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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Woman's World, Why did you steer me wrong?

Each of us have our simple pleasures from time to time. It may be stopping for an ice cream cone on a hot summer's day, or it could be shopping the clearance areas at Target. Mine is a tiny indulgence that leaves me almost euphoric. You see, about once a month I buy a Woman's World Magazine. It is, to me, the best 1.79 escape around. It is better than chocolate and pony rides because, after everyone has been cared for, I can retreat to my room and open the pages of this magazine and find a myriad of facts on various topics that were never before known to most of mankind! Honestly, I have gained some great tips. There have been articles on gardening, and cooking. I learned a new way to clean my jewelry, I have laughed at many a comic strip, and I have found new beauty and health products that are most helpful. Sure I have tried somethings and found them less than amazing, but on the whole I usually like what I try. That is why I was amazed when I tried "Boosting your health with oil" and had such a disappointment!

The article I had read days earlier was talking about how other cooking oils may increase certain functions of the body. They had several cooking oils listed. Flax-seed oil was to help with brain function, krill oil was said to fight off fatigue, and many others gave way to possible solutions for various issues. However, it was the coconut oil that caught my eye. You see, a little over a year ago I had half of my thyroid removed. They had to take out a lump. The article stated that coconut oil would increase one's liver and thyroid function. I thought anything that increases what I now only have half of was defiantly worth a try. So, off I went to my supermarket I was overjoyed when I found the jar of 100% pure organic coconut oil. There in that jar was my thyroid's organic answer to health. Honestly, I was just hoping for a boost or mild difference.

Upon arriving at home, I started cooking dinner. I opened the jar and although the article said to use two tablespoons, I thought it best to start with only one. I was going to use it on my salad. But what was this?! Upon opening the jar I discovered it wasn't liquid but solid. Oh coconut oil how delicious you looked! You were white and creamy looking. I love your fruit (which you came from) and have never once regretted taking a bite from any form of the coconut... big mistake! So I looked at that tsp (which I should have melted and made into a vinaigrette). The article said it was orderless (sniff-sniff) they were correct. The article said it was also flavorless, but even if it wasn't perhaps a hint of that sweet coconut would glide down my throat and I alone would have discovered a new way to ingest such a health yielding oil! I took that spoon and swallowed the generous tsp of oil. Now... please excuse me as I pause, because the thought of that horrible decision still shutters through my memory! It turns out that Woman's World Magazine is WRONG! The oil is not tasteless! In fact, if swallowed in the manner in which I took it, it tastes like lard. Then, it slowly moves down, and I don't know if a heart attack has a flavor but I imagine it was something like what I was experiencing. The lard, formerly known as oil, just sat hovering around the middle of my chest for what seemed forever. All I could think was what had I just done?

Do you ever do this? Maybe you read half the instructions of a toy you have to put together and just wing the rest. Perhaps you get the basic idea of a road map and trust your "spider senses" to lead you to the final destination. Sometimes it works out ok. Sometimes we have five extra bolts and we aren't sure where they go. As a pastor's wife, I have learned that over the years sometimes friends and church members come to you seeking advice, and after they pour out their heart they wait for your response. They are seeking a reaction that either affirms what they have done or what they should do next. What I am about to share has only taken me 43 years to get right... most of the time. When asked to give my opinion / advice I try really hard to live under two main principles. The first principle is that the Bible is never wrong and the second is that I am not the Holy Spirit.

It seems like an easy statement, "The Bible is always right." Ah, but you see the right thing is not always the easiest thing to hear or say. My husband has a funny thing he says. He says, "If sinning wasn't fun, people wouldn't do it." When folks come asking advice sometimes what they really want is for you to give the nod that what they are doing or about to do is ok by God. Over the years many folks I deeply care about have come and laid out some truly heart wrenching situations. Sometimes the hardest thing I can do is fully share what the Bible says about that situation. I have to be very careful to never say I know the Bible says... B-U-T! God never gives us anymore than we can handle. I had a friend who made some really poor life choices. She left her husband and lived with a man. Before she left her husband she took tens of thousands of dollars with her. The man she lived with told her to put it in his account because her husband couldn't get to it there. She called me months later with a broken heart. She knew she had made horrible choices and wanted to get out. The man was using the money as a leverage to keep her there, and it was growing violent. She really needed that money because she had no other income. She asked me if should she stay just one more week end and try to get the money. Now, to say no to this plan meant she stood a good chance of never seeing the money again. To say yes meant she might have a good six months of income security... she could also be harmed. Her question to me was what is the greater risk; leaving or staying a few more days. I took a deep breath and asked her, " 'Sally', you have to ask yourself what do you trust more... the money you might not get (which was thousands of dollars), or the God who loves you now?" To my great surprise she left him that night, and never saw any of that money. While it was tough, God provided cars for her to drive, a job, and a place to stay. She never looked back and is so glad today of the choice she made.

My truth is that I don't always like standing by what God's word says. I say that because I am imperfect, I do not see how it will all work out, and my own past may skew my perceptions. But you see that is exactly why we must speak God's Word and not personally into others. Ecclesiastes states that there is nothing new under the sun. There is no special new circumstance that allows us to ignore what God has told us to do. The Bible is a How To book. It is also an I didn't... I did but found forgiveness... God saved me from.. and God led me to book. Mainly, it is holy, and the Holy Spirit is waiting to lead through God's Word.

I am not the Holy Spirit, but I have the Holy Spirit. I have him interceding in my prayers to God. I have him whispering thoughts that I could never fathom on my own. When someone asks you for advice, it is the Holy Spirit you want on your side. Sometimes I joke and say, "Look, I am not the Holy Spirit, but..." I then share what the Bible says about the matter. Sometimes I don't know the answer. So I help them find it or I pray God will show them the answer, and give them a peace through the process.

The Bible says that Christians are ambassadors. We are ambassadors in both the easier and the harder moments of folks lives (that includes our own). I have learned that I would much rather have someone mad at me because of what God's word says than six months later angry at me because I ignored God and they did too. What about you? How do give advice and what is the best advice you ever gave? Should you give advice at all?

John 7:24 "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." NIV

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Does God Ever Worry?

Does God ever worry? Seasoned Christians know the answer. It is most defiantly no. The Bible certainly has a lot to say on the subject, and it can be summed up in one simple contraction... DON'T. Many verses speak on the subject with great clarity. In Matthew 6 Jesus threw out some total pearls on the subject. He asked, "who can add a single hour to his life by worrying?" Christ also simply said don't worry about things because if God is caring for the small things, He will also care for you. Sometimes the word worry is replaced in verses by what we should be doing; which is considering our trials as pure joy. Okay God, you had me at don't worry, but joy?
I mean, does your life sometimes seem like a bad country and western song too? What person calls up a friend and says, "Yeah, my car died this week, my child is having a hard time in math class, and best of all I just had a fight with my husband!" Man! If troubles equal joy, that would be a euphoric day! Honestly, I don't think that is quite what God meant. We may give lip service and say not to worry. Unfortunately, at times proclamations of, "I'm okay" leave our lips but never quite reache our hearts. Certain issues are a real challenge for us. Our challenge to not worry could be either because of our past, or it could be because we have many circumstances all boiling at one time. So, let me ask the question again. Does God ever worry? Perhaps that might be the wrong question. Maybe a more precise question is, "Why do we treat God like He should worry?"
I wrote a few blogs ago that it is silly to think God is up in heaven going, "Oh no! something horrible has happened! How will we ever make it?!!" That is ludicrous! God is the Alpha and the Omega. He knows all and sees all. He wrote the first of this world into being and He will write the last and beyond. God owns everything, and at the point of dying on the cross, Christ stayed to save us and have God calls us His Children. So, why do we treat God like He should worry? It might be because we can not imagine that anyone would have the ability to grasp the direness of the situation or frankly spend the "full on" time we can worrying... I mean "caring" about our problems . When in fact, God has knowledge before the trial and beyond that trial. If God doesn't act "quickly enough", in our worry we start to "remind" Him of our needs. I have named this "The Car Keys Problem."
The Car Keys Problem is, because we worry, we are snatching the car keys of our life off the table and taking our own lives for a ride (in that area). When we get sick of that, we put the keys back on the table and say, "Here you go God." If God takes to long,we snatch the keys back. And so it goes until we either finally put the keys totally into God's hands, or we drive our "car" off a cliff and need God to heal us from a wreak that frankly didn't have to happen. You may be thinking, "Why Debbie! How did you reach such a heavenly minded state of not worrying?" Well, I have a confession. Left to my own demise I am a worrier. In fact, I have a PhD in worry.

One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It is a powerful verse that says nothing is too much to handle through God. Nevertheless, there is a funny plaque that sarcastically skews that verse. It says, "God I know you never give me anymore than I can handle, but I wish you didn't trust me so much." That my friend is worry. It is being overwhelmed at not having all the answers or any answer at all. As pastor's wives we can get caught up in worry. Worry for our family, worry for others, and worry for issues at the church. So why shouldn't we worry? Well, I think God gives us a very simple reason, and a very faithful promise. James 1:2 tells us to consider it pure joy, but it is in verses 3 and 4 that we discover that the process develops perseverance, and that perseverance leads to spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is an ongoing a-ha moment. It is that look an old person gives when you tell them your problem and they give you a look back that says been there / done than / made it through. Spiritual maturity is having peace in peace-less times, and faith in even the darkest of times.

We have a teenager and our daughter is months away from also entering "that special time." Do you know what one of the hardest things about being a Christian parent of a teen can be? It is having these brief flashes of reality that we sometimes treat God like we are spiritual teenagers. I have great kids, but don't fool yourself! They have an agenda. Whether it is going to a friends house, or staying up late, or "needing" something; they are in full "please can I mom" mode. Today my son was at a friend's house, and I was picking him up to go do something fun with his dad (no it really was cool). He had said yes the other day, but was in total ninja mode with his words trying his best to stay at his friends when I came to pick him up. His dad had set this time aside and frankly they needed some father and son time. I was getting the "worst mother ever stare" as I drove him home, and he was not considering it "pure joy" when faced with the trial of HAVING FUN! He went, and when they got home you could just see in his face and body language that he had a good time. Later I heard him ask his dad a question that made me know he had a good time.

If we had given into what he thought he needed, he would have missed out on what he really needed. God cares for each one of us, and like a good shepherd He goes looking for the one who has strayed away. He is never casual about what we are going through. We have His full attention. The quest is for us to have our full attention on Him.

As a worrier it is good to have some verses tucked away. I really like Jeremiah 29:11. God is promising His people a hope and a future! I hold to that promise. That hope may or may not look like anything I imagine, but a future through Christ is a future with God's peace.
Today, a letter came in the mail. it said that the place our church has been renting for a long time (on the Campus of a major University) is being torn down. We have 6 weeks people to find a temporary or new place to meet. Can I tell you what this worrier did? I smiled, lifted my hands, and said, "Hallelujah, thank you God!" I would not have done that years ago, but I know that letter didn't catch God by surprise. I know He has an answer and we just need to seek Him to find it. In fact, I think it is really awesome that He is shaking us up.

I don't know your worries or if you have been seeking answers for a long time. I am praying for you and everyone who visits this site that the Holy Spirit will use this time to let you know you are not alone. I don't know what form your answer will come. I know this, God loves us. He will answer, and worry takes not just hours, but years off of our lives.

If... God is enough. I AM loves you, and was dying to let you know how much. He certainly didn't die and rise to defeat death to make His children lead a wandering life. Please put those "car keys" down, and pray believing God will answer. He will.

Psalm 9:9-11 (NKJV)
"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed.
A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in you;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Sing praises to the Lord. who dwells in Zion!
Declare His deeds among the people."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friendship Soup?

Now readers! Don't think I am getting sappy on you! This is not one of those cheesy "one cup of kindness, and a pinch of gentleness" posts! No! In fact, it is quite the opposite! You see, today was May the sixteenth. And on this day a great event was to occur! For 10 long days I have been mushing a bag of friendship bread, adding ingredients on day six, and letting the air out of the bag so it could have just the right environment!
Have I had other friends give me friendship bread before? Uh... yeah... I am a pastor's wife. However, usually somewhere between church and the car ride home, or sometime between day one and day three, the poor bread never stood a chance and was tossed out. I don't know what got into me this time. Maybe it was the fact that my garden is going so well this year, or that I could get bread for.... (wait for it).... free, but I was determined to see this batch through to the end!
Things were skeptical on day eight when this liquid goo was looking more like a vanilla shake that had gone terribly wrong rather than than what was soon to be bread for dinner. Nonetheless, I forged on ever closer to the anticipated homemade smell of bread in my oven. So, finally today after three services this morning and a carpool back up for youth group tonight, I was ready!
There was no need to look for the instructions. I had hung them in my kitchen, and practically had them memorized. I had read them so much I felt like an expert on friendship bread. Do you know you should not place the contents in a metal bowl? No, it must be in a glass or plastic bowl with a wooden spoon. In fact, I measured and mixed the flour, sugar, and milk with great precision! Surely you could imagine my surprise when I looked into the bowl and instead of dough I saw what looked like white soup... with chunks... and it smelled funny. The bread that I had been anticipating seemed to be turning out all wrong.
All bread aside for a moment, I think friendships can turn out like that bread; not quite what you expected. Sometimes it is a great surprise and other times they can be real heart breakers. It is a rare and most treasured thing for a pastor's wife to find a true friend. Folks want to be your friend, but please don't share your hurts or problems because you may seem less holy and a little too real. There have been times that my BFF meeter was sure this was the real deal and nothing would ever separate our friendship. That is until my husband shared a vision that was too much and the family and our friendship walked out the door. I have many friends and I feel very blessed. I have friends from the past, and at work, and from church. In fact, when the chips are down I know that I could call on many and they would be there (and vise-versa). Yet, there are those extremely rare few friends that have seen it all! Probably it is no surprise to you that most are also pastor wives (at other churches), or one is a sister of a pastor. I do have two very close friends that are the real suckers and they are my friend just because. In fact, I saw a mug the other day that made me laugh out loud. It said, "You will always be my friend, you know to much!"
How did these women get to be such good friends? Simple, we have been through a lot! Would you like to know what? Too bad, I am not that kind of friend and neither are they. That is one of many reasons they are so special. The NIV says in Proverbs 18:24, "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." I don't know if you have ever been hurt by a friend, or if you have hurt them. I would say two things. The first being that grace through forgiveness goes a long way. Forgiveness (aka praying for them) takes that hurt you are holding onto and places it in the hands of the only one who will ever offer the peace you need. In fact, I have a joke I sometimes tell people from time to time. I say, "If you get to really know me, there is a 99.9% chance I will hack you off sometime in the future. However, if I do and you come to me in love, there is a 100% chance we can work it out." It's true. Life is messy, and true friends are not forged because every event is a tea party. Quite the opposite. It is praying over children, and hurts, and bills that can barely get paid. It is a call just to say hi and a call just to say I care. It is mowing your sick friends lawn after your own hard day. Grace reminds you that friendship is two people staring at each other with big logs in their eyes... just doing the best (through God's sweet grace) that they can.
The second thing is just as important, and it is that we are not meant to be alone.
If you have been hurt by a friend or a church member, don't live there. Eventually hurt people hurt people. You know who they hurt the most? They hurt themselves.
Usually if I am hurt by a church member I have this brief fantasy that like the witness protection program, we will go to another town. Randy will become a computer programmer and we will never tell our true identity. The pastor at our new church will say, "You all are so wonderful, you never give us any trouble, and you tithe!" Ah, but we will never tell that he was a minister. We will just go to church and maybe go to one meeting... maybe. Reality Check! Leaders step out into uncharted territory. Sometimes the water is fine and other times a big gator dressed as a deacon is at the bottom waiting to bite!
When I snap out of my 30 second fantasy (minute and a half it is a real doozy), I take a breath and remember what an amazing friend I have in Christ. That is just what Christ said to the disciples. He called them his friends. Christ's friends were hard to find when the chips were down, but in the end they gave all they had to their Savior. I like to think that as I have aged I have become a little wiser. Every friendship has value. Every friendship is different, and you need to care for it. You also need to know the boundaries that make that particular friendship work. Wife, it can be lonely enough. Invest in friendships, and especially in that friend you married.Today, that friendship bread reminded me of that lesson.
In the end, I took a leap of faith and I baked that bread. The final verdict was that it was ok, and not great. I was surprised that it actually turned into bread at all! I will stick to the wheat bread in the store for my family. But what an adventure making that bread turned out to be. What an adventure friendships add to our lives!

1 John 4:11 "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jealous in a Good Way

We have four children still at home. These, my friends,are crazy times! I think if you totaled the times I sit down to rest during the day, it would add up somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes! Yes, my Taxi cab skills are in full swing. I can almost see the clouds breaking as my oldest inches ever closer to his driver's license. However, that too is an exhausting thought, and they may not make a strong enough hair color to cover the gray that is about to sprout from such a huge life event!
I am actually very pleased with my children. All but our three year old are involved with a sport of some type; which they enjoy. The three year old just assumes that he is on every team the others are involved with! Soccer season just ended for my daughter, but it went off with a huge celebration! This past week she and her team took second in the State Playoffs! It was amazing, and while I would rather be in the parking lot washing cars (because the games are such nail bitters), I put on my game face and cheered her team on to victory.
The week before State Playoffs, they won first place at the Regional Playoffs! It was there that I witnessed something powerful that led to a flood of emotions.
These 12 year old girls are on a select soccer team. The competition is crazy - good. As parents, Randy and I try not to put pressure on our daughter. I mean we are realistic. If she grows up and plays professional soccer so be it. We take the more gentle approach. We say, "Honey, it is just a game. Besides, when you are a doctor in Hawaii you can have us visit and we will stay in your guest house!" :) Seriously, we just want her to do her best, and that is all anyone can hope for in any situation. But here is the zinger... she is the goalie! When you are the goalie you are either the hero or the zero. Rebekah usually does well in competition, but last week really brought her to a near breaking point. Each game grew more intense and each point mattered because at the end of the competition the team with the most points win. The goalie makes sure the other teams have as few points as possible. Our last game decided who would win, and in the end, we had the most points! The team gathered around, and the coach said some words... but then right after that moment something wonderful happened. My daughter came racing across the field at full speed with arms wide open and headed straight to her daddy and fell full force into his arms. There she stayed and soaked up every ounce of his hug, and you could tell she was releasing every fear and worry that she had during the game. It was probably the most powerful hug I have seen to date. It was touching and I too was ready for my big hug. I opened my arms and she smiled... and then gave me a sweet hug - hug and trotted off to victory! Hey kid, I thought, remember me? The one who washed those soccer clothes, made sure you had water, and sunscreen? The one who arranges rides or takes you to practice?! Let's face it I was jealous! I have a Mother's Day Card to prove that I am a great mom. I know that to be true because it says "Best Mom Ever" right there on the front of the card!:) But at that moment I was feeling a little less best and little more second.
Now, let me tell you that feeling lasted all but a few seconds because when I really thought about it, I felt so blessed to be jealous in a good way!
You see, when I was growing up my father was MIA for a good portion of my childhood. While I praise God for such amazing grandparents who injected faith, and opportunities along with my mom, having an MIA dad leaves you missing a very important part of you.
That is why when I became a Christian I felt God really healed a lot of that hurt because I knew I had a heavenly Father who was there for all times. It was that Father I prayed to for the father my children would someday have. I remember very clearly praying over and over again for the man I would one day marry.I got a winner! He loves his children so much. It was on that soccer field I felt God gently reminding me that this was the hope and the fulfillment of a future I had prayed for as a young girl so long ago. My daughter has that part of her love tank overflowing and I thank God for that everyday. That hug seemed to be just between them, but I knew better. That hug was from a young woman who prayed to God and a young man who rose to the occasion and is now a father. My husband took each of our children to lunch this week one on one. And while he is busy, he works time into his schedule for our little ones who are getting bigger everyday.
Did you pray for the man you would one day marry? Did your prayer list include loving your children? If your husband is taking the time to be with your children, take the time to let him know how much that means to you. Let him know it was just what you prayed for before you ever knew who he was and what you are praying for now. If your husband has a harder time expressing emotion, keep praying for him. Let him know how much you love him and help him set up a time for a lunch or small get together where he is one on one with each child. Don't say,"You two should go to lunch." Say, "Our kids would love to spend some special time with you. When are you free for lunch this week? Oh good, Sally would love for you to have lunch with her on Tuesday, and Jack could go any day this week. You can check her out at 11:30 and go to Chick Fil - A for some special dad and daughter time. Jack's lunch is at noon and he wants you to eat at the school. Friday sounds great!"
Sometimes being a pastors wife can be rough. You know what isn't rough? Watching your husband be the kind of father his heavenly Father is proud to know.

Proverbs 23:22 "Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Kitty Cat Was Wrong!

Do you remember certain things about growing up? Maybe it was the smell of a picnic on the 4th of July, or the way your new sneakers smelled as a kid, or how your old sneakers smelled as a teen! There are moments when our senses or our circumstances take us back in time, and we remember something that links us to a thought or action from our past. That is just what happened the other day. I was having a very stressful day. That is a shocker to all you pastor wives, I know. When all of the sudden, a thought from my childhood came rushing back.
I remembered that for a good three years all around my elementary school there was this one certain poster in almost every teacher's room. There must have been a sale at the teacher's store for this one poster! That, or it was their personal motto to get through their day. The poster was of a kitty cat. The cat was hanging onto a rope, and the rope had a big knot at the end of it. The poster said, "Hang in there!" I remembered I liked that poster very much. It was positive, and happy, and I could just imagine that kitty swinging in the breeze and "Hanging in there!"
For a moment I thought that I should hang in there! Yes! I'll just hold on and things will get better. Well, I am not saying that there isn't merit in holding the coarse. In fact, I have a good pastor friend who passed on some great advice his pastor friend told him. He said, "Debbie, my friend told me to outlive your problems." I think that kitty may be onto something in that situation, but I started thinking... maybe sometimes... more than we care to admit... the kitty cat just might be wrong!
What if, we aren't meant to hold on at times? What if holding on is what stops us from being who we can be through and for Christ? Let me give you an example. Let's say Sally leaves your church, and you are heartbroken. After all, she sang, cared for the children, and set out the donuts every Sunday (no wonder she left)! Do you think God is up in heaven going, "Oh no! Sally left because we added a ________________ (you fill in the blank... a service... a drummer... whatever)! How will we ever go on?!!" It sounds silly doesn't it? Nothing surprises God and yet that is what we do. We tie a big knot and hold onto our fears or our desire for it to stay the same and not have the boat rocked. I believe, we should say,"Praise God it is not the same! I praise you Father that it will be different because you are in charge (not Sally), and you always answer where you lead!"
Perhaps that kitty might be right in our personal lives at times. Like when it is ten minutes before you need to leave and your teenager tells you everyone is wearing a red shirt to the event that night and her red shirt is in the dirty laundry! Maybe you should tie a big old knot and not 'loose it'! Hold on mom! This too shall pass and you don't have to yell!
Maybe other times that kitty gets it wrong. Like when God tells you... you know in that quiet still voice that He has... that plays like a song over and over again in your mind and soul... to do something so amazing that you wonder how or why He would ever ask such a BIG THING from such a small one as you? AND you feel that if you tell someone where God is leading you it will seem, to them, the equivalent of writing poetry, in space, during a meteor shower! (Do it anyway!) Maybe that is when we need to untie that knot, and let go. Perhaps we need to untie that knot more than we realize everyday because when we hold onto that knot we stop God from taking us to where He would have us. When we let go we begin to understand that it is God's breath making the rope swing; and it is His breath that will carry us to do more, and be more than we could ever imagine.
I have a friend who is a pastor's wife. She and her husband started a church here in San Marcos and felt lead many years later to join Campus Crusade. They are doing a new work for that ministry. They are my age and in order for them to do this they, and their daughter, sold their home this past year. They work small jobs, raise support, and are working toward being fully funded to do this ministry full time. Why? Because they listened to God. Since they untied that knot, God has provided homes to live in, and small jobs to fill in life needs, and He has met needs at every turn. Oh they are "Hanging in there", but not in a Kitty Cat kind of a way. They are hanging in a "God we choose to follow you, and obey where you lead" kind of way.
When things get stressful, I will probably still think of that kitty cat from time to time. Yet, I think from now on, I will think of my friends who untied their knot. Where do you go when you untie that knot? ANSWER: Just where God would have you.

Hebrews 11:6 Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who truly want to find Him." (NCV)