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VOL3, NO 14 | MAR/APR 2013

Content COVER STORY 17 Lost Material Riches & Gained Spiritual Riches

The compelling account of a woman who lost all of her riches, but in the process reunited with her first love , Jesus. Through this new found relationship, she discovered the real essence of life. Interview By: Tess Rutherford

FEATURES 15 I Believe

A soul touching and poetic piece describing ever so creatively what it really means to trust in the Most High God. By: Crystal Harris


Inside-Out Loving Discover what it means to love your fellow brother or sister with your whole heart By: Melissa Drobnak


Life is a Spiritual Journey An exhortation to be mindful of the spirit world as we carry out our journey walk. By: Nichole Beaver

IN EVERY ISSUE: 9 11 10 21 6


Letter from CEO/Publisher: Tess Rutherford Laughter for the Soul Recipe Spotlight Book Review Readers’ Voice

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CEO/Publisher Tess Rutherford

Editor Tina Mason -

Graphic Artist Assistant Imari Rutherford


Tess Rutherford

Laughter for the Soul: Lily - The Christian, p. 10 She is the author of Handle Your Emotions God’s Way! and the founder of Empowered Magazine. Contact her at

Melissa Drobnak


Inside-Out Loving, p. 13 She is the Associate Campus Minister, Axiom Campus Ministry at University of Illinois who has an M.A. in Christian Education and an M.A. in Counseling. Contact her at melissadrobnak@gmail. com or http://forevergratefulone.tumblr. com/

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Crystal Harris I Believe, p. 15

For over 20 years, she has worked at a hospital’s childcare center . She enjoys hiking, the ocean, the mountains , and she loves to sing music. She loves to write poetry; it is a way of praising and expressing her love, faith, feelings and emotions to the Lord. Email her at

Nichole Beaver

Life is a Spiritual Journey, p. 24 While riding a mountain bike, she was hit by a car, but survived with minor bruises. On many occassions,the Lord has spared her life. Whenever Nichole has an opportunity, she writes and testifies of Jesus. Visit her website at Do you desire to be a part of a change revolution? Do you have a natural knack for writing, photography, or videography? Do you receive fulfillment in helping others be the best they can be? Do you have the skills necessary to empower others to greatness? If you answered yes to all of these questions, join Team Empowered! Send query to editor@empoweredmagonline.


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Readers’ VOICE

We Love To Hear From You! Comments via the web: I Really enjoyed Michelle McKinney Hammond’s interview. Since being single myself, I could truly relate to everything she said. I found the article uplifting and encouraging knowing that there are others going through similar situations. But more importantly winning the battle. VICTORY! -Pamela W., San Diego, CA

Empowered Magazine


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LOST Material Riches & GAINED Spiritual Riches

A compelling account of a woman who lost all material possessions, but gained so much more. page 17 7

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Letter from CEO/Publisher Tess Rutherford As I mature in my walk with the Lord, I am discovering the grave importance of my reputation - how the world perceives me. Before you get worked up about this idea, know that this is not to insinuate that we should expend our time examining and analyzing people’s perception of us to the point that it alters our behaviors. There was a moment in Jesus’ life where he was a bit curious about his reputation in society as well as within his inner circle. Luke 9:18,20 According to Proverbs 22:1, “a good reputation is more desirable than wealth.” Why is “reputation” so important? Reputation is what people see when they observe your character and actions. In other words, if your character is out of whack, then so is your reputation.

what is supposed to separate us from other organized religions. I don’t care if you can quote thousands of scriptures verbatim, this does not bring you closer to God. The religious leaders in the synoptic gospels are prime examples of this. They had more knowledge than anyone else as it per- Photo by: Ben Geyer Photography tained to the Torah (First five books of the Bible), but this knowledge was not enough to sent us a powerful and immortal help them to bear witness of the Truth. They defrauded the mentor – God’s spirit – the Holy widows and coerced people to Spirit. God no longer dwells in adhere to a strict of rules that human tents; he, now, dwells in they themselves could not do. human beings. With your perClearly the Pharisees and the mission of course, he will guide Sadducees lacked a good repu- you along your journey and tation. They were so consumed help you with the difficult chalwith rituals and practices that lenges that spring forth. As long they neglected the principle of as you depend and rely on him, the word of God. We are to love your reputation will not come by treating all of God’s creatures into question. Even if people with kindness, dignity, and re- attempt to slander your name, spect. We are to be generous by it will ultimately come to nothoffering our time and resources ing because you have chosen to to those in need. We are to be be an ambassador for the risen hospitable and gracious to all Savor and he has your back. We men regardless of class or status. are focusing on Spirituality this issue. Be open to make any adIt is difficult for us to justments needed to help you walk in the above fruits of the soar even farther! spirit without the help of Jesus. Jesus came so that we could have additional assistance on our journey walk. When Jesus descended and ascended, he

If we were to conduct a study on people’s opinion of Christianity as a whole, I am not confident the results would be positive. There are many Christians who strive to control their reputation by doing good works. If they attend Bible study twice a week, attend worship service faithfully every week, and give of their tithes and offerings, they are showing the world that they are true Christians. Granted these activities are good and have their place; but, Christianity is not based on works. This is 9 Mar/Apr 2013 |



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Lilly is a Sunday school teacher at Upright Christian Church. She spends all of her free time studying the Bible. She does her best to be just like Jesus. Lilly works at Real Workplace International. As has been her custom for many years, she would sit in the break room and read her Bible. While reading, she heard a young lady crying nearby. Immediately, Lilly arose for this evangelistic occasion to see what was wrong. The young lady explained that she was dating a drug addict and had recently discovered that she was pregnant by him and she debated on whether to keep the child. Lilly told the young woman if she aborts the

child she would be considered a murderer. Lilly advised the woman to start attending Upright Christian Church and her life would be so much better. A week later, Lilly saw the young woman and asked what she decided. The young lady replied that she was so angry after her conversation with Lilly that she aborted the child. Lilly was mortified and appalled to say the least. She handed the lady a pamphlet on anger and walked away.

Handle your Emotions God’s Way! explores 52 negative human emotions and provides real life examples and biblical principles to controlling one’s emotions God’s way. The book is available at Berean’s bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and many other internet sites!


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When I think of the word “spirituality” or the Christian life in general, the first word that comes to mind is “love.” This beautiful word that is the foundation of the Christian life that reflects the heart of God, and is the greatest commandment in all of Scripture, can be difficult to define and even more compli-

cated to express to others. We are not failing at love for lack of effort. Bookstores are filled with resources with 101 ways to love, many of us are searching Scripture, attending small group studies, and prayerfully seeking to love others well. It is a core human desire to love and to be loved.

Yet, with all of this effort, we often fall short in feeling loved and in demonstrating love to others. Have you ever found yourself asking the question: “Why is this person so difficult to love?” If so, perhaps there is a different question to ask yourself:

“What is in my heart that is keeping me from loving this person?” The world might tell you that the answer to the question “Why is this person so difficult to love?” is the other person’s shortcomings, sins, or personality quirks, but God always challenges us to look at our own heart. One of the most powerful and direct passages of Scripture that addresses the concept of hypocritical living is where Jesus condemns the religious leaders of his time in Matthew 23. I must confess that for the inner-Pharisee in me, this is one of the most convicting chapters of the entire Bible. Maybe some of you can relate, as well. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices...But you have neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy and faithfulness...on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:23, 28) In the same spirit, as applied to the concept


of loving others, a modern day paraphrase might read: “Woe to you, lovers of God and readers of the Word, you hypocrites! You seek me in prayer and Bible study, and serve others with your actions...but you have neglected the heart behind those commands- humility, mercy, and acceptance...On the outside, you appear to be loving, but on the inside, you are full of pride, judgment, and condemnation.” I have been the Pharisee and remember the internal battle of attempting to love on the outside, yet with a prideful and judgmental attitude on the inside. Though my actions may have appeared loving, my heart was filled with sinfulness that hindered my ability to overflow with forgiveness, acceptance, and love to others. Over time, God revealed to me the ugliness of my own heart: the pride that had kept me from seeing my own sin, the critical spirit that kept me from forgiving

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and offering mercy, and the judgmental attitude that kept me from fully accepting others, just as they are. This began a journey of learning what it means to be forgiven, accepted, and loved by God, so that I too, by His grace, could extend forgiveness, acceptance, and love to others. There is no greater lesson and no greater journey that I have experienced than to come to know and embrace the amazing gift of God’s forgiveness, acceptance, and love for us, His beloved children. Even though He knows us intimately, sinfulness and all, He accepts us. Scripture not only commands us to love one another, but also to accept one another. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

(Romans 15:7) There is no greater gift that we can give to others than to offer the same forgiveness, acceptance, and love that we have received from Him. However, if we do not allow the Lord to search our hearts, we may be missing the answer to the initial question: “Why is this person so difficult to love?” Perhaps the answer is a matter of our own heart. Perhaps we are finding it difficult to love others because we have not yet embraced God’s amazing love for us. Perhaps we have not experienced the overwhelming gift of being accepted and forgiven by a Holy God! Until we have experienced and received God’s forgiveness, acceptance, and love, how can we extend such grace to others?

Dear Loving Father, Please search my heart. Examine my inward attitudes and thoughts...if there is anything in me that is keeping me from showing understanding, forgiveness, mercy, acceptance, and love to another person, please reveal this to me. Please remove anything in me that is not of You- take away any bitterness, resentment, anger, critical thinking, and unforgiving, judgmental or prideful attitudes. Please purify my heart so that I can offer the same forgiveness, acceptance, and love that You have extended to me. Please fill me with Your Spirit and empower me to love others from the insideout.


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I BELIEVE Darkness in my soul as I stumble through the night In the early morning shadow I feel shadow in my eyes Son of promise, son of wonder In my twilight, God’s great gift, Now He makes this harsh command My emotions quake and shift. How can I obey and lose my promised, cherished son? Why would God demand this? I am shaken; I am numb. But I trust Him with my life, with my son I will obey. I know my God is able to return my son this day. We struggle toward obedience, yet questioning this plan. but in the brambles is His answer, in the figure of a ram! I BELIEVE!!! While living with my father I thought my future bright. The prophet chose the youngest over beauty, strength and might. Yet here in fear I wander in aimless, hapless painthough no crime was committedfrom a mad and violent king. The psalms I write still soothe me though my God feels far away, in disconnected, discontent, I long for light of day. At times I feel forsaken, disjointed and unreal


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are confusion and depression all my soul can ever feel? Yet in the midst of shadow my destiny is shown. In the promise of a power that I will never own. my faith in God is sure ; I know, even lost, I’m found, for in my dreams my destiny shows a God anointed crown. I BELIEVE!!!! There are seasons in our lives when our questions seem unheard. There are times of deep confusion when we long for one sure word there are lessons in the wilderness confessions in the dark that draw us more into His will and closer to His heart. Experience the rich reward of growing in His grace, the hope in desperation, the promise in His face, the deep abiding certainty the life sustaining peace, through stormy skies, life’s lessons are where faith can truly speak. I BELIEVE!!!!!!

-Crystal Harris 16

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Lost Material Riches & Gained Spiritual Riches

Tracy Brown Stickel Interview By: Tess Rutherford


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Tracy Stickel grew up in a well-to-do family environment. She lived in a two parent home and her father was a successful attorney. Her parents started from the bottom and with hard work and dedication worked their way up. Tracy celebrated her parents’ achievements and desired to model after them once she moved out on her own. Although Tracy’s parents were devout Christians, they did not

Bible verse, Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” actually meant that whatever she asked God for, he would provide it - with no conditions added to it. She waited for all the right things and soon enough she found someone who met all of the above in her future husband. The couple went to church on their first date, fell in love, and

and sit at a table next to Rush Limbaugh. They would go to the 21 Club (exquisite restaurant in NYC) and fly home the next day all the while being offered first class service. They owned well over 50 cars, 2 houses in exquisite neighborhoods (Coronado Island), and 7 to 10 different boats. Her husband was featured in Money Magazine Circa in 1988 and at that time he was reportedly worth 7 million dol-

want any of their kids to struggle later married. In Tracy’s mind, lars. as much as they had. Therefore, all of the boxes were checked… Tracy’s parents encouraged her Tracy’s husband was a The first 20 years of Trato marry rich. In their eyes it wealthy businessman who evenwas just as easy to marry a rich tually ran for mayor. Tracy is cy’s marriage were exceptional, man as it was a poor man. So on first name basis with two but things started to take a turn Tracy developed her own dating California governors: Pete Wil- shortly after. All the warning checklist. The potential man in son and George Deukmejian. signs, once ignored by Tracy, her life had to meet the criteria George Herbert Walker Bush soon became more evident. She or else nothing would become of chose Tracy’s husband to be the thought that the problems they the relationship. Tracy admits to campaign chairman for the state were having would simply go dating a wallet instead of seek- of California. They have attend- away, but it did not. One morning out what she actually need- ed presidential inaugurations. ing Tracy and her husband woke ed in a man. Tracy thought the They would fly to NY for dinner up arguing, which led to her 18 Mar/Apr 2013 |

husband leaving via the back door -- never to return again. “If you heard the story of the guy leaving for a loaf of bread and never returning home, well that was Tracy’s husband.” When he left, it took a while for it to dawn on Tracy that it was, in fact, over. During her marriage, Tracy says she was happy 70-80%, but the percentage in which she was unhappy she would categorize it as “very unhappy”. Under the pretence, she medicated her marital issue by being a good cook, being a good housekeeper, decorating houses well, traveling, dressing well, meeting with friends outside of the house. There were a few things that were not attractive, and Tracy did not want anyone to know the details behind it. The material things around her soon developed a life of their own. It soon boiled down to driving a Lexus being more important than being happy; Forget finding the real root of the issue. There was always an elephant in the room and it was never discussed. One may ask how can a person spend four to five thousand a month unaudited or spend thousands of dollars at Nordstrom, or drive a brand new car almost every year be that unhappy? Well it happens! And this is when Tracy began to realize the true meaning of “money doesn’t produce real happiness.”

mission field was the wealthy and the rich. She had the status and clout needed to gain entry to the aristocrats to minister the gospel to them. She helped the women who thought that you can be too rich or too thin. She and her husband started the Stickel Christian Foundation. This foundation was primarily self-funded. The funds assisted downtown urban ministries helping the young and old primarily. These ages seem to be the most in need. They worked with a Presbyterian church who shared Tracy’s and her husband’s passion of a strong political agenda. In all of their philanthropic work, they did not want to let their left hand know what the right was doing. In other words, they prohibited the donation recipients from speaking of the details of their giving publically or via the media. They were always conscious of the Bible verse which says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to inherit the kingdom. (Matthew 19:24) It is important to remember that all of our works will be tried under the fire, and Tracy knew in her heart of hearts that she was performing these tasks more as a duty or perfunctory task which is why “God seemed to knock the pins off.”

work to implement new changes in her life. She had to be a model for her two boys – 19 and 17 year old. At the time, Tracy’s 17 year old was driving a Hummer S3, the 19 year old was driving a Lexus Crossover Hybrid, and she was driving a brand new Lexus. All three of them had to sell their cars. And surprisingly enough, the younger child said that if he could unwind everything and do

When her husband had left, Tracy simply took it all in Despite her lavish life- as a part of her life’s course. Alstyle, Tracy was far from an infi- though she did not have money del. She was a part of the leader- to pay gas and electric, she still ship team for BSF (Bible Study felt peaceful about her new cir- a remake, he would not change Fellowship). She understood cumstances. Clearly, there was a thing. For it is when he lost that Jesus was not supposed to not anything she could do to fix everything, he experienced the be her co-pilot, rather he is sup- her predicament. Tracy was not best time of his life. He underposed to be the pilot. Tracy’s burdened by anything. She de- stands that it is not about things. cided to get up and move on and 19 Mar/Apr 2013 |

Presently, Tracy does not have a day where she does not feel connected with Jesus. She listens to what some may call their inner voice – Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells her whether she should go left or right. Every time she asks a question, the answer comes and it is always right. She is grateful to God that she never was physically hurt. Due to bad financial dealings and investments, she lost furniture, cars, houses, and clothes; but those are just things. She and her sons walked away with good health, happiness and joy, and this is what really matters. Tracy believes losing money is not a bad thing for people to experience, especially if they learn the lessons along the way. Tracy says God will give us what we need and it will be sufficient and enough. God’s “Enough” may not be

what you had before, but your necessities will be met. Tracy’s advice to others seeking riches and/ or who are currently living the lavish lifestyle, is not to take riches for granted. It can be here one day and gone the next. There is nothing wrong with having money, but it is how you look at it and treat it. In addition, she warns people to be good stewards – “store up the grain for the famine that might be coming.” Tracy is a health and wellness coach for Take Shape for Life. You may reach her at

Got a compelling story? Empowered Magazine wants to hear from you. We are constantly looking for inspiring material. Send your story to 20

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The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortbert The heart of Christianity is transformation---a relationship with God that impacts not just our ‘spiritual lives,’ but every aspect of living. John Ortberg calls readers back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity---God’s power to bring change and growth---and reveals both the how and why of transformation. It’s a road map toward true transformation that starts not with the individual but with the object of the journey---Jesus Christ. As with a marathon runner, the secret to winning the race lies not in trying harder, but in training consistently---training with the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines are neither taskmasters nor an end in themselves. Rather they are exercises that build strength and endurance for the road of growth. The fruit of the Spirit---joy, peace, kindness, etc.---are the signposts along the way. Paved with humor and sparkling anecdotes, The Life You’ve Always Wanted is an encouraging and challenging approach to a Christian life that’s worth living---a life on the edge that fills an ordinary world with new meaning, hope, change, and joy.

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We are Spiritual beings. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. For 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” We need to accept the fact that we belong to the Lord. We need to invite the Lord, Our Savior, into our hearts. He wants to commune with us but we have to be willing vessels. In being a willing vessel, I mean complete surrender unto the Lord. In the book, The Holy Spirit by J.A. Huffman he quotes Andrew Reed (1787-1862), “Holy Spirit, all divine, Dwell within this heart of mine; Cast down every idol-throne, Reign supreme, and reign alone.” Once the decision has been made the rest God can do on your behalf. It takes union with God to accomplish His purpose in our lives. For Ephesians 1:11 and 12 states, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” A perfect joining with the Lord will ultimately result in the purposes of God being fulfilled. The idea of us being in harmony with the Lord is a journey. It is a daily breathtaking experience of His Divine Will that makes us complete in Him. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (found in Romans


12:2). Therefore, to be in the perfect will of God is to forsake the world. It is also to make up your mind to follow the Lord and to prove what is good in His sight. Once on the journey, in this earthly life, we can come to a place of complete trust in the Lord. It is surrender of all we know. With all our being we can depend upon Him. For 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and 24 says,” Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” It is the Lord who will sanctify us and we not ourselves – He is able to do great and mighty things in our lives until the Day in which He comes! Oh, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah! Our feet have to tread the earthly soil but we do not have to be a part of this earthly system. Instead we can rise above it all as Christ did – He is our example in the here and now. In the Bible we are left with instructions on how to pray. (Please read Ephesians 6:10-20). Also note Ephesians 6:12 which states, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” We are therefore to keep ourselves pure in thought and deed – relying upon the Word, solely for our deliverance! God is good and He will see us through.

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Oh, the Lord is with us who do believe. Again, referring to the book above by J.A. Huffman, he quotes Marcus M. Wells (18151895), “Holy Spirit, faithful Guide, Ever near the Christian’s side.” We cannot go at this Christian life alone. Oh, no! It was part of God’s design that we have a Comforter. So, in John 14:25 through 27 we read, “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Oh, glory to God we are not alone. He did not leave us without a Helper. In fact, we are left with His peace to boot. We have no excuses not


to follow after Him hotly. He should be our craving. His Word should define who we are in Christ Jesus. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).” We have the Holy Spirit to guide and we have the Word. Glory to Jesus; He has given us the resources we need to live in these final days and hours. You may be reading this article and never have completely surrendered to God? You may be reading this and scratching your head wondering about the Holy Spirit? Well, I’ve got excellent news for you! God knows all about you. He knows your heart. He knows just where you’ve been. He knows what you did or did not eat for breakfast this morning. Okay, He wants you to be His. He has loved you

as it says in 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.” His love is an everlasting love that we cannot live without. Furthermore, we have all sinned and fallen short therefore we all need to confess Him as Lord and Savior as it says in Romans 10:9 ( that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.) So, in the process why not include the Comforter too? He, the Holy Spirit wants you to acknowledge Him! The easiest way is through the Word in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” Thank the Lord, now for His generous and gracious gift to us!

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Empowered Magazine is published bi-monthly: Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, Nov/Dec online and in print. Tess Rutherford, President/CEO. Online subscriptions: Free. Printed subscriptions: $5 - $8. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. It is the mission of Empowered to provide a quality publication to enlighten, educate, and empower our readers to reach beyond themselves and soar by riding on the strength of God’s power. For submissions and orders contact us: Empowered Magazine Address P.O. Box 882416, San Diego, CA 92168 Email Website


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The cover story features the story of a woman, Tracy Brown Stickel, who lost all of her riches, but in the process reunited with her first l...