Sorry Mam, This seat is taken. 

Let me set the scene:

Liberty University. Over 5,000 students from all over the world come to a “college for a weekend” visit.  It’s the last night of College for a Weekend and I drive to Lynchburg to pick up my niece to attend a Newsboys Concert.

We had awesome seats.   The row we were in was quite full except three empty seats beside me.  A lady comes over and asks if the seats were taken. Before I knew it, I looked at her and said “yes, they are!”

My niece looked at me quite confused as she loudly stated that no one was using the seats.  “Oh my gosh, you are right!!!  Mam, I’m so sorry, these seats are available!”  I told her as she was getting comfortable in the seats behind me.

She laughed and said “It’s ok!  Obviously God wants Those seats for someone else.”  We exchanged laughs, some small talk and wished each other well.

As I was getting comfortable, a young lady and her two friends asked if the seats next to me were taken.  I kindly offered them the seats, but not after me and the lady, who was now sitting behind me,  gave each other a quick smile.

Little did we know, I think God was actually saving the seat for this beautiful young lady.

Scene set.

I thought I could talk, but this beautiful bundle of sunshine didn’t hold a candle to my conversation skills.   She immediately asked me where we were from. She then told me she was from Charlotte, NC.   Our conversation began with how much I loved Charlotte. I told her I was traveling there within the month to go to a Ben Rector/NeedToBreathe concert soon.

It was then I asked her what she thought about CFAW. She beamed with excitement as she told me everything she did that weekend up until finding the seat next to me.    She seemed to really feel at home at LU.

I asked her what her major was going to be.

That’s when the conversation turned very serious as she told me a story.  (Story I will do my best to tell as she told me).

I had just gotten over a very bad break up from someone who I knew was not “the one” that God wanted me to be with.  He wanted to do things that I was not comfortable with and I struggled with what to do. I finally ended it with him because I wanted to keep myself pure.    

My friend asked me to help deliver flowers to our local hospital, and I reluctantly agreed. Little did I know it would change my path and direct me into my future career.   As we walked through the halls of the hospital delivering flowers, I began to notice the people. The thought crossed my mind as to if they were saved.  I delivered flowers to a room. We were supposed to drop the flowers off and leave. But I couldn’t leave. Not until I knew if this lady was ready to die and go to Heaven. It was right there in that hospital room, that I led her to the Lord.  Same thing happened in the next room.  And before I knew it, I spent the day at the hospital delivering flowers and telling people about Jesus. 

(Let me clarify that this beautiful young lady is only 16 years old!!   So wise for her young age!)

My dad and I don’t get along.  When I went home that evening and I told him that I wanted to go into “ladies ministry” he got very angry and told me that he will refuse to pay for something that i will never be able to do anything with.   When I told him I was going to go to CFAW he told me that he will not pay for my college if I decide to go to LU.    

I told him he didn’t have to pay because “Jesus paid it all”

By that time, I had tears welling up in my eyes.   Before I knew it, I leaned over and started hugging her and telling her I was so proud of her.

We took a break from her story when she asked me mine……

My response:  I’m just a divorced mom with two kids. Nothing special.

She looked at me in shock!

That’s all?    You are so much more than that!  You are so beautiful and kind and I can’t imagine why your husband left you.   But I can tell you this. You are worth so much more. God has a plan for you!   Maybe his plan is for you to be a blessing to me!

More tears.

After talking  for what seemed like hours, I looked at her and told her that I was so proud of her.  I told her that I know (I know. I know) God has some amazing plans for her life.  Don’t give up.  Obey her father, but don’t forget about her Heavenly Father and the plans He has for her life.    Pray fervently and ask God to open the right doors and close the wrong ones.

And no matter what happens, don’t forget to thank Him for what he has done and for what He is going to do in your life!

I know this young lady will go far in whatever she decides to do with her life. She is on fire for God!

The concert started.  She would jab me every now and then when the singers would talk about pretty much what we had spent the previous hours discussing, we both agreed it was God basically agreeing that she’s going to be ok!

Before we parted ways that night, we exchanged another hug and I whispered in her ear, “God has big plans for you young lady, I can’t wait to see what happens!

Last night while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post on her wall stating she had applied for LU earlier than what she had planned.  I gave the big “thumbs up” sign.  This morning I woke to this message.  

I’m a divorced mom of two kids, nothing special. “

That seat next to me, the one that I told the First Lady who tried to sit there that it was occupied…… God was sitting in that seat.

He knew a little girl needed encouragment. And he knew this “divorced mom of two kids” need to be the one to encourage her.

He also knew that I needed some encouragement myself.

Isn’t it funny how things just work out?

I’m so glad God saved that seat!

Thankful.

THANKFUL. GRATEFUL. BLESSED.

Whatever you want to call it, ’tis the season to let someone know you are thinking about them.  sometimes a simple Thank You or a phone call just to let them know that they are on your mind can make someone’s entire week!!!

It is also a time to reflect on what is important in your life, or maybe things you are grateful for.

How do I even begin?

Here is my thankful list in no particular order:

  1. My strong faith in God
  2. My two beautiful children
  3. The Past, Present and Future
  4. My furry kids.
  5. My Daddy
  6. My Momma
  7. Sisters
  8. Extended Family
  9. Photography
  10. Pottery
  11. Cheesecake
  12. My church family
  13. Health
  14. Teenagers
  15. Books
  16. Awanas…Kids, volunteers and the ability to make a difference in these kids lives!
  17. Chocolate
  18. Red Bull
  19. Haiti
  20. Pandora
  21. Homeschooling
  22. Passport stamps
  23. Blogging
  24. All Four Seasons
  25. My Ex Husband
  26. My squeaky ceiling fan
  27. Snooze button
  28. Cell Phone
  29. Pictures
  30. Ability to forgive
  31. …..and forget
  32. Lifetime movies
  33. Unsweetened tea
  34. Roller Coasters
  35. Sports Bras
  36. Yoga pants
  37. Naturally curly hair……and my Flat iron
  38. my couch
  39. Lawn Mower
  40. Crushed ice
  41. Matching Socks
  42. Good Night Prayers
  43. Good Morning Kisses
  44. Grass Stained Football pants
  45. Mismatched socks
  46. Frozen Blueberries
  47. Disabilities
  48. Breakfast Food
  49. Naps
  50. Netflix
  51. SnapChat
  52. Sad songs
  53. Flowers
  54. Random dancing in the kitchen
  55. Ice Cream and Milk
  56. unconditional love
  57. Missing Shoes
  58. Long Drives
  59. sleepovers
  60. Best Friends
  61. Old Friends
  62. New Friends
  63. New Relationships
  64. Cartwheels
  65. Trampolines
  66. MEMORIES!!!!

This is my short list!!!

Many blessing to each one of you who follow my Blog.    Have a happy and safe Holiday!!!

Until next time….Make your own thankful list!!!!

Live!

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SURVIVE:   To continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.   (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

It is in the mornings that I find clarity.   I wake up around 5am and let my mind wander.   I have no agenda when I open my eyes, other than I like to prepare myself for the tasks ahead of me as I begin a new day.   

In the early hours this morning as I was praying, I told God (just like we were sitting across from the table sharing a cup of coffee and good conversation) that I was tired of praying the same things over and over again.   I even told Him that I was doubting His entire existence.   A late night phone conversation prompted me to have this conversation with God, and I was actually kind of ticked off at Him this morning.    A good friend of mine sent me a text message yesterday that said ” I have lost faith in everything I have ever believed in, I have nothing and no one to live for.”     My response, “You’ll always have me!”   After that, the conversation became nothing but a free for all….complain complain complain.    Both of us griped and moaned about how life just doesn’t seem to be fair.   

You’ll always have me….Good grief!!     Who would want me as their friend?  

This morning as I was praying (or complaining) I found myself telling God, “I am so tired of surviving, I want to Live!   Ok God, so what are you going to do about it?”     Then this song came on the radio.

If I can just survive football season.    If I can just survive Homework.   If I can just survive my new job.   If I can just survive until the weekend.  If I can just survive until Sunday morning church service, If I can just survive one more day……..Since when did life become Survival?

Daily asking God to help me SURVIVE just one more day…..In America.   In My 4 bedroom home complete with running water and AC.   Where there is no Ebola, Cholera, Chickungunya, or Malaria.   I was free to Complain to God this morning about all of the petty things that ruffled my feathers while some people were fleeing into the mountains, starving, and are even being killed for their religious freedoms.   

Dear God, just help me survive……

We’ve all had wounds, disappointments and prayers unanswered.   We all want to be known, but many of us are afraid to be seen.   We are so easy to judge and complain when our lives seem to be spiraling out of control, when life gets overwhelming as their just isn’t enough hours in the day to accomplish the long list of tasks that need to be done.  

I learned today that it is not Surviving….It is living!!    And my life is Beautiful!!!!

until next time…..Are you going to just survive or are you going to live?  (choice is ours to make!!)

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What If….

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Everyone seems to want to be an expert on suicide since the tragic loss of Robin Williams this week.
I carefully read blogs and articles on the internet, even found myself watching CNN to hear the famous Doctors and  psychologist give their professional opinion on what could have possibly happened the months, days and hours leading up to the horrific minute that Robin Williams decided to take his own life.   Alcoholism,  drugs, depression, even Parkinson’s disease may have all played into the decisions that lead to his death.
I read a controversial blog this week from one of my favorite christian bloggers that stated Robin Williams was selfish for taking his own life.
SELFISH.  Hmmmm…..
While scrolling through Facebook, I read a friend’s post that stated “Am I the only one who doesn’t feel sorry for Robin Williams?  He was a selfish man.  He had fame, fortune, popularity…..what more could anyone ask for?”   That post just about sent me over the edge.

Hmmm……well…I just can’t even comment on such an insane post.

I’m not saying Robin Williams was a happy person, and addict, depressed,  or sick  because I honestly have no idea.  I did not know this man personally,  as many of the people who wrote comments about him being a selfish man didn’t know him either. 

We live in a society where people are so eager to point fingers at other people’s lives as if they have no skeletons in their own closet.   Where people are happy to see even their own friends and family fail,  as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own less than perfect lives.

Here’s my take on Selfish.

True Story:
A few years ago, one of the greatest men I ever knew took his own life.  Put a bullet in his heart.
His heart.
I knew a little about his heart.   (It was huge!)
He was a kind, talented, well respected man and everyone that knew him loved him.
He made people beautiful.  He taught people how to make others beautiful.  He made us watch endless Self-help videos to make us better stylists,  better professionals as well as better human beings.   He taught me to listen….really listen to people.   He gave me courage.  Showed me tough love.  And at the end of the day after working over 12 hrs on my feet, I went home feeling like a million bucks!!!

I’ll never forget the phone call.   I could barely make out the words that came pouring out of my ex co-workers mouth.   “He’s gone.  He killed himself!”     No….this can’t be.  He was the strongest person I knew.
In the years leading up to his tragic death, he had his fair share of difficulties.   After I got married and moved away, I heard that he was facing many demons.  Alcoholism Divorce. A failed business that was once the most popular business in the state of WV, people came from everywhere to see him.  

I went to visit him only once after I left.   My daughter was around 2 or 3 years old at the time.   He loaded her up with suckers and soda. Gave her hugs and kisses. Even showed me pictures of his grandchildren.
But what he said as I was leaving still resonates in my mind almost every day….when you (and another stylist) left, the laughter went with you.  The smiles and the constant chatter is gone.   I miss you.  If you ever want to come back, there will always be a place for you here.
As I hugged him goodbye, as well as a couple of regular clients, I walked out of there not knowing that would be the last time I would see him alive.

I heard about his failing health due to his addiction,  his business was going under and his clientele was almost non-existent.  

I drove by all the time when I came home on the weekends to visit my folks.  I wanted to stop,  but I never did.   Then one morning, while feeding the kids breakfast I got the phone call.

He’s Gone.

Never did I think of him as Selfish.  Sure, I felt bad for his family,  his grand babies,  the endless friends and colleagues he left behind.
Do I think Alcoholism is selfish?  In a way I guess.   But I can’t judge, because (thank God) I’ve never been there.  

I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an addict, as well as many other people that was all too eager to write about Mr. Williams and his demons.  They don’t know what it’s like to be an addict, depressed,  divorced, famous……but they want to be so quick to judge as if they were his best friend and walked through his life with him hand in hand.

But as everyone was mourning, criticizing, laughing, posting ridiculous comments, and talking as if they had all the answers to this terrible tragic ending to a man’s life.
I simply thought this.

“Since you left, the laughter is gone.”
and that made me very sad.

Selfish?
I was selfish.  I made him smile. I made him laugh.  He missed me. I knew he was sick.  I heard about his failing marriage and business.
Yet, I drove by. Sometimes without even a glance in his direction. 

What if…..
What if…..

What if I had stopped in to tell him I was thinking about him.
What if I had just sent that card.
What if I made that phone call.
What if I took the kids in to see him and we all laughed together, just like old times.

I was too busy with my own life. My kids. My husband.

Not too long ago, I walked into the shop that was once owned by this beautiful man.   It was kind of ironic, that the only two people in the salon that day was the two people that he said “since you guys left,  the laughter is gone”.   We spent the day talking about how much we missed him.  Even went upstairs to his private room that now sits empty and earily spooky as we both agreed that we could still feel his presence there.  I walked around reliving old memories, and wondering where had time gone.    We both talked about What if……
But it was too late.

This week, I thought about my own selfishness.   Not so much the death of Robin Williams,  but I thought of the many people willing to voice their nasty criticism without ever being in his shoes.

I just can’t be that person.
I will not judge.

I will promise you this….
I will love you no matter what.
I will cry with you.
I will LAUGH with you.
I will pray for you.
I will pray with you.

Be a reason someone smiles today. Be a friend.
Don’t wait till its too late to let someone know you love them and appreciate them.

Forever may end today.

The Power of Prayer

Can I ask you a serious question? 

I know that all of us have found ourselves in situations on Facebook where an acquaintance, friend, or relative posts a prayer request on their wall.  Maybe someone is sick, there had been an accident or some other tragedy has left them devastated and begging for prayers. 

Then the outpouring of replies flood their wall….I am praying.   Prayers lifted up.  I am here for you.  Is there anything I can do?   Praying right now!!!

So here is the question:

Which friend are you?   Are you the friend who eagerly posts I am praying for you right now and actually stops everything they are doing at that very moment and lifts them or their family members up in prayers.   Or are you the person who posts Praying for you and continues to scroll down the pages to read other posts as if you have already forgotten about your friends dire need for God to intervene in their lives.

Now let’s be honest with ourselves…..

I have been that friend.  Yes, I am ashamed to admit it. 

About a week ago, that all changed.  I have several friends going through some very difficult times in their lives.  Some divorces, others cancer, lost jobs, death of loved ones…..oh I could go on and on.   

I tell them that I am praying for them, but how often did I really pray?   

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I got a late night phone call last week, when I hastily grabbed my phone to see who on earth would be calling at such a crazy hour, I noticed it was a good friend of mine.   I quickly answered the phone saying Is everything ok??  On the other end of the phone was sobbing and crying, she was crying so hard I couldn’t understand her.  I waited for her to calm down, as I sat and listened to my sweet friend’s heart breaking.   

Then she asked me to pray with her.   I knew what she had been going through without even having to ask.  We prayed together.  I prayed specifically for healing, and for God to work a miracle in her life.   When we were finished praying, I asked her, What made you think of me?  Why me?   I look at myself sometimes and think what on earth do I have to offer anyone.  Here I am, a divorced single mom.  What kind of advice can I give anyone.  I couldn’t keep my own marriage together.   Her response overwhelmed me.  Because of you, I haven’t given up.  I see your faith in God.  When things were falling apart in your own life, you offered to help me.  You were there to pray with me.  YOU NEVER GAVE UP.   

This late night phone call made me put some things in perspective.  I had a lot of time to think today as I spent three consecutive hours on my mower, normally I take that time to listen to music, occasionally I sing out loud and probably look like an insane person.  Sometimes I take the time to feel sorry for myself and try to hash out my own broken life.   But today, I prayed.  and I prayed.  and I prayed some more.    I had two specific people in mind and I prayed!!!!    What’s funny, I actually prayed that God would use these two people to help each other….I really prayed about that.  

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This just happened to be the night my son asked Jesus in his heart….we never miss a chance to pray together.

I want to encourage you tonight…..take the time to pray for each other.   Goodness, if any of you spend any time just on Facebook alone you would spend at least 15 minutes or more on your knees just praying for those requests.  We all need someone to actually follow through and pray just as you commented on their post that you would do.

I will make you a promise…..If I tell you that I am praying for you…..I am really going to pray!

Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.

                                                                                                   Matthew 18:20

Until next time….pray for me.  

 

 

 

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Written Legacy

This happens to be one of my favorite pictures of you guys....for a brief minute, you actually acted like you liked each other.

This happens to be one of my favorite pictures of you guys….for a brief minute, you actually acted like you liked each other.

I woke up at 3:47 am with an uneasy thought going through my mind.  There are many things I could blame it on, maybe it is the movie my friend and I watched yesterday which was wildly inappropriate for a person in my current situation to watch.  Or it easily could be the 8 hours of non stop laughing and talking I always manage to do when I get around my favorite people.  Actually, I am going to blame it on the salad and pasta I devoured at Olive Garden, or maybe the veal sweetbreads (calf pancreas), trout almondine, another salad, and 7 layer chocolate cake I ate late last night with another sweet friend.

Regardless of how my stomach feels, which at this point I am not sure if it is food poisoning, over indulging, or nerves, I have this feeling something is about to rock my world, and I find myself still up at 5am preparing for an attack on my very soul…..or it really could be indigestion!!

This morning as I lay in this empty bed, I began to question my significance in this world.  Nobody likes to think about their own mortality, but as I lie here this morning the thoughts racing through my mind consisted of my own death.  What kind of legacy would l leave my children?   These thoughts prompted me to thank God for my health, because we all know that good health is a privilege.  All of the ordinary tasks that I take for granted:  driving kids to school, practices, games, recitals, movies…….grocery shopping, taking them to church.   Those all seem like daily tasks that most people just muddle through day in and day out, but somehow this morning I looked at it as the most incredible blessing that has been denied by many due to health, unforeseen circumstances, and even untimely deaths.

You do not know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:14

All week long the thoughts of writing my kids letters have been going through my mind.  Not so much a little letter proclaiming my unconditional love to them, but more like a future guideline for them just in case I am not around one day.  This is something that I want to do and although it is a tad difficult to talk about an untimely death, I  am seriously considering a separate blog for them personally.   This is the beginning of my written legacy to them as I jot down just a few things that have crossed my mind, there will be many more “motherly advice” to add on in the pending days to come.

To my sweet beautiful children:

  • Plain and simple…..God first!
  • Be grateful.  Every day make a list of things you are grateful for (just for that day), you will be surprised that the good will always out weigh the bad.
  • Be sure your sins will find you out.  If you have to hide to do something, chances are you shouldn’t be doing it.   Remember, God sees everything.
  • You will make mistakes, but don’t let them define you.  Learn from them and move on.
  • Forgive, forgive and then forgive some more.   Remember, not everyone will actually ask you for forgiveness.  Forgive them anyway!!!
  • You are better than no one and no one is better than you.  Don’t you dare think that you are better than anyone!!!  (I will haunt you forever if you get some “holier than thou” attitude.)
  • Take care of each other.  No matter how much you think you dislike each other now, grow up and be each other’s best friends.  call each other everyday, visit each other as often as you can.  I never regretted a second spent with my family.
  • There is good in every situation.  Remember, it’s not a bad life….it’s just a bad day.  (and you will have bad days, so be prepared)
  •  Cry….it’s ok to cry and when you do, let it all out.  I mean cry till your head hurts and your eyes are swollen.   I spent most of my life, especially in my 20’s and 30’s terrified for someone to see me fall apart.  I avoided weddings, funerals and sad movies simply because I didn’t want anyone to see me have any kind of emotional breakdown.   These past two years have taught me one thing……and that is Let is out!  Don’t hold in your emotions.  The Bible says in Psalms  “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all the tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”   I want you to remember that verse every time a tear trickles down your face.
  • Don’t cry forever…I know I know, I just said to cry.   You can figure this one out on your own.
  •  Tell the truth.  You tell a lie, then you have to cover up that lie with another lie, and that lie with another lie…..then before you know it you have convinced yourself it was truth all along when all you have done is create a web of lies!!
  • There is a little button on your phone, it is red usually and it says “end”…..Don’t be afraid to press that button.
  •  There is also a green button on the phone, it says “call”….Don’t be afraid to use that button either.
  • YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!!   Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Got it?
  • You can’t change people….so don’t try!!   Don’t even go there.
  •  Learn to love to read.  I know that right now reading is boring and you are not interested at all in picking up a book, but books can take you places you have never been or maybe places you will never get to go.   There is one book I want you to read everyday and that is the Bible….don’t be afraid to write in it, highlight your favorite verses and take notes.  Study it, memorize it, quote it….Use it as a guideline for your life, a weapon  when you are facing the devil head on, and gratitude when you are praising God.

Ok, so this is just the beginning.  I can already think of at least 294 things I can write about but Momma needs to get ready to take you to church.   You will be coming home from Daddy’s house soon and I can’t wait to give you a big hug and kiss.     Today you will be debuting your hip hop skills and beautiful whimsical moves as you make me proud on stage at your recital.

You make me proud everyday and I am eternally grateful to be called your Mommy…..

Until next time….I love you.

(so this blog is kinda meant for my kids, but I want to encourage each and everyone of you to make your own list for your kids or grandkids……make it your written legacy.  This is a priceless gift!!)

Until next time my friends, start your list.

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AHA

AHA

As I sit here tonight eating beef jerky and cookies….oh and a couple of Cadbury mini eggs, I’m relaxing in the guest room staring at all the books I have read, want to read and am currently reading. There are a lot of books. Mostly self help, 5 or 6 different Bibles, some children’s books and even a few journals I have scribbled in a time or two. I tend to stay away from the sappy love stories that paint the portrait of couples frolicking on the beach on some deserted island until one of them becomes seriously ill with a mystery disease and dies in the arms of their lover, and as they look into the distant sky they see a shooting star as it is just a reminder that their love will last eternity…..wow, I think my rambling must have something to do with the third Red Bull I gulped down ten minutes ago.
Ok, back to my books.
I have been in search of the perfect book for what seems like eternity. I read my favorite book every morning and night, that is called The Holy Bible.
But….I finally found “the book”, the one I have been searching for. I can’t put it down and it makes perfect sense. This little paperback gem is entitled “AHA, the God Movement That Changes Everything”. AHA is a literary masterpiece.
I have had some serious issues with Mr. Idleman’s books in the past. His book “Gods At War” almost threw me right over the edge. I would read a paragraph, put the book down and then fight with God the rest of the day. This book literally made me miserable!! I had no good days while attempting to read it. (now I know, the devil was having a hay day with me) I have to be honest and tell you that I could not….ok, I would not finish the book. In my narrow mind what he was trying to describe in that book made me insane. “What you are searching for and chasing after reveals the God that is winning the war in your heart”…..that is the most complicated and aggravating phrase I ever heard in my life. I was never ready nor willing to stop pursuing the love of my life. I was searching for answers, the daily why’s eventually took over my life and I was consumed with nothing else. So yes, that was the god that was winning the war in my (broken) heart.

And then it happened, it came from no where….as I was visiting the local Bible book store this week, sitting right next to the checkout was AHA. I quickly picked it up and saw that Mr. Idleman was the author. My first instinct was to run out the door screaming as if I was being chased by a herd of wild buffalo but something told me to give Mr. Idleman one more chance to redeem himself. He did more than redeem himself, he changed my life and my way of thinking.
His whole book is based on my favorite story in the Bible The Prodigal Son….I am not going to spoil it for you because I want you to get your own copy so you can delight in every page as I have. I had my “AHA” moment for sure after reading the book, and guess what, I am reading it again. (this time I have my trusty highlighter)
I may just buy everyone I know a copy for Christmas!!

I think I needed to have my AHA moment before I read “Gods at War”….Yep, I said it. I am going to finish that book If it is the last thing I do on this earth. (it may actually take me that long)
If I am a little cranky with you, or if you don’t see me in public the next few days it is because I am screaming at the sky or staring at the walls. I guarantee you that the devil is going to take every chance he gets while I am trudging through this book to attack me. Good thing I am putting on the armor of God!!

Until next time my friends, go pick up this book.
It is truly “the God movement that changes everything”
(wish me luck)