Faith Journey, Large Family Happenings

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

As I was going through the thousands of pictures on my hard drive, I found this picture of my third daughter.  So, it got me to thinking that I would share the Salvation Story of Daughter #3.  First and foremost, here is a picture of my daughter.  This was taken at the exact moment she expressed to me her desire to know and follow her Lord and Savior, Jesus. This was the moment I knew things were real.

You could sense and feel her emotions. I could see her wheels turning and putting things together. Such a beautiful moment.

Salvation Story of Daughter #3

On October 16, 2015

Was when this picture was taken.  For some odd reason, no one was at home.  I’m not sure where everyone was but they were all gone and this was before Hunter came to live with us.

G was 14 years old.  When she was about 6, she was “saved” every year at every church or school they went too.  We first thought it was real and then realized that it was more for the attention than the true meaning.

After about the 3rd or 4th time (I mean, she had been baptized at least 2 times before this picture was taken)…we just thought she was too young to truly understand the meaning.  It would come, in time.  In God’s time, not our time.

Struggles

G had struggled since before she came to us at 6 years old.  There were lots of things going on in her life, that were completely out of her control.  She was too young to be heard and so she internalized, as most children do.

She did some very brave things that helped bring justice to some people.  She also kept herself alive and fed while also keeping her younger brother alive, fed, and safe.  There were other littles ones that she was responsible for, but that wasn’t around the clock like it was with her brother.

By the time she got to us, she had been through 2 other state homes and several non-state regulated homes.  It is a lot for a 6 yr old.  She knew how to work the system.  She knew how to behave (according to her birth mom) and she stretched the limit quite a bit.  The other placements just weren’t equipped to handle the things that she had to deal with, her diagnosis, and her behaviors.

I Guess We Though We Could

We were ready to bring her and her brother home and fight for them.  Teach them about the love of Jesus.  Give them consistency, love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, hot showers. age appropriate toys, teach them to use their imaginations, work on their nutrition and reverse anything we could.  It was not easy.

G stayed in survival mode for a long time.  We did all we knew how to do.  We took PS-Mapp classes, Care Plus Classes, Sexual Abuse classes, had a great R & C worker, and the kids had a great social worker.  They actively saw therapists and doctors.  We did medications, detoxifications, food changes, allergy testing, allergy shots.  We tried everything.

Things kept getting worse and worse.

Taking It Personally

I took her hate and disdain personally but it has been impressed on me that it wasn’t me that she hated.  She “hated” her birthmom and that just happened to spill out on me.  I absolutely did not encourage that at all. I let her express her emotions and then tried to help her understand.

She was angry, confused, hurt, sad, that her mom had made the choices that she did.  It was hard for her to match up her words with her actions.  Frankly, it was hard for me to explain to her.  I never spoke ill of her birth mom.  I have always told her that her mom loved her the way she knew how to love her.  That she did the best she could with what she was taught by her parents.

I can’t fix that.  I also can’t take her attacks against me personally.  The girl could run her mouth, get all up in my stuff, try to be bigger than what she was and by those actions of blatant hate, disrespect, and harming others.  Trauma. PTSD amongst other things.

Then One Day

She was mad about something.  We were toe to toe in the dining room.  My boy had gathered up the children into the back of the house because he was always afraid of what she would say or try to do and he wanted to protect his siblings from her.  My goal was to protect her from herself.

She walked up, with her arms crossed, and said that she feels darkness surrounding her, starting at her feet.  That the darkness was like a cloud and it was coming across her legs and that the more it moves up, the more power she has.  That she likes the darkness and she likes the power that she has and she can do anything to me or anyone else when the power overtakes her.

Scary, I know.

I Distinctly Remember

I was as calm as calm could be.  I just looked at her and said “satan, in the Name of Jesus, you have to leave.  You have no power over my daughter or my home.  Get thee behind me.”  I prayed out loud, over her.  I had my hands on her shoulders and I could feel the tension and the warmth of her shoulders.  As I continued to pray, she began to physically lighten up and the tension was being released and a calmness took over her.

As I looked in her eyes, they returned to her normal color and her voice had audibly changed.  I asked her what happens and she said that when she gets angry that the cloud swirls around her feet and she does like the power but it scares her.  I explained that seemed like it was demonic and that once I claimed Jesus over her, it had to leave.  It no longer had the power to invade her or my home.

We talked about the fruits of the spirit and that she said she didn’t have them and I agreed.  That was a scary moment.  I’m sure that is the moment that she, now, dwells on.

Yet, there was more to that time that I wish she would remember because I not only remember, I took a picture because it was such a spiritual moment for both of us.  Sacred.

Fruits of the Spirit

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

These were the things we started talking about over the course of several days leading up to the picture above.  We talked about what it “truly” meant to have Jesus live in your heart.  That when He moves in, the Holy Spirit takes over and deposits all those fruits into a person’s lives.  Now, granted they may be seeds or they could be full blown fruits, but we all have to start somewhere.  We all have to heed that still small Voice of the One who sustains us.

Hard to Understand

That was a hard concept for her.  So, at the time of the darkness, I asked her about each of those fruits and she vehemently denied having any of them.  She hated everyone, herself, her bioparents choices, school, all the things.

It is a hard concept when you have lived a hard life in the beginning.  Yet, a hard beginning does not dictate your middle or your end!  These fruits may not be there now, but God is waiting to give them to you.  Again, some will be planted seedlings, some will be tiny fruits, some so big they are falling off the trees, but you will have them.  That is a guarantee.

Back to that Night

As we were alone, we decided to go and eat out someone.  She wanted to go to Sirloin, which was about 30 minutes away.  I agreed because I let her choose.  That’s what a good mom does LOL.  They let their daughter choose the place to eat.

We drove in silence.  We ate in broken silence.  We headed home in somewhat silence until we saw an accident that yielded in a person’s death.  She had a hard time with that, as did I.  The questions poured out of her.  She asked why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?  Why does He allow bad people to hurt kids?  Why her dad didn’t come for her?  Why her mom didn’t fight for her?  Why?  Why?  Why?

We had a long discussion about Freewill.

That was the Night

That I shared ALL of her birth story with her.  I have binders upon binders of information from every home, every person, every therapist, every diagnosis, every police report, everything. We poured over it.  I showed her many pictures and told her that I had been trying to contact her dad and biological sister to establish a relationship with them because it would be important to G.  I had also tried to locate her birthmom, but hadn’t had any luck.

I answered every question by looking through the paperwork and letting another person answer it.  Whether it was a judge, guardian ad litem, her birth parents, birth grandparents, foster parents, therapists, etc.  I didn’t just pick an answer out of the wind, I found it in black and white documentation and had her read it.  I just helped her understand wording.

It was a Hard Night

Yet, it yielded something unexpected.  Peace.  She physically had peace.  Her face softened up, her voice changed, she cried real tears, asked great questions about the goodness of God.  I was able to lead her to Scripture and have God answer those questions.  We researched, cried, and came to peace.

At that moment, she truly and completely asked the Lord to be her personal Savior.  It was so innocent and beautiful.  There were no accolades, no parties, no pats on the back, no baptisms, nothing like that.  Just me and her, in our home, together where the Holy Spirit was present.

I told her to look down at her shirt because I had just read it.  She put it on, originally, because she liked the color green.  She didn’t even read what was on it.  She looked down and the look of JOY, PEACE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, SELF-CONTROL, LOVE, GENTLENESS, not so much patience yet, FAITHFULNESS were permeating through her smile.

Her shirt reads SURRENDER!  She had just surrendered her life to Jesus and was bestowed the fruits of the spirit.  Most were growing fruits, a couple of seedlings, some were so big they were falling off the trees.  It was such a beautiful moment that was shared just between us.  I’m so thankful I took that picture.

Where is She Now

Well, just because we love Jesus and have Him in our hearts doesn’t always mean we continue to make the right choices.  We are still sinful people who are saved by grace (thank God).  We still make mistakes, do the wrong things, say the wrong things, fall into sin patterns, listen to a little bit too much of satan’s lies, and try to fit in with society.  That is a crutch we have all carried.

Does screwing up mean we have lost our salvation?

Oh heck no!

Does it mean we have lost the fruits of the spirit?

Nope, though they may need water to grow a bit more.

Once you truly ask Jesus into your heart, you are placed in the hands of Jesus THEN Jesus’ hands are placed in the hands of God.  There is nothing getting you out of those grips.  You are forever His.

Does it sadden Him?  Of course it does.  Yet it doesn’t stop Him from loving you.  He just wants you to do the right thing.  Be that city on a hill.  Be a testimony for Him.  Share your crappy beginnings and show people what the Lord has done for you.

Questioning Salvation

I did question her salvation based on her actions and her fruits when she was saved every year from 6 to 14.  It was literally a weekly or biweekly thing.  BUT that night changed everything.  I have NEVER questioned it since.  Not even with all the things that continued to happen and the struggles we had.  I never questioned it again.  I know she is His.  I know He lives in her.

I miss her.

I love her.

I believe in her.

She is enough.

She is brilliant.

She is beautiful.

She is capable.

She has been chosen by me to adopt her but more importantly by God through adoption by salvation.

She can do anything she sets her mind too.

Till I take my last breath, she will be my daughter.

My prayer is that she chooses to be a city on a hill and shines her light for the glory of God.  I pray that she remembers this night and holds it close to her heart because I hold it close to mine.

Some People

They know 20% of our story and that is being generous.  Maybe, I will clear up some other misconceptions over time.  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t do it without her permission.

For Now, we allow time to heal wounds. Pray for clarity, safety, wisdom, discernment, and forgiveness.

God is bigger.

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Guest Blogger, Large Family Happenings

Tested by Fire

In today’s world, a couple who has been married for 27 years is a rarity. My wife, Brandi,  and I have been married for that long.  One thing I know is you don’t stay married for that length of time without going through fire. We have had our fair share of fire, for sure.

In the beginning of our marriage I was not a believer. That put a huge strain on us. The first 7 years of our marriage was pretty rough.  I was not following the Lord and leading like I’m supposed to.  On several occasions, we were on the verge of divorce.  But in 2001, I did surrender to Christ and things got better, not because of us but because of Him.
However, things weren’t all rainbows and unicorns after I was saved.  I had an addiction to pornography that started when I was in middle school.  Obviously, my wife was unaware but with any sin, light was shown upon the darkness.  Sadly, my addiction still continued after she found out and again our marriage suffered to the point of divorce.  But God saved me from my addiction and I have been delivered from it since.  He worked a miracle in me and saved our marriage.
But as always, life gets in the way of happiness.  Job, children, finances etc. were all distractions to our marriage.  Many hurts happened and we had grown apart.  It felt like we were spiraling towards separation again but again God intervened.  It was like he hit me over the head with a frying pan.  He showed me that I was too focused on self.  I fell on my face and gave it all to the Lord.  I decided that I would love, honor, serve and cherish my wife.  God made me realize I was not fulfilling my role as her husband.
Since that night, I have done my very best to live up to that decision.  And I would have to say, our marriage is on the mend.
Are we perfect people? No.
Will we always do or say the right thing? No.
Do we/I have the power to choose to love, honor and obey God and each other? Yes.
What I’m trying to get at here is that through it all, we have persevered.  Has it all been bad? Absolutely not.  We have more good years than bad.  We just dwell on the bad more, which is not the way it should be.
But truth be told, God put me and Brandi together for a purpose.  He did not make a mistake because He doesn’t make mistakes.  I have loved her from the beginning.  I have never stopped.  She will forever and always be the one I choose and the one chosen for me.  I love her more every single day and will love her for the rest of my life.  Love you, babe!

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True Beauty from Within the Ashes

True Beauty from Within the Ashes

“True Beauty”

Do You think that a California girl is supposed to have curls and wear a jean size 3?
All the curves in all the right places, spray tanned faces like on TV?
And we read in the gospel of Vogue that we’re all supposed to dress and move and be
Visions of perfection
Such a misconception
‘Cause the real connection is deeper than the eye can see

This reminds me of a post that I wrote about the little squares of life.  We do use social media to compare ourselves to others.  Anyone can control what they specifically present to the world.  What you don’t see is the chaos behind the phone and in the background.

Chorus

What’s inside of you
What’s inside of me
The hands that made the moon and the stars
The mountains and the seas
Made you wonderful, beautiful, marvelously
Let the whole world see your
True beauty

Aw, Psalm 139, about how God created us.  If you haven’t read it, you should!

World Versus Truth

Don’t know much about Dolce and Gabbana
Seems like a lot of drama to me
And you can keep all your red high heels
And open-toed shoes – I’m good in my bare feet
Lets get down to the nitty gritty
Enough sex and the city
What about purity?
Skin is just the surface
The passion and the purpose that’s burning down inside us
Is really what we need to see

Purity is a rarity these days.  How sad is that?  It is such a slippery slope when you fall in “lust” with someone else.  Even if that someone is your forever.  Everyone can fall prey to their emotions.  It is natural.  We just need to be wise, be held accountable, and don’t be alone with the opposite sex.  Saves a whole lot of hurt, even if you are engaged!

Chorus

What’s inside of you
What’s inside of me
The hands that made the moon and the stars
The mountains and the seas
Made you wonderful, beautiful, marvelously
Let the whole world see your
True beauty

Love and Peace

Doesn’t come in a bottle, doesn’t come in a box
You can’t spray it on, you can’t wash it off
You can’t nip and tuck, you can’t sew it up
So don’t waste your time
It’s the love in your heart, the peace in your soul
The hope in your smile lets the whole world know
This little light – you gotta let it shine

Love in your heart, peace, hope, smile, and shine is so important.  This is can also be so hard to accomplish.  As a person, that deals with mental illness, it can be really hard.  This is just something that we all need to work on.  I need to put sticky notes up that remind me of these things.

True Beauty from Within the Ashes

This song, True Beauty, is one that I have not heard in years.  When this album came out, I bought it.  Listened to it faithfully.  Then, life happened and over the years, things get misplaced.  I was working on my “Worship” playlist that I listen to often from Youtube.  Shackles is a song that I love and that was what I was looking for.  Then, I found the album.

Thought that since I am working on my blog and feeling the urge to write, I would listen to it.  I heard this song and it felt like warm water was poured over me.  It speaks to me on a completely different level than it did way back when she released this song.

Events of Today

As I was ministering to a heartbroken young lady, today, we talked about beauty from ashes.  This is in Isaiah 61:3.  It is one of my favorite verses.  Her voice has been stifled for so long.  From the abuse that she experienced to what is to come, she has been silenced.  In her eyes, broken.

We talked about how the Lord has a purpose for all that went on and is going on.  One day, she was going to find the strength to use her story to help others.  She would, indeed, hold the hand of another and walk them through the ashes to help them find their beauty.

Encouragement

I hope that you find encouragement that you are not alone.  You are loved beyond measure.  Regardless of your past, current, or future circumstances, God loves you RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE!  You have to do nothing to gain His love.  Also, you can do nothing to lose His love.  He loves you yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day till He calls you home.

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Open Letter to A Brother Who Left This World Too Soon

Open Letter to A Brother Who Left This World Too Soon

In this Open Letter to A Brother Who Left This World Too Soon, my guest blogger remembers her brother who died of cancer 6 years ago.  What a thing for a family to go through.  The loss of a child, grandchild, brother, and friend.  He was a few days shy of turning 19 when he met Jesus face to face.

Lord, bless this family.  Bless them with peace and sweet memories as they navigate this difficult week as they remember this sweet boy.  Please give them the knowledge that he is healthy, happy, and hanging out with your Son, Jesus.  He is waiting for them to all be reunited, one day.

Open Letter to A Brother Who Left This World Too Soon

 

Dear Z,

It has almost been six years without you, and I don’t feel that it has gotten any easier. This is a wound time is taking forever to heal. I miss you so much, and naturally, I wish you were here with me. This is my least favorite time of year. I know you are watching over me and taking care of me.

I Wish You Could Answer Me

I’d give anything to have one final conversation with you or to give you one last hug. If I could go back and change things I would. I would have stayed by your side through it all. I think about that all the time. Does it make me a bad sister for leaving you there? I could have taken whatever our step-father threw at me, just to stay with you.

Missing All The Things

My mom told me a few years ago that you asked for me every day.  That you asked when I was coming back from dad’s. You know I like to take care of people.  I took care of you for the longest time. Honestly, I miss waking up at 3 in the morning to refill your feeding pump. I miss helping you walk around, even though you protested the entire time. For six years I have been waiting for you to appear in front of me.  Just to give me a chance to tell you my final goodbye.  To tell you I loved you just one more time.

It Hasn’t Happened so I’ll Keep Waiting

I think I can finally start to let go of the regret I’ve had for the past six years. It’s time. You know I love you more than words could ever describe. I know your biggest fear in death was being forgotten, but you are so unforgettable. You made an impact in everyone’s life. I will never forget you or the things you did for me.

You were one of my best friends. I promise you my kids will know what an amazing man you were. They will know how strong you were, and how hard you fought. They will know that you are my hero, and I aspire to be as strong and as brave as you were.

After Six Years, I Can Let You Go and Let You Rest in Peace

That doesn’t mean I will forget about you, It just means I don’t have to worry about you hating me for leaving. I know you loved me as much as I loved you. I know you weren’t upset about us leaving moms. I’m just upset she wouldn’t let you stay with us.

I am letting go of my regret because it wasn’t my fault you got sick. Honestly, I was a child and I know it wasn’t my responsibility to take care of you. I am moving on and trying to start the new year off right. Thankfully, I know you will be with me and watching over me every step of the way.

Love,

S

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The Real Truth About Death and Grief

The Real Truth About Death and Grief

In The Real Truth About Death and Grief, my guest blogger goes through her emotions of losing her brother at a very young age.  The loss of a sibling is devastating to the other children, as well as, the parents.  It is unimaginable pain that lingers for so very long.

The Real Truth About Death and Grief

Dearest Z,

A kid my age who I knew from school came in, and he reminds me so much of you. He has something wrong with him medically and he walks just like you did when you got sick. I saw him, and that made a bad day worse. Seriously, I wanted to give him a big hug. Then, I wanted to crawl under the register and cry. I miss you so much, It has been five years, I can’t believe it. You deserve to be here bub. I believe that you would be married with a family now.  You would a good dad.

Honest Prayer

I prayed to God every night for years that it was me instead of you. Honestly, I prayed that I could take all your pain away. I wanted to make you better and I couldn’t. That seems to be a recurring theme in my life. I make jokes about you being dead, but that’s how I cope with you being gone.

I’m sorry we left you with mom. I’m sorry I didn’t stay with you for that last year. I would have gone through whatever Tim threw at me, just to be with you that last year. Mom told me about how you asked for me every day after your seizure, and that story hurts my heart. She told me all about how you thought you saw me running around the foot of your bed every night before you went to bed. I am sorry I wasn’t there for that. I wish I was actually there to be running around your bed.

Life isn’t the same without you. I miss your voice, hugs, and I miss you yelling at me when I tried to help you walk. Honestly, I just miss you, dude. You were a light to anyone who knew you, and I miss your presence.

Thankful

Today, I am thankful for the beginning of healing.  Honestly, awareness of where healing needs to happen and the knowledge of the route that needs to be taken in order to walk through the pain that leads to healing.

 

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What Does Comfortable Mean

What Does Comfortable Mean

What Does “Comfortable” Mean?

What does “comfortable” mean to you? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it means affording or enjoying contentment and security. Okay, so what does “contentment” mean? It means feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.

That is the world’s view. According to the world, I need to be secure (home, money, job). I need to feel satisfied by my home, money, and career, to have the possessions that I deserve. A sweet little life where it is all wrapped up, with a pretty red ribbon.

Is that the answer? Is that the answer to a good life? Great job, making great money, buying great toys and bigger houses…..2.5 kids, a dog, a cat, and a fish…a manicured yard, well educated/rounded children, and peace wherever you go?

If this is the life that you want….then stop reading and good luck to you! If you want more out of life, more than money can buy, then keep reading on!

God Does NOT Want us to be Comfortable!

He wants us to be up, moving, and going. We need to sincerely pray to Him and ask Him to send us where He is working…then when something comes up, all you have to do is GO. He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those whom He calls!

My husband and I have lived an exciting life. We married young, had kids young, and we fought, oh so much. He wasn’t walking with the Lord. I was walking very slowly with him. He was saved at an older age, and even though the fruit wasn’t very big. It was there, and it was growing in God’s time, not mine. I learned very quickly that I was not my husband’s personal little Holy Spirit.

We have walked through several fires with little grace and forgiveness. Moreso, we wanted to hurt those who hurt us. We allowed that bitter fruit to penetrate every ounce of our hearts. I’m sure that devastated God. It is so hard to forgive those who have hurt us. Yet, forgiveness is not about giving permission for that person to do what they did to you. It is for our healing.

We’ve Gotten Older

We’ve learned to lean not on our own understanding but to lean on God and remember that His grace is sufficient. We are currently walking through some hot fires….we have lost so much over the last 2 mths. We have lost loved ones, we have lost respect towards some people, we’ve experienced a loss of innocence, and we’ve had our eyes open to many truths. Every day, there seems to be a new thing. One where we are now not saying “God, you aren’t funny,” but we are standing there, shaking our heads, knowing that He is continuing to refine us. As painful as it has been, we have drawn closer as a family unit and as a couple, and we have most definitely drawn closer to our Lord.

I have more peace than I’ve ever had in life. My circumstances have gone from “comfortable” to “chaos.” It seems as if we are standing in the middle of a field, and God is getting us with some pretty good zingers. We are standing strong in His Word, and we are hanging onto His truths and promises. We aren’t trying to independently walk through this world “I do it myself” mode, but we are hanging onto God’s belt loops, and we are following our Daddy through all this muck.

Comfortable, in my Terms

Well, this means an unmanicured yard with weeds and dead plants, everywhere; 4 dogs that shed horrendously…our cats are living in the house, our pigs try to escape. Also, our chickens refuse to lay eggs more days than not; a scary job, making little money, raising 7 children..all with their own needs. Leaving a place that we thought we’d never leave….to go towards the unknown. We are no longer detail-oriented people. We are merely trying to follow where He leads.

If you don’t know the Lord as your personal Saviour….please savor these next steps and pray with a yearning heart.

We ALL deserve death. That’s why Jesus came, to save us from our sins and be the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Please know the plan of salvation and what my God can do for you, and how He can change your life. He would choose to send His Son to die on the cross for you, alone. What undeserved grace that we have in that death.  

Salvation is Really Simple

Admit that you are lost; Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth. He came as 100% human and 100% God. Jesus came to die on the cross. He did so with your name on His lips. Confess that you are a sinner, separated from God; Repent, turn away from your sins; Ask God to come into your heart, and you will be saved. Baptism would be next, but baptism does not save you. It is done in the act of obedience to what Jesus did, and it is a public profession of your faith to show the world of your decision.

Please, don’t put off tomorrow what can be done today. Our days are numbered. God has numbered our days. There is nothing you can do to add too or take away from that number. You can take this moment to ask Christ into your heart. Please reduce the number of hell by 1. Secure your mansion, in Heaven.

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Boo is a Believer

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Boo is a Believer

Boo is a Believer

Boo is a Believer

Boo is a Believer in Christ.  He has just asked Jesus into his little heart.  It was the most precious prayer…..He asked God to allow His Son to come and live in Him, by means of the Holy Spirit.

Actually, he wanted God to “think about it.”  LOL………… The angels and this household are praising God for this wonderful gift and the knowledge that the child, He gave to us as a gift, now has Christ dwelling in him!

It warms my heart knowing that my children are coming to the knowledge of who God is and what He did for them.  I pray that my other children will come to salvation, as well.  Until they understand what being a believer is all about, I will continue to pray on their behalf.  I will try to lead, by example, and guide them on a day-to-day basis.

I pray that the Lord continues to shine His light on Boo (and all my other children).  Warriors for Christ is my desire for all my children and grandchildren.  I am so tickled I had my camera ready to capture this sweet little face.  My heart is simply swelling with joy.  God is so good.

For now, I will rejoice in the saving grace of my heavenly Father.  I will continue to pray for Noah to be the leader, provider, and protector that he is called to be.  God is good.

Jehovah Roi, The God Who Sees, saw an amazing thing, tonight!  Praise Him!

 

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