20 Years

Today marks 20 years of marriage for my husband and I. More has happened than we could have thought or imagined. So many blessings, so many sorrows, so many joys and unexpected trials with unbelievable gifts along the way. The Lord is faithful and we are firmly rooted in His great love for us. We know to whom we belong and trust Him. If He allowed it, it is and will be for our good and His glory. Only God can make a promise like that and keep it.

IMG_0148I remember waking up really early on this day 20 years ago and it felt like a dream. This is what I had been thinking, planning and preparing for all my life. The day was here, but it just did not seem real. One of the many memories I have is before my dad and I walked the aisle for him to place me into my husbands care. The huge doors closed, as the last in the wedding party walked down the aisle, and a trumpet began to sound. The doors opened pretty dramatically and we entered. The aisle seemed miles long, but I knew who was waiting at the end. All thoughts of life before fled and I was pretty sure I was glowing. When my hand was placed in his, I felt like I was home.

The years have passed by quickly and we have more than lived to tell about it. We have fallen more in love with each other and with our God. While not perfect, we know the One who is. His Word is our daily guide and it is Him whom we serve. We serve one another because of His great love for us. This love overflows and we each benefit. Our children see this and get drenched with this effect. Do we mess up? Absolutely! I could give you a great example that took place just this morning. However, we ask for forgiveness, turn from our sin and continue on. Often we feel the pressures of this world, but we know there is more to come than this life. We march on towards Heaven making memories along the way.

I do not know your story or where you are on this journey, but I am glad our steps have collided. There is nothing in me that for a minute thinks I have this all figured out. I do trust the One who does and have chosen to give my heart to Him. He knows how to keep me in peace, love and focus. My heart is tender towards the Lord and that gives Him soft clay to work with. While not always pleasant or painless, I trust His working. And I am daily thankful to have a precious man beside me, whose heart is even more tender and who is a fierce leader and protector. My husband knows well how to keep that which was entrusted to him 20 years ago. May we bring the Lord much glory for many, many more years!

Happy Anniversary Damon!

*This picture pretty much sums it up:)

 

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Surprised by a Statement

Do you ever say something and kinda look around to see who said that? It happened to me yesterday when we were talking with the pastor at the church we are visiting. He asked a simple question about our day, whether it was restful or busy? I automatically responded with, “We don’t do busy”. It shocked me a bit because of the speed by which it flew out of my mouth, but it is very true. Being busy, rushing from activity to activity does not work for our family. It did not work with just two or three kids and it sure would not work with seven. This is how the Lord has led us and He may do something else with your family.

IMG_5605When I look at the calendar and see an entire square full, a bit of anxiety arises. Will I remember it all? Will everyone be where they are suppose to be at the right time? When will we eat dinner if the evening is full? They are gone for most of the day, when will we reconnect? If this is an occasional occurrence, we do fine, but not if this is the normal for us. Some handle this just fine, but that is not my lane. Go ahead and pass us right by.

This is a conviction for us and I felt it affirmed again today when I read Ann Voskamp’s blog. She had a guest writer and the title was, “How Hurry is Incompatible with Love” by John Mark Comer. When I rush, I miss things, especially people. Quick conversations are not my favorite, but at times necessary I know. It takes time to learn about others and to let them know they are loved. It is easy to see why he chose this title. However, it is not easy to hear.

I think of another conversation yesterday and if we had been in a hurry, we would have missed it. A precious family asked us to take their picture as we walked into a restaurant. We visited for awhile and got to know a little about one another. It was an incredible blessing to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ! Come to find out, they care about what is most important to us too! It was good. An unexpected gift. We will be exchanging Christmas cards.

As for today, our youngest had a fun field trip to a pumpkin patch. The downside is that it was an over an hour away. This morning when I looked at all the things that needed to be done here, it would have been very easy to stay home. However, to miss time with this little girl was not an option. And the laundry and dust were waiting for me when I got home. We froze because it was colder than expected, but we had a great time. Sweet memories were made and that is far more important than chores.

Time passes and it is our choice as to what we fill our days with. Will we pack it so full that we have no space to see people? Will we decide today that we will ask the Lord for help in how to manage the time He has given us? If time was God’s idea in the first place, it would only be logical to ask Him how to manage it. That carries over in just about everything don’t you think?

 

Daily Strength

“But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

A few summers ago I studied the book of Nehemiah and I have loved it ever since. There is so much in this short book and I feel like I am on a treasure hunt to uncover something new each time I read it. Actually, I can say that about the entire Bible. I pray you are spending time reading God’s word. We make time for what is important and this should be high on our list. Time spent getting to know and praise our Creator in prayer, reading, singing and listening, does wonders for our relationship. I think about our kids and how I desire time with them. I want to know them. What would happen if we met at the hospital when they were born, and again the day one of us were to die? We would have missed so much life. We would not know each other at all. I have no desire to have that type of relationship with God.

IMG_5459Getting to know someone takes time. Building a relationship does not normally happen overnight. I think of how much I know about each of our children. It is important to know how they function best, what makes them feel loved and what overwhelms them. This takes more than my natural abilities and I am in need of something more than me. This privilege is too much for me, but not for Him. I can pray, like Nehemiah, and ask for strength. Days are long and laundry piles are high. My hands need strength to serve my family. Knowing who to ask for strength makes all the difference.

As we look at the week ahead, remember He wants to know you. Spend time with Him. Do not be shy about asking for help. If you are a parent and your child asks for help and you knew it was for your child’s good, would you withhold your help? Our children should be able to trust us, but we fail and mess up. God is not human and therefore does not fail. Ask for His strength for this week. Ask for the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of you, if you are a Christ follower, to help you this week. You are not alone and should not live like it. Nehemiah knew his God and relied on Him to do all he was entrusted with. I want to be like him as we do the work that is planned for this week. What about you?

Gifts

Do you remember Christmas morning, when there were several gifts under the tree and you were not sure which one to choose to open first? That has been what it has been like with writing. The Lord has given so many gifts lately and I could not decide which to write about first. As with anything, some are just between Him and I, but others can be shared. I have sorta spread them out before the Lord and waited.

IMG_5425There have been sweet birthday gifts from friends, precious time with family and specific prayers answered. How do you begin to write about the goodness of God? How do you type into words how much He loves us? He shows us everyday if we have a heart to see. I will confess that I have not always had this type of vision. Praise God, those days are gone! My heart is now open wide and it makes seeing, giving and receiving love that much richer. It is the kind of lasting love. This kind of love, expressed in so many ways, does not seek the next thing to be sustained. It is a constant and brings such peace. I love these words, “For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name.” (Psalm 33:21). What a gift it is to trust His love for me as I go about this life.

I will tell you about one of the gifts that came about in some unlikely boxes. I was searching for old books that I could rip the pages out of for an art project. My husband remembered a few unpacked boxes in the top of our closet that might have books. Might I add that we have been in our home for 10 years. There were lots of treasures, but no books. One of the boxes had a few makeup bags full of expensive products. They were like new and I could have used them all those years ago. However, they sat on a shelf unopened and unused. The only thing I could do now was throw them away. It made me so sad to have wasted so much money and it reminded me of what use to be so important. Image was a big deal back then and it was costly. I still like and wear makeup, but I know where my lasting beauty comes from. The light of Christ’s love cannot be packaged and sold.

Can I tell you what was also in this box? Several bottles of wonderful smelling perfume. Again, they sat unopened and unused in a dark box. These however are still usable. I was so excited to have new smells to wear! They were just waiting to be opened this whole time. I am reminded of one of my most favorite stories where perfume is significant in the Bible. “And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume.” (Luke 7:37-38). Can you imagine what an entire jar of spilled perfume must have smelled like? How it must have filled the room with a wonderful fragrance.

My perfume does not compare, but I would like to think it smells good. I remember hugging a friend and her perfume clung to me. Did the same happen to Jesus with this extravagant anointing? The financial cost was great, but what love she poured out. Do we do the same? Do we keep our love for others and our Savior in unopened, nicely contained boxes, high on a shelf? What would happen if you trusted the Lord and opened the box of your heart to His love?  I can only tell you my experience. Love poured out from the heart of God is like nothing I have ever known and it changes everything.

Want to hear something about other gifts? A dear friend, who recently lost her husband, gave me a new makeup bag with my favorite mascara and the best pink lipstick I have ever worn. She also put a heart-shaped mirror in the bag. Such kindness extended even while she is grieving. I was so touched and had to marvel at the significance of what I had thrown away and what I was given.  Another friend filled a bag with gifts my mom would have given me, even down to the fall scents she chose. How did she know? Only the Lord. My in-laws gave me their airline points and I flew first class back to North Carolina for a family wedding. I had a ball with my dad, sister and family. How generous of them! My husband and kids were so fun to celebrate with and did without me for a weekend. I am blessed with the most unselfish man who loves and serves others well. This too has been a gift for almost 20 years.

I know at times it feels like the Lord is emptying us of all we hold dear. Some of the things need not remain, but some are removed and we do not know the reason now. I have found that being like an empty box, rid of self and desperately wanting to be filled with all the Lord wants to pour in, is far better than anything I could purchase or obtain. I do pray though, that anything I can pour out as an offering from my heart will bless the Lord like this sinful woman, for we are much alike.  And as this next scripture reminds us, others can catch a whiff of Christ from us. “For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15). Someone will recognize the “smell”, some will become angry and some won’t know quite what to do. All of this is known by God and we can trust Him. I have a feeling this is what love smells like.

*Picture with my Aunt Debbie who is quite a gift.

 

Changing Seasons

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

It is has been unbelievably hot here in Texas. Being from North Carolina, hot and October do not go in the same sentence. I think the changing of seasons is what I miss most about the mountains. Time was marked by the weather and I like that. One would think I was use to this climate, but I am not. However, the people and the sunsets make Texas a great place to call home. And the weather man says a “cold front” is making its way here and it should be cooler tomorrow. I pray it happens and we can get on with fall. A change is very much needed.

IMG_5296As I think on change, it always reminds me of the passage in Ecclesiastes about time. It goes from one extreme to the other. “A time of war and a time of peace.” (vs. 8). As I read through the list, I naturally choose the more lovely times. I have no desire for war, loss, hate, mourning and death. I will say that knowing these times makes the other that much more sweet and I appreciate them more. So for that I am thankful. It is during the not so lovely that I have been drawn into the heart of God more deeply. How can I say I do not want such a gift just because it was hard?

I received a text last night from a precious friend. Her husband of 55 years went to be with Jesus. She is in “a time to weep… a time to mourn” (vs.4). She knows the Lord and has hope of “a time to laugh..a time to dance” (vs.4). Do you have this same hope? Do you know there is a purpose to each season? Sometimes it is full of joy and other times joy is a choice. I found myself this morning begging to be out of this season. Goodness, did this bring such a heaviness and that feeling of wanting change. As we walked into church and heard words so specific to what my heart was feeling, I could have just wept. Only the Lord knew what I needed most. Circumstances remain the same, but my heart was reminded of the truth. It made the time at the Lord’s table that much more meaningful.

Friend, I am not sure of your season, but I know the God who does. I pray you have hope today for what is to come. While there may be many seasons before we go to Heaven that make you long for Home, trust the One who knows and loves you. “Consider the work of God; For who can make straight what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider; Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other…” (7:13-14). Tonight I will remember, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” (Isaiah 26:3). I know who I am dependent on and trust His plans, which are not always visible. May you sleep in peace tonight.

Confession

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteousness person is very powerful in its effect.” James 5:16

Our family visited a new church today. We have heard about it and wanted to check it out. We had read their core values and they are based on truth, God’s Word. We unloaded the van, walked through the doors and were immediately welcomed by kind people. Since they are a branch off of a larger church, they are small and meeting in an elementary school. The simple approach to church was refreshing. We take up two rows and begin to sing. Just a few instruments and beautiful words. The pastor is teaching a series entitled “Home” and based this sermon on 1 Peter 5:8-10. Powerful words were not watered down and we were not entertained. The goal is transformation, for us to look more like Christ when we leave than when we walked in.

IMG_5169The sermon ended much too soon and we sang a bit more. Then the most interesting thing happened. They break everyone into smaller groups and call them “tribes”. We had no idea where to go, but were quickly directed to a group. I have to mention that the younger kids go to their class during the teaching time and then come back for the close of the service. It is fun worshiping together. Back to the tribes. We circle up and each person is asked to confess in one word a sin they struggle with. Mine is pride. Then the most beautiful thing followed. We took communion. Each sin confessed, the death of Christ, the blood that poured from His body, paid the price for each. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24). This is GOOD NEWS!!!

If that were not enough, the church stays after and eats lunch together. Everyone brings things to share and tables were full of food. This so reminded me of the early church that formed after Christ returned to Heaven. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42). We decided not to stay, even though we felt welcome. Adding a family of 9 without bringing something just went against my southern roots. Instead, we ate together as a family and talked about the morning. Our oldest made a statement that really stuck with me. She said, “You can’t hide there.” Interesting observation and so good. When you know who you are because of the accepted life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you desire a life of righteousness and a home shaped by this love. Hiding sin does not fit in this loving, secure truth. The only hiding that remains is, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3). My life covered by His sinless life. What an amazing exchange, don’t you think?

*You could wear a name tag and this child decided to go with something different today. He kept saying, “It’s Jimmy, with a Y.” Made us laugh every time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Picture

Just like any relationship, somethings are special and meant just for the two of you. Somethings that happen between the Lord and I that stay just between us. This normally would have been one of those experiences, but after sharing it the other day in Bible study, I think it might need some space here as well. So, here it goes.

IMG_5095Monday morning I woke up with such a heavy feeling inside and my shoulders felt like they had huge weights on them. I sat in my normal chair to begin my “quiet time”. If you are new to the whole Christian code, this means time spent in reading your Bible, praying, journaling, reading devotionals and whatever else you and the Lord do together. I immediately got a picture in my mind and it was powerful! It was me sitting at the bottom of a dried up dark well, with stones piled on top of me. The stones filled the well to the top. I had my knees pulled to my chest and my head down. The stones represented every sin I have ever committed over the course of my life. Satan was leaning over the well, shouting down in a loud voice, “Pay what you owe”! I kept saying, “I can’t, I can’t”! When I thought this would go on forever, Jesus steps into the picture. He leans down and in the process, backhands satan in the mouth, which sends him flying backwards and he is silenced. Jesus then begins to remove each stone, one at a time. With each stone He says, “Forgiven”. He then reaches His hand down and distance doesn’t seem to matter. I take hold of His offered hand and He pulls me up. We then take the stones, that have been washed clean, and stack them into a memorial with the cross on the top. Memorials are good to have because they give you a visual reminder. If I ever doubt whether I am truly forgiven, one look at the cross says I am.

After the picture left my mind, the heaviness began to lift and so did the weight my shoulders felt. They did remain a bit sore though and for that I was thankful. I liked the reminder. We fool ourselves into thinking that sin is light or does not really matter. Besides, many argue that the Bible was written so long ago. How can it be relevant today? I can assure you, God takes sin just as seriously now as He did thousands of years ago. If this were not true, the cross that held His Son would not have been allowed to happen. Oh, how He loves us! Can you see that?

Maybe you know the feeling of being in a dark place and your past catches up with you. Maybe you wake up in the night and have a sense of heaviness. I wish I could take your sweet face in my hands like I often do with the kids and tell you that you are forgiven. The Bible says,“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). It also says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Do not let the weight of your past keep you from the forgiveness that is waiting for you today.

*This picture is from today. These two kids are the best of friends. They have a special bond.

Not Listening

“As for the word you spoke to us in the name of the Lord,                                                 we are not going to listen to you!”  Jeremiah 44:16

 

When you read through the Bible, you see evidence of the sinful state of our hearts. Time and time again, God says do this and we do not listen. If we did, our homes, businesses, churches, schools, government and our world would look very different. We think we know more than God, our Creator, and we go our own way. How do you think this is working for us?

IMG_4776When I ask my children to do something and they argue or disobey, it kinda shocks me. We have this loving relationship and usually they listen. The other day when I was asking our youngest to do something, disobedience followed. I took her aside and told her that when I asked her to do or not do something, it was because I had her good in mind. I was not trying to stop her from having fun or just being mean. I reminded her that I loved her and needed her to trust me. Then it hit me, again. We disobey and do not listen to God because we do not trust His love for us. If we did we would live like it.

His Word is full of instruction and beautiful stories of people who lived in obedience. They trusted in God’s power and love. They had faith in the One who has said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, the One who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8). They saw things that we can only imagine. Remember the parting to the Red Sea? Unbelievable! I want to hear all about that day. I want to learn from Moses, who led the people of Israel out of Egypt. He was given a promise, had a bit of a training time with tending sheep for his father-in-law, and actually heard the voice of God in the burning bush. These simple words astonish me. “So Moses thought, I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t this bush burning up? When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ ‘Here I am,’ he answered.” (Exodus 3:3-4). I love his response.

The story continues and God gives the assignment of leading to Moses. He has a few questions for God. “Who am I that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). I hear God’s response to this understandable question echo to us even now. “So He said, ‘I will certainly be with you.” (Exodus 3:12). If God was with Moses, will He not be with us now? I know I am leaving much out of the story, but this is what is sticking out to me at the moment, the faith of Moses. He listened to God, even though what God was telling him sounded impossible.

I want to be like him. God may not be asking me to lead thousands of people, but He has entrusted me with 7. I want to read God’s Word and do what He says. I want to take seriously His commands and instructions. When He says, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Luke 4:8), I actually want to do this every minute of my life. When I read, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14), I want to live this way. Words have flown out of my mouth way to carelessly at times. The truth is, they reflected more of my heart than I care to admit. For this there is repentance on my part and forgiveness from God. For this too Christ died.

My encouragement to you today is to actually get in the Word of God for yourself. See how exciting this book is. Your life will be forever changed! Will hard things still come?Yes, we are not Home yet, but you will go through them differently with these life-giving words in you. Start in the book of John if you want and meet Jesus. Read through the Psalms and see if your heart doesn’t know exactly what the writers are talking about. Go to the book of James and gain wonderful instruction. Read in the very first book, Genesis, about how the earth was created. Want a beautiful story of loyalty, redemption and romance? Read the book of Ruth. Need a great adventure? Read the book of Jonah. The Bible is never boring. We have got to get back into scripture if we are to know truth for ourselves. I cannot wait to hear what you are reading and how it impacts your daily life!

Who I Am

We have been in school for several weeks now. To say we have gotten into the groove would be a stretch. However, we are thankful for our schools and the teachers each of the kids have been given. So far it has been a good year. It has been especially fun seeing all the new skills our little kindergartener has been learning. She can hardly wait to do homework each night. This has been a dream for her and she will probably ask for extra. While each child is different in their approach to school, she is one who belongs in the classroom. Bring on the worksheets, textbooks and tests. She will have her No. 2 pencils lined up and sharpened.

IMG_4982One of the booklets she brought home had a title on it that caught my eye. It said, “Who Am I?” She had written her name above the title. While the book was not about her, it is a question she will have to answer. It also reminded me of the movie I just saw called, Overcomer. That was a question asked and one that some of the characters had a hard time answering. Who you are is not the same thing as what job you do, what your marital status is, economic status or what your class rank happens to be. Who you are has so much more to it. It was bought with a price by our Creator and it defines who I am.

At one point if I had been asked the question, my answer would have been a pretty surface one. Those days are long gone and my identity is secure in who God says I am in His Word. Anything else is shakable, changeable and unreliable. If we based our identity on say our wealth and then one day it was gone, who would you be? If you had worked for one company for 20 years in a certain position and then one day you were let go, who would you be? If your church that you were a huge part of suddenly split, who would you be? If your identity came from your outward appearance and then this whole aging thing sets in and this image is not sustainable, who would you be?

This identity thing is a big topic right now in our country. So much confusion and it is heartbreaking. Why is gender such an issue? You were made one or the other. Your birth certificate can clear it up if one starts to question. Beyond that takes a bit more digging. If you grew up in a Bible based church, you have heard plenty of stories about Jesus and have heard about His love for you. Just look at the cross. There is a good starting point. You are loved. Let that one sink in. It might take awhile. Because of our sin, the cross was necessary to pay what we owed to purchase our forgiveness. Jesus did that for each person, no matter how long or little they lived. You are forgiven. All you have to do is believe, confess and receive. Not hard, very simple in fact because children do it all the time.

My prayer for our family and you today comes from a wonderful teaching I heard while in pickup line. “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) When you can say this is true of you, your identity will no longer be in question.

I Know and Believe

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.”                          1 John 4:16          

Sometimes pictures reveal more to our hearts than they do to our eyes. I found this to be very true last week, when our oldest smiled over and over again for her senior pictures. I tried to stay out of the way and let our friend do what she does best. When you are not the one behind the camera, you do not know exactly what was captured. I knew from experience that we would be blown away by how well these images turned out. What I did not expect was the picture taken at the end of the day. I was hot and had not planned on being photographed. You do a bit more when the camera is aimed at you. However, I am so thankful for a picture with my girl. She is moving from being a teenager with a parent/child relationship into one of friend. It is an incredible blessing.

IMG_4857After the photo shoot, we hurried home and I met a group of younger moms that come over once a month to talk and pray. If there is anything I try and communicate to them is the importance of being in God’s word. You can not give what you do not have. If you want to give your family Him, be in His word. So much pressure is taken off when it is Him and His wisdom you are living from. We laughed a lot as a group and prayed about hard things. I am so thankful for each of these girls. What a privilege to take what has been learned and share. Mistakes seem to be redeemed when you can warn others not to follow your example. It is also encouraging to see that despite my sin, God works wonders in our children.

Just a few days ago, this oldest child, her dad and I were on our way to a potential college informational meeting. We talked about lots of things and again laughed a lot. Somewhere along the way, she asked how much housekeepers get paid. We told her what we use to pay for our home to be cleaned. Now we do it as a family. Put music on really loud and it becomes not so boring and the time goes by quickly. She thought maybe she could clean a house or two as a job in college. I was shocked at her humility. When I was her age, this would have never crossed my mind because I lived to be served. She has a heart to serve. When we got to the meeting, the admissions guy was talking about the kind of students they are looking for at this particular college. He said they do look at test scores and GPA, but what they were after were students that showed servant leadership. They want kids who know the heart of Jesus and live by His example. This made me smile.

I got a beautiful glimpse of the love of God for us this week. Time and time again I was reminded that God is believable and His love is quite amazing. One look at my husband, our kids or when I listen to the words they say, I am reminded that God loves me. He took a girl who was not very lovable and moved into my heart and has done a mighty work. I pray the work He has done and continues to do, will be passed down from generation to generation. My prayer for our family is, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. And His commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.” (1 John 5:1-4). May our family be strong in following God’s commands, beautiful servants, known for love and conquering faith as we all continue to grow up in the image of Him.