The Sanctuaries of Man and of God

Recently I was blessed to experience two kinds of beauty; two kinds of creation of sorts.  I have always been fascinated with comparing creations of man to true creation, the world around us that God created.  I had the unique experience of one day being in and surrounded by a stellar example of man’s creation and then a day or so later being out in a place so undeniably beautiful there was no comparison.

My husband and I had been trying for years to have a get away weekend around our birthdays because they are exactly a week apart. This past year we finally succeeded and Hearst Castle was our destination.  We chose an evening tour and sat in a bus winding our way toward the castle surrounded by heavy fog.  It was really neat but there was definitely no opportunity to take in the landscape surrounding the Castle or “Ranch” as Mr. Hearst like to call it.  As you walk in and out of the different areas of the castle there are objects of beauty one on top of another. They were all created at different times and in different places. While I admire it and it was quite fascinating to see it all, a few thoughts came to mind. The ostentatious display of wealth was unavoidable and overpowering. Mr. Hearst clearly needed to display his wealth and power through his possessions.There were so many religious pieces I wondered if he was trying to prove his devotion to God by the unending artifacts. He displayed them despite the fact he lived here with his mistress for more years than he did his wife. As you walked through on the tour it all becomes heavy instead of beautiful.  I was also struck by the fact that this was created and filled in one of this countries deepest times of deprivation The Great Depression. I did find Hearst Castle incredible and beautiful on it’s own merits but it cannot in my opinion compare with what you find when you step into a castle created by God that anyone can enter and enjoy at any moment no matter their current circumstances.

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Just hours away from this man made sanctuary is a true sanctuary of beauty. Incomprehensible beauty you could see again and again. You would never be able to get enough and you would never be burdened or bored.  Yosemite is an amazing place!  It brings peace and release to the soul. You can go from corridor to corridor and never get bored of the story God is telling. You could see scenes again and again and never feel weighed down by what surrounds you.  You never find yourself going ugh more of this.

As I reflect on all of this I am struck by what fascinates me.It is not as if I am not intrigued by what man has made, I am.  I always find myself intrigued and wondering what did they build and why did they build it.  But when I get there I am always left empty especially when the purpose was to glorify themselves. Hearst claimed or wanted “The Ranch” to be a retreat so ostensibly to benefit others but that is not what comes across. On the tour you learn he was constantly building even when he was going bankrupt .  He was clearly seeking something and never finding it when all he had to do was step outside and find peace for his soul in the castle of God created all around him.
More and more we are being enticed to stay indoors, slowly, in a fashion we don’t readily recognize.  There is peace outside our doors and off of our screens.  It is amazing how much we, as people seek what is right outside their door. “Of books (blog posts and social media sites) there is no end”. Even I who love and deeply feel peace and strength when I engage in the castle and creation of God get caught and become enslaved.  I run in and out of the house, to and fro never noticing or really taking in the peace that surrounds me, the freedom He created for us! We can try to create our own peace but it is never the same and it never satisfies. So step outside today and just be, soak in what He freely gives that you don’t have to create. It is there even in the city.

NF lessons in honesty and expression

I was listening to music the other day with my daughters and they introduced me to a new artist. This has been the way it has been since my kids have grown into teens and adults, I get to hear and experience new music through them which I love.  On this particular day it was a hip hop artist who goes my the name NF.  Now hip hop  is not my first pick but I am not adverse to it if it strikes a cord. It has to be danceable or more importantly the lyrics hit home.  Both were the case with NF, the music was good and the lyrics really hit home.  He is honest and says what he is feeling.  While listening in the car it is easy to pick up and enjoy what he is saying but as I listen around the house and can’t specifically hear the words a tone of anger can come across.  This rubs me wrong as I try to go about my daily tasks and I don’t enjoy it as much.

My daughters have a big joke now about how I don’t like NF because I shy away from it in our day to day when I can’t really tune in with the lyrics as well.  I keep telling them that is not the case at all I love NF and what he is saying. I also love his musical style.  It was funny to me as I sat and talked to one of my daughters who is a big fan and it was somewhat surprising to hear her point of view, although not totally, as I had come to suspect what the Spirit showed me in part that day.  You see this daughter is bright and shiny ,positive, fun loving , and for the most part peacemaking.  She likes to have fun and put a smile on people’s faces.  I couldn’t reconcile how she was connecting with NF.  I on the other hand totally relate to what NF talks about in his songs.  I should in my opinion love his music and want to listen to it all the time yet I struggled.

Then as always when the Spirit is at work a light went on and I began to understand things in a new way.  One of my weaknesses that God has been working on is to look toward what He is doing for good.  I tend to see the bad and the negative outcome in most situations.  For me I am attracted to happy books and happy music, things that highlight the brighter side as I try to look to Him for my sustenance and view point.  Whereas my happy daughter really enjoys the honesty and straightforward way that NF talks about things that are happening while still giving credit, adoration and service to God.  She is not connecting with her own negative experiences and giving them voice and strength she is seeing another side.

I am struck by this as I have taken up blogging or as I have dealt with people throughout my life.  I have so much on my mind I don’t want to drag people down.  The Holy Spirit has been trying to get across to me that He created us each differently with a purpose and this was one of the confirmations He used.  My daughter and people like her enjoy NF and his honesty as do I when I sit and just listen specifically to the lyrics.  I can relate to what he is saying.  I am reminded as I meander through these things the Holy Spirit is putting in front of me that He has specific people He wants to touch by the way I express myself.  Yes He has been transforming me and showing the beauty and freedom of living in His will.  He is showing me to move beyond the gray cloudy world that is my mind at times, but I will never be a sunshine and roses kind of girl and that is okay.

Here you will find me speaking to the freedom I have found in Jesus. Freedom from the gray clouds.  I am not NF and it is not therapy to talk about the clouds and confusion (he is not confused btw).  I am learning as I walk to rejoice in being freed from those thoughts.  As I am writing this blog I am learning to live in love and rejoice in the freedoms each situation brings me, but as I learn that lesson I want to be free from the fear of being myself.  I have tended to try to be too bright and shiny at times.  As this blog has been from God it has not worked to well since that is what He has called me too but this lesson he gave me through NF and my daughter was such a good one to keep me on track with being who I am.  Sharing my journey with parenthood, marriage and life won’t always be sunshine and roses but it will be full of freedom and praise to the one who turns the dark and cloudy to light.

Check him out below he will get you thinking:

Therapy Session by NF

Doctors and natural medicine a perspective to open 2017

Nothing that God created should be eschewed. It is the point at which we see it as above God, look to the authority of man over God where we are out-of-order and summarily enslaved.

I type here from my bed recovering from pneumonia. It took hold of me as the holidays approached and became an unavoidable reality as we literally opened the year. New Year’s Day found me at the ER.  This year God had some truths to confirm in my life about the role of medicine in our modern culture and in my life. Over the years of raising children God opened my eyes  to all of His creation and its many uses. Through this knowledge I gained freedom. Freedom to use the myriad of plants He created all over this planet to take care of these bodies He gave us. As I grew in knowledge and wisdom the world of medicine and doctors took a back seat and nnatural-medicine-1738161_1920o longer dictated how I ran my life. As the years went by through prayer and His wisdom illness was a small part of our journey. As 2016 came to a close we were all reflecting on how thankful we were that we had not really been hit too deeply with all these terrible illnesses that we had been hearing about around us.  I have always held that doctors and medicine have their place just not the place our culture has elevated them to. I was soon to learn that often we are led by fear to turn to man for our answers but sometimes we can also be prideful that we have all the answers and not see that God has a place for both because He created both.

I woke New Year’s Day and my chest felt heavy when I took a breath, coughing exhausted me but thankfully no longer hurt;  I had been battling an illness that had entered the house the week before Christmas.  The miracle to testify to here is that I had tried to call the doctor the day before Christmas Eve but no one answered.  By that night I was so miserable and in such pain my children stood around me in my bed and prayed over me.  The result of this prayer was a cessation of the pain and fever that had been plaguing me.  I was also able to interact with people a bit for the holidays. So this is another one of many God provides miracles I will be able to look to and speak of throughout my life.  Anyway, I digress, below you will find our tried and true formula for illness when it enters our house and it has worked faithfully for 20+ years.

  • sun-hat-1519881_1920 Echinacea our first line of defense.  It builds up the white blood cells that fight the invading monsters.  Now in my experience while it is good to take Echinacea throughout the illness the onset is the most effective place for this remedy.
  • Garlic- our mainstay to kill anything and everything.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic. As garlic-1769096_1920such we take it in the same manner as we would an antibiotic.  We start with a pink of a fresh clove or two once a day. We like to bury it in applesauce or plain yogurt and just swallow down. If this does not seem to be killing it (meaning you are not feeling better) we move up to twice then 3X a day. In really bad illnesses we have even done every 2 hrs or so.
  • Ginger- If there is a lot of mucus being produced, sneezing and running, ginger is our ginger-1960613_1920go to.  This dries up the extra production. I know it has many other properties but this is what we use it for.stinging-nettle-785292_1920
  • Nettle tea- This when infused for a 3 or 4 hours is a good expectorant. It is also very nourishing to the rest of your body
  • Eucalyptus essential oil-when congestion is a problem with a tight cough, this briessential-768949_1920ngs wonderful relief. Boil a big pot of water add several drops, put a towel over your head and breath deeply.  I usually stand above it as the steam is too close and too hot when I sit. This really gets the chest congestion moving.
  • humidifier if night coughing and discomfort are a problem we use a warm humidifier. This year we added the Eucalyptus oil to it but I now have rivulets of oil on my walls that I need to clean once I have the strength and energy. So no more oil in my humidifier.

These are our go to remedies.  As I said above we have used these for 20+ years with great success. But this illness was different and it is in listening to God that the truth was revealed.  We did all of the above and the rest of the family was well within a week despite the news that all around us illness was rampant and lasting for multiple weeks.  But I had gotten something special or because of my Hashimoto’s I was not able to fight whatever came in, but I can tell you now looking back it was different from the day it started.  The cough started dry and tight and was painful and unproductive within 2 days.  I did all of the above remedies to no avail breathing the eucalyptus or steam felt as if it were pressing the bad further down in my lungs. At the time I could not articulate that it just did not feel good. I did cough and it moved things a little but not like it normally would.  So after fighting for a week and the return of a low-grade fever I knew something was not right. I knew I had done all I could it was time to check with doctors. Now the emergency room was not my first choice but being it was a holiday I knew my doctor was not going to be in and although the urgent care centers said they were open they were not . So the emergency room was where I ended up.

So what did I learn on this journey ,well, what the Spirit had been telling me for years was confirmed, doctors and medicine have their purpose and place. You see, to me, we live in a world where science is god and doctors are the priests. Priests just like we have seen themmedical-563427_1920 in history dictating to all, what we will do, how we will live and what will cause us to die. We are literally persecuted and looked down upon if we question that ideology or those doctors/priests. So funny how history repeats itself and how ,as it says in Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new under the sun”. In a coming post I will share about Hippocrates and what I learned as we started our history study this year. But just like people of old were freed from the tyranny of priests and their whims and wishes we too have been freed from the god of science and medicine that the world has created.  Does this mean God cannot use them and does not have a purpose?  Nothing that God created should be eschewed. It is the point at which we see it as above God, look to the authority of man over God where we are out-of-order and summarily enslaved.

You see the world is the same whether you see God or not. Illness is still there whether you look to Him or not.  We are either blessed by the plants that surround us or we have doctors and medicines formulated by  the men that He created. The key is going to Him and being free. He is the key,  He knows the path, He is the creator.  As God of the universe no matter how man tries to distort things, He will always set things right. So as always I started the year thankful. Thankful for all the choices He puts at my disposal and thankful He guides me to which is best in a given moment.  Thankful for the quiet to sit in His presence. While we may have medicine and doctors to take care of so many things we do not need to rely on them for the answers, we also have all of His creation available to us to care for us and build us up. Ultimately it is God himself we go to for the solution. Thank you Jesus for coming here and living amongst us. Thank you for opening that direct line of communication to God for me.  Thank you that I can rely on you and not be a slave to pride and fear.

Who is taking the lead in your dance of life? A reflection for Valentines Day

Emotions are amazing! They add depth and breadth to life but if they are what are leading our dance of life we will miss the beauty and power of the dance.  When we follow His lead the dance is powerful, and stunning, you don’t want to stop you are so enraptured by it! Emotions can add beauty, depth and connection to our lives but often they lead to conflict and chaos.  One day God gave me this incredible picture when we let our emotions take the lead it ruins the beauty of the dance.

What the Holy Spirit brought one day as I sat before Jesus was a picture of the tango.  This dance can be an incredible thing to watch when the participants know their roles and work within them.  If both dancers are trying to lead it is not a pretty picture.  In a dance there is one person who takes the lead and one person Ballroom dancingwho trusts and follows.  Our walk with our God is a bit like this.  When we follow His lead the things in our life even the hard things can be beautiful and amazing.  When we take the lead we make a messy stilted dance .  We may still be dancing but no one is taking pleasure in it.

God gave us this wonderful spectrum of emotions that add so much color and personality to our lives.  How we react to and interact with our circumstances and the people puts in our lives is the beautiful fabric that makes up our individual world.  But we live in a fallen world and those emotions can ruin the dance when we let them take the lead.

As I look out over the panorama of my life I can see the times that love, hurt, anger or excitement were taking the lead.  While these emotions can add so much,when we are following them they can lead us down wrong roads.  God is right there with the perfect path and those emotions were designed to add to the gifts He has given us and the paths He leads us down. So with Valentine’s Day, a day full of emotion, just around the corner. Let’s ask ourselves who is leading our dance? Are we experiencing the beauty and power of following His lead or are we struggling through a stilted messy picture?

Through the Glass

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This year has been very full. Life was changing for all of us each in different ways. We all just needed a quiet do nothing vacation. Usually the mountains are calling with hikes and sight-seeing  but this year we just wanted to sit and be quiet. So we picked a place that is always hot, found a fun mid-century modern home and off we went for a week of quiet rest and as happens when you rest reflection.

The first day of vacation was hot.  We had been enjoying the first half of the day  in or by the pool.   It was nice to get this quiet time together with no obligations and nowhere we needed to be. Everyone was getting hungry so we fired up the BBQ and got some hot dogs and sausages grilled up.  As we gathered around the table outside we realized there were not enough chairs for everyone.  We could have gotten stools or sat on lounges nearby but for some, the dry heat was too much.  Where the table sat outside there sat another table on the inside separated by a wall of glass, so the hot people went inside.  In a funny way it was like we were eating together.

As we on the outside sat looking in, we noticed something, we had a choice of what we looked at. When you looked you could either see someone at the table inside or you could see the reflection of yourself.  The comments going around were that it was hard to see inside because you were just seeing yourself.  I wasn’t having this problem so I looked up at my reflection and the Spirit brought a profound picture to my mind.  It was a life illustration I know I will never forget so I had to share it.

When we looked at the window we had a choice, we could look and see the others inside or we could be distracted by our own reflection and only see ourselves.  Remember the comments were they couldn’t see the others because they could only see their own reflections.

I was struck by how true this is. How many times have I missed seeing something in someone else because I was looking at myself.  For me often times it has been me obsessing about what I might have done wrong in a given situation but for others it is that they are so impressed with what they have done and still others need to be in control, they need their vision realized.  No matter what perspective a person is coming from gazing at your own reflection makes you unable to see others.

Now we could spend a whole blog on how we should spend time in reflection looking at ourself and getting God’s perspective but that is not the freedom we are discussing here we are discussing how freeing it is to look away from the reflection of ourselves and truly look at others.  God has us, He wants us to see the beauty He created in others.

God has spent years teaching me this lesson, starting with people who I did not necessarily agree with. He began, as I opened myself up, to show me what He created in these people who did things so differently than I did.  He showed me the good in who they were and what they were doing.

It is so easy to look at the weaknesses of others and miss their strengths. Only in seeing them as God created them and intended them to be, do we have any hope of loving them the way He intended.  Love cannot be manufactured that is a lie that I believe is being spread heavily right now.  Put on the face of love, act loving and this will bring about change.  But when it doesn’t? What then? Where does the face of love go? I am sure you have all seen it, it fades very quickly.

I am so thankful for this picture lesson God gave me in my quiet time. I am thankful for the freedom to see people as God designed them not as they present themselves or satan tries to distort them so I will look away.  I am thankful to be free to love in every moment not just the ones that meet my expectations.  I am thankful to be free to look away from the reflection of myself and look through the glass at the beautiful creations which God placed around me. Where are you looking today are you looking through the glass at the people God has placed in your life? Or are you looking at your own reflection?

Free from Fear

Where He is, where He leads, there is always light, there is always strength, there is always peace when I open that door

I would love to start this off today telling you I am free from fear. That Jesus has set me free and this is how you get there, but I cannot.  It isn’t because Jesus has not set me free, that is just not true.  I am free I just choose to stay in my jail cell even though I could walk right up and push the door open.

I am comfortable here in my jail cell.  No it is not pleasant, I don’t get treated well and  sometimes bad things happen, but, if I keep quiet, and eat the food I am being given I at least know what to expect for the most part.  Let’s be honest I am in jail, you can picture, it no matter how I draw it, cell-windowit is not good.

We are asked to “Throw off the fear that so easily enslaves us” (prompted by Hebrews 12:1) Why am I not doing that.  I serve the King, The sovereign God of the universe and there is so much out there He is waiting to show me.  Why do I resist?  Why do I shut the door like a child and say no?  What do I gain? Peace? Quiet?  These come to mind, but it is not really like that because it is a jail cell, little vermin are crawling around you, you can hear them even when you cannot see them.  It is hard cold and uncomfortable. You are always being confronted with why you are there. No it is neither peaceful nor quiet.

As He paints this picture while I write, I am seeing it all in a new light.  Several months ago God asked me to write, He asked me to share the journey He has set me on with others. Slowly He has been opening my mind to this and showing me His thoughts and direction.  Last night I read a post by a blog I love One September Day. The post was Brave Steps for a Quiet Heart. It was another step in my journey to freedom from fear.  Here is a mother of ten blogging and this post was Jesus speaking right to me from the honesty of this womans heart.  She spoke of her fears , of being honest, of showing the good and the bad. Everything she wrote about in this post were things the Spirit had already been saying to me.  Her post was confirmation and opened my eyes to the fact that I was not alone, I was not hearing wrong.

This morning I got some rare alone time.  I began my time writing out the things of yesterday and this morning I was thankful for, my blessings, my gifts, as another gifted woman of God (Ann Voskamp) has put it, and Jesus took my hand and walked me down this road.  He showed me the flowers waiting to bloom on the roadside and the beautiful sights I was missing as I sat in my cell or trudged down my road not looking around me.  The birds, as I wrote, were singing a literal chorus in my background I had never heard so many in all my quiet times sitting outside. I looked back at myself sitting in that jail cell and I am thinking “What am I doing? I should open it! I want to open it!” So here 2015-08-13-15-06-28I am writing, opening the door, looking outside.

As I write this post I know not all of them are going to be about me being free but about Christ freeing me.  They will sometimes be about my journey  opening the door, stepping out and looking around . They will sometimes be about my steps to freedom rather than the freedom I know.

Today I started with fear and as I wrote, the words of Jesus washed over and freed me a little more.  I am so thankful to stand in His presence and go in His direction no matter how scary. Where He is, where He leads, there is always light, there is always strength, there is always peace when I open that door. Here is to freedom from fear!

 

An Avenue of Renewal

The passionate feelings we feel in the physical world are but a shadow of what we have with Him.

Marriage for me has been a gift. A main avenue through which the Spirit works to renew and transform my mind.  The parallels that run through marriage and our life with Himsillhoutte-couple run deep.   They are  a training ground of spiritual expression.   Even as I write this I am astounded by a revelation as He opens my mind to a deeper truth of something He has been teaching me for years!

My spouse can never fulfill me the way the Spirit can.  He can never meet my needs at the deepest level the way Jesus can and wants to.  Song of Solomon is expressed the way it is on purpose.  We have turned all our focus on the physical, getting our needs met, making sure we are happy and with people who build us up.  That puts a lot of pressure on us!  I have seen posts and books about an affair proof marriage keeping your man interested in you. Now I don’t want to take away from what some of these wise women are saying, addressing certain weak areas of self focus.  I am speaking of freedom. Freedom in marriage is  a deep abiding reliance on Jesus to meet our needs.  It is a faith often so hard to grasp we are weeping at His feet, but the end of this road is a vision of grandeur. Sometimes the work He is doing isn’t on us, we are just a part of the process and in the end we get to stand in awe.  Casting our care on Him seems so clique but really only in letting go and being free do we see Him and what He is doing in our marriage and in our life.  When we are working so hard in our own power to make things work we can’t see Him.  All we see is the effort we are making and we are looking for the expected response.  This only ever leads to deception and disillusionment.  Gideon watched God work, Moses held up his hands and watched God work, Peter, Paul and the apostles laid their hands and said words. This is not work and human effort. We gain nothing on this road and in our marriage it is no different. This is not a new story or a new way.

So let’s put down our expectations. Let’s be free and look around and see what God is doing. Is your spouse not saying what you need or want to hear right now or some other loved one? Let’s live free to ask why.  I am loved, I am cherished where is this darkness coming from. Should I speak to it? Can I express love in the face of it? So often for me the answer is no. The best I can do is hold tightly to my control and not respond. Let me tell you I fail often! What should I be in prayer about?  So often I can see how my spouse should be handling our relationship differently and what His best behavior is but really the question comes back to me?  This is really between God and I. The spiritual manifests itself in the physical and satan just amps it up makes it bigger than it is.  heavens

So today I am going to take a moment and sit before Jesus and listen to the Spirit.  What does He want me to see? What army is He conquering while I am looking the other way and complaining about what I don’t have? Today I am going to look freedom in the face and see the chains the Spirit wants to break. The chains that are binding me and keeping me back from loving those He has put in my life because I only infinitesimally grasp His love for me.

I am thankful for the reminder I don’t need my spouse to act in a certain way or say certain things. I can love because I am learning more each day how I am loved.  I am thankful as I have been for years that God chose to show His love for me through my spouse and then my children and He continues in so many ways.  I am thankful I am not responsible to live with the spin in my head and to rely on those around me who have their own challenges, I can rest in Jesus. When there is no clear instruction I just rest and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that as I watch Him handle these challenges in my physical realm with my spouse He takes me deeper inside of my relationship with Him where He is healing me and bringing out what He intended when He created me.

Are you challenged in your relationships? Is it hard to hear God? Is your feeling of love coming from those around you and you just are not feeling it right now?  Leave a comment and let me pray for you. This is an ongoing struggle. Let go today and open yourself up to God’s true intent for you? See the you He created.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Today was unusual but in such a normal and uneventful way.  I am probably confusing you at this point. Today our whole family was at home but not because of a holiday or celebration.The normalcy made it unusual.2016-07-19-22-15-33

We sat on the couch on the floor wherever we fit in the living room like we always have watching home movies.  It was amazing to have us all home spending time together that wasn’t a holiday or a special occasion. Just the day before I had been writing about standing on the mountain top and looking out at the landscape of my life. Now here I was with my mostly grown family watching it in real-time on a tv screen, watching the changes happen.  As I watched I could see it is true that each child is fearfully and wonderfully made who they are from birth.  I watched as they handled situations, and how similar it is to how they handle things as adults and it was eye-opening.  My son who is serious and analytical was like this as a child, he would pick apart the games they played and analyze the best way to do it.  My dramatic daughter was oh so comical I wish I could post a piece for you!  It was one of those moments when the light turns on and you see everything so clearly and it makes you excited to move forward, to keep going. Thank you Jesus for the light!

God just used this night to spur me on! It has been a long road and the twenties have been a little rough I have to admit. Things have been leveling out as my oldest closes in on 25 and gets more and more perspective into adulthood.  Kind of like going from that screaming, crying phase to when they start to communicate in small ways; you begin to see the light.  He spurred me on by showing me how He created my kids from the beginning and how He is using these things in their lives and the lives of those around them.  What an incredible journey it has been to see beyond the fear of their weaknesses to the victory of their strengths which are so integrally tied together.  This is a statement the Holy Spirit taught me early on;our greatest strengths are also our greatest weaknesses.

As I watched these movies I was reminded about what affects my kids.  I was reminded on a deeper level how they were created and how I could build them up in that.  My dramatic daughter is also my peacemaker, joyful girl.  My son who can be fearful is also my most outward, people oriented child. My mommy’s girl is my caregiver, my most articulate girl is opening up and sharing her quiet gifts. I could go on and on but I will leave it there. I so often in my kids childhood got caught up in my children’s weaknesses and wanting to fix them so they would not be hurt or affected by them. What I am learning now is to turn to God and learn their strengths and build them up in them.

What stage are you at?  What challenges are you facing? 

Comment below, I would love to be praying for you!