New Beginnings

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Hey Everyone!

As I was praying about the best way to start our year together off right, I couldn’t help but be reminded that the best words are God’s Words, not mine. So, that’s what we are doing. We are going to delve into the Word together, remembering that He is faithful, He is true, and He is our very best Friend who wants us to have an abundant life this year and in the years to come. Speak the following verses out loud over your life today, knowing that, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue…” – Proverbs 18:21

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘If You can? Everything is possible to the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do believe! Help my unbelief.’ ” (Mark 9:23-24) – I so relate to this father. I want to believe. I know I should believe. I say I believe, but then I realize I need God’s strength in me to believe. Help us to believe You this year, Lord. 

“…For I [Jesus is speaking] assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) – Notice that Jesus says “tell this mountain”. He wants us to be specific, not general. He wants us to concentrate on one mountain at a time. Ask Him what mountain He is calling you to move in this season, and then ask for His faith to empower you to believe and act on it.

“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) – Didn’t get all your goals accomplished last year? Don’t give up. Trust that God is completing that good work in you.

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) – You have a purpose! Believe it. Receive it. Walk in it. Thank Him for it and trust Him for the results.

“I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) – Think all you have to look forward to is in Glory? This verse tells us that we can see God’s goodness “in the land of the living”. How amazing is that? Ask Him for the eyes to see His goodness this year.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I [Jesus speaking] have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10) – Pray for God’s amazing abundance over your life this year.

Meditate on these beautiful promises of God this week. More’s to come…

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by zedjams.com

 

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How to Move Forward With no Regrets

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“I wouldn’t change a thing”. This is what my father-in-law said about his marriage to my mother-in-law after 50 years.

“50 years and you would not change one thing?” I wondered silently, “You wouldn’t change the hardships that I remember you reminiscing about? You wouldn’t change difficulties like miscarriages, financial woes, a Christmas where all your gifts were stolen? You wouldn’t change anything?”

I will admit I was skeptical, at first. I mean, after all, wouldn’t I change some things about my husband and myself’s marriage of 26 years? Wouldn’t I change the struggles that we have faced? Wouldn’t I want a healthier start for us, an easier path? Wouldn’t I change something?  Would I change the struggle that we had that brought our marriage to the brink of extinction back in our fifth year?  Would I change the many moves we have made due to my husband’s call into the ministry? Knowing what I know now, would I really change the ministry struggles that we have faced?

As I pondered this, I began to realize… I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING either! But, it’s only because God is so good at what He does. Romans 8:28 says that He works all things out for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He is so good at this promise that my father-in-law and I can look back over incredible hardships and say with every fiber of our being, “I would not change a thing.” How could we? Wisdom has come from previous unwise choices. A trap we have fallen into keeps us from a greater trap years later. Stronger faith comes from seeing God work through incredible hardships in ministry. Trust in God’s provision and being thankful in all circumstances has resulted from financial crisis. Why would I change any lesson that turned out so great? When I see the goodness of God and realize how trustworthy He is, how could I possibly be filled with regrets? How could the chains of my past hold me in an endless cycle of ‘what if’? God is so good at what He does! He works all things for my good because I love Him and am called according to His purpose. So, I absolutely would not change a thing!

Our ultimate example, of course, is Jesus Christ. The Word of God says in Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We see here that Jesus trusted His Father to turn all the horrible injustice of the cross into the ultimate good. Did He enjoy the cross? The Bible says clearly He did not; in fact, He despised it. Yet, He submitted to the process because He knew His father was able to and would turn the ultimate place of suffering into the beautiful place of Redemption that we have today. Jesus is now able to look at the cross which He despised and then look at us, redeemed and righteous through Him and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Think over your own life experiences. Maybe it is your marriage, but maybe it’s your job, your family, your health, any area where suffering has occurred. At the starting line we would ALWAYS choose an easier road, but would we now?

Through infertility, an amazing child has been adopted that otherwise would still be in an orphanage. Through bankruptcy, a release of hypocrisy has been born in us and compassion abounds. Through a friend’s betrayal, we now know The Great Physician heals emotional as well as physical pain. Would we really change those lessons?

Only our God can do this for us. Only our God can take unspeakable heartache, unbelievable adversity, and unjustifiable sin and mold it into a life that we can in all honesty look at and say, “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Trust Him with the hard things in your life. Trust that He can mold all the aches into a beautiful testimony. A testimony that at the end of time when it’s just you and Jesus holding hands looking out at the lives you both led on this earth, you can see Him look at His life of suffering and you can look at yours and you both can then look at God the Father and realize what He has done and say, “we wouldn’t change a thing.”

Seeking Hearts Ministries 

*image by YouTube.com

All Things Are Possible

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“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

How can this be? Is this for real? I mean, I’m looking at what’s in front of me, I know what God has promised, but how in the world is it going to happen? Jesus said it, but did He really mean all things?

I’m reminded of Joseph in the book of Genesis. Remember that poor guy? His brothers hated him so much they sold him into slavery, lied to their father about what happened to him and he ended up in Egypt. He did pretty well for himself until a false accusation landed him in prison. Then, after several years, Joseph went from prisoner to vice-pharaoh. Overnight! How?

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

I’m reminded of the Israelites building the Tabernacle. They were instructed to use certain materials in certain ways with precise specifications. Once they completed it, God’s glory came and dwelled with them. They went from God speaking to them through a prophet to God dwelling in the same enclosure. In the blink of an eye! How?

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

I’m reminded of a little boy with a sack lunch. It contained 2 loaves and 5 fish. Jesus blessed it, broke it, and turned it into a meal for thousands of people…and there were leftovers. How?

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

I’m reminded of some disciples who had toiled all night trying to catch fish to provide for their families. They had thrown the net over and over and over and caught nothing. Jesus told them to cast their nets one more time and they caught so many fish they had to call partners in to help them because the catch was so great. After one more throw of the net. How?

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

That’s all it takes with our God…one night, one blink of an eye, one offering of all He’s provided, one more throw of the net. How?

Our God is limitless.

Our God is for us.

Our God is the God who takes the impossible and makes it possible. 

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Rest in that today.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by Amazon.com

We All Need Grace

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Something that has come as a bit of a surprise to me (read shock) is that my youngest son is not as great at handling money as I expected. Honestly, for some reason I thought he was better prepared for the real world of money than our oldest was. I have no idea why I thought this. He was continually running out of allowance money, continually spending any money that was given as a gift as fast as it hit his pocket, and continually being loaned the debit card (my debit card) for extra purchases. I guess I was given the impression that he was better prepared than most due to the fact that he passed all of his budgeting courses with perfect A’s.

May I just say nothing is like the temptation of real money. It doesn’t really matter if you are cutting the entertainment budget drastically on paper to make things work for a budgeting class, because in real life when all of your friends are going to the movies..well…you go to the movies and pray your parents don’t find out. When you come home with fifty-one cents in your bank account, they find out. Trust me.

Yes, we had a “come to Jesus” talk with our son, but overall, in the end, grace was extended. Why? I need grace every day. It may not be in the area of  money…anymore…but I am always needing grace in some area. That’s what my youngest reminded me of… God’s grace.

A book that changed my parenting life (actually my life as a whole) was the book “Grace Based Parenting” by Dr. Kimmel. In this book, he describes how we should be the type of parent that God is with us. Grace-based, not law-based. The lessons from that book have really stuck with me.

As an empty-nester, I thought my parenting days were almost over. They are, but I’m being reminded daily that parenting “almost” grown-ups is the hardest. These are the make-or-break days of my relationship with my son. How I respond to “mess ups” now will affect how he communicates with me for years. If I’m a safe place to land, a grace-filled environment, he will be able to more readily receive the grace of God. Isn’t that the goal of every parent? To lead our kids closer to their Savior? To make God more relatable to real life?

So, as for now, I choose to remember how I need God’s grace so I can easily extend grace. I choose to remember how much I need God’s love, so I can easily extend love, and I choose to remember that just because a kid leaves home, he never outgrows his need for a soft place to land. I thank God that He provides the feathers.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by 123rf.com

How to Get Through Your Day – Easily

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John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”

In Andrew Murray’s book Absolute Surrender, Murray says that the branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In other words, the branch doesn’t have to worry with where its nourishment will come from. It doesn’t concern itself with how much fruit it’s producing. It doesn’t even have to fret over what the future will look like. The branch’s only job is to stay connected to the Vine. In Scripture, this state of being connected is also called abiding.

Watchman Nee, in his book Sit, Walk, Stand, describes abiding as sitting in a chair. When you sit, he explains, you have faith the chair will hold you up. Your whole weight is depending on the chair.

I love that picture! It sounds easy. After all, I sit in chairs all the time. But, I confess, spiritually speaking, sitting, abiding, staying connected to the Vine does not come naturally. In this season of my life though, I am learning that this truly is the best way to live.

When I am connected to the Vine, to Jesus Christ alone, when I am abiding in Him, I am not filled with stress, I am filled with Him – His strength, His joy, His love.

So, whatever results happen (or don’t) I’m great with… because it’s all up to Him. If He decides I need lots of strength for what He has for me today? No problem. I’m attached to Him already, so I already have what I need at my disposal.

If He decides it’s time for me to forgive? No problem. His forgiveness is already flowing through me.

Need some love today? No problem. His love is already in me.

See how simple it is? Yet, most of the time, we make it so complicated.

Jesus says in Matthew 10:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…” He goes on to say in verse 30 of this same chapter, “…For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let’s choose the easy path today, the less complicated perfect will of our Father and simply stay connected to our Vine, Jesus. Let’s sit in His presence, breathe Him in and de-stress knowing He’s got it all and simply abide as He has called us to knowing that all the branch has to do is stay connected to the Vine. He does the rest.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

** Photo by Kerry Vale Vineyard  “Adopt a Vine”

Let’s Celebrate!

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The last blog post was number 200! Crazy to think about how intimidating it was to press “publish” for the first time all those years ago. God really does grow us in amazing ways when we allow Him to.

So, today, with post 201, let’s celebrate with some amazing music. Kick your shoes off, stretch your arms in complete abandonment, and worship the one and only God of the universe.

Who Am I

No Other Name

There’s No Other Name

Reckless Love

How He Loves Us

Jesus We Love You

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Breathe these songs in and enjoy the celebration!

Much Love,

Melissa

Seeking Hearts Ministries

*image by voice.fgs.org

Are Details Driving you Insane?

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I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

I really need this reminder today.

My guy is a visionary. He gets an idea, knows a certain path and that’s it…he’s ready to take the plunge.

I, on the other hand, am a detail girl.

I love the big ideas, but my mind automatically goes to the how.

If we are my moving, I remember every detail that needs to happen to get us there.

If we are remodeling a space, even though I am not a construction person, I seem to be the one to remember to buy the nails.

If we are going on a trip, I think of every little detail…over and over again.

That’s what kept me from sleeping well last night…a trip we are going on this year. Details, details, details. Even though details are good, they can also drive me insane.

During my mental list making in the night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of I Thessalonians 5:24. He reminded me that I am called to go and He will accomplish what is supposed to be accomplished. Yes, I need to remember to bring my toothpaste, but He will take care of the details of loving on the people, teaching what needs to be taught, health concerns, and so much more because “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Rest in that this week. Write your lists and use the gift of details that God has given you, but then set the pen, or phone, or whatever instrument you use to write your list with, aside and trust Him to accomplish the call on your life. Depend on Him for every detail knowing that He is always faithful.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

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When Your Youngest Leaves the Nest

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I remember in late July of 2000, my oldest son Wes and I sat in a little corner alcove in a second floor apartment in Albany, Georgia, and began our school career. I say, “our” because my husband and I felt called by God to home school our kids. We never took for granted the call and prayed before each school year whether it was still the right decision for our family. In fact, at times, I may have even begged God that the call would change! That little alcove was the perfect size for a student desk, so we stacked our little books, prayed, and began our journey.

The reason why we started in July was because I was pregnant. Our second baby boy who was due in October, so I wanted to get a jump on things. I wanted to understand how this homeschooling thing was going to work before a new baby entered our world.

I could go on and on about my oldest son, Wes. He is so smart, y’all. He zoomed through Kindergarten and First Grade in the same year, graduated high school at sixteen, had me answering questions I never knew existed, and still to this day is one of the most motivated people I know. He’s amazing, but today, this blog is about my God, and that baby boy who we named Gabe.

Both of our boys are all grown up now, and as of tomorrow, my husband and I will officially be “empty nesters.” I can’t even describe all the emotions taking place. I am so proud of Gabe, so excited for him, and so looking forward to sharing with him this next journey of life, and yet, I’m sad. But more than being sad, I am in this incredible state of awe because I absolutely know that taking these kids from not being able to read and write, to the incredible, intelligent individuals they are is completely due to God’s empowerment.

I remember back in 2000, and often thereafter, reminding God that I’m great a starting things, but not so great at finishing them. I remember reminding Him that this is His call, so He has do it. And do you know what? He did. He always had my back.

I would hit a snag with curriculum that wasn’t quite what we needed, we would pray, and He would show us another path to choose.

I would teach a lesson and one of the boys would still have a glazed-over, no idea what I’m talking about look, I would pray, and God would give me an idea to come at the lesson from a different angle. Oftentimes, these ideas were so creative, that I knew it was not coming from me!

I would need strength to get up in the mornings and stick to our agenda. He would provide.

I would need flexibility to do what worked for us and not what a certain “expert” suggested. He would always give the grace to relax and depend only on Him.

I could fill page after page and give example after example of how God and only God homeschooled these boys for all these years. I just simply had the privilege of joining Him in the endeavor.

Mark 10:27 says, “Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God’.” I have literally seen this verse be absolutely true in every single day of every single school year, but especially this last one. It reminds me of King David in II Samuel 7:18 where he says, “…Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me this far?”

So, on Saturday, the day we drop our baby boy into the world of college life for the first time, I choose to remember that God has always had my back, He’s always had my boys’ backs, and He loves my kid even more than I do.

Not only that, but I am choosing to run into this next phase of life with joy, excitement for each day, and an expectation to see what God has for me, this homeschooling mom who’s now retired and knows without a doubt that her God can do anything.

Seeking Hearts Ministries

 

 

When Your Husband Gets Beats Up By Your Blender

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So…a few Sundays ago my amazing husband asked me what I wanted for supper and I said, “Actually, I think I need a smoothie. My nutrition hasn’t been what it should be today. I’ll fix you and G whatever, but that’s what I’m going to have.”

A few minutes passed and he said, “Don’t worry about G and I. I’ll fix us both supper and I’ll fix your smoothie too.”

I was super thankful and stayed seated on the couch taking in this awesome gift that I was receiving from my man.

A few minutes later, I heard my Vitamix start up. (If any of you have heard a Vitamix you know that the WHOLE HOUSE knows when it starts. It sounds like a jet engine and is AMAZING at crushing ice, but I digress.) Then, I heard this horrible crunching sound. My heart dropped and I calmly said, “I’ve never heard it make that noise before.”

Nothing.

Crickets.

Finally… “Yeah. I messed up.”

Gulp.

“What do you mean? What happened? Did the Vitamix break? Is my smoothie okay?” (I do have priorities, y’all.)

“Well,” he says, “the plunger got caught in the blade and about ripped my hand off, but I’m okay.”

I would love to tell you that at this point I totally laughed it off, ran to my amazing husband and kissed him, thanking God that he was okay, but that’s not what happened. In fact, I was very angry. I could not for the life of me understand how my man had bypassed the safety guard and managed to plunge the specialized accessory into a roaring jet engine. I had to explain how these smoothies are all I can eat (exaggeration), how this accessory cannot easily be found (slight exaggeration), how I couldn’t understand how in the world he had managed to go out of his way to figure out how to ruin my plunger (ridiculous statement number 27). My emotions went nuts.

After a few minutes, I did calm down. I began to realize it’s just one of those things. I even acknowledged that I, at times, have had the safety lid to slip, and I even asked if his wrist was okay.

After he ordered me a new accessory on Amazon, I took a breath, thanked him for trying to make me supper, and life went on. After all, I’m a Prime member and my accessory was getting here on Tuesday. That would be two smoothies at the most that I would have to “tough it out”.

That was July 24th. Still no special accessory. You guessed it…lost in the mail.

Now, I do laugh. What else can you do? It takes me at least 8 cycles of stopping and starting the Vitamix each time I want a smoothie. I specify “stopping and starting” due to another part of my man’s Vitamix beat down that I haven’t mentioned yet.

After the first fiasco, my guy remade my smoothie (without all the plastic remnants of the special accessory floating around). As he was stopping and starting the machine, so he could adjust the ingredients to finish blending, he removed the lid a little too soon. I hear, “Ugh! Your Vitamix just spit all over me.” At that point, he just walked away… and who can blame him? I finished up and noticed there was smoothie splattered EVERYWHERE! All over him, the counter, the Vitamix itself, and even the ceiling. I had never seen anything like it. I truly think that Vitamix was mad at him for destroying his friend. It was weird, and I was truly thankful that my smoothie was orange and not red. (Think about that one!)

He wasn’t ready to laugh yet, so I just turned away and giggled to myself.

I totally know that this is a “first world problem” and in the scheme of things, whether I have to stop and start my Vitamix fifty times a day is not even the point. The point is that little annoyances pop up every day. Some are a lot more annoying than others, but as children of God, let’s not let those annoyances cause us to be annoying. Let’s shine like stars instead. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”

Let’s look around and be grateful for what we do have. Whether we have a $20 blender from Wal-Mart, a Vitamix, or simply food on the table, let’s allow God’s Light in us to shine through so that all others see is Him.

P.S. – We re-ordered our accessory and are told it should be here tomorrow. When it arrives (I’m believing in faith, y’all), I may take a picture of it to celebrate!

*image by 123RF.com

Seeking Hearts Ministries

Overworking the Dough

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Contentment is something none of us like to talk about, or maybe it’s just me that doesn’t like to talk about it. It is definitely not part of the American Dream and is often seen as a lifestyle with no goals, no ambition and a “going with the flow” kind of an attitude like that not too smart surfer dude we’ve all seen on T.V.

Biblical contentment is so different from this picture. In fact, I think that the Biblical rendition of contentment is some of the hardest work we are called to do. There is nothing lazy about it. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4 that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself. He says in verse twelve, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Notice he says there is a secret to contentment and he had to learn it. He admits to us that contentment does not happen naturally. It takes work, but Paul doesn’t leave us in suspense. In the very next verse he tells us how he has learned the secret of contentment. It says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul willingly admits that only through Christ’s strength can contentment be a part of who he is and who we are. That doesn’t sound lazy to me. In fact, contentment sounds like hard work if it can only be accomplished through the strength of Christ.

We see that contentment is not defined by laziness, it’s defined by resting in Christ’s strength. There is a big difference. Laziness is simply sitting on your bum and not doing the work you are called to do. Resting is completing necessary tasks and then, you guessed it… resting.

It reminds me of baking bread. When baking bread, you get your recipe out that the great recipe creator of all time designed (Betty Crocker). You put your ingredients on the counter. You mix all of the ingredients at their proper time and in their proper way, checking your recipe continually and then, you work the dough. You knead it until your wrists are going to fall off. Then, you let it rest. You might go to another task, or you might read a book for a while, or even watch T.V., but you leave that dough alone. Are you being lazy? No! You are content with letting the bread rise. When the time is right, you go back to the dough, work with it some more and once again allow it to rest. At the proper time, the dough finally gets put in the oven where once again you will rest while the bread is doing its thing. The awesome aroma of baked bread fills the space and you are content knowing that the recipe you followed has helped produce the results you want.

In our spiritual life, just like in the process of physically making bread, we get the recipe out (the Word of God) and we get the ingredients together for the task He has before us (Don’t worry. His Spirit will tell you through His Word what those ingredients need to be). As we check the recipe continually, we are sure to mix the right ingredients at the proper time and in the right amounts. Then, we work the ingredients until His Spirit in us says to let it rest. I think this is the hardest part. We look at the lump of dough and then back at God and say, “But, it’s not finished.” We try to work the dough more and finally He has to stop us in some way knowing that we will ruin the dough if we don’t allow it to rest. This is what contentment is all about. Trust. We have to know that even though we aren’t “working the dough”, He is.  Second Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” This verse tells us that we are called, but ultimately, He does the work. He is completing the perfect work while we rest in Him. Are we lazy? No. Some of the hardest work we will ever do will be resting in Him, learning contentment and not over-working the dough.

I might just nail that phrase to my forehead: “Don’t overwork the dough!” If there is something that drives me to distraction, it is an uncompleted task. Learning contentment is knowing when to step back and let the dough rest in Him. That doesn’t mean it’s unfinished. It just means He has it handled. Contentment is remembering that if I keep working the dough it will become an unusable, elastic mess, but when I allow it to rest in Him, it will turn out perfect every time.

Let’s press in close to Him this week, allowing Him to speak to us as we read the recipe of His Word over and over again, teaching us what ingredients to place on the counter (knowing that He has already provided every one) and then allowing Him to gently remove our hands when our part is completed in the task knowing that He who began the good work will complete it (Philippians 1:6). That’s the secret of contentment Paul was referring to. That’s allowing Him to be strong in us. That’s allowing the dough to be perfected. Rest in Him today.

 

Seeking Hearts Ministries

My Story

 

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