’s “prophets”, or “profits”, if I may, as that is what they are after–have no problem accepting the glory that if, they were humble, sincere, or even remotely honest, would go to GOD. If nothing else, these profits claiming to heal people are taking the glory from God and putting it on themselves. In the 30 second clip I watched, I saw nothing more than a show, a mockery, women who were completely out of line and gloried in being out of line. Should I even discuss the whole concept of women in the pulpit?

Why not.

First Timothy 2:11-12 states the following: “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”.

At one point in time, I definitely had a problem with that. But now it doesn’t bother me. It does not bother me that God, for reasons that I may not understand, decided to create man first and then create woman. It has to do with how I have evolved in terms of the word “submission” and my understanding of how women are to be treated by men who are following God. As I have mentioned before, I look at the model of governing in most countries. In the United States, we do not have two presidents. Who have a president and a vice-president. The president is in charge, but he undoubtedly benefits from the support of the vice-president.

In my home, my husband is the president and I am the vice-president.

If a man is following after God’s own heart, he is not going to take his role as the head of the household the wrong way. Submission does not mean that women are less than men. As a matter of fact, men are exhorted to love their wives as Christ loved the Church just as Christ gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)! I’d say that is a pretty strong love right there, as Christ is the epitome of love. The love exuded by Christ is the agape type love that we as Christians ought to practice, that self-sacrificing, selfless unconditional love, as opposed to phileo or brotherly love, and eros, or the lust that people often mistake for love these days. A man who is practicing agape type love is not going to run over his wife, instead he is going to revere her and respect her, faithfully providing for her and putting her needs before his own. Isn’t that what Christ would do?

So after I resolved the idea of submission as not being a power struggle but instead a means of establishing order, I tackled the problem I had with women “not having a voice” in church. That is not the case. The Bible does not say that women are not expected to have roles in advancing the Gospel message. I think of the women in my church and how they are the heartbeat, the very backbone of the church, and the numerous roles they play. We are ushers and nurses. We work in the kitchen preparing food for families in mourning and the hungry. We teach our children (that would be me! I teach the kids for Sunday School and I LOVE IT!). We sing in the choirs and direct songs. We do community outreach. As we support our pastor as he does the work of God, we become co-workers with him in advancing the Gospel. At no time should any person, man or woman, believe that his or her role is more important than any other role in terms of increasing God’s kingdom. I may be wrong, but I do not think God assigns degrees of importance. I think it is just as important to show loving kindness to a bereaved family during a funeral, especially since during funerals a lot of unsaved family members, hurt and vulnerable, reeling from their family member’s demise, may show up and be brought in by a kind gesture alone, as it is to preach the Word. At the end of the day, if we are bringing souls to Christ our work is worthwhile!

Now I will admit I may not have a complete handle on why God has decided women should not teach men, but here is my humble opinion. Other than the concept of submission as applied to marital relationships, the concept also applies in terms of the church establishment. If a husband is supposed to be authoritative over his wife, yet she is the pastor of a church and thus is teaching him, there is a huge contradiction. Again, God did not say women are not useful in the church–I will go out on a limb and say in Black Baptist churches in particular, the majority of the congregation is probably Black women. Women play invaluable roles in the church. But per God’s Word we are not to be in the pulpit. And honestly, I am okay with that. Being a mother and wife is quite enough. And do people realize that pastors and preachers are going to be held to a higher level of accountability on Judgment Day? Look at what James says in chapter 3 verse 1: “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment”.

I’ll pass on that.

It’s a matter of doctrinal order. God had his reasons for the way he established the order. And at the end of the day, we ought to simply be content with whatever gift we have and use it accordingly to bring people to Christ. So what if we’re not the pastor of the church. When we sing a song in the choir it might move something in their heart. When we usher and open the door with a smile to a newcomer, it might move something in their heart. Any time we show that agape love to a brother or sister, we’re doing good for God. That’s what is important.

But, I digress.

So I have yet to see how these female profits fall in line with anything Biblical, and it concerns me because there appeared to be a lot of people in their congregations, and this awful show stands to reach a lot of people as well. Admittedly, I laughed at the ludicrohttps://wordpress.com/postus chest-bump and the idiocy of the woman falling out when one of the female profits blew in her face, but soon thereafter I became offended. Offended because it is all an act against Jesus. Aside from the fact that the chest bump was quite possibly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen, I wonder what the people on the receiving end could possibly have been thinking. Are they brainwashed? Were they playing to the crowd just like the profits/psychics were?

There are some people that have been honest and have admitted to having been in situations like this, where they were either subjected to a “healing” or made to speak in tongues. In each case, these people admitted that they faked it, either to be accepted OR to get people off their case. In one instance, an individual was told that he had to speak in tongues or else he was not saved, and people kept encouraging him to do it. Finally he got tired of their badgering and lapsed into gibberish. From what he told me, the others were excited and began praising God. Praising God for what? It is all evidence of misunderstanding spiritual gifts and taking things out of context. There are no prophets today and the tongues that were spoken by the apostles in Acts were actual languages (Acts 2:6-12). If they were not, the Bible would not call for the need for an interpreter (1 Cor. 14:28).

Scripture has told us all we need to know about false prophets. If what someone says does not line up with the Word, it must be rejected. Study the Bible and the prophets and their lives and the messages they spoke. False profits are here to glorify themselves, line their pockets, turn focus from Jesus to themselves, and do nothing to grow their flock’s relationship with Christ.

From the Gospel of Matthew, 7:15, 20-23, my brothers and sisters, do not be led astray, and do not let others be led astray…“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves… Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them… Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'”

P.S. One of the women is having a hard time finding a husband shouldn’t her prophetic powers allow her to zone right on in to her Mr. Right?????

I think these women ought to stop using the title “prophetess” that denotes that what they’re doing is anything Biblical and change into a different uniform that really illustrates what they are attempting to do–because it is not prophecy.

Don’t forget these!

YEAH, I DID IT!

I pray for the innocent souls who have honestly been mislead by this kind of travesty, but admittedly I am too annoyed with these women, the producers of the show and the channel for putting this mess out there, only to confuse and alienate possible believers and make current believers look like fools. However, I still earnestly pray that whatever has blinded them to the truth be removed so they will not continue with this madness.

People who truly love the Lord do not steal His glory, and the definitely do not mislead His sheep.

Church is not about entertainment. It is about worshiping God. So one of the profits can entice people to roar? Fantastic. But what are they roaring ABOUT. And there was so much discussion of “healing”. Believe me, I understand the desire for a sick person to be healed. However, that may not always be God’s will. So do these women think they have more authority than God? If God has allowed someone to be afflicted with something, perhaps he has a reason and healing is not evident. Then what?

Just out of curiosity I looked up the women on YouTube. I wanted to see how often they adhered to what is central to our Christian faith–the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I did not have the time or patience to watch many videos, but I did not hear a single mention of that in their sermons. If any readers find any, please let me know.

Matthew 24:24-25: For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you ahead of time.”

This is why we must study to show ourselves approved (2nd Timothy 2:15). We will not be deceived if we are rooted and grounded in our Word.

For shame, Lifetime. In the infamous words of Susan Powter, STOP THE INSANITY!

(Am I the only one who used to think she was hilarious?)

Simple prayer request

I am going to be unusually brief today.

I wanted to make it a point to blog at all points in my Christian journey, the spiritual highs and lows. I want to be honest–there is no need to pretend that everything is always rosy in the Christian life, or that I do not get sad, frustrated and even depressed. As I have stated before, Christians are just like everyone else in that we experience the same emotions that everyone else experience. And right now, I am fighting a lot of negative feelings.

Every now and then it is not so easy to quickly spot the blessings when I am not feeling well. I have to do certain things like pray or write my feelings out to put things into perspective. For example, by the time I finish this blog post I am positive I will feel better, and I have my other remedies as well–prayer and music–to get my mood up.

But as for now the following have me in a bad place:

1. This whole Medical Leave thing was a total mistake. All I knew I was sick. But what I didn’t expect was being hounded about paperwork and a million different doctors’ appointments.

2. I am beginning to question if I need to switch doctors, and that is a frustrating consideration. I do not feel as though I am being listened to.

3. I find it more difficult each day to do something I have been accustomed to doing and that bothers me.

4. I am contemplating a career change in the midst of this FMLA paperwork fiasco that may leave me jobless. Now might be the time to consider something else. I am starting to think maybe healthcare administration is not where I need to be. It has not worked out well. I have not enjoyed the politics in many organizations and wonder if me and my husband can forge our own way.

Either way all of these issues and decisions are bothering me. I am simply asking for prayer from fellow prayer warriors that I remain strong.

Find the missing

I know it is a shot in the dark, but I do not think any one person or any one family is an island. We all need each other in one way or another. In a decent society, people are compelled by their inner moral compass to do what is right and look out for one another. We are our brother’s keeper.

It bothers me when people are abducted. It offends me personally that there are people vile enough to take another human being, as if they have the right. By far, abducting someone is one of the most selfish acts one can ever commit. Period.

I pray for children-not just my own, but all children, everyday. I think of how special my kids are to me. God allowed me to conceive them, carry them for nine months and birth them. They belong to God, my husband and me. No one has the right to take them for me.

Although I have a soft spot for kids I also have compassion for adults as well. Jessica Heeringa, although an adult, is someone’s kid too. She went missing here in Michigan two years ago exactly.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2015/04/jessica_heeringa_who_vanished.html

Her mother has a video posted on youtube. As a mother, it is heartbreaking.

https://youtu.be/kJYPY_KSSv8

There is no such thing as a perfect crime. Someone somewhere knows something. They might not have the entire story, but maybe a suspicion or a key piece of the puzzle. It has to be a major burden living with something so heavy. I pray that these kinds of incidents be resolved and some peace come to the families.

Correlation between emotional health and violence?

These are the types of headlines that I see regularly that bother me…

Man Shot in Detroit Over Air Jordans

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/man-shot-in-detroit-over-air-jordan-shoes/32469016

Image result for air jordans

It’s a sad moment when someone’s life is worth less than a pair of crappy sneakers.

These shoes cost approximately $15 bucks to make in China, and are sold over here from $150 on up. It is ridiculous. What is even dumber is that a new pair is guaranteed to come out eventually, making these current pairs obsolete, so just like with any other fad, eventually this one will run its course and then people will be back in Foot Locker again wasting their hard-earned money.

If people honestly have the money to waste on these sneakers, that is their business, absolutely. But when the need for shoes gets so desperate as where people are forgoing bill payments or other financial responsibilities or killing over them, there is a huge problem.

How many people truly value life?

Again… I often comment on Black men in particular. Why? Because those are the men that I know personally and intimately. My father is a Black man. His father was a Black man. My husband is mixed, but in most instances I am sure we know that he is identified as a Black man. My son will one day be a Black man, God willing. I have numerous Black uncles, cousins, etc. I have seen their struggles and victories.

My three favorite guys

My three favorite guys

There are a couple of things I have come to infer about the psychology of Black men… and please, I am not saying this does not apply to ALL men. I just don’t know. I know what I have been around. And what I have seen is the emotional intelligence and mental well-being of Black men being destroyed by the image of Black men being tough.

What exactly is being tough? Does it differ from one person or group to the next? Some people may think of being tough in terms of physical brawn. In the case of Black men, they have had to be tough all throughout our history here in America leading up until today. They were expected to stand strong and work hard throughout slavery, even as their families were pulled apart and they suffered vicious beatings. After slavery they attempted to provide for their families despite discrimination and poverty and an unstable and probably scary environment where they could be lynched due to any perceived slight (Emmitt Till, anyone?). They are not expected to show any emotion, except one…

Anger.

Out of all of the little Black boys I have grown up around, it is rare to see them cry even if they are deeply hurt. Why? As soon as a tear forms in their eye they face the possibility of being called soft. They are informed at a young age how harsh society is, either directly by family members or indirectly by being labeled and mistreated at school. They are expected to put up with hurt and injustice and do so while showing no emotion.

But, anger and aggression is acceptable, even applauded on occasions…sports, for example?

Image result for basketball fight nba

Image result for basketball fight nba

Image result for american football fights between players

What image jumps to the minds of some when they hear the words “Black man”? What image comes to the forefront of their minds?

Is it this?
Image result for black thug

Or maybe this?

Image result for black rappers

How about this one?

Image result for nba players

How often does these images jump to one’s mind, generally, when someone tells you to “picture a Black man”?

Image result for black businessman

Image result for ben carson

Image result for black family man

Image result for black man teacher

I won’t ask anyone for a response…

Now, am I saying that Black men have an excuse to be violent? Nope. But I do think that the tough factor that is ingrained in them from infancy coupled with general societal labels of them and what they can accomplish are harmful.

Human emotions run the gamut daily. On any given day, one can feel happy, sad, frustrated, bored, angry, complacent. How might one turn out if they were never equipped to deal with all of them? How would someone develop normally if they were never given the tools to appropriately deal with their emotions, particularly if said individuals are close to or at the bottom of the societal totem pole? There has been some research into emotional intelligence and I am no expert but in my always humble opinion, perhaps we as a society, and in particular Black society, where we also tend to stay away from people who might help us such as psychologists and counselors, ought to be less concerned with our boys being tough and more concerned with their development of a healthy emotional IQ. We need to stop inadvertently teaching our boys that the only emotion they can acknowledge is their anger. If that’s the only one we tell them is okay, doesn’t it make sense that they might overdo it?

Ermer, Kahn, Salovey and Kiehl (2012) published a paper regarding emotional intelligence that correlates the lack of emotional intelligence, or EI, with psychopathic tendencies and emphasizes the importance in both communicating our own emotional states and understanding others. I am sure we can all attest to the fact that our emotional states are reflected in our attitude and how we express ourselves–even if I am not interested in explaining to someone why I am sad, undoubtedly something in my face or how I carry myself reflects that I am sad or unwell (I know this to be a fact. People who know me well can tell when I am disturbed whether I admit to it or not, and I am sure you all have similar experiences). So I assume it is safe to say that if one is angry, it will carry over into their thoughts and behaviors.

Ermer et al (2012, p.1), quoting Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2004; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990, define emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive, manage, and reason about emotions, in oneself and others, and to use this information adaptively”. Higher EI is associated with overall better outcomes in the areas of social relationships, stress management and even a decrease in drug usage among males. Psychopathy is defined as an absence or deficit of empathy and poor behavior control in an individual who exhibits normal intellectual functioning. Low EI is associated with psychopathy.

HUGE DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychologist, nor am I inferring that all Black males are psychopaths! I just used the information from this study to show the potential damage of poor EI. I believe our society, which teaches males from a young age that they have to be tough and show no weakness, is damaging for their EI. With respect to Black men, who have other cultural implications to consider (i.e., higher numbers of poverty, labeling and stereotyping), we absolutely ought not try to tell them they are not ever supposed to get sad or frustrated. That is definitely stacking the odds against them.

My focus on Black men here was pointed. I am tired of seeing guys who very well could be my relatives in the news committing spontaneous acts of extreme violence over perceived slights. I wonder why they can’t control their anger. I had to really think about it and think of how my son is being raised and how my husband was raised. My son’s life has been easy, but he has had his problems too. I have to check myself to make sure I am not being too flippant because he is a little boy. And I know my husband has had plenty of struggles to speak of.

Even Jesus wept. It is the shortest Scripture in the Bible, and there are other instances where Jesus shows emotion. We were created in the image and likeness of God, who undoubtedly displays emotion. Admittedly, I would not be too pleased if my husband ran to me crying every time he hurt himself… but I don’t do that myself. But when the world gets hard on him, when responsibility weighs on him, I hope he would come to me for solace and know that I won’t judge him. Every man, Black, White or whatever, deserves that. I also think men should be more open to talking to other men when they are feeling some type of way… older men need to be mentoring these younger men!

Tough men don’t hide from their emotions, they acknowledge them and deal with them. We need to redefine tough as such. Our men–and I said “OUR” meaning all, seeing that we all live in the same society and same world and whether we know it or not, there is something that each culture can learn from every other culture, and we all need one another… not to mention the fact that we are ALL God’s children living on his earth for a short while… and men in general if it applies that it is OKAY to not have all the answers; it is OKAY to fail sometimes as long as you get back up after you’ve been thrown for a loop; that it is OKAY to weep! As for Black men, this is absolutely imperative if we want to see a decrease in violence. They need to a) be taught about Jesus, the Ultimate Burden Bearer and the Holy Spirit who can guide them, and b) be accepted by society as the emotional beings they are.

I know there are other things to consider in terms of stopping the violence that pervades my culture… I just can’t get to it all in one post. But it is very disheartening to see how we are killing each other. No offense was meant toward other ethnic groups. I think it goes without saying that more needs to be done about the violence in the Black community. There are far too many of our guys in prison.

Reference:

Ermer, E., Kahn, R.E., Salovey, P., & Kiehl, K.A. (2012). Emotional intelligence in incarcerated men with psychopathic traits. Journal of Personal Social Psychology, 103(1). DOI: 10.1037/a0027328

Feeling good…

Birds flying high, you know how I feel…

Sun in the sky, you know how I feel…

Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life…

For me…

And I’m feeling good!

I wonder what motivated the writers of this song, fabulously delivered by Nina Simone in addition to other artists, to come up with such lyrics. Songs such as this are the reason why I have difficulty letting go of old school non-secular music. This song has been the theme of my life and for the past week or so I have been unable to get it out of my head.

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel…

River running free, you know how I feel…

Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life,

FOR ME…

AND I’M FEELING GOOD!

This beautiful song and the fabulous musical arrangement that accompanies it (I tend to prefer Nina Simone’s version) could have served as the backdrop to my very existence when I re-dedicated my life to Christ. As I have mentioned before, I have been saved for years. For as long as I can remember, I have known Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, but as an adult, my commitment to Him, desire to learn of Him and fully receive Him, waned considerably. I suffered the consequences because of it. Again as I mentioned before, God had to allow me to go through some bad times in order for me to come back. He allowed me to meet my now-husband and give birth to our firstborn (who is sitting right next to me now, an eight-year-old wonder with big brown eyes, long eyelashes, heart-shaped nostrils and a brain that is teeming with curiosity about…well, everything). I knew I had to be better for that little baby boy, especially after God showed me how much of a gift he gave me–my son spent his first days in the NICU, but was perfectly fine when we left the hospital, and has been okay ever since (except for his asthma, which is improving).

Dragonfly out in the sun,

you know what I mean, don’t you know…

Butterflies all havin’ fun,

you know what I mean…

Sleep in peace when day is done,

that’s what I mean…

And this old world is a new world

and a bold world…

for me, yeah!

My eyes opened up to a brand-new world and a whole new life when I fully gave myself to Christ. Everything in my life changed for the better. Even small things–things that people tend to overlook or even be annoyed by–such as the sounds of birds chirping in the morning–bring a smile to my face. I enjoy watching God’s creations big and small (with some exceptions, like mosquitoes. I am sorry, I cannot stand them–or cockroaches, but luckily we don’t have them here unless someone has a very nasty house). I am watching the fullness of Spring come forth in wonderment at just how magnificently and completely that God created and sustains this world. The birds that left us during the winter have come back. Now there are ducks for my kids to feed. I’m waiting to see butterflies and lightning bugs, who doesn’t love those??

Stars when you shine,

you know how I feel…

Scent of the pine,

you know how I feel…

Oh! Freedom is mine,

and I know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life,

for me…

and I’m feeling good!

When I re-dedicated myself, it was definitely a new dawn, a new day, and a new life for me… and I’m still feeling good. Despite everything. I am appreciative of life in general, and look for opportunities to marvel at God’s greatness and thank him for allowing me to experience 33 years worth of it. It still amazes me how the seasons flow naturally and how everything that disappeared during winter comes back. Spring and summer help me appreciate winter–if it weren’t for the winter would we truly appreciate the warmer months? Doors have continued to open for me, bestowing upon me more blessings than I ever could have imagined. Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t have been able to predict that I’d be where I am right now… Fifteen years ago my goals had nothing to do with God. Although they were noble (I wanted my degree and a good job), attaining those goals would have still left me feeling empty, because without God, I am an empty vessel. It took a while to figure that out and get to where I am now:

Finally at a point where I am satisfied. When I was worldlier I was always striving for something, and once I got it I was satisfied momentarily, then dissatisfied again. I am now like Paul, for the most part, and have learned to be content with what God has given me. Of course sometimes I want more–sometimes things get tight–but I am definitely happy with my little family and our home.

In a true love situation like I’d never imagined, able to experience the agape love Christians are supposed to have with a wonderful husband who definitely looks beyond my faults. I never expected that to happen.

Sleeping peacefully at night (or during the day or whenever LOL, thanks to MI) knowing that I have done good for God and also knowing that I have forgiveness for my sins… There is something special about not having to feel badly about myself. Years ago I would have gone to bed feeling bad about something I said or did to someone–not so much anymore, now that I am slower to anger. Despite what the world thinks, we don’t have to be catty or mean to others–that is a choice we make. I choose to be nice to everyone.

When you fully allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the love that comes along with it–if you feed it appropriately with the Word, prayer and Christian service–you will find it easier to be loving and appreciative. Will you always be happy or like everyone? Nah. But it gets easier as your relationship with Christ grows. The world needs more love. The world needs more people who can bask in the simplicity of birds singing, flowers blooming and rivers running. Love for God=love for God’s creations, which includes other people. I feel so much better about myself loving people more than disliking them.

My body is weary today, I had a headache, and now my stomach hurts. But my family is doing well, and this morning a nice rhythmic rain came down watering the grass and flowers. I tend to like rain. Now the sun is shining, and all is well. And I’m feeling good.

My family

My family

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