Faith On Every Corner - April 2021

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April 2021

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? Matthew 6:26 NKJV

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COVER PHOTO BY SONIA SOUSA Sonia has spent a good portion of her working years in the sales, marketing, digital design and product photography arena. This led her to start photographing flora and fauna as a hobby, and cultivating her knowledge of different species of birds, and their habitats, calls and behavior. Spending time outdoors and studying the complexities of different ecosystems opened her eyes to the importance of the education and conservation efforts needed to preserve this for generations to come. Email: View photography portfolio on Instagram: @soniasousaphotography


NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Thank you for taking the time to read our magazine. We are so pleased with the articles, poetry, and devotions throughout the magazine. We hope you will enjoy it as much as we do putting it together. Did you know you can download it and take your time reading through the articles? Try it and let us know what you think. Well, Spring is here, and the weather is warming up. Soon it will be time for sitting outside and enjoying the warmth of the sun. Be sure you take time away from your phone and computer to enjoy life around you. Our magazine continues to grow and is being read in over 78 countries. Our major readership is in the United States and growing state-by-state monthly. If you would take a minute to share the magazine with your family and friends through e-mail, blogs, or post the link on your social media sites, we would appreciate it greatly.


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We appreciate you! Please take a few minutes to share with your family and friends and be sure to read each article. This issue is packed with great stories!

We love to hear from you, our readers. Let us know what you think of the magazine. If you have a suggestion, send it to us at Team@FaithOnEveryCorner. com. To our writers—thank you for being faithful in your writing. As disciples, we are to spread the Good News and you all do it so well. May God continue to bless you all as you listen to His guidance on what to write. If you would like to talk to a Team Member, please drop an email to Blessings, Karen PAGE 2

The Master’s Touch by Karen Ruhl

I love to paint and work with different mediums from canvas to wood. I learn something new each time I work on a new project. Most of my projects include some type of paint—I guess I am a kid at heart and love to use my brushes. I stopped by an art store and found paint called Master’s Touch on sale. Of course, it went in my cart. The other day, I opened the new paint and used it for a project. I loved the paint and the way it glided on my canvas and I thought about how I need to spend more time with my painting and really study so I would grow. All at once, it made me think about our Master, our Heavenly Father, and The Master’s Touch. After I started studying the Word and praying for wisdom and knowledge, I felt His touch and recognized when He was talking to me. Not audibly, but through scripture, photos, or by someone saying something that confirmed what I heard. Have you ever felt the Master’s Touch? Maybe you are taking a walk and just feel his presence in everything around you. Or you welcome a new baby into your family and can see the Master’s Touch in this new creation. For me, I can feel his touch when I am out with my camera, reading scripture, or singing praise songs. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV) I love this verse, and I believe God has given each of us talents to use for the Kingdom. Looking back on all my jobs and experiences, I can see how He wants me to use those talents today. I feel his touch when I am following His word. 4PAGE | M3 AG A Z I N E N A M E

On the same day I used The Master’s Touch paints, I opened a new packet of brushes called The Fine Touch. The brushes and paint together worked so well together. I realized these were not even professional brushes. They are student brushes and paints. The quality is great and certainly all I need. And yet, I knew at that moment that I still needed to take more lessons and to read and watch videos to strengthen my talent. With the magazine, Craig and I are reading scripture, articles, and creating content every day. We are in the Bible, yet we have to remind each other that we need to study together. There is a plethora of information on the internet to help you study. Many books are available, and your local churches have Bible studies and small groups to help you learn. Being a student of His word is how we grow in our faith. We learn about the gifts He gives us, and how we should use them to encourage and help others. We change. We love deeper. We learn to speak differently, to share His word and wisdom. We seek others that share our faith to help build us up. Yes, we change once we have felt The Master’s touch. I encourage you to find a good Bible-based church. Go to a few and see how you react to the preaching and the people who attend. Find a place to learn and grow. Like painting, you must study, practice, and put effort into learning more. I pray you feel The Master’s Touch each day as you study, pray, and listen for His voice. Blessings to your day. - Karen

TABLE OF CONTENTS The Master’s Touch ... by Karen Ruhl ... page 3 My Faith Journey Story ... by Gini Walker ... page 5 Resting In The Promises of God ... by Melissa Henderson ... page 7 Priviledged People ... by Andrea Marino ... page 9 Creating A Healthy Living Environment ... by Dr. Kathleen Oden ... page 11 The Garden ... by Pamela McCormick ... page 13 Prone To Wander ... by Nicole Byrum ... page 15 Faith / Learning Endurance / Faith & Hope / Life’s Best ... John Alexander ... page 17 When Your Heart Is Breaking ... by Gina Sewell ... page 19 Seasons Of Faith ... by Karen Ruhl ... page 20 April Prayer ... by Tynea Lewis ... page 21 Whiter Than Snow ... Randi McNiel ... page 22 The Seaons: They Are A Changin’ ... by Scott Dunn ... page 23 A Glimpse Of A Finer World ... by Lynn Downham ... page 25 Dear Carl ... by Anna Friend ... page 27 Onesimas House ... Gini Walker ... page 29 Little Known Facts About Stewardship ... by Joseph Akinrinola ... page 31 Road Trippin’ Around North Carolina ... by Karen Ruhl ... Pages 33 My First Mission Trip To Serve The Lord ... Cindy Oriol ... page 35 Overcoming Our Seasons ... by Yvonne M. Morgan ... page 37 My Story Of Living Aligned To God’s Design ... Tami Thorsen ... page 39 Bookshelf ... Book Reviews ... Page 41 Fear ... by Craig D. Lounsbrough ... page 43 Why You Shouldn’t Get Involved ... Christina Sinisi ... page 45 Oh What A Beautiful Son ... Brenda McDaniel ... page 47 Seed: Seasons Of Faith ... P. Diane Buie .... Page 48 The Donkey And The King ... Krystle Nicole Martin ... page 49 The Post Of The Resurrection ... Gittel Fruma ... Page 51 In The Hospital ... Rolanda Pyle ... page 53 Thank You Volunteers ... Rolanda Pyle ... page 54 The Hope Center: Equipping Women To Choose Life ... Joel Berry ... page 55 Being Still In Faith ... Mike Buchanan ... page 57 The Hardest Thing For A Christian To Pray ... Sharon Connell ... page 59 Can I Do All Things? ... Tim Ferrara ... page 61 Bringing Joy To The World ... Joy Rendulic ... page 63 Springtime Is Here & Poems ... Chad Thieman ... page 65 M AG A Z I N E N A M E &O R URL | 4 5 PAGE

My Faith Journey Story by Gini Walker

Although her parent and siblings were born in Arkansas, Gini was born and raised in California. She has been married to Charlie for more than 53 years. They live in Orange County, CA. Their son and daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and grandson live nearby. Gini was active in the education of elementary school-age children. Feeling a misfit in education, she turned to and became active in adult ministry at their church. Gini and Charlie have a joint ministry—12 years ago, Charlie designed and built a guest house on the back of their property. It is named Onesimus House, a gift from God of respite and renewal to missionaries from around the world. They call themselves God’s caretakers of this delightful place of rest and renewal. Gini’s hobbies are gardening, reading, and writing. Their 3-year-old dog, Jackson, is such a joy in their lives. Gini and Charlie are members of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Orange County.

When my dad heard my mom was pregnant with me in the mid-1940’s he said, “I could have done without that”… not easy news for a man with an 8th-grade education, barely making ends meet with three children, one of whom had severe physical disabilities. My sense of worthlessness and insecurity was very much the driving force in my life. And dad’s hot temper and deeply felt emotions were the traits I took as my own. Strange as it may seem, in this ambiguous atmosphere, I knew Dad loved God and was a believer in Jesus. In my mirroring of Dad, I wanted his faith, but my troubling doubts of value kept me in that state of worthlessness. How could God love this strong-willed, explosive, insecure person? I had no peace. In the early years of my married life, I attempted to resolve the ambivalence and experienced a spiritual surrender of self to Jesus BUT my rebelliousness kept me wandering. I wanted life my way. So, the doubts of worth continued.

I believe God touched my brain and said, “I want your attention.” Although the rebellious issues still taunt me, more of His Words keep me centered: “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. (Psalm 51:1 NLT) Again and again, God’s timing in my life has been impeccable… I am so glad He took the initiative because in 2005 our son married and in 2008 and 2011 our two grandchildren were born. What I would be missing if I continued my rebellious wanderings! There are three things that convince me most of God’s love: Our complex universe, the complex design of my mind and body, and the moral code I have regarding right and wrong. For me, these needed a creator. And this Creator personally loves me beyond any love I’ve ever known.

The Bible says in Psalm 40 (NLT), “... and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” I took these words personally. I believed God does care about my day-to-day existence. Yet, I was SO rebellious. So God took the initiative. In 1999, I had a growth in my brain causing life-changing health issues. 6PAGE | M5 AG A Z I N E N A M E 3

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. ~ Psalm 46: 1-3 NKJV

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Resting in The Promises of God By Melissa Henderson Easter Sunday is an emotional time for my family. As we prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, our hearts are filled with memories of a special Easter in 1998. On April 12, 1998, which was Easter Sunday that year, my Daddy passed into the arms of the Lord. Daddy had been diagnosed with lung cancer. His experience with lung cancer was a rough one. After Daddy went through numerous tests to find the cause of his coughing, trouble breathing, and fatigue, our family sat in the doctor’s office and waited for guidance and answers. Mama, Daddy, my two sisters, Carol and Glenda, and I each chose a chair around a large table in the conference room. The doctor spoke and gave us the lung cancer diagnosis. We were heartbroken. We had questions, and the doctor tried to answer each one. I wanted to know what would happen next. I wanted to “fix” the problem. Each one of us handled the news differently. Some moments we spoke out with concerns about a plan of action, while in other moments, we sat still shocked at the news. With a plan in place, Daddy would receive radiation treatments over a course of time. We had no idea when or if the treatments would help. We prayed for Daddy to have relief from this terrible disease. Sadness filled our hearts.

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Our Daddy was a true gentleman. He never met a stranger. He helped people with whatever they needed, even when he didn’t have anything to spare. I remember standing beside Daddy in church. I was a young girl and was very proud of my Daddy. His deep voice singing the old hymns while I watched in awe. His suit fit perfectly and his strong hands held the hymnal down low so I could follow along. At home, he read the Bible aloud and helped me memorize John 3:16. We sat on the living room floor and he pointed out verse after verse and shared their meaning. My sisters and I each have unique and special memories of Daddy. We told each other, “You are his favorite.” When, in fact, we three girls were all his favorites. On Sunday, April 12, 1998, when we realized he was nearing the end of his earthly life, Hospice was called to come and give an assessment. The nurse was patient, calm, and compassionate. We appreciated her kindness. As family members gathered at his bedside, we watched as each passing moment brought his breath slower and slower, until there was no more breath left to exhale. My sisters and I each have a different recollection of some of the things that happened that day. I do believe God blessed us with special memories that are unique to each of us.

Daddy would have wanted things that way. We all felt honored and blessed to be at Daddy’s side as he passed into the arms of Jesus. Our son, Mike, had a very close relationship with Daddy. Mike was 14 years old when Daddy died. Mike was there at the bedside, too. The experience is etched in his mind forever. Though my tears wouldn’t stop then and are pouring down my face now as I share these memories, I know one of the major things that helped me through that experience. I rested in the promises of God. I never questioned my faith. But there were seasons or times when my faith was stronger than other times. I knew God had a plan for Daddy. I am truly honored and blessed to have had a Daddy who loved the Lord and shared that love with me. Thank you, Daddy. Thank You, God. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

Click this link to purchase Melissa’s books. We are proud owners of both books. Karen & Craig Ruhl

Blessings, Melissa Henderson

Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of “Licky the Lizard” and “Grumpy the Gator”. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at

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With a yearning to uncover the secret to life, Andrea embarked on a journey to discover truth. The study of Psychology proved inadequate, while the forces of darkness began to make their presence known. The Hobble, from Ai to Bethel encompasses Andrea’s personal victory over fear and bondage to the enemy. Passionate in sharing God’s Good News about Jesus, the author desires to encourage people to never lose hope. Because we all ‘hobble’ before God in need of Him. When not writing, Andrea loves spending time with her children and grandchildren, and enjoys cycling on the open roads with her husband, David.

Priviledged People By Andrea Marino The Bible speaks of the gospel being veiled to those who are perishing. But to those who turn to the Lord—these see His glory. We may be catching glimpses of God’s magnificence now; still, it is the glory of God that is transforming us into the image of His Son. (see 2 Corinthians Chapters 3 and 4). I find that thrilling. I find it comforting to know the Holy Spirit, dwelling within me, is making this happen. He is the “down payment” of our inheritance and leads us into all truth. What a privilege to be a child of the living God. Songwriter Keith Green, in Your Love Broke Through, describes the unveiling of the Lord’s glory to him as “waking up from the longest dream.” After addressing a crowd with ‘the parable of the sower’ (Mathew, Chapter 13), the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke that way, in parables. Referencing a farmer sowing seeds in various types of soil would seem a type of ‘veiled language’ with which to teach about the Kingdom of God. The Lord’s response to the disciples was that these were mysteries given to them to know. Faith in God is necessary to understand truth. In contrast, is an assortment of ideas based on feelings. I see this ‘veil of deception’ all the time in discussions on social media, people under the influence of the mind-blinding god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). A continuance of rejecting God and His truth will only lead a person to a tragic end. Jesus describes hell as permanent torment, ‘where the worm does not die’. (Mark 9:48). Jesus drew the

‘line in the sand’. The Word is clear: “Anyone who is not with Me is against Me.” (Mathew 12:30 HCSB) I recently heard a prominent politician declaring God’s will had no place in America’s government. It is difficult to speak to people whose hearts have grown callous by an act of their God-given will. Jesus says of these, “their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn back– and I would cure them.” (Mathew 13:15 HCSB) Satan may be the great deceiver, but God is full of light and truth. Having won the battle against evil, He desires that no man should perish. The phrase, ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see,’ is a paraphrase of Jeremiah 5:21. While preparing this article, feeling frustration in trying to speak Gospel truth to unbelievers and combined with my anguish at the loss of freedoms taking place in our nation, God brought to my mind a portion of my book, The Hobble, from Ai to Bethel. The scene is between Mary and a man named Jah, who was beloved by many. While Jah is Jesus, come to the little town of Shiloh in flesh and blood to offer God’s love to one unbeliever, Jah is not so recognizable to anyoneexcept Mary. Convinced he is the Son of God, and hoping to persuade him from leaving the area

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after his mission is complete, Mary attempts to persuade Jah to stay. Mary Magdalene clung to Jesus, just wanting Him near her always. I, too, was experiencing this longing of wanting Jesus, to feel Him really, really close. Here is the case for faith. After Mary tells Jah people recognize him as a great teacher and prophet, she discloses her feelings of finding those words inadequate. Jah then asks, “Who do you think I am?” Swallowing hard, Mary outright answers that she thinks He is the Son of God and provides examples as to how she has drawn her conclusion. (On a side note, I grappled with Jah’s response to Mary for quite some time, changing his response over and over.) And so, turning to that conversation in my book, I reread Jah’s words to Mary. “Great are His mysteries. Beyond human intelligence,” was prefaced before Jah assures Mary she had chosen wisely in trusting the Lord. Jah then affirms, “As signs and wonders have occurred through the ages for the success and prosperity of God’s people, so are His revelations to you; for you to possess the abundant life now and for all eternity.” Truly, the hidden things belong to the Lord and are revealed to His children. (Deuteronomy 29:29) In the first chapter of Joshua is given the means of success and prosperity, that of careful observance of God’s instruction (verses 7 and 8). The Lord told His servant, Joshua, to prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land He was giving them. “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 HCSB) Comforting words. I am thankful to be part of a privileged people.

Click on the photo of the book to purchase from Amazon.

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Creating A Healthy Living Environment By Dr. Kathleen Oden

A healthy living lifestyle includes more than just eating healthy. Our environment plays a huge part in how we feel. The main reason so many people today are having health issues is due to the chemicals not only in our food but also, in our everyday environment. Using natural products like essential oil is excellent for creating a healthy living environment for people and pets! Unfortunately, we cannot get rid of all of the chemicals in our life. But we can lower the amount in our body by (#1) eating fewer foods that contain chemicals and (#2) by raising the amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrition we consume. You can start this process by making sure you read EVERY label on the food products and cleaning products you purchase. Beware of products that say “ALL-NATURAL” OR “HEALTHY” because there could be ingredients in that product that are NOT all-natural or healthy for consumption. Also, beware of dyes. I accidentally dropped a white paper napkin in a glass of grape drink. Well, let me just say, it was labeled as grape drink. The dyes separated and half the napkin was red and half was blue. “YUK!”

to the supermarket to buy cleaning supplies filled with chemicals, you can fill up a spray bottle with vinegar and water, add a few drops of essential oil and clean your appliances, along with all of the glass in your home. Creating DIY household cleaning supplies can also save you a lot of money! The price of namebrand cleaners can range from $5 and up! Spring cleaning is right around the corner. You can start now by getting rid of all those smelly chemicals residing under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. It’s time to create a “chemical-free” healthy living environment, for you, your family, and your fur babies! Essential oils are highly potent. That means you can use just 5 to 30 drops of an oil (depending on the formula) to make an entire bottle of cleaner that can last for months. Other all-natural ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda, water, and castile soap, are also inexpensive. You will be amazed at the number of chemical products you can now replace with your all-natural DIY cleaning products.

Making your own natural cleaning recipes is not time-consuming or expensive. In fact, quite the opposite is true. In less time than it takes to drive





CLEANING WITH ESSENTIAL OILS • Essentials Oils are antibacterial. • Inexpensive and smell great! • You have peace of mind knowing exactly what you are putting into your home and body! • Essential Oils are good for–getting rid of germs, sanitizing the kitchen and bathroom, fighting mold, and more! BEST OILS FOR CLEANING • Cinnamon • Citrus oils - lemon & orange • Eucalyptus • Lemongrass • Peppermint • Tea Tree • Pine

Dr. Kathleen B. Oden is an author, missionary, and Bible teacher. She has been the Administrator of God’s House of Refuge Church & School of Evangelism, for 25 years. Dr. Oden attained a Doctorate degree in Christian Theology in 2000. After a bad fall in 2014, she realized that she had to start eating healthy, in order to fully recover. She became a Certified Health Minister and a Certified Essential Oil Coach. She loves ministering to people and God gave her a health ministry called, Create AnewU Health Ministry. Her health ministry has opened the door for her to share what the WORD OF GOD has to say about eating healthy. Dr. Oden has published over 20 books through and several of them are about health and wellness.

Great tips and tricks by Dr. Kathleen B. Odean DIY CLEANING RECIPES All-Purpose Spray Cleaner Add 5 drops of lemon oil & 5 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle filled with warm water. Bathtub Cleaner Mix ½ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of vinegar & 5 drops of lemon, lime or bergamot oil. Scrub the bathtub & rinse with water to remove residue. Carpet Deodorizer Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with borax to make a homemade carpet powder. Apply it evenly to the carpet, then vacuum. Floor Cleaner Combine 2 tablespoons of unscented liquid soap, 10 drops lemon oil & 5 drops tea tree oil. This cleaner is safe for most floors. Home Deodorizer Diffuse 5 - 10 drops of lemon, rosemary or orange oil, or your favorite. Trash Can Refresher Put a cotton ball with 2 drops each of lemon oil & tea tree oil at the bottom of the trash can to decrease odor and detoxify the air.





THE GARDEN by Pamela McCormick “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.” (I Come To The Garden Alone by C. Austin Miles 1912) I had been going through a trial and I did not feel God close. I even had thoughts that He had abandoned me. It was a week before Easter; I heard that our church had set up a prayer garden with stations set up where I could seek God and pray. I did not know what this prayer garden would yield when I went. The first stop was the cross. The huge wooden cross was so tall. I fell to my knees and wept. My pants were tan, and the mulch was dark, almost black, but I just knelt anyhow and cried many tears. I wanted to say so much to God, but I had no words. My eyes were drawn to some purple and yellow pansies growing near the foot of the cross. I started smiling. Such delicate, tiny flowers, but oh, so beautiful.

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I got up and moved towards the next prayer station. It was just a short distance away. I saw two squirrels chasing each other up a tree and heard a bluebird singing a song. My smile grew bigger. As I moved to the next prayer station, I saw some pink and white dogwood trees. The wind was blowing slightly, and the trees swayed as if they were dancing, causing their petals to fall on the path in front of me. The path was covered with a tapestry of pink and yellow petals, and I felt like a bride walking down the aisle of a church on her wedding day to see her groom. All this because I listened and went where the Lord wanted me to go. It was a moment I will never forget. All my doubts, fears, hurt didn’t matter. God met me in the garden and reminded me that He loved me. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)

Every girl dreams of being married in a church dressed in white with petals of flowers under her feet as she goes to her groom. As I became pregnant before marriage, I was not allowed to wear white or get married in a church. But He was going to make me smile that day in the garden and provide what hadn’t happened very specially. He’s so good. I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10 NIV)

Pam McCormick is an aspiring writer who recently retired from teaching in the public school and community college setting and still enjoys tutoring Algebra at the local library. Pam had a story, “The End,” published in Isothermal’s magazine, The Mentor, in December, 2014. Pam was also published in December 2016 in collaboration with eight other authors to write a devotional book, Ancient Stones Timeless Encouragement. Pam is a member of the Encouragers’ Christian Writers’ Group that meets monthly. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and tent camping with her husband, watching old time westerns, doing crossword puzzles and spending time with her daughter in Kentucky and her son, his wife and granddaughters, Merryn and Charlotte in Fuquay-Varina. Every other Sunday, she visits a nursing home and teaches a Bible study, feeling very blessed by God for this divine opportunity to share her love for her Savior. Pam has recently chosen to work on being more health conscious by eating a better diet and exercising more. Although tough times have come along her journey with God, she finds solace in the Truth that God is always there, just a prayer away, ready to help her get back up on her feet and start afresh. You can contact her at

Let your manner of living be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have. For He hath said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” ~Hebrews 13:5 NKJV

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P R O N E TO WA N D E R by Nicole Byrum

Have you ever wondered why doing the things that are good for you come with such difficulty? We know that exercise, even 20 minutes of walking, is beneficial to our physical health. Yet so often we neglect this activity. Similarly, we know that eating fruits and vegetables provides our bodies with the vitamins and nutrients we need to feel good and stay healthy. Nevertheless, we opt for cookies or takeout over the much-needed produce in our fridge. This principle is true even when it comes to our relationships. We know we should put the phone down and have a meaningful conversation with our spouse, but instead, we choose to keep scrolling. Why do we do this? It seems to come down to a matter of desire; for what we desire most in the moment is what we are inclined to choose. As much as we might want to be healthy and fit, there are moments when our desires for convenience or rest are even stronger. So instead of choosing what we know is the better thing for us, we eat the junk food and forgo the workout. Essentially, we give up the thing we really want because our desire for it weakens. Somehow we forget how good it actually is.

The same can be said of our walk with the Lord as far too often our desires for the things of this world trump our desire for the things of God. For instance, as much as we want to cultivate a growing relationship with our Heavenly Father, there are many moments when we instead more strongly desire the mindless entertainment of television or social media over time spent in the Word or prayer. Or more simply, we come to desire the entanglements of sin more than our relationship with Jesus. The heart of the matter is, we are a people prone to wander when we lose sight of the glory of God. In turn, our desire for Him fades and we forget our first love. C.S. Lewis put it this way: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” What then can be done?


Perhaps we can take our cue from Robert Robinson, the author of one of my favorite hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. In the hymn he writes: O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee

Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; Take my heart, O take and seal it, with Thy Spirit from above

From this beautiful verse, we have three great take-a-ways. First, the importance of remembering the grace of God. In our pride it’s easy to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, falling for the lies that we “deserve” to focus on ourselves and the worldly things we believe will make us happy. Rather, in humility may we see ourselves as we really are: sinners saved solely by the grace of God. When we bear this right view of ourselves our hearts cannot help but grow in admiration and affection for the author of our salvation. Second, the more we meditate on the goodness of our Heavenly Father, the more our hearts will be bound to Him. Why? Because God’s goodness is powerful! Consider Romans 2:4, which tells us that God’s goodness leads us to repentance. Furthermore, Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (NKJV). It is His goodness that satisfies our souls. When we fully realize this, we will be far less tempted to seek our satisfaction in anything else.

Third, the need for a daily prayer of surrender. We, like Robinson, can ask God to take our hearts and seal them only for Him; for in our own power, we will certainly fail. Rather, we can pray daily for nothing to capture our hearts as the Gospel does. As did David in the Psalms, we can ask God to restore to us the joy of our salvation, confidently knowing that He will do so. It’s no mystery that as long as we are on this earth, the desires of the flesh will always war against the desires of the Spirit. But as we daily recall the grace and goodness of God and petition Him in prayer, our desire for Him will increase and the mud pies of this world will seem less and less appealing. By the grace of God Himself, we will not wander from the God we love.

Nicole is a therapist and writer who is passionate about family, faith, and recovery. She is the author of Remade: Living Free, a book that explores topics related to substance abuse, recovery, and unhealthy relationships from a biblical perspective.

Click on book cover to purchase.


John Alexander lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Visit Quiet Time Rhymes

Life’s Best By John Alexander Sometimes perplexed by what to say, I seldom try to lead or sway. Instead, I try to share my heart, Reach out with words, God’s love impart.


By John Alexander As I contemplated the topic of Seasons of Faith, I was drawn to those times in my life when I needed the Lord the most to get me through. Those times when circumstances beyond my control come into my life and I reached out to God with faith that He would see me through the storm came to mind. I am reminded of high school football practice when the coach would put us through a “gut check.” He helped us learn our strength, endurance, and perseverance. It was hard going through it, but we came out on the other side knowing that we were strong. Enduring tough times beyond our control stretches us and grows our faith. One of those times hit mid-February when my wife had an unexpected emergency heart bypass surgery. Thankfully, the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted just enough that I could be by her side all day every day in the ICU and then the hospital room as she pulled through. The first twenty-four hours after the surgery were touch and go. Praise the Lord, she’s now recovering well at home as I write this. I pray your faith is strong and that you will find peace in the midst of storms that come into your life. I’d like to share a few poems that speak of those times.

I don’t know what you’re going through. I know God’s love is there for you. He’s helped me walk through times of stress, He brings me peace and not distress. Regardless of what life will bring, The Lord will help my heart to sing. Although I don’t know who you are, Or whether you’re from near or far, I lift a prayer this day for you. I pray you know God’s love is true. I pray this day that you are blessed, And know God’s love, life at its best.

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Faith and Hope By John Alexander

Learning Endurance By John Alexander

Through valleys may your faith be strong. I pray that hope may be your song.

Some weeks I am glad when they’ve come to an end, Those weeks I got through with the prayers of a friend.

May you look toward what’s yet to be, Believe the things you cannot see. May you find comfort in God’s Word, Your soul refreshed by what you’ve heard. May you have faith to walk today, To trust in Christ to lead the way, Not just today but all the year To live by faith, abandon fear.

It’s those who surround me and lift me in prayer Who help me remember God’s love and His care. I’m reminded when weary of running the race, There is good that can come from each day that I face. I’m learning endurance and trust in the Lord. I’ll remember these times as the days my faith soared. The Lord brings me peace in the midst of the storm. His Spirit enables calm thoughts to take form.

May you be given wings to fly; May troubles fade as you soar high.

He’s lead me through troubles and hardships before. I know I can trust Him to do it once more.

May you know and feel God’s love, Your spirit long for things above.

The news reports chaos, and fighting, and strife. I pray it won’t last for the rest of my life.

May you know peace that God can bring, To feel the joy once more to sing.

I pray that the hatred will come to an end. Lord help us to love and to heal and to mend.

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When Your Heart is Breaking By Gina Sewell

Gina Sewell is a mom and grandma who lives in the Dallas, Texas area, where she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She loves to write about Jesus and encourage others. Gina shares her journey on her website:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NIV) Have you ever had a broken heart? Has someone absolutely crushed you? Maybe your spouse, or a family member? More than likely; we all have, at one time or another. But we know that as long as we are on this earth, we will have troubles. Sin brought that into being. Sin has caused such great sorrow for every one of us. How do we hold on when our lives are in total turmoil and the pain is unbearable? As much as we love the Lord, why does it seem easier to turn away? You know, sometimes it does feel that way. We want to escape our pain. It doesn’t work that way with Jesus. He knows we have to face the pain we’re feeling, but He is right there with us through it all, and that love and comfort strengthens us. He is close to the brokenhearted. He reminds us of this many times throughout the Bible. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) tells us, “ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am the Lord your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NLT) Go to God in prayer. Ask him to strengthen you. Ask him to heal your heart, to bind up your wounds. Meditate on His Word. Focus your eyes on him and, not only will he help you through it, you will come out the other side stronger than ever before. Prayer: Father God, I come to you today to ask for comfort to all those who are suffering. We know you love us, Lord. We know that’s why you sent your son to die on the cross for us. Help each person who is suffering, reach out to you and be able to feel your loving arms around them. You are here with us, Lord. Thank you and we love you so much. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

There are always struggles in this world, but if we refuse to let go of the Lord, refuse to let Satan in, we will get through them. Remember Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV), “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan has a field day with the brokenhearted because they are the most vulnerable, but not when we have Jesus. 20 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 19

Seasons Of Faith by Karen Ruhl

Have you ever met someone who seems to be so strong in their faith, even in hard circumstances? They inspire me, and I dig deeper to find that solid faith that they seem to have. It is probably normal for many of us to get busy and have less time to read the Bible or go to a Bible study. And yet, that person, the one who seems so strong in their faith, they seem to make time. We recently had an experience with a man that had very strong faith. He was Craig’s heart doctor for his ablation in March. He came to the pre-op room to go over the procedure with Craig. After he asked if we had any questions and when we said no; he asked Craig if he could pray with him. I know my mouth dropped open and then we bowed our heads, and he said a beautiful prayer covering Craig, himself, and the team at the hospital. Amazing faith, amazing dedication, and love for the Lord. If you have met me, you know that I will go to prayer anywhere, anytime. I have strong faith, but in certain seasons - or situations - I am not as strong as I would like to be. As I sat waiting for word on Craig, I went to a quiet corner and confessed that I was a bit fearful. We have had so many miracles with Craig and healing, but I did not want to feel that I was leaning on what we had experienced in the past. As I talked to God, He kept saying—have faith. This procedure took 5 hours, which is a long time, but the nurse called me and gave me updates along the way to let me know everything was going well.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. ~Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV

I thought again about the doctor saying a prayer before the surgery and about the way we were treated at this hospital, and I knew Craig would be fine and come through this procedure with no complications. And he did. And I praise God. This season was shortlived, and it strengthened me. God is so good. Praying your seasons of faith continue to grow and strengthen you too. Blessings, Karen Ruhl

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April Prayer By Tynea Lewis

Everyone Who is in the Middle of a Trial Lord, we pray for everyone who is in the middle of a trial. It is wearing on us, and it feels like we are breaking. The exhaustion it brings is overwhelming, and it feels relentless. Too often we turn to things of this world to escape the struggle. Help us turn to you and cling to the hope that can only be found in you. We are excited to annouce that Tynea will be writing a Prayer Column each month. Tynea Lewis is a teacher turned workfrom-home mom. She and her husband live in Pennsylvania with their two children, and they love spending time together at their family cabin. Tynea remembers loving to write as early as first grade. She has a heart for encouraging others in the midst of their messes. You can connect with her at her personal blog (, on Instagram (@TyneaLewis), or Facebook (@TyneaLewisWriter).

We know that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, which we need to be mature and complete, but Lord, it’s hard. It feels overwhelming, but you are near. Our help comes from you. No matter what is happening around us, it’s you who walks by our side. It’s you who calms the storm. It’s you who strengths us. In you, we find our refuge. Thank you for being our refuge and strength. Thank you for being our ever-present help in trouble. Never have you let us down. Never will you turn from us. We ask that this trial draw us closer to you. You are greater than any trial we face. Help us to see your hand at work and help us focus on your goodness. Lord, you have a mighty plan in the midst of this mess, and you’re going to work everything out for the good of those who love you. Thank you for your unconditional love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Whiter Than Snow By Randi McNiel

In late February, Texas was slammed with a snowstorm. My other daughter, Kari, showed pictures of snow 3 to 4 inches thick in San Antonio where it doesn’t usually snow. Their pool was covered with a thick layer of ice, and snow remained on the ground for 4-5 days. She remembered what Carole had said about the snow casting light even after dark, and when she looked out her upstairs window at night, she found it to be true. It was like it never really got dark.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:1-7 NIV)

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18 NIV) Kari later reflected on the passages in Psalm 51:7 and Isaiah 1. When we confess our sins, God will forgive us and make us whiter than snow–clean, fresh, and pure. We will then be able to reflect His light in a dark world. That thought brought a whole new meaning to me of forgiveness. Not just to erase our sins, but to be renewed, to go forth—to reflect His light in a dark world.

My daughter, Carole, lives in Colorado where it snows. She mentioned being up late one night and looking out her window. There were very few lights, yet it didn’t seem dark. The snow appeared to cast a light to everything around it.

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The Seasons: They Are A-Changin’ by Scott Dunn

Words matter. How many times have you heard that or even said it? How many times have you listened to someone say, ‘We are in a difficult season.’ Or some derivative of that phrase? If you are like me, the answer is countless times. There is a good reason that we as Christians use the idea of seasons when we speak about the period that we are in, in our lives. This idea of seasons serves two distinct purposes, and I will get to them but let us cover how broadly seasons are used in the Bible. God introduces us to seasons at the very beginning of the Bible. In Genesis 1:14 (ESV) we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,’”—In this way, God establishes that all life on Earth exists in a constantly changing environment. He designs His creation to adapt and evolve. God establishes the temporariness of rules in the Bible. In Daniel 2:21 (ESV) we can read, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; —In doing this, God gives us a clear message that power, given to humanity over one another, is temporary and was not meant to establish reigns of terror. Anything outside of God’s will is an aberration and can lead to sin. Jesus himself tells man clearly that we are not meant to know the entirety of God’s plans, and He explains it using seasons in Acts 1:7 (ESV), Jesus responds to the apostle’s inquiry of when the kingdom of Israel will be restored, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’”— God makes it clear He is sovereign.

Lastly, God gives us great comfort in one of the Wisdom Books in the Bible. In fact, an entire chapter is dedicated to the temporariness of our humanity here on Earth. I will give a snippet, but all of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 speaks to this seasonal design in our lives. We read this from Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (ESV), “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”—In this way, God gives us both reality that painful times do occur, but great hope that joyful things are returned, and we are not locked into a spiral of discomfort. Seasons are designed by God and intentionally implemented in our lives for two distinct purposes. The first is a no-brainer because God has created a wide range of life, all with various purposes (Why wasps, though?), and those creatures operate life based on the changes of the seasons.

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some interesting and quirky things when the seasons change. While the whole of creation operates on these seasonal changes, we forget their purpose, and it just becomes something we say, this being in a certain season of life. Putting aside God’s perfectly designed seasons of change that are rooted in nature. Let us turn to the second distinct purpose of these seasons in life. The seasons themselves represent an allegory of how we live our own lives. I am not just speaking in the terms of birth being Spring and dying being Winter although, that is, in fact, there. It is a huge part, but I want to get away from the macroscopic view and focus on the microscopic part for this. The difference is that on a microscopic level, experiences feel more impactful because of the immediacy of our predicament. The sharp pain of an unexpected loss, even an expected one. The stress of finances or a marriage that is weakening. The season you are thrown into with an event like those is powerful, sometimes immediate, and can be crippling but is generally ‘short’ on a macroscopic level. You do not go through life without the pain of loss of some kind; that is an impossibility. These difficult seasons exist for a reason; they are not punishment. God has not thrown a dart at a board and decided it was your turn to suffer in some way. It is an opportunity instead. God is reaching out to you in your time of need. He is telling you he wants a personal and deeply connected love relationship with you.

If your season is difficult, seek He who has authority over them. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Scott Dunn is a Christian husband and father who has spent over 15 years in the telecommunications industry. He is the founder of Talking with God (, a podcast that seeks to educate and encourage a closer relationship with God. Scott is a northerner who migrated south and has fully acclimated to the wonderful area known as the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He serves at his local church by helping with the production and online streaming of services. He has a genuine passion for the Christian man and his responsibilities, often writing about them on his blog Here he shares open and real-life experiences so that other men can relate to the human condition and how that relates to a stronger love relationship with God.

God gives us a choice; He has since creation. Choose to seek Him, and through Him, find a season of growth. Or choose to remain complacent and not know the depth of His love and strength as He designed it. Let me leave you with a powerful truth. God is not seasonal. He is like a mighty evergreen, always there, resilient, loving, and hand extended to welcome you into His comforting presence. Do not let our seasonal nature hide you from that undeniable truth.

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A GLIMPSE OF A FINER WORLD By Lynn Downham As I’m flying around this morning, trying to organize personal chaos, demands, chores, responsibilities, through physical pain, I hear the strains of a song from our new neighbor’s porch about, “holding on during the storm,” and I smile, thinking even though I’m running around like Puck in Shakespeare’s “Midsummer’s Night Dream” quoting, “I go, I go, look how I go! Faster than arrow from the Tartar’s bow!”, I can STILL glimpse the divine, the eternal and my own “thing” I’m trying to get to! I’m talking, of course, of our individual “gifts” from God, that thing that you and I do that is going to make a difference in this world for God and His kingdom. I, you, we, are surrounded by chaos and peace at the same time in this world and I can’t imagine a world where peace and order rule instead of peace and chaos. But to those who know the God of the Bible, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, it is possible to not only glimpse this future world that is coming, it is also within us to share a glimpse of this coming world with the unbelieving and with fellow believers. We, as humans, do not know who will be saved and who will not, and that is not our job. Our job is to live our lives in front of all as bearers of the truth and light of Jesus and pray for all to come to faith in Him. God has specifically gifted each soul with something special to share and we are to let NOTHING get in the 26 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 25

way of our sharing this with whomever we are to share it with. Take a good look back at history and you find that the great artists, composers, inventors, and writers were all surrounded by political upheaval and burdened with personal trials themselves. They saw what was going on and got back to work so they could accomplish what they were here to accomplish. We will do the same! Take a deep breath, wake up with God, put your armor on, pray without ceasing, stay in the Word and do your best to have a good day! God gives us grace for each day. I’m going to take mine, (the grace!) and get busy! I am now working on the Hebrew tree which is the Tree of Life or Jesus Tree done for the second time, but this time with the transliteration of the names for the Jewish people. Lord willing, I will finish this drawing, paint it, and find someone to do the calligraphy. I do not think my hand is steady enough to do the calligraphy anymore, (in ink!). Pray for me, brothers and sisters! I’ll be praying for you!

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NKJV)

Lynn Story Downham is a fourth generation artist who returned to North Carolina in 2014 after twenty-six years on the Florida panhandle. Her seventh family tree commission was for a “family tree for Jesus.” Twenty years later she is a bornagain believer with a best-selling print, a beautiful family and a passion for sharing Christ through her art.

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DEAR CARL By Anna Friend

Hello, Dear Carl fans I am thankful for your support of Carl’s mom. She has made a fresh start in the new year. In her mid80s, she thrives for quality of life and establishing a legacy of family love. Carl’s mom has lived in North Carolina for most of her life. She is a southern transplant and has enjoyed the culture, hospitality, and high regard for kin—family closeness. She became a widow in her early 40s and has only one son. Carl was just entering college when his dad died. Carl married a beautiful woman (Donna) with ties in Arizona. He moved and established his home in Arizona soon after college. Carl has 2 sons and is a grandfather of 3 children. Carl’s mom had friends and community work she enjoyed in North Carolina that kept her from moving to Arizona upon her husband’s death. She had lived in the home where she and her husband shared most of their married lives. She moved into a senior living cottage a few years ago. Every week, she sits at her dining table and writes her son a handwritten letter, though he calls her almost every Sunday. New this year—Carl’s mom is now living in her son’s home. She made an abrupt decision to move to Arizona upon the death of a close friend, and at the request of her daughter-in-law. Although Carl and his mother now have time for in-depth conversations, which she relishes, she has decided to continue to write letters to Carl each week. She is documenting her life and life lessons in them. She folds the letters neatly, places them in envelopes, seals, and dates them. She then stores them in a large wooden box that she inherited from her friend, Shirley. She wants to leave Carl his small family’s history and tie them with the assurance that her Lord and Savior was with her, her husband, their families, and Carl, even when they did not know Him.

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My dearest son, I hope you find the letters I left you as a comfort. I am feeling well and alive writing this one to you but again, as you are reading these, I am now in heaven with Jesus. Sometimes writing the name of Jesus still causes such awe in my spirit. There were days in my life when His name was an expression of surprise or even as an expletive. His name now resonates awesome power as I speak it. He is close like a brother and yet I uphold Him with much reverence. Having a spiritual relationship with Jesus has opened my eyes to see things so differently than before. Today looking across the street at the side yard of our neighbor, I saw a vibrant purple flower on a cactus. Who knew? I had no idea that something so fearsome could be so beautiful. Spring has a way of showing out! The Lord stirs hearts in the spring. Many people start cleaning out and cleaning up. They start sprucing up their homes and gardens. They plant and they wait. Soon they create new spaces to live in and enjoy. Flowers bloom and life seems to have a fresh start. Faith can work that way too, Carl. We trek through some dark spaces and seasons in life. Illnesses, pandemics, death, relationship struggles, and financial crises are part of the journey. They are termed seasons of suffering. We often partake in the sufferings of Christ, but He assures us that all things will work out for good to those who love Him. We pull through those challenging times and our faith grows. Not all bad things that prove good are rooted in deep spiritual revelations, however. I am reminded of a now comical incident which at first was a huge disappointment and frustration. When your dad and I were married, we took our honeymoon a few days later than our wedding day. We were traveling to Florida for our honeymoon on an airplane. In those days, passengers dressed up to fly on an airline. It was a big event, and a certain decorum was adhered to. I had spent the morning putting on several pairs of hosiery because my polished manicured fingernails kept puncturing them. Your dad did not rush me and spent his own significant time making sure his shoes were polished anew since wearing on our wedding day. We had to travel over an hour to get to the airport. I was in a baby blue suit, with a white pill-styled hat and white short gloves. He was in a suit, tie, slicked-backed hair, and his polished shoes. We walked up to the ticket counter and soon found out that we were more than fashionably late. The flight had left over an hour previously. Your dad had assumed the wrong time of the flight. We were too distracted to recheck the tickets to plan our arrival at the airport. We had to fly stand by that morning. I was angry and dad was disappointed in both me and his negligence. Your dad had arranged for champagne and flowers on the missed flight. The airline staff diligently maneuvered us onto another flight. We had the very back row and last seats. By the time lunch was served, I was calm and loving on my husband. The stewardess, as addressed then, served us beautiful meals before apologizing that the airlines ran out of lunches to serve us. We were served first-class dinners instead, with champagne! God even cares about the little things. He wants us to know He will make good out of our challenges and disappointments. Sometimes it is not always that obvious, but keep your eyes on Him and He will grow your faith. As for spring cleaning, Donna and I spent the morning cleaning out the pantry and kitchen cupboards. Tomorrow is recycling pickup day. I have no idea what is recyclable and not. I know I used to keep jars and cans under the sink because they were reusable, and I remember you being frustrated when packing my kitchen and told me I should have recycled them. I thought I was. Anyway, Donna was just as frustrated with me as she had to dig out several items I had tossed in the trash. She was kind and didn’t say a word, but plastic items tossed in the big blue can make quite a racket. My dear son, your wife is beautiful, but she is not her best with sweaty brows and a red face she smiled at me, which appeared within 30 minutes into our cleaning out. Do you think the discovery of a dozen empty jars and cans under the sink set her off? I couldn’t help it. I hated to see them thrown away, and no one told me about the big blue bin. Think of me loving you, son. Mom “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV)

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ONESIMUS HOUSE Submitted by Gini Walker Nestled in the small neighborhood community of Cowan Heights in Orange County, Southern California is Onesimus House. Cowan Heights is known for its quiet hills with scattered homes. O. House (as it is affectionately referred to by its many guests) is fortunate to be on one of the few tree-lined streets and is within walking distance of Peter’s Canyon, a protected sanctuary wilderness park for local wildlife including bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, squirrels, and an occasional mountain lion. This is the story about this cozy little house—how and why it came to be. Its 650 square feet sit on the top terrace of a privately owned acre of land. O. House is hidden from the street behind a large two-story car garage. When the Walkers purchased their home in July 1997, there was nothing but weeds and a small unused plot of land behind the garage. Now the lower terrace can be seen through one of O. House’s many windows. It is where the main house sits with a large yard— home of Charlie and Gini Walker.

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Charlie received a dream from God about the need for a special place of respite and renewal. Missionaries on the mission field usually have furloughs to renew their calls and strength. But where to stay has often been a challenge. Part of Charlie’s inspiration was Philemon 22 in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote a brief letter to Philemon. He sent the letter by Onesimus, who was a former slave but now a brother in Christ. Paul asked Philemon: “Prepare a guest room for me because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.” (Philemon 1:22 NIV) Since its first guest in 2009, O. House has welcomed over 100 guests from 14 different countries. Here are a few remarks from several of these guests: “We are on day 91 of a 100-day missionary journey across the USA with the Afrizo Gospel Choir from Kenya. It has been a wonderful 91 days, but we are in need of rest. Thank you!” Another wrote, “Thank you for your generous hospitality and for valuing the need to create a peaceful space for travelers coming through your community.” And this, “It is our prayer that everyone who comes into this house may find peace and rest. May the Lord continue to bless you as you pass on the blessing you receive to others.” Another wrote, “I looked out the window this morning and to my surprise and delight there was a peacock strolling by! What a treat!”

And more, “It was a gift to our souls to be the recipients of your kindness and generosity and to know that so much prayer and love has gone into all of the preparation for each guest. We enjoyed reading on your porch and listening to the birds sing outside the window.” And finally, “In my travels to 37 countries now this is the most special place I have stayed—from the welcoming music to the food in the cupboards… coffee, French Vanilla coffee mate and extra crunch peanut butter…” As the years passed and the reputation of O. House spread, many requests came for pastors’ personal day retreats and staff retreats. Probably the most unusual experience for O. House was the day of a backyard wedding. The bridal party used the house to prepare for the wedding later that evening. The guest books are a means of connecting each guest with others who visit. In these special books, stories are written about God’s work around His world. Charlie and Gini feel particularly blessed to be a part of those stories in the ebb and flow of visitors. We call ourselves God’s caretakers and maid. There isn’t a day that passes without a look up to O. House with our hearts full of gratitude for God’s blessing to us.

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Little Known Facts About Stewardship By Joseph Akinrinola I am Joseph, an author, blogger, and content writer from Nigeria. In the field of writing, I deliver unique, grammatically correct, and plagiarism-free content. Currently, I work with three online firms specializing in motivation, human capacity development, lifestyle, relationship, and spiritual writings. Our life is a gift and a privilege from God. And to every privilege comes a corresponding responsibility. Every aspect of our lives is, therefore, stewardship. That includes our body, time, energy, ministry, and resources. However, there are little known facts about stewardship that most believers do not know. This scripture will come to bear if we understand true stewardship. “Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NKJV)

1. A faithful steward takes initiative Although the master of those servants did not tell them what to do with the resources he gave them, the first two servants decided on what to do. Whether in ministry or daily life, always think about how to make things and people better with the resources available to you. 2. Recognized the ownership. (Verses 20-22)

The faithfulness in that portion of the scripture connotes we must be committed to God, whether or not we are physically rewarded. It means we go where he sent us, even when we dislike it or don’t know why. The faithfulness of a steward does not depend on his comfort or convenience, rather on the pleasure of his master.

Your life and everything that comes with it does not belong to you.

A faithful person serves without being forced. Such people do their work with equal diligence, whether or not someone is watching. Whether serving in the restroom, kitchen, admin, or office, they serve with equal dedication. This set of people remains steadfast to other people’s jobs the way they handle theirs. Their commitment to money-generating assignment does not wane when it comes to God’s business. They are not motivated by praise or gain. Instead, the pleasure of their master.

3. No competition in true stewardship

The first two servants acknowledged they are not the owner of the resources at their disposal. The position you occupy and all achievement comes from God and belongs to him.

We would not fret, cheat, complain, or double-cross ourselves if we understand true stewardship. Though the amount given to the three servants differs, the first two servants were grateful for the opportunity, while the third servant felt he needed equal opportunities with others to make an impact. You don’t need to be like others to make an impact. God has given you all you need to profit. Use them wisely.

The parable of the talent gives us a vivid illustration of those little-known facts about stewardship we often neglect. (Matthew 25:14-30)

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4. God rewards faithfulness and not only results. (Verses 20-22) The world rewards results but God rewards faithfulness. The response of the master to the first two servants shows faithfulness is more important than the amount they turned. God distributed our ability differently, and he would not be expecting the same result from all. All he wants you and me to do is to be equally dedicated to the task he gave us, whether small or great. 5. God expects a return on his investment. (Verse 27) The master would have somehow praised the servant who was given one talent if he had returned the money with interest from the banker. It means every sincere devotion and commitment will not go unnoticed by God. Jesus said, “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42 NKJV) A glass of water will receive a reward the same way a banquet will. 6. The Wrong perspective will affect our stewardship. (Verses 24-25) Questioning the rationale behind the distribution of natural and spiritual gifts is the reason for conflict in the body of Christ. Everyone in ministry and life is important, depending on how you see yourself. A loosed or missing bolt can cause accidents or malfunction. The person at the church or event car park or the restroom is as important as the principal speaker or the pastor. The unprofitable servant in our text hinges on his failure on the uneven distribution of opportunity. He forgets the person with two talents was not also fairly treated, yet he delivered within his means.

7. Stewardship has a reward. (Verses 20-22,30) Whatever we do or fail to do has its result. As we noticed in the parable, each servant reaped according to his or her commitment. Jesus assured Peter of both earthly and heavenly rewards for our commitment to him. (Matthew 19:27) This should motivate us to get serious with God and His business. 8. Profitability increases responsibility. (Verse 29) All three servants had equal opportunity to maximize their profit margin, but only the first two explored the chance. Just as any entrepreneur will promote and add more responsibility to a result-producing staff, God will increase his grace on any Christian or minister doing well in his vineyard. 9. Time of accountability may come at an unexpected time. With the surrounding event, the time of accountability may come sooner than we expected. I once wrote an article on the topic, not as a thief in the night. I said this because Jesus has given us all the signs that will herald his coming. We no longer need a soothsayer or prophet to tell us the end is with us already. As faithful stewards, we must get serious in the business of our father, so we shall not be caught unaware. Ask yourself how you will reward a staff working for you if he is handling your business the way you do that of God or that of others. I often put up with this question to our Sunday school workers. What will the Sunday school or our church look like if every worker is like me? This evaluation should inform how we live our lives and handle God’s business. We shall be Christ’s ambassador if we act on these little-known facts about stewardship.

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A Few Favorites From Road Tripin’ by Karen Ruhl

March was a busy health month and while we took a short drive here and there, I didn’t get many photos.

Spring is not only a beautiful season, but it is a time of renewing. The trees and flowers bloom and we celebrate Holy Week and Easter in the spring. The small church on the right is out by Wilson’s Creek. We took a long road that turned to a gravel backroad and found this beauty. The Bradford pear trees bloomed and are losing their leaves with all of the wind and rain we have had. Our beautiful cherry tree (right) has not bloomed yet but will be in its full glory this month. The rhododendron (bottom) was taken in the Smokey Mountains last spring. I hope to get many more shots of nature this spring to share. Get out with your phone or camera and be renewed by all of the nature around you. Blessings, Karen

All photos by Karen Ruhl

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My First Mission Trip to Serve the Lord By Cindy Oriol

Once I was seated with everyone else at the mission conference, a minister started calling out the names of different couples to come forward and speak to us about their adventures of becoming a missionary. The Holy Spirit had spoken to their hearts about where their next adventure would take them to preach ”His Good News.” Some of them were headed to countries that were so dangerous they could not even share where they were going. One by one, a couple would come up on stage to share their stories. The husband spoke first, telling us that one day, the Holy Spirit placed in his heart to go to a certain area and teach, later that same day the Holy Spirit put the same idea into the wife’s heart. They spoke to us about coming together to tell each other about what the Holy Spirit had laid on their hearts. That is how amazing our Lord is. When things like this happen in our life, we just know that it is coming from the Lord. After all of them had spoken and shared their testimonies, they asked us to pray for them because they would go to dangerous territories, that we were not even allowed to know the name of the destinations. They were not afraid because they were on fire for the Lord. They were eager to help advance His kingdom.

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The minister asked if there were anyone of us that would like to dedicate our lives to the mission field. I had this overwhelming tugging in my heart. I could not jump up and run down to the stage fast enough. I fell to my knees, begging Our Savior to use my ransom life anyway He chose. My tears were out of control but, I cried because through all my despair He was with me. I was out of control and yet, it was the most loving experience I have ever felt. I then realized that this was part of His plan from the beginning when I was eight years old, and the Lord had placed on my young heart that I would take care of others in the mission fields. The plan that He had mapped out for my life. I laid on the cold, hard floor, crying my eyes out to Him. My heart felt as if would explode from so much of His love pouring into my body. I could feel Him holding me in His loving arms as a father does here on earth. He wiped away the tears as they ran down my cheeks. It was like an out-of-body experience. I was half there and the other half of me was somewhere else. Realizing that He had always been with me through every storm. I placed all of me down at His feet. I could not worship Him enough. I started thanking Him for never leaving me when I needed Him the most during my storms in life. He showed me how to love Him unconditionally, the way He loves us. But most of all, He showed me how to trust Him in all things. I did not want to get up from the floor. That was the closest I have ever felt through His spirit. I know He loves me and I desperately love Him. I knew that deciding to be a missionary was going to be a decision that would touch my heart and change my life forever, but I wanted to and had to do this for Him. I knew that this would make Him happy. He loves it when we are obedient and grieves when we are not.

That same spirit that had laid me on the floor, helped me to get back up and return to my seat. My body felt as if I had electricity in it and I was on fire for Him. I couldn’t wait to share my experience with the other ladies that I had come to the conference with. After the conference was over, there were stacks of pamphlets on a table, I took several of them from different countries. This was my first step to becoming a missionary. and I was excited to bring others to Christ and share His Good news. Satan will try to come between you and the Lord in any way he can and that’s just what he tried to do to me. I made some phone calls to search around for my first mission trip, but I kept seeing roadblocks up ahead. I received messages like, “I am sorry ma’am, but you are too old” or “the mission trip is already full.” But I was determined to keep trying because I just knew that the Lord wanted me to be a missionary. Satan is the father of all lies. We do not want to give him credit for anything; instead, we plead the blood of Jesus and he will go away. Around two weeks after my wonderful experience, I woke up one morning and started reading the newspaper and the first words that jumped off the front headlines were about orphanages in Ukraine. That really touched my heart. That same day, while I was looking at a bulletin board while waiting for my Bible study to begin, I saw the word Ukraine written on a piece of paper. I thought to myself, “I think the Lord is trying to tell me something.” And to confirm that thought, at the end of class, some woman that I had seen and spoken to before, came up to me and said,” Cindy, I know that we do not know each other very well, but I have seen the hurt in your heart from previous times in your life. I see the compassion you have for the Lord and others.” My husband and I have been talking and we want you to go on a mission trip to Ukraine to help in the orphanages for a couple of weeks.” Well, the Holy Spirit had shown up once again and done His job. No wonder I kept running into roadblocks. I was not meant to go on those other trips, I was meant to go to Ukraine. Can I get an amen?

The mission trip was wonderful and you could see the Lord working in every aspect of the children’s lives. Being with all of them opened my eyes to different customs and languages that are a part of the Lord’s creation and watching them praise the Lord in their own country was special. My heart grew stronger than even I could have ever imagined. That trip has changed my life forever because Jesus wanted me to go. He promised there would be more trips in the future to serve Him. He gave me the money I needed for this mission and the other trips. This was just the beginning of bringing others to Christ; the beginning of my missionary trips and how I could best serve Him. IN CHRISTIAN LOVE

BE A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS (Photos by Karen Ruhl)

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Overcoming Our Seasons by Yvonne M. Morgan

Seasons of Life Spring also brings lots of birthdays for my family. Mine falls in April, and next year begins a new decade for me. As I age, my role changes from mom to grandmother while my children move on with their own lives and families. Retirement adds to my life-changing events. I find myself wondering if I still have a purpose in this life.

Seasons Once again, a new season is upon us. We leave behind the cold, dark days of winter as we enter the season of rebirth. Soon, signs of spring will fill our days with color as the sun warms the world around us. Each year, I await the sweet aroma of the hyacinth wafting on the spring breezes. What are your favorite signs of spring? But this new season brings spring storms. In my state, we prepare for tornado season. The storm shelter gets cleaned out and resupplied with necessities for use if the unexpected occurs. We clear out the garage, so our cars fit in to protect them from the hailstorms. And the amount of spring rains sets the course for the weather the rest of the year. Will we be hot and dry or cooler because of the downpours?

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But life still has a purpose no matter the season. My free-time allows me a chance to volunteer and help others. I can assist my daughters with grandchildren’s drop-offs or pick-ups and attend school events while they work. I participate in weekday Bible studies at church. Our purposes are still there if we just look for them. Seasons of Faith The author of Ecclesiastes understood these seasons well. We find his list of seasons in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV): There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Each of the seasons above offers us an enjoyable moment as well as a corresponding unpleasant moment. The writer understood the ups and downs of every aspect of our life. Some events are within our control, but many are not. So what becomes of our faith during these swings? Do we give up when the bad times come along? God also understands the seasons of life can be challenging. Part of Jesus’ mission on earth included encouraging us to persevere. Jesus demonstrates this in John 16:22 (NIV); “I have told 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.” Seeking Jesus during any season brings us peace to carry on.

When we endure in Christ—we are blessed. And, if you need more convincing, God also promises: • • • • • • •

I will be with you. (Matthew 28:20) I will protect you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) I will be your strength. (Proverbs 18:10) I will answer you. (Matthew 7:7) I will provide for you. (Philippians 4:19) I will give you peace. (John 14:27) I will always love you. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

No matter how the seasons change, God never changes, and He provides us the peace to overcome our seasons. Grace and peace to you - Yvonne M Morgan

Notice that Jesus did not promise to take away our troubles. He promised to be with us in them. And when we persevere the difficulties, Jesus promises something better in the world to come. We find some of the promises in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5:3-10 (NIV); “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Click on book cover to purchase.

Blog at Twitter: @ymmauthor Website: Facebook: Books: Turning Mountains into Molehills (2017) Rest in God Prayer Journal (9-2020) Faith, Hope, and Love in a Broken World (12-2020)

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My Story of Living Aligned To God’s Design By Tami Thorsen Tami Thorsen is a Certified ICF ACC Life-Coach, Trainer, and Gospel-driven catalyst. Her website is at

I am most alive, filled with joy, peace, and freedom when I am being who I am and easy, though, but worth pursuing every single time. Thus, the story behind the makings of Head2Heart Onward Life-Coaching… It all began before I was even born. (Psalm 139:16) I had no idea I would be brought into this world, into a family of five living in Iowa. My parents told me later, they, too, hadn’t quite planned on me, either—Surprise! But God knew full well and ushered “Plan T.A.M.I” into public motion on January 20, 1971. He knew I was to be the youngest in my family, my sister being twenty years older than I. He knew I would be a “tom-boy” and love climbing, riding a Honda motorcycle, driving my own snowmobile through the winter Yellowstone tundra only to be chased by a raging buffalo. All the while dreaming of being an overseas missionary, sharing the Gospel from my straw-hut in the hot African desert, stomping on scorpions, and hiking hours to carry the Good News of the Gospel to those who had not yet heard and believed. Oh, don’t get me wrong, my “tom-boyish-ness” by no means stopped me from loving to play with Barbies, shop for clothes, and dress up to the hilt! As I grew older, I further discovered God’s unique design for me. I loved spending time with people. Namely older people. Like old grandmas and grandpas. In fact, I would often be found walking barefoot, hair disheveled, going door to door in 40 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 39

the area of my neighborhood where several older homes housed such seasoned beings. I remember sitting on their front porches or sitting on their living room couches listening to their day and sharing about my Jesus. What made me gravitate toward such an age? I believe it was because they had time. They had time to listen, and they had time to share. And not only did they have time, but they also enjoyed this time, just as much, if not more, than I did! And such ambiance invited our conversations to go deep, beyond talking “weather,” to furrowing into the very essence of the heart. What a life, right? Well, as I mentioned before, it wasn’t always easy to be me. As I grew up, I discovered the tension that exists in the world that, if succumbed to, would cast a weight upon, douse the flame of, and shackle God’s unique design He had penned for me to fulfill! (Psalm 139:16) It wasn’t just the incessant ploy of peer-pressure or the natural ego to compare and compete, but it was also the painful twists and turns along the journey of life that shook me to the core and shattered my present stance on life and God. This, again, was a shocking surprise to me, but not to God. He knew every intricate detail (Psalm 139:1-4) Like the time my very first dog, Jypy, was shot and killed because it got loose and was trotting on someone else’s farmland. Like the time a high school friend died in a car accident over winter-road conditions, just a mile from my home.

Like when my parents came bursting into my bedroom when I was in elementary school to tell me they were planning to get a divorce. (of which they never did—whew!) Like when I was called a “Jesus Freak” because I had posted Scripture verses inside my high school locker door. Like when on the Bolivian mission field, after my mom had a stroke, we returned to the states only to sell their house, my only childhood home, and place them into a care-facility. Like when I was diagnosed with a rare, auto-immune disease that targets the eyes, skewing the growth of my eyelashes and making for ongoing discomfort. Like when I had a biopsy on my eyeballs, a procedure that I was fully awake for and could hear the scraping of tissue coming off my eyeball likened to the sound of a vegetable peeler doing its job. (Excuse the grotesque details there…) Like when this diagnosis made it painfully difficult to remain in Bolivia, causing us to leave our Bolivian home and end our eight-year ministry among these people. Like when we said “goodbye” to Bolivia, and I spiraled into almost three years of numbing depression. Like when this depression grew into a fear of being with people, throwing me into isolation and deep-seated grief and anxiety. Like when even leaving the isolation of my house to get the mail from my mailbox was the scariest endeavor ever! All these true-life examples are just a glimpse into the plethora of painful, shocking twists and turns of my life journey. But none of these was a surprise to God. In fact, they were planned and orchestrated into His story for His glory and my very good. (James 1:2-4) Indeed, these twists and turns forced my faith-life into the open to show its true colors! An important dynamic of God’s design for each of us is our free-will. You and I have the choice to let each twist and turn skew and squelch the unique God-given design of our being and purpose. For me, though I wasn’t flawless in always choosing to live aligned to God’s design, I wholeheartedly testify how the most amazing joy and fulfillment filled my life, by God’s grace, each time I did!

The same goes for you, too! God wants you to discover, grow and live out the unique God-given design He has planned and purposed for you. He knows how much pressure daily life in this world can thwart such radiant living, but He promises to empower you, guide you and provide for you so you can live wholly and consistently aligned to His design for greatest impact! Yes, you read that right. Impact! Living aligned to your God-given design leads to great eternal impact! Not just on those around you, but on your very life! Discovering and living aligned to how your loving and sovereign God has uniquely designed you offers you a stress-reduced, satisfying, fulfilling, and generous life—the “abundant life” only God can give! (John 10:10) God has shaped you and me with a unique personality, gifting, passions, experiences, temperaments, and so forth to be expressed in ways only we can express as we remain aligned to His plan and purpose. And I desire to help you live out this way, every single moment of your life! From this desire to help you, God has led me to become a life coach and offer my service to people just like you who want to experience the peace of mind and soul as well as the exhilaration of freely living out your uniqueness, knowing every bit of your life counts and is valuable to God and others! (Psalm 139:17) God has used every chapter of my life to bring me to this very season of life where my Head2Heart Onward Life-coaching is fleshed out. I have always had the desire to peel away the layers of my heart and let God speak into what I discover. I journaled many a page throughout my life, recording such treasures found in the deep waters of my heart. I have always had the passion to do the same with others, like you, in my life: To hear your heart, the deep things of your heart; To offer to cut-to-thechase and help you dig deeper, to further discover your God-given design and encourage you to align yourself to it each and every moment! (Proverbs 20:5) There is, and will only be, one God and there is, and will only be, one YOU. You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

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Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf

Cancel The Culture— Securing Our Identity as Christians By Bishop Eric A. Lambert, Jr. With Chris McKinney Reviewed by Craig & Karen Ruhl We are living in turbulent times with our society making changes at breathtaking speed. How does a Christian live faithfully in today’s cultural environment? Cancel the Culture specifically addresses this dilemma and provides simple, although sometimes difficult, solutions that we can follow to counteract the negative effects of living in the world as we strive to follow Christ’s teachings. The author challenges us to engage in correcting and counteracting the influences of culture by committing to addressing one issue each month for one year. Each month a challenge is issued to resolve a specific conflict between our culture and the way Christians are called to live. Each chapter provides us with suggested activities to engage in and substantial biblical foundations for addressing these harmful cultural influences. We have placed a copy of Cancel The Culture on the Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf and highly recommend it.

We enjoyed this book, especially as it is written in a conversational, personal manner. This book is an essential tool that all Christians need to use to endure and overcome the spiritual battles we are engaged in daily.

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Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf Eyewitness–The Risen Saints By Charles De Andrade Reviewed by Craig Ruhl Eyewitness–The Risen Saints is an endearing story, combining one miracle Jesus performed while on earth with a tale of the journey an old man and young boy take together as they face impending death. The story of the biblical character, Lazarus, weaves throughout the book as each of them learns the extent of God’s grace and mercy. We have placed a copy of Eyewitness– The Risen Saints on the Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf.

Charles De Andrade is masterful at bringing Lazarus’s story to life, written in the first person, and read in current times. It is interesting to read how the biblical figure might have described his life and the miracle performed by his friend, Jesus Christ. The relationships between the old man and the boy, and their families and medical teams are well developed and add to the lesson of hope being taught. This is an especially encouraging and uplifting book, and I recommend it highly.

Redeem The Story: A Call to Let God Rewrite Your Story By Aaron Joseph Hall Reviewed by Craig Ruhl The subject of redemption is core to our Christian beliefs. In Redeem The Story, the author addresses the truth that we all have a story, some better and some worse than we would like it to be. We are told throughout the book that our situation, belief, and behavior are not final and that Christ Jesus can redeem our lives through His grace and mercy. It challenges us throughout the book to allow God to rewrite our stories, not recreate, but create a whole new life for us.

We have placed a copy of Redeem The Story on the Faith On Every Corner Bookshelf and recommend it to our readers.

I enjoyed the way the author wrote this book. Throughout, the author shares insights from his life story and examples of other people’s stories and testimonies, including substantiating biblical references. Those who struggle with their past and present will find the message in Redeem The Story to be both encouraging and empowering.

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By Craig D. Lounsbrough To Walk ‘With’ Fear, But Not Live ‘In’ Fear

The Hidden Opportunity in Fear

She walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear. At nineteen, Anna’s story is less a story and more a most wrenching tale penned of blistering heartache, seemingly unscalable disadvantages, improbable misfortune handily spun on the loom of all things unjust, and hope ground to powder only to be blown away on the ever-restless winds of adversity. She has known nothing other, and she lives presuming that the tale of her life will continue to be penned in similar lines such as these.

In sitting with this delicate but powerful young woman, I have found that Anna has learned that the best way that she could walk ‘with’ fear but not live in ‘it’ was to turn her attention to seeking out and seizing the immense opportunities that lie within it, rather than allowing it to seek out and seize the confidence within her. She discovered that fear animates itself and enlarges its aura sufficiently to keep our focus on fear. That fear stealthily hides its hidden treasures by keeping us fearful and therefore allowing us to see nothing else but fear. And she has discovered that fear is deliberate enough in executing this terribly refined strategy that we become convinced that fear is made up of nothing but fear. Anna admits that she walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear.

Her health is delicately precarious, leaving each moment she lives as a hope but not a promise. Her life is an existence of individual moments lived out with the hope that if enough of them are accumulated and stitched together, they might possibly stretch out into a future. The physical challenges of each day render every tomorrow as something so far away that it may never arrive. And while she wishes that her faith was sufficiently stalwart to thwart all fear of a tomorrow never coming, she is honest enough to admit that such a faith is a work in progress. And so, she walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear. And it is in seizing the good in fear that we beat fear.

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And she is able to walk ‘with’ it but not ‘in’ it because she decided to look beyond the fear to what great good fear can do. Behind the ‘fear of fear’, she has discovered a rich cache of opportunity for improbable growth. That fear is the catalyst for growth, not the opponent of growth. That fear is not the monster that destroys, for that is the distortion that fear lures us into and the tale that frightened people tell of it. That the implicit nature of fear is such that it surgically seeks out the nature of our existence that is contrary to our existence. That behind the facade of fear there is great good. And in the oddity of it all, it is the ‘great good’ encased in fear that, when released, can be a potent solution to that very fear. Therefore, we walk ‘with’ fear as a means of releasing these solutions into our lives so that in time we can walk with the solutions and live without the fear.

The Great Good: Breaking The Nature of Our Existence That is Contrary to Our Existence Fear is the thing that deftly exposes the shallowness of our petty attitudes. It renders the constructs that we have built our lives upon as the epitome of selfishness and the bedfellow of ignorance, thereby granting us sufficient understanding to effectively change them. Fear strips us of the preconceived notions of ‘who we are’ that we have tediously constructed based on the fear of ‘who we actually are’. Fear brings unprecedented collapse to the permissive morality that we have created in order to grant us permission to do all things immoral. Fear exposes the things that we have ‘lived for’ so that we can flee the things that we were ‘born for’. Fear takes our lives out of our hands and shows us that they were never in our hands to begin with. And most profoundly, fear shows us that our fear persists because we have sought out refuge in some person or institution that is at the very same time attempting to find refuge for themselves. For the only person who is His own refuge in order to be ours is God. Therefore, we walk ‘with’ fear as a means of releasing these solutions into our lives so that in time we can walk with the solutions and live without the fear. Yes. Anna walks ‘with’ fear, but she does not live ‘in’ fear. She has not fallen for the facade of fear and therefore she has not fallen to fear. And in embracing these precious lessons, a tomorrow is on the way where she will not walk ‘with’ fear any longer.

Craig’s background includes over thirty years of experience as a counselor in a variety of treatment settings including psychiatric hospitals, schools for the blind, organizations for the physically handicapped, churches, and outpatient settings. He also possesses ten years of experience in pastoral ministry. Craig spent two years broadcasting in Christian radio and has published both nationally and internationally. To date, he has published six books and has had a large number of other works published in a wide variety of magazines. Craig founded an outpatient practice that provides counseling, coaching, and consulting services to individuals, marriages, families, various businesses as well as church and ministry organizations. Additionally, he has developed an extensive Social Media arm that reaches 500,000+ individuals each month with a wide variety of quotes, articles, blogs, and videos. Craig is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Colorado, a Certified Professional Life Coach, and an Ordained Minister. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Finally, Craig completed the coursework toward a Doctor of Ministry degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at Denver Seminary. A full Vitae is available upon request. mailto: To view all of Craig’s books, click here:

Conclusion I wish I could tell you I don’t fear because at times I do. But because I do, I will seize it and wrestle the riches out of it. I will take what I need from it, rather than letting it take what it wants from me. And this is a time to let the lessons of our fears change the trajectory of our lives. This is the time to work through our fear by letting its lessons work through our lives until we have vanquished it from our lives. Therefore, I walk ‘with’ fear as a means of releasing these solutions into my life so that in time I can walk with the solutions and live without the fear. Like Amy, I wish that my faith was sufficiently stalwart to thwart all fear, but I am honest enough to admit that such a faith is a work in progress. And so, I walk ‘with’ fear, but I do not live ‘in’ fear. And someday soon, I will do neither.

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W H Y YO U S H O U L D N ’ T G E T I N V O LV E D By Christina Sinisi

Christina Sinisi writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, her works include a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest in which she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and the upcoming Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, and Christmas On Ocracoke. By day, she is a psychology professor and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband and two children, and cat, Chessie Mae. Yesterday, I browsed through the latest copy of the digital magazine, “Faith On Every Corner.” All the authors, of course, were smiling and all the article titles and content were uplifting. Not to say they shouldn’t be, but my own negative feelings struck me that day. I’d received two notices that short stories I’d submitted to contests hadn’t placed or won anything. My son didn’t hear back at all about a job opportunity. I’d just finished content edits for a book in which the editor wrote she didn’t like my heroine. Finally, my janitor at work told me that her brother-in-law had died from and her sister was in the hospital fighting COVID.

So far, this article sounds like it should go under service and I should be proud (by the way, I may do that later to highlight the ministry), right?

Not that everyone else semi-glossed their stories, but I’m actually going to put it out there—I’m not perfect. And here’s why…

The friend who began SOUL moved away because of her husband’s work and family circumstances. I had served as an advisor to the club on campus for 20 years and was just burned out. The church was still mostly in quarantine.

About a decade ago, a friend of mine told me about her dream of starting a tea house for women at risk for homelessness while pregnant. I supported this dream of helping people who are truly in need and when she began a non-profit called SOUL, I was right there to help. I served on the board for several years. I made cheesecakes for the tea fundraiser, attended meetings faithfully, and even pinched in as treasurer when no one else stepped forward. This was besides my church work and my position as advisor to a club at the university where I’m a professor that does a great deal of service in the community and on campus.

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Fast forward to this past year. Like many people I know, I watched with horror as the number of deaths from the pandemic rose and rose. George Floyd’s tragic death and the subsequent riots and further deaths filled me with sadness and disbelief. As the year went on, more and more political upheaval and disagreements occurred, and we stayed in quarantine, I withdrew into myself and my little family and circle of friends more and more.

Most of all, worst of all, I found it very difficult to love my fellow man (human just sounds awkward). Would I help someone and then they turn around and burn down my business or attack me in a parking lot? Further, there are heartbreaking disappointments— clients who take your help and go back to the same old, same old, disappear and it feels like your hard work was in vain. I give at church in three different ways—offerings, goods, and food—then drive down the road and a homeless man begs next to the Taco Bell. Where does it stop?

I resigned from SOUL and stepped down as advisor. I continue to help at the church, but there just isn’t as much to do during this time of social distancing. And you know what? That’s okay. Jesus clearly admonishes us to help the needy: “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 NIV). However, He also rebuked Martha for being so busy that she forgot what was most important—”Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” (Luke 10:41 NIV). I have always chafed about what I secretly saw as his mistreatment of her (oh, yeah, Jesus, feed yourself then—duck in fear of lightning), but now I may see a glimmer. When we’re too tired, when we overdo, when we can’t bring ourselves to love those we serve, then it’s time to pause. Paul also tells us that, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV)

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

In other words, don’t get involved or stop being involved completely, if you need to take time to spend closer time with the Lord. Don’t get involved if you’ve lost your passion for the mission. Don’t get involved if you’ve said yes to too many groups and needs. God commanded us to rest. That includes me and that includes you. Then, once you have recharged your spiritual batteries, He will find the slot in which you fit. He always does. Christina Sinisi

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Oh, What a Beautiful Son! By Brenda McDaniel

April is the month of Easter, the time of the death and resurrection of our Lord/Savior Jesus Christ. He died for our sins on the cross and gave us forgiveness and eternal life. All we have to do is accept His gift of love. God gave us His only son to die and suffer on the cruel cross for our sins. There is no greater love than to give one’s life for another! It’s a time of rebirth of nature and the rebirth of the human spirit. The devil and death are defeated. Forgiveness and eternal life are special gifts from our Lord. Will you accept your gift, or spend eternity in darkness? It’s your choice, so choose wisely! Oh, What A Beautiful Son!! What a Beautiful Son. All He has won! And showed us the light, He guided us out of the night. Now, we don’t have to live in fear. For he is always near. And it’s very clear, If you will believe and hear. You are forgiven and loved, By the Lord who lives above. Oh, what a Beautiful Son! He fought our Battle and won!

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Seeds: Seasons of Faith By P. Diane Buie

Into the ground, so soft & round A seed burrows deep its place to keep. As rain & sunshine flow a seed begins to grow through the dirt and weeds, no barrier it heeds. Faith’s seed reaches up with hands filled as a cup. It takes in all it needs to quench a thirst so deep, rewards of blooms to reap. So like our faith in God as seeds growing in sod, our Spirit rises up and in His Word we sup. Nourishing our soul, our lives set to His mold. In Spring, Summer & Fall we grow in it all. Through Winter’s icy snows, our faith rests and grows. Knowing the Gardener is our goal this way, our faith has no holes. Seasons come and seasons go, but this much I know: Seasons offer life even amid strife. The Master Gardener knows His love makes it all grow. So with patience, we can wait to trust the Gardener and our fate. We can flourish in any season as our faith offers reasons. In seasons of faith, On God, we learn to wait. So choose today to live in God’s ways, to give a bloom to the world as a testament curled. In a fragrant bouquet showing God’s ways are okay. A simple flower can reflect God’s power. So choose today, which way?

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The Donkey and The King By Krystle Nicole Martin

I live in Oklahoma. I am a poet. I love being an encouragement to other people. I don’t want to write just to write. I want to write with purpose. I want my words to help someone else in need. I want to be intentional with what I am given. I want to be a blessing to others.

“Hi! Boy, do I have a story to tell you! It started like any other day, but truthfully though, I could feel something was different in the air. I know, I know, I am just a donkey, but let me tell you about the best day ever!” Jesus and his disciples were walking and talking when suddenly Jesus stops and tells two of them to go fetch me off a post I was being tied to and take me to Him. They obeyed Him. They saw me tied up to the post just like He said, and they untied me. All of a sudden, people asked them why they are taking this donkey. They were told the Lord needed me. So off I went! I have not even told you the best part! I walked with these people as they were so excited to bring me to Jesus. They were petting me and I was happy to be going somewhere new. I was not sure if I was going to a new master or what, but then they approached Him. I saw Him smile at me. My heart was excited! I saw my Creator! I was braying. I was excited to see this man whom people were talking about!

I heard a crowd gathering in the distance. I heard them shouting and clapping. I heard them singing. I look up at His face and He smiled back at me. I did not know who He was, but He must have been someone important! They brought leaves, big leaves, and laid them down as quickly as possible. I walked over to them slowly, still confused as to what was happening here, but they cried out “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that comes in the name of our Lord: Hosanna in the highest!” They laid them all out for Him. They were overjoyed. They were filled with laughter. They sang His praises. They watched as we walked down toward a temple. He got off and walked into the building. Fast forward to this moment now with you. I had the best day ever! I wonder what happened to the man and maybe one day I will finally see Him again. And this is my tale of the day I met the King who rode a donkey into town.

He pets me a few times and then He sits on my back. I felt so proud. I felt strong. I slowly clop myself to town. He was peaceful. He had this sense about Him. He was talking to me and reassuring me He would take great care of me.

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THE POST OF THE RESURRECTION by Gittel Fruma This little ship called life is being rocked by one of the most turbulent storms I’ve ever weathered. Its persistent waves are teaching me the limits of my innate stubbornness and my acute desperation for the strength of the Holy Spirit. Anniversaries of past tempests are passing on dates so inconspicuous that no one marks their passing besides me. I celebrate them with the comfort that things might soon stabilize. We were so stagnant for so long, stuck in the apartment where God taught me gratitude for 8 years, and now we can’t seem to find a place to rest our heads.

Why now? This is the overarching existential question du jour. Why is now the time? Why is now the time to chase after my dreams and work for their realization? Why is now the time to march around Jericho? Why is now the time to follow Elijah on one more errand? Lord, I am tired. Lord, you see my crazy life. Lord, how on earth is that supposed to happen right now? Why is now the time?

On few occasions do I ask the Lord, “Why?” It’s not a common question in my arsenal. I find it both irrelevant and presumptuous. To ask the question assumes I merit and would understand the answer. God owes This time has been marked by an acceptance of things me nothing, and His answer would likely be beyond I did not ask for as God uses them to equip me for my comprehension. And in this particular instance, that which I did ask. It would be ironic were He not so the question itself is redundant because the answer is faithful and so truly gentle. obvious. Concurrently, within this onslaught rages the deathless battle between the rational evaluation of my finite existence and my abject emotional wallowing. I know more about the inside of my head than I ever wanted to and, let me tell you, it’s not a space I was formerly unfamiliar with. The cynic within me rises up to begin a protracted commentary about the life of a self-aware believer and is swiftly quelled. Let us not indulge that vain sort of martyrdom. 52 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 51

Now is all we have. If not now, when? Promises are realized in the now. Dreams are pursued in the present. The past has only lessons to be learned, and every future we get in this life is a gift. Nothing is guaranteed except your chosen destination. I will be with Christ, I have chosen Him, but my reward is being constructed in heaven as I work here. I do not work for my reward, I work for my God, yet my reality in heaven is more concrete than that before my eyes.

“Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:12-14 NLT) Unbelief is a sneaky beast. I could not honestly deny belief in Christ, although the enemy sometimes prowls the outskirts of my mind. But, if I took my eyes off Jesus, he would quietly unravel my faith in the plans of God for my life. Satan can’t take my salvation, but he would settle for my calling. So, here I take up the mantle once more. Here I say, “I believe in what You said to me.” Here I take another step. The road seems no shorter, but in faith, I am closer. I plant here the post of the resurrection where I will raise my banner. Here the Spirit of the Resurrection quickens my veins and my purpose. He hovers over me and once more makes beauty out of chaos. Why now? Because we were made for such a time as this.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NKJV

Now, go.

Gittel Fruma came to believe in Jesus after growing up as an Orthodox Jew. Gittel lives with her husband and son in Clearwater, Florida. She is currently working on a book about her testimony and recording her first album. You can find her at her website or on Facebook at @GittelFrumaMusic.

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In the Hospital By Rolanda T. Pyle

Here I sit in the hospital room all alone Wishing I could leave here and go home It’s a rough place to be with those who are sick And even more so now, in the age of COVID! But I start to reflect on my blessing and for the things I am grateful Especially for the caring essential staff and workers in times that are so hateful. Folks keep telling me to get some rest while I’m in here Obviously, they don’t know that hospital normal is to constantly be disturbed by those providing care. Once you get into a good sleep, you are suddenly awakened It could be for a needle, bloodwork, or to have your pressure taken Or to hear the doctor’s assessment and the plans they are making… Learn test results, sign papers, or you are called to the nurse’s station. The main thing though is to come out of here with a plan to get well To overcome this sickness and feel better will be swell So I’m trusting God and the process for recovery real soon Because I’m ready to go home, maybe take a trip…. Hey, I’ll even go to the moon! Although I didn’t get much rest, I had plenty of time to reflect and think About all the previous illnesses God brought me through, even when I was on the brink Of getting worse, not recovering, or that is what they thought But with God’s help and power, I kept the faith, and I fought! So my boredom, anxieties, and fear turn into faith Because memories of previous healings remind me to this day If He did once, He can and will do it again All I have to do is believe, trust, and have faith in Him.

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Thank You Volunteers By Rolanda Pyle

There are so many qualities to being a volunteer The main one is having a generous heart to want to share Your talents, skills, gifts, and your time To give of oneself to help others is what makes volunteers shine! Volunteers work in corporate, non-profit, community, or even international places With employees, in medicine, education, emergency rescue, health, or with individual cases Volunteers build houses, help the sick in hospital, repair disaster areas, mentor little sisters and brothers They deliver meals to seniors, work as foster grandparents to help children in schools, and are community health advocates to others. The list is too broad to name them all But volunteers answer a much-needed call To help when and where there are needs, And give unselfishly in word and in their deeds. Volunteers are professionals, retired seniors, students, the young and the old Who often come with experience along with their hearts of gold It really doesn’t matter who or where, nor does it matter how The important thing is that volunteers are doing what’s needed now. So, we celebrate all of you who volunteer And we take the time to say thank you to all of you who care! Thank you, Volunteers, we thank you once; we thank you twice And know you are appreciated for the rest of your life!

ROLANDA T. PYLE is a licensed social worker and consultant. She is currently the part-time Community Outreach Specialist at Sunnyside Community Services - CARE NYC, where she was previously Assistant Director. CARE NYC provides support to caregivers of older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. The author has also been featured on various radio and television programs. Her many awards include the distinguished 2004 Sloan Public Service Award and HBO’s 2004 Beah Richards Spirit Award. In April 2004, New York’s Daily News named her one of the “100 Women Who Shape Our City.” Besides her social work and her writing, Rolanda volunteers with the NYC Meals on Wheels Senior Chat program through which she provides companionship through weekly phone conversations with isolated seniors. Rolanda’s creative writing has won poetry and short story writing awards, and her work has been published in religious and community newspapers. She also contributed to a publication entitled Your Dreams Can Come True: Stories of Hope, Perseverance and Triumph for youth who are in foster care and published by Rev. Alfonso Wyatt of the Fund for the City of New York. Rolanda is the author of the books Grandma’s Hands - a children’s storybook, and Finally - a collection of inspirational poems; and the compiler of and contributor to Beneath His Everlasting Wings, a collection of devotionals. Rolanda currently attends Times Square Church in Manhattan and is active in ministry. Additional information about Rolanda may be found on her website at http://www.rorosrainbowcommunications. com/about.html

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The Hope Center: Equipping Pregnant Women to Choose Life Profile of Cindy O’Leary, Executive Director By Joel Berry Cindy said, “I saw her instill confidence in others. Somehow, just her presence, her demeanor, her confidence gave them confidence, and I wanted to be an influence like that in someone’s life.”

Cindy O’Leary never expected to serve as Executive Director of The Hope Center, a crisis pregnancy center located in Woodstock, Georgia. The Hope Center recognizes the difficulties a young woman faces with an unexpected pregnancy and equips her to choose life. Cindy’s education and skill as a labor and delivery nurse, combined with her corporate management experience, demonstrates God’s providence in placing Cindy as director of this ministry. A Providential Path Soon after Cindy enrolled as a pre-med student at Michigan State University, the prospect of spending many years in school lost its appeal. A self-described “people person,” she ruled out options that would confine her to a medical lab and decided to follow her older sister into nursing. While in nursing school, one nurse inspired Cindy to pursue a career in labor and delivery. “That,” Cindy said, “that’s what I want to be. I want to be that capable, I want to be that caring, I want to be that competent, and I want to be involved in these miracles in people’s lives.” Upon earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Registered Nursing, Cindy married Ken, whom she met during her senior year. Ken had accepted a teaching job in Marietta, Georgia, where they established their life together. A labor and delivery nurse, Cindy also trained as a childbirth instructor, again motivated by the nurse she remembered from school.

Cindy worked part-time as a nurse after the birth of her two children, then later entered the corporate world. “Initially,” she said, “I was a nurse in a case management program for high-risk pregnancy, then became team lead, and then manager. Corporations hired us to do a screening of all their pregnant women to see who might fall into a high-risk category, and through education and referral, minimize the risk of having those complications.” But this job eventually took Cindy out of maternity care and into disease management. With a desire to return to maternity care, and as the stress of the job increased, Cindy decided to search for a change. A Providential Crisis Earlier in their marriage, both Cindy and Ken came to faith in Jesus Christ. Cindy described church attendance during her youth as “a place you go, and you sing in the choir, and you do this and that. We loved Jesus, but we didn’t know Jesus.” Shortly after the birth of their second child, Ken employed as a professional financial planner, suffered the impact of “Black Monday,” the worst stock market crash since 1929. Cindy described that experience as “a really, really dark financial time for us.” But God used that dark time to bring Cindy to Christ. With a toddler and a newborn, and working only part-time, Cindy supplemented their income through a marketing venture founded by a Christian couple. She recalled, “I was going to rallies and seeing people talk about a relationship with Christ. And it was actually during one of those rallies that I said, “Lord if you’ll have me, and if this is true, this is what I want.” A friend then invited her into a yearlong Bible study of the Gospel of John, which Cindy described as “God’s perfect placement. That really began my walk with Jesus.”

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A Providential Change

A Providential Outcome

Several years later, while employed in her corporate job, Cindy completed the Beth Moore study, “Believing God,” followed by a short-term mission trip. Cindy described the impact of these events: “I came back saying, ‘Okay Lord, I don’t know what this is, but I just have a sense you have something else.’” Searching for a new opportunity, Cindy attended a “jobs ministry” event at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, where a counselor told her, “Don’t quit your job. I can’t tell you how many people in the corporate arena feel exactly like you do, but one of the best things you have going for you is your job.” But God had other plans.

Thirty years ago, a small group of women had a desire to provide alternatives for pregnant women considering abortion. The Hope Center was God’s answer to their prayers. Over the past fifteen years, Cindy has witnessed many examples of God’s hand at work. God has expanded the ministry to include a mobile ultrasound unit, a medical clinic, and a thrift store, branded “Seeds.” A small group of prayer warriors, which Cindy refers to as “the intercessors,” meets on the last Tuesday of each month to pray for needs within the ministry. “Occasionally,” Cindy said, “there are significant needs within the ministry, whether for an individual, or for a project, or for guidance on where we think the Lord is leading. The interces-sors come in once a month and they pray. God always has a remnant for this important work.”

Cindy’s enrollment in the jobs ministry placed her on its email distribution list. She recalled, “After some research, lots of prayer, and first-time-ever fasting, into my inbox dropped a brief text message: Needed, executive director for The Hope Center. I said to Ken, ‘Think about it. Labor and delivery, corporate management, and evangelism like the mission field, all rolled into one job!’ Then I found out the salary, and thought, ‘I can’t do this unless it’s God. I have to at least walk forward and see what happens.’” When Cindy called The Hope Center, the person who answered the call asked, “How do you know about this job? We haven’t even posted it yet!” Acknowledging God’s providence, Cindy quoted Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (NIV) She then exclaimed, “Fifteen years now and I could never have imagined how fulfilled my life could be!” A Providential Influence Among numerous mentors in her life, Cindy named two as the most influential, starting with her husband, Ken. “I don’t think I could even estimate just how much his faithfulness, his love, his confidence, his encouragement has given me. When I took this job, he told me later one of his thoughts was, ‘Well, I’m not going to retire.’ You know, that’s a sacrifice to think that way.” After a pause, and with tears welling in her eyes, she identified the second person. “I have a picture of my dad on my desk—he passed in 2015. He was a great encouragement. He loved me. He was a stepping-stone to my relationship with the Lord. And I feel like I’m still making him proud.”

In the Center’s latest newsletter, Cindy wrote, “Had we the time, we’d reflect together on the year just past—2,019 appointments to equip pregnant women to choose life and to help families thrive in the love of Christ. We would celebrate the twelve salvations and two lives redirected to Jesus as a result of the Gospel being shared 128 times! But mostly, we would look ahead to where the Lord is leading us in 2021. He knows the plans He has for us, just as He knows the plans He has for you—plans for a future filled with hope!” Joel Berry is an aspiring writer, soon to graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. A CPA by profession, Joel serves as a spiritual mentor for men in his local church and leads an independent Bible study group for married couples. God used a difficult time to lead Joel to discover his love for writing, and to pursue seminary education at DTS. Joel desires to encourage believers to grow deep roots into Jesus Christ so they will remain steadfast in their faith. Joel and his wife, Cheri, live in Roswell, GA and will soon celebrate their thirty-seventh anniversary. They have two wonderful sons and daughters-in-law.



Being Still In Faith By Mike Buchanan

In 1990, my family faced a difficult decision. Our mom had developed complications from high blood pressure. Without surgery, she would be dead within a year. The only other option was for her to have surgery. The surgery had its own risk: there was a one in three chance she would die during surgery. The doctors wanted to know which option we wanted to choose. We wanted a third option. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. We figured two in three for survival was better than 1 in 1 for death. So, we set an appointment for surgery on June 18, 1990. Then we prayed and tried not to worry.

I learned that night it is extremely difficult, maybe impossible, to both think on the things listed in those verses and worry simultaneously. Anytime I started to worry, I just started thinking about the positives and the worry left. Something else I learned that night was that as powerful as God’s Word is until it means something to someone personally, it means nothing. The fact was I had memorized those verses in high school 6-8 years before and had in effect read those same verses dozens of times before that Sunday night. It wasn’t until I needed to hear those verses, however, that they really came alive.

At church, the Sunday night before surgery, a friend told me not to worry. I replied it was easier said than done, but I asked for a suggestion on what to do to counteract the worry. The friend referred me to Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV), “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” The word careful can also be translated as anxious. She said when you start to worry, think about the things talked about in Philippians.

My encouragement to you, dear reader, is this— No matter what you are going through: divorce, illness, unemployment, death of a loved one, whatever it is, God is there, and He is in control. He just needs you to believe He has your best interests at heart, and He will work all things out for the good of those who love Him (see Romans 8:28). Sometimes the best way to let God be in control is just to be still and know that He is God. The season of faith I went through in 1990 is where the following writing came from. By the way, Mom survived surgery and was with us for two more years.

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Be Still and Know That I Am God Sometimes, you think you’re out of place, And you wonder if you’ll again see My Face. You begin to doubt if you’re in My Will, And all I ask is that you be still, And know that I am God.

When you’re in a spot not understood, Look to the pure, the true, the good. Take your mind off things going around. Turn to Me and My Peace will be found, And know that I am God.

Just stop, and look to me for your help, For you’re not here to live in yourself. So, when life is hectic and you’re in a hurry, Think on these things, and then don’t worry, And know that I am God. “… and the God of Peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 NIV) Mike Buchanan is a Christian writer and the author of the book Mountains of Hope Surrounding the Valley of Cancer. He uses his writing talents to further Jesus’ Gospel.

They waited for me as for the rain, And they opened their mouth wide as for the spring rain. Job 29:23 NKJV

Click on the book photo to purchase Mike’s book from


The Hardest Thing For A Christian To Pray By Sharon K Connell

Another trust issue. Does God know what’s best in our lives, or doesn’t He? Boy, it’s a hard one. Of course, He knows what’s best for us. He loves us. Then why does He allow things to happen that hurt so badly? Because He knows all things, unlike us.

Since the theme this month is “Seasons of Faith,” I thought about all the seasons a Christian goes through in their walk with God, and how our faith changes as we grow as Christians. Starting out as babies, we know we’re not going to hell because of the Lord’s finished work on Calvary. We’re in the season of faith called trust. We trust the Bible is true. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9 KJV) During this first season, we don’t think too much about our walk with the Lord. About what happens next. We don’t realize yet that the devil will come along and try to mess us up. We’re baby Christians. As toddlers, we still take our first steps. This is the next season of faith. We trust our Lord to keep us safe and not let us go through too many falls while we learn to walk, and I believe our Lord does exactly that. Just like the loving Father, He is, He’s there to catch us. And if we get too far away and fall, He’s there to pick us up again. Family members betray us. Our hearts are broken. Still, we have a loving Father to turn to for comfort, and we trust Him to make things right again. This is where my title to this article comes in. “The Hardest Thing for a Christian to Pray.” What is it? “Thy will be done, Lord.” 60 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 59

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV) All Things. Even the painful things. We can’t see the future, but God knows it just like He knows the past. The season of faith involved in this time of our Christian walk is the hardest one of all, and yet we are the strongest we’ve ever been as Christians. We are now walking strong, can step over the stones, we catch ourselves when we start to fall. But when the anvil drops into our lives, we pray for deliverance. It’s good to pray for deliverance from a bad situation, but do we add, as Jesus did, “… O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”? (Matthew 26:42b NKJ) It was the worst day of Jesus’ human walk on this earth. He was about to be crucified. He would be tortured first and left to hang on a rough piece of wood. Hung from nails driven into His hands and feet. And yet, He told His Father, “… thy will be done.” The hardest prayer a Christian can pray. “God please don’t let my baby die, nevertheless, Thy will be done.” “Lord, please don’t let us lose our home, nevertheless, Thy will be done.” Does God know what’s best for us? Of course, He does. We can pray those prayers and trust our Lord to not only comfort us through the rough and raw moments of this season but provide healing and everything else we need. So, don’t be afraid to pray the hardest prayer a Christian can pray. You’re grown up now. In the prime season of faith. Trust Him.

Author, Sharon K. Connell lives in Houston, Texas from where she writes Christian Romance Suspense, containing a bit of mystery and as much humor as she can get into a story. She’s also written many award-winning short stories in a variety of genres. Sharon attended college in Illinois, graduated from the Pensacola Bible Institute in Florida, and holds a certificate in fiction writing from the International Writing Program through the University of Iowa. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Scribes Critique Group, Houston Writers Guild, and CyFair Writers. She is also the founder of the global Facebook Christian Writers & Readers group forum. Her monthly newsletter, Novel Thoughts, goes out every month to its subscribers in all parts of the world. Click on the photo to see Sharon’s books on

Praise to God for a Living Hope Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 NKJV

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Can I Do All Things? By Tim Ferrara

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:6-7 NIV) Do you remember discussions in grade school about what you wanted to be when you grew up? I never knew how to respond, usually coming up with something that sounded cool just to satisfy the teacher asking. Maybe I did not have high aspirations. From age 5, I was never one that knew exactly what I wanted to do or pursue it until I achieved it. One famous motivational statement I remember being used a lot when I was a child was “you can be anything you want to be.” This sounded awesome at the time! You mean I can be an astronaut, NBA player, or even the president? According to my 3rdgrade teacher, yes… When I got older, I quickly realized that this statement was a load of garbage. There are huge factors at play whether someone has the opportunities or skill to achieve whatever they want, along with the scarcity of some jobs that only have a few openings. If EVERY kid wanted to be the President of the United States, simple math assures you that this is impossible.

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I believe this statement was used with good intentions. You don’t want to tell kids that they can’t be what they want to be, but I think it could have been said in a less misleading way. It’s important to encourage kids to pursue their dreams, to take the right steps to get there, and to share success stories of people who overcame tremendous odds to achieve their goals. One of the many verses in the Bible I feel is frequently misleading and often misused by Christians is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” (KJV). It’s easy to read this verse and think, “wait a minute, I have accepted Jesus in my heart, which means I can do ANYTHING, indeed ALL things! This is awesome! I’m going to ____.” Fill in the blank with–apply to that school, pursue that job, learn that sport, pursue a relationship, play the lottery, ignore the doctor’s advice, or any other extreme response without praying. When reading the Bible, context is extremely important! Let’s look at what Paul was saying in Philippians 4 leading up to this verse: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)

The Greek word used here for contentment is autarkes. In the Greek ethics of the time, they regarded this contentment as the essence of all virtues. It described the cultivated attitude of the wise person who had become independent of all things and all people, relying on himself, because of his innate resources, or on the lot given to him by the gods. This doctrine was that man should be sufficient unto himself for all things, and able, by the power of his own will, to resist the force of circumstances. What is interesting here is that Paul, who knew the Greek language and the culture, is referring to something that was the ideal self-serving virtue of the time, in relation to his relationship with Jesus. I can do all THIS, meaning contentment (autarkes), is what Paul was referring to as the secret of contentment! JESUS helps us find contentment in our situation regardless of what we have. Content is defined as “satisfied with what one is or has” ( This feeling is determined by our attitude, not circumstance. Being content is a choice. Contentment is not determined by money or socioeconomic status. Contentment does not mean you are always in a state of ecstasy during bad times, but you can be content knowing that God is in control. Paul’s attitude here was predetermined. He did not wait for a bad situation to determine his contentment. He knew Jesus, and that was enough. Now I would agree that we can DO anything if Jesus gives us the strength! This is determined by His timing and direction, His calling and equipping. However, in the context of Philippians, it’s important to look at it in the light of contentment regardless of circumstance. It takes discernment to know what God is calling you to do. If God’s hand is on it, you cannot fail. But you also cannot name it and claim success without God’s input. We can get so caught up with what we don’t have that we don’t value what we do have. It’s harder in America to be content because of what we are exposed to daily. We need to remember to be in control of our contentment that does not rely on our circumstances.

I leave you a quick story: Leaning on his fence one day, a devout Quaker was watching a new neighbor move in next door. After all kinds of modern appliances, electronic gadgets, plush furniture, and costly wall hangings had been carried in, the onlooker called over, “If you find you’re lacking anything, neighbor, let me know and I’ll show you how to live without it.” (source unknown) Discerning Reflection: What am I not content about RIGHT NOW in my life? What am I pursuing that may not be of God? Is Jesus truly enough for me regardless of my circumstance? Prayer: Lord, help me find strength and contentment in you, help me not pursue the glamour that the world offers in order for me to be content. Help me be content in every circumstance. I can be content in all things through God who gives me strength! Amen.

Tim Ferrara has grown up in the church and has held various leadership positions, both in business and in the church. Tim is currently the Executive Pastor at LifePoint Church in Arizona. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Arizona State University along with an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He has had a career in business management for over 20 years and has worked as Faculty for two different colleges. Tim started the ministry of Discerning Dad ( to write and encourage Christians to grow in discernment and make better decisions that honor God. He has written a book called Everyday Discernment: The Importance of Spirit-Led Decision Making as well as multiple YouVersion Bible Plans. Tim lives with his wife Jamie and their two children in Arizona.

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Bringing Joy To The World By Joy Rendulic

I never wanted to move. My husband Chris, 6 children, and I lived in a beautiful 5-bedroom home in Erie, Pennsylvania on 8 wooded acres with a stream. I loved everything about it. Chris had a great job and our families lived close. Chris’s brother moved to South Carolina and would invite Chris to go down to golf for a week every year. When he returned, he would always say, “It is so beautiful; we need to move there one day.” I wouldn’t pay particular attention to this. Then one day he said, “I really can’t take these winters anymore.” This time I really heard him, but I still didn’t want to leave Pennsylvania and neither did the kids. I prayed, “Lord, what am I supposed to do?” I heard Him loud and clear, “Support your husband!” I remember saying back to God, “Support what?” I asked this because Chris had been looking for a job in South Carolina for a long time but couldn’t find anything. I didn’t hear anything back, so I just said, “Okay, okay, I will support him.” Right after I said this, I sensed a change in perspective that God had provided in all of us. I had been taking all the women’s Bible studies our church offered, and I remember thinking I have to stop them and start clearing my house out if we’re ever going to move. The next one was titled “Fight Back with Joy” and I thought, “I have to take that one!” I’m so glad I did because it had such an impact on my life. One lesson asked what our fears were and said to ask God if we didn’t know. I didn’t know, so I asked God and was blown away when He answered. He immediately said, “You are afraid to move to South Carolina–cleaning your house out, leaving family, and hurricanes! I said, “You’re right; I am!” The next line said to give your fears to God. I kneeled back down and put my hands out and said, “Here you go, take them, they belong to you now; I don’t want them back.” Then it said to do something to show you are facing your fears, so I cleaned a closet out. 64 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 63

That night Chris showed me more houses and for the first time they were reasonable, and we got excited about the possibilities. Chris decided to buy a business and contacted a commercial realtor and told him his interests. Later the realtor showed him Island Treats Ice Cream Shop in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Chris reacted angrily and said, “He didn’t even listen to me! This has nothing to do with any of the criteria I listed! Look what he showed me!” I said, “I love it!” He said, “What? You’re not supposed to love it; you’re supposed to support me.” I said, “It’s awesome!” Chris surprised me on Christmas with a picture of the ice cream shop! I asked God where the money was coming from and then I went on the computer and this flashing ad reads, “Sell your 401K to buy a business to retire on.” We prayed together and then agreed that if they allowed me to withdraw it and if it was enough to buy it, then we would conclude God directed this. I called, totally expecting them to give me a hard time and my agent says, “It’s your money you can do whatever you want with it; sounds like a great idea to me.” He told me how much the check would be and it was the exact amount as the asking price! We booked a flight soon after and our college daughter agreed to watch the kids during the rest of her Christmas break. In my mind, we were going to see the ice cream shop and hopefully buy it. The next day when I was reading my Bible the word “house” was everywhere, and I believed God was telling us we’d be getting a house while on this trip too!

On our first morning in South Carolina, the commercial realtor had an emergency and canceled our appointment. My husband worried that this dream of moving to SC was not going to happen. But I said, “Stop doubting right now; this is just a test. God didn’t bring us this far to leave us.” He calmed down and decided to call the house realtor to see if he could meet with us that day instead.

Joy Rendulic says she is a blessed child of God married to her husband, Chris, for 37 years. They have 6 children and 2 grandchildren. God moved them from Erie, PA to Pawleys Island, South Carolina 5 years ago to open Island Treats ice cream shop—bringing Joy to the world.

Long story short—the house realtor never got in touch with us; the 2nd test of multiple ones. We went out on our own and we both fell in love with the first house we looked at. We literally bought a house and a business in one week, came back in 1 month and closed on both the house and the business in the same week. I stayed in South Carolina to open the business while my husband went back to Pennsylvania to work and for the kids to finish up their school year. He said, “Okay, what just happened here? Why am I going back to snowy Pennsylvania to work and watch children while you stay in sunny South Carolina? This is not how I planned it!” I was scared and super excited at the same time but every day I was saying, “It’s you and me Jesus!” and I felt His presence very strongly and many miracles took place to make this happen. I give Him ALL the glory! He gave me a special gift I didn’t even know I wanted; an adorable ice cream shop that sits on a pond amongst other wonderful shops where you can walk around and even feed ducks, turtles, and fish! It also has a beautiful fountain that when the sun is shining, you will see a rainbow in it! I feel like I am living the 23rd Psalm! We lovingly serve 37 flavors of Hershey’s Premium Ice Cream; from Hershey, Pennsylvania, believe it or not! To God be the Glory!

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Springtime Is Here By Chad Thieman

Springtime is here bringing with it an assortment of tulips, lilies, and primrose blooms. Blossoming dogwoods and cherry blossom trees with their decorative white and light pink petals are swaying in the breeze. What an amazing time of year, full of transformation and renewal! The birds sing together as if to celebrate life itself, doing their part to give glory and praise to the Creator of all things. Everything we behold around us is experiencing transition, and the beauty of creation is on full display. Though the greatest transformation is not one we can view, it is rather one that occurs in the heart of humanity. Though everyone has a perception of what life is, many cannot comprehend the life God truly intended for us.

Inspirational Author Chad Joseph Thieman has written six poetry gift books, two devotionals, and one coffee table edition of all his work called “The Poetry Treasury.” He lives with his wife Tina “Bryant” Thieman in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chad’s writing includes faith-based, romantic, and nature themes. He has been writing for over 25 years and has written 365 inspirational poems, and many short stories, parables, proverbs, and devotions. Click on the top photo to see his books on

Springtime is a great reminder of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s promise for the believer is far more than the Salvation of our souls through faith in His Son, it is a promise of abundant life in the here and now. This is His resurrection life living through each of us, as we live out our personal ministry in Him. Yes, every believer has a personal ministry in which we can invest our God-given desires, physical talents, and spiritual gifts into daily.

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A Garden Sanctuary Through the gates of the garden, They walk day by day; Among the pleasant floras, Of their most sacred place. It’s a sweet, scented sanctuary, Filled with beauty and life. A refuge from daily trials, For the man and his wife. It’s a paradise for their children, To hide, dance, and play; And a peaceful place for prayer, In God’s bountiful showcase.

The Garden Staircase Up the garden staircase, They walk every afternoon; Observing the landscape, In colorful, splendid bloom. Looking out across the garden, The elderly couple gaze; Holding one another close, As they explore this floral maze. Hidden amidst a canopy of flowers, The seasoned lovers reminisce; Of the time when they first met, Reenacting love’s first kiss.

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