AMERICAN ARTIST APPRECIATION MONTH

TL AUGUST IS AMERICAN ARTIST APPRECIATION MONTHBalance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life.  It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.  – Thomas Kinkade

https://thomaskinkade.com/

CAPTURED BY A STEEPLE

Who is your favorite American artist?  My favorite was Thomas Kinkade.  Since his death in 2012, I’ve seen many works that look similar and have the “painter of light” look, but there will never be another Thomas Kinkade.

The power of prayer is like turning on a light as it illuminates God’s purpose for our lives.  There is no greater connection to knowing His will other than the word.  – Thomas Kinkade

https://thomaskinkade.com/art/the-garden-of-prayer/

I adore the painting called THE GARDEN OF PRAYER.  When I sit and look at it, I’m inspired to begin yet another conversation with my Heavenly Father.  The water looks as though it’s flowing and the sunshine and shadows are placed perfectly – which we expect from all of his paintings.

Rather than set aside daily time for prayer, I pray constantly and spontaneously about everything I encounter on a daily basis.  When someone shares something with me, I’ll often simply say, ‘Let’s pray about this right now”.  – Thomas Kinkade

https://thomaskinkade.com/art/remember-me/

When I see the painting REMEMBER ME, it reminds me of the fact that nobody is beyond hope and too far gone to be forgiven and escorted into Paradise when this life is over.  It also reminds me that although there is evil in this world, God’s love and light will win in the end!

You have to expect spiritual warfare whenever you stand up for righteousness or call attention to basic values.  It’s just a matter of light battling the darkness.  But the light wins every time.  You can’t throw enough darkness on light to put it out.  – Thomas Kinkade

When my mother passed away in 2004, I decided to buy the Kinkade painting called THE BRIDGE OF HOPE.  I felt as though I was standing on one side of the bridge alongside my mom, but with a bit of HOPE I would be able to cross the bridge and have the courage to embark on new adventures on my own.  I can’t tell you how many times I have sat alone in my living room staring at that painting.  I also appreciate that it looks different at various times of day and the shadowing changes according to the weather.  Those are the qualities that make Kinkade art stand out from the rest.

https://thomaskinkade.com/art/bridge-of-hope/

Beautiful objects, ideas, even beautiful people all share the power to lift the spirits and motivate creativity while at the same time soothing the soul…  – Thomas Kinkade

There are so many more works I’d love to talk about (I could talk all day long), but I definitely want to show you one of the cottages!  I’m such a romantic at heart, and if I could afford to fill my house with these, I would.  Here’s my favorite – don’t ask me why – but it is.

Every conversation, every cuddle, every kiss and caress, even every disagreement, adds another brush stroke to the picture of home you paint with the days and hours of your life.  – Thomas Kinkade

https://thomaskinkade.com/art/friendship-cottage/

Romance makes a radiant sunrise out of every moment.  – Thomas Kinkade

If I had to choose just one of the “cottage” collection paintings (and I would – I’m not rich by any means), it would be FRIENDSHIP COTTAGE.  Maybe it’s the little pathway or the bridge…  maybe it’s the name of it, or more than likely, it’s the colors, shading and that magical way that Thomas Kinkade had of drawing you in…  it’s as if the cottage is welcoming me to go in and stay a while.  It says, “Come in and sit down.  Relax and have a spot of tea whilst the world turns, oblivious to you for now.”  Yes – I want to go there, don’t you?

The most important key to a more romantic life:  you have to be willing to pay attention.  – Thomas Kinkade

Oh, I’ve seen people try to duplicate the warmth, light, romanticism and genuine talent that Thomas Kinkade put into every painting, but they are a long way from capturing my attention or my heart.

To be romantic is quite simply to allow yourself to fall in love with life – all of life – and experience it fully, openly, passionately, and purposefully.  – Thomas Kinkade

God’s house is beautiful and nobody captured that as well as Thomas Kinkade.

https://thomaskinkade.com/art/sunrise-chapel/

Isn’t SUNRISE CHAPEL beautiful?

Beauty is found in anything that delights the senses, nourishes the soul, fires the imagination.  – Thomas Kinkade

I appreciate the colors, textures and shading in Kinkade art.  Whether it’s a print or a painting, let his work speak to your heart and soul.  Enjoy American Artist Appreciation Month.  🙂

 

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

When Jesus walked this earth in human form, what was the last act of good will and fellowship?  It was THE LAST SUPPER.  Jesus ate with His disciples and attempted to explain the drama to follow, though they understandably did not comprehend what they were hearing.  I’m not quick to judge them – I’m not sure I’d “get it” either.

What have Christian churches considered tradition since the beginning of Christianity?  It’s a POT-LUCK DINNER.  Everybody brings a covered dish (preferably with food inside).  We stand in line after the church service, tummies growling and eyes enlarged as we carefully examine the good stuff we have to choose from.  We communicate and laugh and if somebody says they forgot or they think they should not stay – we talk ’em into stayin’ anyhow, right?  We tell them there’s plenty of food.

Nobody knows how to make good relationships into better relationships like the followers of Christ.  I believe that most people here in Wichita still believe that America is a Christian nation, founded on the values and principles of Christianity.  We love, we mentor, we pray for everybody (except maybe ourselves) and yep – we EAT TOGETHER.  We break bread and with true concern for our fellow person – we communicate and laugh and with a sincere heart, we try to listen to the views of everyone and come up with solutions when there is any conflict.  THAT is what we do.

I could not be any more proud of Wichita right now.  While race relations are escalating across the country, in Wichita, our officers are taking a cue from the Christian community around them.  They are meeting with the group Black Lives Matter at a cookout.  Food – the breaking of bread (and hopefully some hamburgers inside – and hot dogs) along with meaningful dialogue, communication on both sides which includes some listening – real listening, and I hope and pray some moments of levity – laugher perhaps.  We need to initiate some conversation that leads to some answers – not for one side or the other – but answers we can all LIVE with.

We all need to LIVE to our greatest potential – because LIFE is a precious gift and not to be carelessly taken by anyone.

Let’s all have conversations at a cookout.  Christ knew how to talk with His crew about serious stuff.  Christians know all about making good fellowship into great fellowship.  Please America…  stop the violence.  Instead, let’s have a real conversation at a cookout.  Talking, listening – and FOOD.  🙂

TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA

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FILL ME

LOVE is something that has been really messed up and mixed up in our society.  No wonder we have a country that is confused and seeking something real.  True love is best when it is agape love.  That is God’s perfect love and the love He wants us to have for each other.  It’s way cooler than brotherly love, and that’s pretty cool.  Agape is from the Greek.  There’s not a word in the English language that even comes close to it.  Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Hmm…  there we go with the morals and character again.  I sense a theme here, don’t you?

You know, in a good marriage, this is the kind of love that will go the distance.  Everything else fades, but this love that stems from an act of the will – a daily choice to stay committed to the one you chose to be with so long ago…  that’s the ticket.

We need more of that not only in marital relationships, but in friendships and interactions with others in our country and around the world.  Goodwill, benevolence, willful delight, faithfulness, commitment, act of the will…  all of these are possible from the source of agape love, God.  Everything God does flows from His love.  That is His nature.  It’s not natural for us to have that kind of love, but we can if we love through God.  He’s happy to help us love the unlovable and the unlovely.

Agape love is always shown by what it does.  Have you ever noticed that a human kind of love involves a lot of talk and empty promises?  It gets old, to be honest.  But agape love is about action!  Don’t just say you love someone – show them!  Remember, we are the undeserving recipients of God’s lavish agape love.  What did He DO for us?  Yeah – exactly.

God’s agape love is not based on feelings, but it’s an act of the will – a decision – a choice.  It’s a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own.  It can only come from its source – God.  Because of God’s love toward us, we’re able (and equipped by Him) to love one another.

Today let’s pray for the United States to become more…  well – united.  Mutual respect and agape love will go a long way to make us better citizens.  Stop the hate, start the love, America!  Accept everyone where they are and let God take them where they need to be.  Pray for one another and be kind.  No one ever accepted the Lord after being beat with a Bible.  Share, yes…  but then back off and let God do the rest.

I hear a lot of four-letter words, and most of them I wouldn’t repeat if you offered me a Milky Way to do so.  But wow, what if we were loving, kind and respectful of one another?  That would be life-changing and would change our country!

The word LOVE shows up 310 times in the KJV, 348 times in the NASB, 551 times in the NIV and 538 times in the NRSV.  I think it’s important to God, don’t you?

What’s your favorite verse about love?  Here’s mine:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  – 1 John 4:8

Let’s pray for God’s agape love to be in our midst:

Dear Heavenly Father, We pray that Your agape kind of love be in our hearts and souls because You are love.  Help us to express love to others through actions more than words, along with goodwill, benevolence and a willful delight to put the welfare of others above our own.  We’re so tired of division in our country and pray that Your love be in us and will be contagious, making us a Christian nation once again.  You showed Your perfect love to us by sending Your only Son to earth to die on Calvary’s cross so we could be saved.  May we show agape love to others.  We can do that only with Your help.  It’s in the precious and matchless Name of Christ Jesus our Lord we pray, Amen.

When it comes to love, actions really DO speak louder than words, don’t they?  😉

file000229126299bike-775799boys-838683_1280cycling-79618_1920fishing-453296greyer and sawyer 071teamwork-649498_1280Love makes the world go ’round…  but God’s agape love makes it SHINE!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA

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WE CAN RISE ABOVE IT ALL

What is FAITH?

You know what I’m going to say…  we’ve all heard it and we spout it off so fast because from childhood it’s been drilled into our memory bank.

 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  – Hebrews 11:1

That’s not the version I memorized, but regardless, simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.”

God needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.  – A.W. Tozer

While researching and studying to prepare for these posts, something smacked me right between the eyes (yes, it did hurt – thanks for asking).  The laws of our land are dependent upon PROOF.  When we go to court, there is a burden of proof – you have to prove your case or you are toast.  But in the spiritual realm, there is less fear about having to prove something and more faith, which is not based on proving anything – because God doesn’t have to prove Himself.  We just lean on Him for all the answers.  It sounds simple, doesn’t it?  We’re human, and we are always going to want to fix stuff – which means we will always want to DO something about something.  Don’t sit there acting like you don’t know what I’m talkin’ about.  It’s true.  I’m the same way.  If something is wrong, I want to make it right again.  If it’s broken, I feel the need to fix it.

To have faith is to believe the task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t fix our country and neither can you.  All we can do is what we are able to do.  We pray, first of all.  We vote when it’s time to vote.  We get involved as opportunities present themselves and doors open.  We write blogs (my hand is raised), and we express opinions on facebook, for all the “good” that seems to do (I don’t think it does much except get everyone upset).

I’m adopting a positive outlook about our country’s future, and I’m committing this verse to memory:

There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.  – Proverbs 23:18

Today let’s pray that God will give Christian Americans more faith.  Where does faith come from?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  – Romans 10:17

Stay in God’s Word.  Read, study and put as much of it in your mind as you can stuff in there.  It’s amazing how many times you will find yourself in a situation and it is Scripture that comes to mind along with God’s Holy Spirit.  What do people do when they don’t have that kind of comfort in tough circumstances?  I don’t know, but I’m so thankful for God’s provision in my life.

One more thought before we pray.  Did you know we can’t please God without faith?  That is a sobering fact, isn’t it?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  – Hebrews 11:6

Well, we began in Hebrews and ended there.  Isn’t there a joke about Hebrews and coffee?  Never mind.  Let’s pray for more faith in Christian America:

Dear Heavenly Father,  Today is a day You created just for us and we humble our minds and hearts before You to say thank You.  Here in America it’s easy to look around and lose heart.  It’s easy to think about throwing in the proverbial towel and giving up on society sometimes.  People seem to be more rude than they used to be.  Mankind seems to have fallen into a pattern of selfish behavior like never before.  Today we call upon You, the Great Physician, to heal our cynical thoughts toward others.  We ask You to bring to mind the good in our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We want to be positive, not negative in our thought patterns, our attitudes, our behaviors and our lifestyles.  In order to live a life that is truly pleasing to You, we need more faith.  Help us to study Your Holy Word and hear the preaching of it from men who are truly anointed and not afraid to preach sermons from any part of the Bible.  We think of the old hymn “Faith Is the Victory” – that overcomes the world.  It’s only with You in our hearts and minds that victory can be ours.  Please help us to live victoriously here in America, with faith that pleases You at all times.  We ask all these things in the precious and matchless Name of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

Lucinda and I chatted on facebook yesterday about how it would be great to have the PERFECT recipe to get God’s PEACE in our country.  Just the right mix of faith and hope…  love and respect for everyone, regardless of their race, religion, etc.  Guess what?  She wrote a poem – and here it is!  We need COMFORT FOOD – GOD’S OWN BREAD in America today!  COMFORT FOOD

girl-1106798_1920girls-1149935_1920bible-380850_1920friendship-1199863_1920

May God replace my cynicism and sarcasm toward others with a better sense of humor and some thick feathers on my back so the things that bother me can just roll off like water from a duck’s back.  Lord, give me more faith, hope, optimism, love, charity and good, strong coffee that is not decaf.  🙂

TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA

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FOR OUR CHILDREN

Written July 3, 2013

Fourth Of July
Our Flag

I was looking at the flag like I always do each morning, standing back after saluting it, thinking about what we have and are taking for granted.

I have flown the flag all these years, not as a duty, but as a privilege. See, I did not need Congress to tell me I could solute the flag in my civilian clothes. I have done it every morning from the time I retired from the Army, just as I did every day while I wore the uniform.

While I was looking at the flag this morning, I saw faces of the past peering from within. I saw faces that I have seen firsthand, with lifeless bodies and death in their eyes. I saw the tears that were shed on the battle fields by their peers. I saw the faces of all people in the support groups, no matter what service, doing their best to get the necessary, needed munitions and equipment, without which they could not survive. I saw the tired faces of the communicators, as their hours ran into days, the days into months, and the months into years, with untiring efforts to get the traffic back to the people so they could plan the tactics to win the next battle.

I saw the faces in the support units working hour after hour to fix and get the needed materials back to the troops that needed them. I saw the happy faces of the loved ones as they returned to their families after having been away, supporting our country and what they believed in. I saw the faces of sorrow and heartbreak of the families as they gave their loved ones back to this land, returning their bodies to the land they gave their lives for.

I saw the faces of the people who remained here and supported, defended, and worked with pride in the defense of this country. I saw the majority of these faces putting God as the Real Commander and Chief at the forefront of this country. I saw the faces of the majority of people flying our flag with pride and dignity. Without all these faces, I could only see a flag.
Now I see these faces fading and getting fewer… I see other activities taking away the people who once lined the streets waving the flag with pride. I don’t see parents teaching their kids the pride that they not yet understood, but knew how to sing AMERICA and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, that one day would mean the same to them as it did to their parents.
I see the educators of our children teaching them not how great this country is and how much they have to be proud of, but that this county is “flawed.” I see fewer and fewer flags displayed with pride, without care of how they are properly displayed, or even taking the time to find out about Flag Etiquette: When and how you put them to full staff and half, etc. I see the dwindling of pride. It saddens me to see our values, ideals and pride of our country continually disappear…

I pray that people once again put the real Commander In Chief at the head of the nation, that the flag once again has a meaning of what the country stands for, taking the time to display it to the world, showing that we are still here and still fighting for what we believe in and what our forefathers passed on to us. Let this Fourth of July be the turning point of putting this country back on its way to again be the shining light to an Idea that all men are created equal and endowed with life, liberty and pursuit of happiness… Today make the commitment to restore America to the greatest nation this world has ever had, and putting the Constitution back as the document that protects our rights from a government that would slowly but surely take away all our rights granted to us by this great document. Remember, without your sacrifices and dedication, this will not happen. Be willing to stand up for what you believe in or you will never stand up for anything.

Thanks for letting this old man ramble on through this. I know you can tell that I am not an author or a connoisseur of words. I am just one of the people that are not liked very much by the people in DC nowadays. I love God, Our Country as it was, and the right to do what I have to in order to protect my family, which is my responsibility that was given to me by my Father in Heaven, and the Constitution. Without the faces I saw in the flag when I looked at it, it’s once again just a flag.

God Bless You and Our Country. Spend the 4th with some time and thoughts of what this day means and what the flag represents. YOU are the country’s destiny. Live up to your obligations as an American. God Bless!

Thomas Ponder
1SG, USA
Retired.

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My father used to say, “If you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  Do you know what you believe, or do you just sort of wander around the buffet table picking and choosing a little of this philosophy and a bit of that ideal?  We are a society of Weebles.  You remember Weebles, right???  They wobble but they don’t fall down.  Nobody stands strong because the virus called political correctness has made us afraid that we will be profiling or judging another if we disagree with them.  It’s maddening. 

I know this was for the 4th of July, but it’s always appropriate to post good thoughts about patriotism.  If our educators could get children to put their phones down and get off the computers for just a few hours, then teach some very basic lessons such as the song AMERICA and the Pledge of Allegiance.  Wow, how about a prayer?  I remember prayer in school.  We didn’t have one tenth of the grief they have in school these days.  Hmm…  I wonder why?

Well – class is in session.  Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, You are our Commander and Chief forever.  Politicians come and they go in America.  We may agree with their ideology or not, but Father God, we keep our eyes fixed on You.  We know that You will take care of us regardless of the circumstances that surround us.  Please Lord, we ask that You will supernaturally protect the U.S. from radical Islāmic Terrorists.  Help us to use common sense and wisdom in deciding whether to allow more refugees into our country, knowing that terrorists could infiltrate and enter our country in this manner.  We want to be the people You want us to be, but we want to be safe in our country from the radicalized threat.  Lord, please help us to embrace more of our heritage in the classroom than we have in the past.  Our children need to learn about patriotism and have a positive attitude about America instead of being taught that we are somehow flawed or bad.  May we teach our young people the importance of respecting our country’s flag by teaching them the rules of flying it.  Lastly, Lord we pray that Christian parents will be strong about what they will and will not allow in the classroom.  We pray we don’t get too busy making a living to know what is going on in our children’s lives.  School is a strong influence on developing minds and hearts.  We pray that America will wake up and make You the ultimate Commander and Chief.  It’s in the wonderful Name of Christ Jesus we pray, Amen.

KEEP CALM AND PRAYIn the light of events in Dallas, TX – there’s a poem written by Lucinda that I want to post here today.  Please take a moment to pray for the families of fallen officers.  What a tragedy!  My heart is broken for those families in blue.  😦  As I told her earlier – well said!  STOP THE BLOOD

TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA

TL 7-1 THROUGH 7-10 TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA13578954_1779017349009394_92059644_nChristians know that they are only strong as long as they take the time to kneel…  in prayer to God through Christ Jesus our Lord.  We believe that the time we take to pray is the most important time spent in our day.  Would you try to drive your car out-of-state after it’s dinged at you to let you know it needs fuel?  Um…  nope.  You’d pull into a gas station and fill ‘er up!  Prayer is spiritual fuel for our souls.  It is essential for our spiritual wellbeing.  God wants to hear from us and He looks forward to hearing from us on a daily basis – for me it’s like a pray without ceasing thing…  moment by moment.  It’s how I roll…

God sees how the wheels are coming off our world.  He is also in control, so America, we need to stand as a united front to the rest of the world, and the world needs to see that we are strong and our strength comes from God.  The one true God.  There’s only one.

Let’s pray for peace and healing in America:

Dear Heavenly Father,  We acknowledge You in all our ways and humbly ask for healing and peace in America.  There is division like we’ve never seen before, but we know that You are watching and You are more than able to work on our behalf and heal our hurting land.  We know that in this life we will probably not all hold hands and sing Kum-ba-ya, but we pray that somehow You would show us how to combine Republican ideology with Democratic ideology so that somewhere we can find some real middle ground and common sense solutions to the issues we need to fix in our country.  We need Your wisdom, Your Word, and Your will to be done in our lives individually so that it will be done in our nation.  Help us to begin to heal instead of fighting more.  Please Lord, grant us Your peace and Your love in America.  Make us the people You want us to be and guide us as we remember the golden rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Help us to treat everyone with dignity and respect even if we disagree with them about other issues.  We want to show genuine and sincere concern for our neighbors regardless.  We can only do this perfectly with Your help everyday.  May we learn well how to sharpen iron in this journey called life.  We ask these things in the altogether lovely Name of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, Amen.

landscape-1053346_1280 (1)hand-846092_1920hills-960126_1920hands-578917_1920hot-air-ballooning-436442_1920letters-709651_1920More peace, less war.  More love, less hate.  More healing, less hurting.  More unity, less division.  Yes, Lord, yes!  🙂

TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICA

TL 7-1 THROUGH 7-10 TEN DAYS OF PRAYER FOR AMERICAINTEGRITY:  the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.  

As a female, Republican, conservative, Christian voter, I want to see our leadership in Washington have decency, honesty and INTEGRITY!  It begins with IN and ends with GRIT.  People with integrity are strong and courageous enough to stand against what is morally wrong.  Did you ever see the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne?  That kind of attitude without the whisky – sort of.  Wow…  let’s get some backbone in there mixed in with morals and values – wouldn’t that be fantastic?  I miss Ronald Reagan.  There, I got that out of my system.

SOUND MORAL PRINCIPLE.  Are we quite certain that this is what our Republican candidate has?  I don’t know, but I’m not sold on it.  Is he the lesser of two evils?  I don’t know that either.  I know for sure and for certain I will not vote for the Democratic candidate.  Will I vote at all?  I just don’t know.

Take a look at this link from Max Lucado:

https://maxlucado.com/decency-for-president/

It has occurred to me that if I don’t vote at all, I’m opening the door to the possibility that the Democrats will win.  I know our country can NOT continue its downward spiral under their agenda of redistribution of wealth and throwing other people’s money at every problem that comes down the pike.  And letting in thousands of refugees when we have homeless veterans on our streets makes me sick – literally sick.  Our vets deserve the best America has…  ugh.  Respect the veterans still living! 

unknown-soldier

So today we will pray a prayer asking God for clear thinking and wisdom.  I really need it, don’t you?

Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,  We have read Your Holy Bible and we know right from wrong as we live our own lives; however, as we quickly approach November, we really need to think clearly with wisdom straight from You.  We don’t pretend to know these candidate’s hearts, values or motives.  All we can do is look at their past record of behavior.  We hunger and thirst for decency, morals, backbone, and sincere integrity.  Anyone can stand before a group of Christians and read a prepared speech filled with ear-tickling phrases that are specially written to persuade them to vote in their favor.  Lord, only You know who needs to be our next President.  We ask that You would please guide us as we decide who to vote for, or whether to vote at all.  Wisdom from You is the greatest tool in a Christian’s toolbox.  We need fresh wisdom, clear thinking, discernment, and conviction that we’re doing the right thing on election day.  We ask all of this in the precious and matchless Name of Jesus, Amen.

At this point I do want to remind you (and me too) that no matter who the President is, Jesus Christ is the KING!  As Lucinda and I chat, we are encouraged by those words, we hope you are too!  The Lord wants us to put HOLES in the Darkness!  We’re in the last days, I believe.  We know things will get more challenging, but we also know that God will protect us!

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