I Forgive You!

Is it possible to remember and forget at the same time? Yes, God does that!

He never forgets us.

“See, I have engraved you on The Palms of My Hands; your walls are ever before Me.”
Isaiah 49:16

Does God forget anything? Yes, He does.

When we repent and ask for His Forgiveness, He forgives us and forgets our sins.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 8:12

There’s just one “catch.” If we want to receive the Joy of God’s Forgiveness, we must forgive those who have hurt us.

Jesus was very clear.

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:15

Sometimes we attempt to heal old wounds by trying to forget the ones who hurt us. However we find that difficult to do. They are a real part of our history. To eliminate them would be eliminating a part of ourselves.

What if we forgave like God does? What if we made a conscious effort to remember those who hurt us?

See them for a moment, as you may have held them in your memory, chained to their sins.

If you could release them, would you? Or is it possible, you have become the prosecuting attorney, judge, jury and prison warden, who would never consider releasing them for they did to you?

The sobering question is not how much they sinned, but rather how much have we sinned in not releasing them?

But wait, you might say, you don’t understand what they did to me. They never said they were sorry. They never asked my forgiveness.

The ones who were crucifying Jesus did not ask forgiveness from God or Jesus. Yet, even as they continued to sin and hurt Jesus, He said,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

Did they really not know what they were doing? Their actions seemed deliberately focused on causing pain and death. Yet Jesus saw them, not as the sum of their actions, but as the sum of all God created them to be.

Forgiving as Jesus did means forgiving while being hurt. Sometimes it involves forgiving long after we are hurt.

Forgiving as Jesus did means being willing to see the other person at their best, not at their worst.

Forgiving is an act of faith by which spiritually, (not physically) we bring someone else to God’s Throne of Grace, and pray they will seek God’s Forgiveness, not ours.

We sacrifice our desire for an apology. We commute the sentence of how much hard labor they will have to do to pay for their sins against us. And finally we pardon them completely, trusting God to restore them to all He created them to be.

Grace is a Gift of God that comes both to us and through us. As God does with us, we can remember the one He created. And with God’s help, we can forget their sins.

“It does not depend, therefore, on human desire or effort, but on God’s Mercy.”
Romans 6:19

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17

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What Jesus Wants You To Know

We often read The Bible like it is a book about other people. We miss that what is being said is also being said directly to us.

God’s Word does not change with time, place or person. If He ever said something to someone, He is also saying it now to each of us.

“I am The Lord, I do not change.”
Malachi 3:6

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

Pull up a chair. Jesus is talking directly to you right now.
I am The Alpha and The Omega, The First and The Last, The Beginning and The End.
Revelation 22:13

I am in My Father, and you are in Me and I am in you.
John 14:20

And surely I am with you always.
Matthew 28:20

You will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.
John 14:19

I want you to be with Me where I am, and to see My Glory.
John 17:24

I am preparing a place for you. I will take you to be with Me where I am.
John 14:3

Anyone who loves Me will obey My Commandments. My Father will love you and We will come to you and make our home with you.
John 14:23

I am The Way and The Truth and The Life.
John 14:6

I have come that you may have Life and have it to the full.
John 10:10

I am telling you this so that My Joy may be in you, and that your Joy may be complete.
John 15:11

I am telling you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

You are blessed when you are merciful. Then you will be shown Mercy.
Matthew 5:7

If you forgive others, My Father will forgive you.
Matthew 6:14

When My Father forgives your sins, He forgets them.
Hebrews 8:12

I don’t condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.
John 8:11

If you do not forgive others, My Father will not forgive you.
Matthew 6:15

I love you. Love one another, as I love you.
John 13:34

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What Jesus Didn’t Say

If someone is speaking for you, you want them to say what you would say.

Jesus spoke for His Father God. He explained how that worked.

“I have not spoken on My Own. Instead The Father Who sent Me told Me what I should say and how I should say it.”
John 12:49

As Jesus’ Followers, He is depending on us to say exactly what He says. For those who choose to go off on their own and just say what seems right to them, Jesus gives this very sobering admonition.

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on judgement day for every empty word they have spoken.”
Matthew 12:36

I have to repent on a regular basis for words I have spoken that were not Jesus’ Words. When you speak, do your words line up with what Jesus says? Or are your words …

What Jesus never said

I’m sick.

I’m tired.

I can’t do this anymore. I quit.

I want to make more money so I can buy more things.

I want to win and therefore I want you to lose.

It’s every man and woman for themselves.

When I’m sleeping, don’t wake Me up.

Don’t interrupt Me when I’m already doing something.

Just do what I tell you to do. Don’t ask questions.

Don’t expect Me to wait on you.

I don’t know what to do.

Why is this happening to Me?

This isn’t fair.

I’m hurt.

You hurt Me.

Why are you treating Me this way?

It’s My right to do what I want.

I condemn you. I’m better than you.

I am the only one God talks to.

I don’t like you.

I hate you.

I can’t trust you.

You are too demanding. I can’t meet all your needs.

You’re an #&@#.

An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.

Go to hell.

I’m never speaking to you again.

I’m cutting you out of My Will.

You say that you don’t know Me? Well, right back at you. You are dead to Me.

You made your bed. Now lie in it.

I might forgive you eventually, but I tell you one thing, I’ll never forget what you did.

This is just like the time you did the other things I’ll never forget.

You’ll never change. Once a thief, always a thief.

I’m going home now. You’re on your own until I get back.

 

Take a few minutes to reflect on the things Jesus didn’t say. If you find you have spoken on your own instead of speaking His Truth, spend some time in repentance and receive His Forgiveness.

Besides getting back on track, it will save you a lot of time on Judgement Day! When God forgives, He forgets the sin and no longer holds it against you.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrews 8:12

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your Sight, O Lord My Strength and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14

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What’s That Smell?

What is your favorite smell? When you think of the smell, does a memory come to mind?

I have a favorite place to sit and contemplate life. I like to sit in a swing on our covered patio.

From there I can look over our back yard and then across the fence to a beautiful, lush pasture. Horses graze there.

Today sunshine and a gentle breeze made it even more of a delight. The breeze brought the fragrant smell of the blossoms of our Sweet Bay Magnolia.

Its smell brought to mind another of my favorite smells from the past. When I was growing up, there was a banana shrub right outside the window of my room.

Frequently we had all the windows open in the spring. I would lie across my bed, read and enjoy the fragrance from outside.

After I left home, I always looked forward to returning in the spring. When I first got out of the car, even before my parents’ welcoming hug, I would smell that wonderful scent. It was as if that tree was welcoming me home.

God created every part of our bodies in unique ways … and always as a Part of His Masterful Plan. This is especially evident in the way our brains are created.

God connected our sense of smell with our memories. Smells get routed through a part of the brain that analyzes the smell. That part of the brain is closely connected to the part of the brain that handles emotion and memory.

There is a very important connection between Jesus and a fragrance. John 12:3 records what happened about a week before Jesus’ Crucifixion.

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ Feet and wiped His Feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

When Judas objected to what he saw as a waste of what could have been sold for money, Jesus said,

“It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
John 12:7

It was not yet the day of Jesus’ Burial. But it is likely the smell was so strong, it lasted on through His Burial. If that is the case, everyone who came in contact with Him over the next week would have been exposed to the smell of that sweet perfume.

And it would have been linked into their memory. From that day forward, every time they remembered Jesus, the smell would come to mind. Every time they smelled that smell or something similar, they would think of Jesus.

When anyone opens their heart to Jesus, the sweet smells of Heaven pour forth. And even when hearts are still closed, His Fragrance fills the air.

Close your eyes and breathe in His Presence. Know that you carry His Fragrance with you wherever you go.

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
2 Corinthians 2:15

“Follow God’s Example, therefore as dearly loved children and walk in the way of Love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and Sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:1-2

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Beyond The Sunset …

In the fall of 1997, my parents were in a car accident.  My mother spent a couple of months in the hospital, never able to return to her earthly home. 

My husband and I had planned to go on a cruise to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary.  We were going to cancel it. 

However, my mother was insistent that we go.  In fact, she was so insistent she told everyone from family to friends to her doctor that we “had to go on that cruise.”

As Mother’s condition continued to deteriorate I was doubtful it was the right thing. However, she continued to insist. When I asked her doctor, he said, “It seems pretty important to her. Maybe she wants you to go and take pictures to add to both your memories.”

So, on October 12, 1997, my husband and I set out on our maiden voyage.

It was described by some of the seasoned cruise staff as the worst turbulence they had experienced in years of sailing. 

As soon as we left port, the ship began to toss and turn and tilt from side to side.  Everyone held on to anything they could find in an effort to regain stability.

Finally, we decided we might fare better if we went up on deck and tried to visually equilibrate with the horizon.  It seemed to work. 

As we stared into the heavens, the sea seemed calm.  In fact, it was no different, but our focus was different.
Now that God had our attention, He outdid Himself with artistry. 

He painted one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen.  We spent some time on deck, just admiring His work before we went back inside to attempt supper.  My husband took a picture of me with the sun going down behind me.  

Later that evening, we received the call that my mother had passed into Glory earlier.  I was stunned.  At that time, my only comfort was that I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I was where she wanted me to be.  But I did not know why.
 
Weeks later, God revealed the first clue.  My nephew had been present at the hospital at the time of my mother’s death.  He had been asked to step out of my mother’s room for the nurses to care for her.  He had done so. 

Before the nurses came in, my mother quietly left for Glory.  He was concerned that had he remained, she might have remained.

I assured him that my mother, being the lady she was, would never have left while he was there.  She would have considered it rude! 

And besides, I wrote him,  I believed God’s Glory came and filled her room. It was a private, intimate moment, just for God and my mother to share.

I stopped in mid-sentence and thought, “Wow Lord, it must have been been wonderful to see Your Glory!”  At that moment, I heard Him say in my spirit, “You did.  Your Mother and I arranged it!”

Suddenly I thought of the sunset.  I asked my husband when he had taken that picture.  He replied that it was easy to remember, since it was just before we went inside for supper.  The sunset occurred at the very time of my mother’s death!

I now knew with absolute certainty that I had been sent to that place in time to have a front row seat to His Glory!  But God had more to reveal.
 
While I was reflecting on the wonder of the time of the sunset, God brought to mind a memory from the past. 

As I was studying the pictures of the sunset … for just a moment, I moved back in time to high school.  In my English class, we received points for every poem we memorized.  Mother loved poetry and eagerly helped me select poems to memorize.

We both searched through books of poetry.  As I remembered, it seemed I could still hear her voice, her words spoken with enthusiasm. 

“Why don’t you memorize this one?  I just love this one.  It’s got such a good message.  It would be a good one to remember always.”

So I memorized “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson … without knowing that God had planted seeds… and that many years from that moment, those seeds would sprout into a beautiful sunset on a turbulent ocean, within moments of my Mother’s ascension into Glory.

God allowed me to remember that poem with a new understanding.

Sunset and evening star,
and one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

The bar is that point in the water when the currents are stirred up the most by the force of the waters from the sea and the movement from closer the land colliding.  We had indeed been present at the crossing of the bar!

Lessons
God’s timing is perfect.

God lets us see His Glory.

God’s Words transcend time and space.

When the sun sets in one place, it rises in another.

“A person may plan his own journey, but The Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

“Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning!”
Psalm 30:5

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I Could Never Forget You!

My parents both enjoyed their memories. Their assignments on earth were long, each living into their 90s.

My mother once ended up in the hospital for a prolonged stay after a fractured pelvis. The nurses asked her if she wanted them to turn on the tv to break the boredom. She declined, saying, “No, I’m just lying here enjoying my memories.”

She told me, “Memories are such a gift. I pray I’ll always have my good mind to enjoy my memories.”

In the fall of 1997, my parents were in an car accident.  My mother spent a couple of months in the hospital, never able to return to her earthly home. 

We, her family, kept an anxious vigil at her bedside, at the peak of the crisis.

The day I was to return home (I lived in another state), Mother was a little confused because of an electrolyte imbalance.  Just before I had to leave, the doctor came in.  He asked the usual questions to determine her mental status. 

He asked her if she knew her name, where she was, etc. Then he pointed to me and said, “Do you know who she is?” 

My mother smiled the smile I loved so much — the one that seemed to just open the floodgates of Love.  And then she said,  “Of course, I know her.”

She grabbed my hand, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Carolyn, I could never forget you.  I love you so much.”  And then she fell asleep.

That was the last time I saw my mother in her earthly body.  Her Benediction is a Gift I treasure. 

She is a part of me. I feel her continued love as a member of that “great cloud of witnesses” who watch over me every day.

Lessons
Know that today’s moments are tomorrow’s treasure of memories.

Live life to the full and make some glorious memories.

Turn off your tv and electronic devices and spend some time enjoying your memories.

When it is time to sort out your memories, may you always remember those you love.

If you love someone, tell them now. Love is a treasure, no matter whether it is enjoyed now or as an enduring memory.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”
Philippians 1:3

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Finding Joy And Passing It On!

My mother was a teacher, by educational preparation, but more importantly by God’s Calling.

She came to a small South Carolina town for her first teaching job. It was there she met my father.

Her dedication to her profession was evident to him from the beginning. He said the only way she would go out with him was if he helped her grade papers after they got back from their date!

She quietly did her job, never knowing what a great impact she had on the lives of others. At the time of her promotion to Heaven, many came forward and expressed how she had taught them much more than their school lessons. She had taught them life lessons.

I met an elderly man at the nursing home where my father lived after my mother’s death. When he discovered who my mother was, his eyes lit up.

“Oh Carolyn,” he said. “Your Mama was pure gold. I was so hard to learn, I wanted to quit. But Miss Pearl was not having it. She told me I could learn and she made me believe it. By the time she got through with me, I thought I could do anything!”

He paused and reflected on his life. “Every time I got to some place in life where I wanted to give up, I’d think of Miss Pearl telling me I could do it, and I’d give it another try. And it worked. I’ve had a good life.

“Everyone needs someone to believe in them. Do you know what I mean?”

I did! Mother never let me give up. I so looked forward to first grade. I got a new dress, new shoes and a book bag. I was so excited the night before the big day I could hardly sleep.

But early that morning, the school principal called and said I could not come because my birthday was not quite soon enough to qualify. I missed the cutoff by a matter of days.

I was devastated. In retrospect, I realize my mother was disappointed too. But she refused to be defeated or to allow me to be defeated.

She had quit teaching in order to be a “stay at home” wife and mother. However, that day she returned to the classroom. As I sat sobbing at the kitchen table, she only took a moment to think.

Then she said with great resolution, “Get out your pencil and paper. I will be your teacher. We’ll have school right here.” And we did!

For that year, we had class, lunch and recess every weekday. It was true homeschooling, before it was in vogue. When I started formal school the following year, I was so far ahead of all my classmates, the school considered letting me skip a grade.

But my mother vetoed it. I think she realized I needed to have the benefits of maturing in socialization. She told me that I needed to help my classmates. And I did. When someone was “slow to learn,” I told them not to give up. I knew they could do it.

My mother used her gift of teaching for years as a Sunday School Teacher. She studied, researched and prayed in preparation for every lesson she taught.

When she was old and having difficulty seeing, she told the class she was going to have to give it up. The class members begged her not to stop teaching. Those precious ladies read the lesson to her and then let her teach. They said her wisdom was a continuing gift to all of them.

Mother taught family, friends and strangers, not only through her words, but also through her life.

When she was near the end of her life she was in the hospital. The nurses told me that even in the midst of her own pain and suffering, she would express interest in them. They sat at her bedside and she continued to teach to the very end.

Lessons
My Mother’s life is summed up well in Paul’s words to the Philippians.  When I read his words, I can hear her saying it.  
Rejoice in The Lord always.
I will say it again; Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.

And The Peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable —
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —
think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received from me,
or seen in me —
put into practice.
And The God of Peace will be with you!
Philippians 4:4-9

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Neither Do I Condemn You …

I was a well behaved child and teenager.  While some of my friends were rebelling, I “colored within the lines” pretty well. 

However, later in life, after a difficult divorce, I set out to reinvent myself.  God is a much better Creator than I.  The “me’s” I tried to create were total flops.  

I praise Him, not only for restoring my life, but also for renewing it when I surrendered to His Loving Creation of the “me” He intended all along.

At some point when I was searching for my way “back home,” I talked to Mother about a “friend” who was overcome with guilt because of things she had done.

I told her my “friend” really wanted to make a turn around, but was afraid she could never make anything right again.  I asked Mother what I should tell my friend.

“Well, first of all, you should tell your friend that she can’t make it right again.”

This was not the reassurance I was looking for.

She took my hands in hers and looked directly at me.

“She can’t make anything right by herself. God is the only One powerful enough to do that. The consequences of what your friend did or didn’t do are real.

“Your friend can ask God to forgive her. And she can ask Him to heal and restore anything she’s broken.
Tell her she can trust Him to do it.”

One of Mother’s enduring characteristics was that when she listened to someone, she gave them her full attention. In a crowd of people, she could make you feel like you were the only one. I think that is how people felt when Jesus talked to them.

She then added, very tenderly, “It is right to tell your friend to ask God’s Forgiveness.  He will forgive her. But be sure she knows how important it is to accept His Forgiveness. 

“Tell your friend she needs to thank God for forgiving her.  But then she needs to forgive herself.”

She paused, as if considering carefully what to say next.

She closed her eyes, and appeared to be silently praying.

“Tell your friend to do that and then walk free.”

Mother then matter of factly asked what I would like for supper. 

From time to time after that, she would ask me, “How is your friend?”

I told her my friend was doing much better.  She said, “That’s good.  I pray for your friend.”  

She never asked me what my friend’s name was, as she usually did when she was going to pray for someone. She didn’t have to. She knew.

Lessons
Listen. Don’t judge.

God knows all. You don’t have a need to know all.

No one can change what has already happened. Ask God to heal all involved.

Ask God’s Forgiveness. Receive it. Walk free.

It’s not always necessary to reveal all you know. 😘

Pray.

“Neither do I condemn you,”
Jesus declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:11

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Where Does The Road Go?

My mother enjoyed painting.  Her paintings were all over our house.  One picture was of a road that wound around a curve and disappeared into the distance.

I asked my mother where the road went.  Instead of telling me, she asked me, “Where do you think the road goes?” 

I would come up with various destinations and tell her all about them.  She would ask me questions to help me make more complete scenes in my mind. 

Then she would tell me what she saw.  We spent many happy hours traveling that road together. Even though we started on the same road every time we “played,” we were able to go to many different destinations.

As I was nearing college and considering an uncertain future, I asked her again, “Where does the road go, Mother?”  She smiled and said, “It can go anywhere you would like it to go, Carolyn.  But be sure to ask God for the directions!”  

She never forced her views on me.  She gently guided me and allowed me to choose the roads I chose in life, even when some were not the roads she would have chosen for me.  

In so doing, she gently taught me not to try to mark out the route for other people. It would not have helped for her to tell me I was on the wrong road and needed to correct my course immediately.

She allowed me to choose my own path. But she stayed close and prayed. She stepped out of the way and committed me to The Way.

Sometimes I discovered I needed to make a U turn in my life. Every time I went back home to her and bemoaned where I had been, she would simply say, “Do you want to start over?”

And I remembered how many times we had started over on our imaginary road and went somewhere completely different. I started over.

After my parents were promoted to Heaven, we had to sell their house. It was hard to take that painting off the wall where it had hung for so many years.

I contemplated whether to take her picture with me. But as I looked at it without my traveling companion, the road seemed lonely. I chose to leave it.

I realized the “road” had expanded beyond its frame. My Mother had found the most exciting destination yet. And she was waiting for me to catch up one day!

Lessons
Roads are for traveling. They can lead different places. Don’t limit yourself or anyone else.

U turns are allowed.

If you miss the turn you were supposed to take, go back and begin again.

Don’t force anyone to take your path. Stay close and pray. Trust Him Who is The Way to guide them.

Choose a traveling companion who enjoys sharing the journey with you.

Know that even though there are bumps in the road, the day will come when …

“Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And The Glory of The Lord
will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.”
Isaiah 40: 4-5

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What’s Your Story?

My mother never simply read a book to me.  She acted it out.  She changed her voice to be each character.  She put the book down and acted out the parts.  She was so funny!

Not only would she act out the stories, but she would also encourage me to join her. She would say, “Today, you be the rabbit!”  And I’d act out the parts to the tune of her laughter.

Then the day came when she stopped right in the middle of a story.  I wondered if something was wrong. Instead of completing the story, she said, “What do you think happened next?”

I said, “I don’t know.  You haven’t read that part yet.”  

She said, “No … you finish the story.  Don’t let other people be the only ones to tell the stories.  You tell the story too.  Your story may be better!” 

So I’d make up a part of the story that came next, and then she would chime in with a part, and sometimes we never read what the author intended.

Later as I began to write stories and plays, I realized the seeds of telling a good story had been planted by my mother.  Even today, I find myself thinking of alternate endings to tv shows and movies.

As much as Mother enjoyed launching me into a world of imagination, she was a realist too. She knew how important it was to catch the vision and dream big.

But she also knew how important it was to plan and take the right steps to make the dream come to life.

If I said, “I think I might do …” my Mother would say, “How are you going to do that?”

And I would say, “I’m not doing it now.  I was thinking I might do it one day.”

She would then counter with, “When?  When are you going to do it?”

She said, “Success is in the details.  When we take a trip, we know where we want to end up.  We may change course on the way, but we still have some idea of when we are going, where we want to go and how we might get there.”

But when I would come back to her, seeking her approval of my plan, she would say, “Interesting. Let’s ask God what He thinks about it.”

And then she would pray with me, asking God to reveal His Perfect Plan for whatever desire I had in my heart.

Mother always reminded me that God is The One with The Plan.   She said, “He lets us tell part of the story, but He gets to finish it (or begin it!).”

She winked and added, “He knows where you are going and how you are going to get there, but He will let you help ‘pack the car’ for the trip!”

Lessons
Don’t let anyone but God write your story.

When it is your turn to contribute to the story, do so with enthusiasm.

Learn to see the stories of other people from their point of view. Imagine what it would be like to see life as they do and speak with their voice.

Success is in the details. Dream big, but start planning how to make those dreams come true.

Trust that God knows your whole story. Even if you take a wrong turn, He can change the story from a disaster into a “happily ever after!”

“For I know The Plans I have for you,”
declares The Lord,
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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