Guest Post: The Times I Break

Guest Post: The Times I Break

Meet Amy, our February Guest!!!

“Chronic illness almost always hits without warning. No age restrictions. No definitive directions included. Life sometimes seems almost like a game and we’re all handed different’s what we decide to do with them that determines who we are and how we handle life. Thank you for taking a few moments to read what God has done in my life so far! I hope it blesses you and helps you with whatever you’re going through.”

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Journey with Jen: Momma Tried

Journey with Jen: Momma Tried

Mother’s Day is upon us and often times it gets us thinking about what our mother’s have taught us. This month, Journey with Jen as she revisits 15 things she learned from her mom.

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Journey with Jen: Dry Bones

Journey with Jen: Dry Bones

I am beyond blessed to share with you this incredible woman who is living out the example of a beautiful warrior.  Jen Shultz is joining our website to contribute nuggets of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement, so LOOK BACK for more from "Journey with Jen"!  Here is her very first post!  Enjoy soaking up this deeply personal post full of goodness for your heart today.

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Big People Get Scared Too

Big People Get Scared Too


Do reports of bad news sit heavily on your mind? Do current social circumstances weigh on your heart?  Do you you feel anxiety over what may happen and anticipate worst-case scenarios?  

I encourage you to read this week's post on how to overcome fears when we big people get scared too.  

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Just Forget It

When we built our house in 2001, we chose to complete the room over the garage. It has served several purposes over the years. At first, it was somewhat of an office, with our inherited-from-my-parents, thirty-year-old, rinky-dink desk where our computer set along with our printer. We also kept our first set of living room furniture up there; two recliners and a sofa to relax along with our treadmill and weights to exercise. As the kids continued coming along, the area transitioned into a much-needed playroom. In such time, the playroom has been forfeited to become a bedroom, giving each child their own space. Stay in one place long enough and you’ll see the scenery change time and time again. Something similar happens to us in our walk with the Lord. We develop and change as He uses us for His effectiveness.

That’s one reason we make goals for each New Year, isn’t it? We want to be a little different than we were the year before. We want to demonstrate growth in our character and spiritual maturity. Not that we weren’t fabulous and wonderful last year, but God’s picture of fabulous and wonderful may look a little different for us this year. Remember the office turned playroom turned bedroom? Same wonderful room. Different fabulous function.

Let’s talk about those goals. In nursing, we make goals each and every shift. Those goals are specific and measurable. For instance, if our goal is improved gas exchange, we will measure the outcome based on three “as evidenced by,” like decreased work of breathing, improved blood gases, and decreased need for supplemental oxygen. This approach to setting goals can definitely be beneficial for our personal lives as well.

Stepping into the New Year, each individual person in our home set the following goals for themselves:

Educational Physical Spiritual Financial- a giving goal, a saving goal and a purchasing goal

These goals, and how we measure the goal, looks different for each of us, from the six-year-old, to the nine-year-old, to the twelve-year-old, to the nearly fifteen-year-old, on up to the mom and dad. Nevertheless, we each have our goals written out with our game plan to attain them for one another to see.

Here are a couple benefits to writing them:

--keeps us on track --keeps us accountable

Our Pastor use to say, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Proverbs 29:18 informs us having vision, divine guidance, and revelation keeps us disciplined, in return, bringing wisdom, joy, and happiness. *see translations: NLT, NIV, ESV, KJV

So, if we understand the benefit of setting goals and having vision, why do we have such difficulty following through with our goals?

I suppose there are more reasons than one blog post could contain, at least there are for me. But if I may share a piece of my heart with you today, as we dive into that question, and continue on with the topic again in another post (because again, that question is too deep for one post).

Maybe you identify with lack of focus; lack of self-discipline; a negative mind-set. Those are all detrimental to achieving goals. Another vision killer is feeling overwhelmed. The task seems too big, you don’t know where to begin, you feel ill-equipped for the dream. So what happens, you may be familiar with the phrase, “just forget it!

I’ve seen it. Remember the playroom? The space provided such fun and creativity, such joy and a level of carelessness….for a time. It’d all come crashing in when I’d holler, “It’s time to pick up!” I believe the kids wanted to pick up and put things away in an admirably orderly fashion, however, when every toy is on the floor, they just didn’t know where to start. It’s that whole, “how do you eat an elephant?” kind of question (which by the way, always grosses me out, I mean, who would even think about eating an elephant?).

You know how to pick up a crazy mess of a playroom, just like you know the answer to that icky elephant question. One toy at a time. (Or one bite at a time, if you choose to go that route).

I wrote down some crazy big dreams this year. And let me tell you, they scare me. I’m so afraid of failing or disappointing (my family, my Lord, and really myself too) that I almost didn’t even want to write them down. But it’s one toy at a time. And if I get close, it’ll be that much closer and I’ll be that much more of who He wants me to be than I was on 12/31/2015, because by writing them down I’m exercising obedience and trust in Him. Aim for something with me, even if you don’t hit the target, you’ll get closer than you were before.

That room over the garage is close to a studio apartment for the kiddo who calls it, “my room.” The other kids have vision for the room too though; a vision that includes a ping-pong or pool table when the room is one day vacated. That growing-closer-by-the-year event is one Dad and I don’t want to envision yet.   Nevertheless, whatever the future holds, we’ll have a room over the garage, and it’ll be used. It’ll be the same room with a potentially different use, effectively illustrating our heart’s desire for the Lord to continue doing the same with us.

Hebrews 13:21 NLT may He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you,through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen.

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Inspiring Joy

Have you ever heard someone laughing and, without even knowing what was being laughed about, you started laughing too? I have. The sound of laughter is downright funny. It’s a pleasant sound, an amusing emotion and is instantly contagious. There is one whose sound of laughter tickles me more than any I’ve ever heard--- it’s my mom’s laughter. My mom doesn’t let an opportunity for laughing pass her by. She will belt out a hearty laugh even if it’s not really that funny. Hearing her prompts an instinctive reaction in myself. I’m going to laugh whether I intend to or not. I’ll find myself questioning, “Why am I laughing? It wasn’t funny.”


It’s more than laughter. It’s inspiration.

It’s a trait I’ve hoped to express in my own life. A couple weeks ago I received a great compliment when we were at the soccer fields for a tournament with our oldest son Jaron. Getting our tails whipped on a muddy field, my cheers were laden with positive reinforcement. As with previous posts, I’m not a sports guru, but I don’t believe we “kick ‘em while they’re down.” That was when Brooklyn leaned over to me and said, “Mom, you know that character ‘Joy’ on the new Disney movie ‘Inside Out’?” I answered,“Yes,” because I’ve watched some trailers and we can’t wait to see it on its June 19th release date, which so happens to be Brandon and my 16th Anniversary; what a perfect way to celebrate. Brooklyn continues, “Well, while everyone has a ‘Joy’ in their head, I think your ‘Joy’ character is REALLY, REALLY BIG!"


It was one of the greatest compliments I could have received from one who has observed me, studied me, and sometimes imitated me since she entered this world; my daughter. And it was a compliment that complimented the one who I have observed, studied and even imitated since I entered this world; my Mom.

My Mom’s laughter is a battle cry, an anthem to her God and a signal to the enemy that she is victorious, she is an overcomer, and not only has she won, but she still has what many people lose in a battle, her joy. My Mom’s joy is a reflection of her relationship with God.

Philippians 4:4  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Always? It couldn’t really mean “always,” right?

תמיד, tamid, prounounced taw-meed, the Hebrew word for always, meaning constantly, ever, continually.

Could it happen? Is it true? How can it be?

My mom’s anthem goes something like this:

Susan Cochrane arrived to the scene of a tragic motorcycle accident. Her nine year-old son’s lifeless body covered on that nearby country road. When shock would overwhelm the mind to function, she surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit Who gave her the strength to crawl into a helicopter with the burned and injured body of her daughter.

Susan Cochrane endured the unknowns of her seven year-old daughter’s injuries sustained from that accident; would she live; would she walk; would she have quality of life?

Susan Cochrane spent her life visiting doctors and therapists for her daughter’s rehabilitation, followed by visits for the care of her husband’s ailing body, as affected by diabetes and heart failure.

Susan Cochrane stood at yet another grave near her son’s, seventeen years later, burying her husband.

A widow at fifty-three, she experienced what it was, for the very first time in her life, to live alone. Even with the death of my brother, my Mom had had my Dad to crawl in bed and grieve together. Losing Dad provided solitude she was not accustomed to, nor desired.

Heartache. Grief. Emptiness. Desperation. Loneliness.

However, joy not sacrificed.

My Mom is one of the most optimistic, upbeat, enthusiastic, look-for-the-good, and hopeful people I know. And she’s my Mom! How incredibly awesome is that?! Not only do I know her, but I’m related to her, and I’m an heir to the greatest asset she could impart—her joy.


You may be reading this and thinking, “That is so special. I am so happy for you. God knew you needed that influence in your life for what life held for you, but I came from a bunch of negative nellies and I’m just inclined to think pessimistically.”

I’ve heard it said, “You can’t give what you don’t possess.” The Word tells us we all can live a life of joy! It’s a choice to tap into the abundant resources the Lord provides to us. Even better, it’s not contingent upon our circumstances. Being glad, having joy, living in peace are by-products of following the Lord and trusting in Him.

What a blessing I count it that I have had the privilege of seeing such joy lived before me, but if you haven’t, I pray my Mom’s Inspiring Joy, inspires you to live an inspiring life for all whom your life touches.


Romans 15:13  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 8:32  “And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.

Proverbs 16:20  Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.

2 Corinthians 6:10  Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

2 Corinthians 13:11  Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 5:22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Zephaniah 3:17  For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Colossians 1:11  We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

1 Peter 1:6  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

Philemon 1:7  Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

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Inspiring Change

“I can’t feel my legs! I can’t feel my legs!”  It was Olaf’s sentiments after falling down a mountain on a pillow of snow, although we know they weren’t his legs.  It was also my sentiments after cracking down on these few extra winter pounds.  I’m not talking major body transformation.  I’m talking about a little more than the treadmill routine after those snow days that the kids and I ate cookie dough and then warm-right-out-of-the-oven cookies, or those brownie’s for Sunday night’s Once Upon a Time, and that little dish of ice cream before bed some evenings. Oh how quickly those habits make the jeans a little snug! From my experiences of battling with the scale, I resorted to giving myself a weight range. It’s my healthy place. I set a four-pound fluctuation zone. This allows me some room to enjoy my little indulgences. And it keeps that dreaded basic bathroom piece out of the equation….the mirror. We can’t always trust the reflection we see there. I remember; those days when I was burying my insecurities and fears in a banana split and then hugging the toilet till I had purged all remaining content. Having this distorted perception that if I could be thin enough, I’d compensate for the ugliness of the scars.

How ever did I overcome that darkness? The most important component to my healing was my greater desperation for God. Every time I lay in the floor cramping from an overdose of laxatives or my throat burning from vomiting every nutritious item, or contending the voices of what I’d allow myself to eat after denying myself reasonable food; I would cry out to God. I asked so many questions. And in every moment I knew He was with me. Then I had some mentors, who I will share in a future post, speaking His Word, praying with me and helping me to redirect into a healthy lifestyle. Finally, I got professional help. Yes, I write that with a little humor, but in all seriousness, it was an imperative element to my road of healing.

For these reasons, it is important for me to be mindful not to go under, nor to go over that four-pound weight range. It can be my slippery slope, which takes me back to the challenge, “How thin can I get?” And this isn’t about a number; it’s about being healthy.

And this is why I want to introduce a woman dear to my heart. She is the face behind If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I’d have ever had the courage to get off the ground in this endeavor of writing.

I met Rhonda Lawes in August 2010. I wasn’t sure we’d know each other very long. I was in her Pharmacology class at The University of Oklahoma. Each day I prayed God would provide for me to be successful. Her class was by far the most challenging I have ever taken.

When reviewing our results after our first exam, I didn’t anticipate the highest grade, but with the notes I had taken and the amount of time I had studied, I expected a decent grade. You can imagine my disbelief when I saw a “72.” Professor Lawes didn’t know me well, but she read me like a book. I was barely holding the tears back. She encouraged, “Remember, this is the first test you’ve ever taken in nursing school. It’s different. Don’t judge your success on this first test.” Because of my grade, I was required to have a one-on-one meeting with her. The result of that meeting was a broader view, a different approach and ultimately a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

I took away far more than a nursing degree. I stepped away with a woman who would become my mentor and my friend.

Shortly before graduation, Rhonda spoke into me with one question, “Have you ever thought about starting a blog?” I brushed it off almost as quickly as she asked. She nudged, “Well, pray about it. Take a few months to write and see what you come up with.”

Nine months later she came to my house and introduced me to this new world of reaching people by setting up

Rhonda was instrumental in my transformation from student to nurse. But she didn’t stop there. She continues still, investing into my life, challenging and sharpening me in areas I thought were incidental, but she identified as God given gifts, speaking and writing.


To watch her is to be impressed. She’s one of the most brilliant people, a published writer, a passionate professor, and still a learner, continuing on in her own studies to attain her doctorate degree. She’s even more compassionate. To know her is to love her as she genuinely cares and connects with students, patients and the numerous audiences she presents to. Not to mention, her outgoing personality, which blows all other characteristics out of the water. People love to be around her!

There’s so much to Rhonda Lawes.

Her latest journey touches my heart and inspires me to be a better me. And it’s not only her success that’s so inspiring, but that it’s another avenue for her to help others.

Rhonda had a similar battle with the scale. Some people would put our experiences in different categories, but they’re not. Both come from a place of desperation. Both are crying for help. Rhonda gathered the courage and changed her life.

“I’ll give this one more try. If this doesn’t work I’m just going to buy a bigger coffin. I can’t take one more failure,” were the words she shared with me after she set out on her journey. The example of strength was given the day she walked into the gym and hired a trainer. She had a ruthless pursuit for change, not just in the physical form but beneath the surface, desiring mental training too.

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 11.32.48 PM

Talk about brave! This woman faced every insecurity, every potential for failure, every ounce of doubt, every instance of comparison, and she did it again and again and again!

Less than a year down the road, my amazing friend has dropped over ten sizes. She’s broke through the walls, like the one she hit nine months in at 100 pounds lost. Her training is lifestyle now. Real change; down a total of 130 pounds since she started. In the process of transforming her look into a picture of health and strength, her spirit has grown even stronger!

Every chance I get to spend with Rhonda Lawes leaves me feeling sharpened spiritually and intellectually.

I am inspired by her discipline, courage, strength and compassion, and I pray you are too!

I Timothy 4:8 NIV 

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.


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Happy Nurse's Day

Nurses_Have_HeartNine years ago I felt the Lord stirring my heart.  I continually said, “I know He wants me to do something that I’m not doing right now.  I just don’t know what it is.”  For some reason, I visited the OU College of Nursing website and printed some information on the program.  One day at work I told my Dad, “I think God may be calling me to be a nurse.”  My Dad’s response was, “Why would He do that?”  I had a great set up.  I never had to leave Brooklyn who was three and Jaron who was just three months; I either took them to work with me, or worked after they went to bed.  I had fabulous benefits, a secure income and flexibility.  What more could I ask for?  But there was a lot to ask, because life would drastically change in the next year a half.  My Dad died suddenly on the morning of August 29th 2005.  At the time, I was in the burn center recovering from another round of releases and skin grafts.  That night, I lay in my hospital bed and I said, “I’m going to nursing school.” I could have never anticipated everything the Lord had in store for me when I finally had the opportunity to begin that journey in the fall of 2010.  I only applied to one program and that was none other than the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing.  I’ll never forget getting my letter in the mail April of 2010.  I waited for my husband to get home, which added to my Mom’s anxiety.  We all sat in our living room and I gave Brooklyn the envelope and asked her to open it and read it.  She was 9 years old.  Brooklyn started at the very top, “Heather Renee Meadows 37531 East…”  We all interrupted her and told her to skip down a little. After she read, “we are pleased to inform you,” that was it.  We all erupted in cries of celebration.

That summer of 2010, my dear friend Heather and I rode to the school and tried on scrubs. We had a glorious time.  Then when classes began, it was nothing less than a whirlwind.  Those two years in that program were some of the best in my life, but the hardest, most challenging too.  I never spent a day there that I didn’t feel privileged to be a part of it all.


My very first day of class I met a woman who had a contagious enthusiasm for nursing.  She intimidated me, but intrigued me.  She challenged me, but cheered for me.  She was the champion of her students.  Our time together in Clinical I and II set an unshakeable foundation for me and an unwavering passion for this profession of nursing.  On graduation she gave us a key chain that had a phrase she spoke into us every moment she could.  It said, “Remember, You Need a Nurse to Save Your Life! Love Mrs. B-Dub

A year ago, I had the honor to receive my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma.  My entire family worked for that accomplishment and they carry pride in what I do with my life each day I go to work. My inspiration comes from so many.  Like my nurse Lois, who cared for me in the burn center 25 years ago and then traveled from Florida to watch me walk that stage. She understood me and calmed me those times I was intubated when I tried to speak. Kelly who was there to see me at Pinning gave care that was always loving, even though it couldn’t be delicate.  Vicki came for my graduation party and she was with me long ago on a night I nearly lost my right leg from a clot after open heart surgery.


Then I have my neonatal experiences.  Our second visit to the NICU in July 2009 we had Noreen.  She connected with me as a mother.  She simply wrote her name on the board and identified with my need for a list.  She wrote out the goals my little Gavin needed to reach before we could expect to take him home.  Noreen gave me security by acknowledging my instinctive nature and drive to care for my baby, and she let me do that in any way that I possibly could.  I relinquished control to her because I trusted her.


Stepping into my role as a neonatal nurse, I have developed endless amounts of admiration for my co-workers.  It began with Donna, my preceptor during my nurse externship in July 2011.  She was a natural teacher and her demeanor was a magnificent blessing to me.  Last summer in 2012, I spent ten weeks being oriented for my job with Carrie.  She was quick, organized, and calm.  She just knew how to get things done and the best way to do it.

As we celebrate Nurse’s Day, I have to pay tribute to these amazing nurses.  Nursing is love.  I can’t imagine a greater way of touching someone’s life than in their time of need.  It’d be impossible to remember every patient, but every patient may remember what a fabulous nurse you were to them—I sure do!

I Peter 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

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25 Years Later

When I Google “anniversary” beaucoups of definitions pop up; like, “the annually recurring date of a past event, especially one of historical, national, or personal importance.” Anniversaries roll around causing recollection of the day’s events.  It’s one of the things that make wedding anniversaries so special. Today marks the 25th anniversary of a past event of personal importance.  This day never rolls around without some recollection of events, but this year is a milestone, this year, my mind is being flooded with memories both tragic and uplifting.

I’m remembering that beautiful spring day, April 27th 1988.  I remember the sun shining. Records indicate that the high was 75 degrees with winds at only 5 miles per hour.  My brother Jon and I got off the bus that afternoon and I’m sure did our little chore list that my Mom had on the fridge.  Although it doesn’t stand out in my mind, I’m sure we did them, as was routine for our after school activities.  What I do remember is putting on my play clothes; my shorts and t-shirt and those ever so popular 1980s jelly shoes.  I loved mine, and had them in a few different colors.

I remember Jon and me standing in front of the shed behind my Grandma’s house.  The driveway beside our house wrapped around the back of my Grandma’s and there was a shed and storm cellar right behind her house.  Jon filled up our blue two-wheeler motorcycle and then we proceeded with our plan to visit our friend’s house.  We anticipated no harm on our nearly 3 mile ride away.  We felt so big to see our friends on our own will and at our own convenience. After some time, Jon said it was time to go and we swung our legs over that bike, revved it up, and headed back home.

On that country dirt road there was a factor present which was not present before.  The travel back coincided with travelers returning home from work for the day.  Jon pulled out onto the road behind a small red truck.  The dust stirred up from the truck made it so difficult to see.  My arms were wrapped tightly around Jon’s waist and I turned my head to my right, attempting to avoid the dust that stung my eyes.

It was such a challenge to see.  No goggles.  No helmets.  We were just two children, innocent to the danger that surrounded us.  Jon swerved to the left and all life changed forever.  We hit an oncoming truck.  Jon was killed.  The bike went under the truck.  A fire ignited.

I remember lying in the ditch as flames engulfed me.  I don’t remember pain from my body being on fire.  What I remember is the blur in the flames.  It distracts me to this day when I become mesmerized by the bright colorful light fires produce.  I remember my face feeling unbearably hot.  And I remember someone grabbing me under my armpits from behind and dragging me out of the fire.  That man was my first hero.  That man was the first person who took action to save my life.  It just so happened to be the man we hit.

For the memories being so choppy, I still have a bank of them.  I don’t remember the helicopter ride to the hospital, but I do remember telling my Mom that I wanted to go home.  I remember feeling that if I could just get home that it would all be okay.  She told me that we were going to see the doctor and then we would.

I remember being in a tiny room in the Alexander Burn Center at Hillcrest with a multitude of stuffed animals and posters around me.  Someone put a turquoise My Little Pony on the far left shelf for me.  Those little tokens were a small part of the many gifts I received from my injury.  Yes.  I said gifts.  And the greatest of those were the intangible kind.

Something about tragedy brings out the purest, most kind parts of people. For instance, my Dad’s brother stood on the left side of my bed and promised to take me on a camping trip when I got better.  He made good on that promise.  I remember that big red heat lamp being positioned over my bed in ICU and one of my doctors, on a few different occasions, holding my hand through those excruciating bandage changes.  I remember my brother, Barry and his friend, Chris coming to watch Wheel of Fortune with me.  I remember Barry bringing the entire collection of Alf dolls that Burger King featured.  I remember my friend Brad coming to visit me in ICU.  Brad was our neighbor, and like a brother to me, even more so after I returned home from the hospital.  He had his head shaved to match mine on that visit to the burn center.  He was the only kid allowed to come see me while in ICU and it was perhaps the greatest gift the staff could have given me.  His small amount of time with me reconnected me to who I was—a kid.

So many times I am asked if I remember that day.  Oh how I remember that day and many others.  But I wouldn’t change that.  I wouldn’t want to forget.  If I forgot how bad it was, then I’d lose sight of how great God is.

Memories can be painful, but comforting as well.  We can’t appreciate where we are if we don’t remember where we were.

O Lord, I will honor and praise Your name, for You are my God.  You do such wonderful things!  You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them. Isaiah 25:1 (NLT)











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