When Women Love Well

Sometimes, Instagram is inspiring.

Peace and love without truth end up being a distorted version of love. Kinda like labeling a septic tank with the name of your favorite drink, and trying to convince someone of your good intentions for their health as you hand it to them in a wine glass.

Or, like trying to feed someone a plate of sugar coated dog poo with verbalized concern for their enjoyment, health, and well being.

No one is silly enough to judge a person for refusing the margarita labeled sewer water even if it’s served in a wine glass. Or, for turning away from the plate of dog poo even if it’s coated in sugar.

We don’t accuse them of judging, but applaud them for speaking out on what’s really inside that wine glass, or under that sugar. Yet, if people dare speak up on things that really matter, they are instantly judged for judging.

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This girl loves so well on all accounts! 

 

Weird how people who say they hate judging end up judging others so harshly.

When peace, love, and truth all mesh together, someone ends up looking like Jesus, who spent his days healing people who needed Him, but speaking out against sin because it destroys hearts and lives.

People, did you know we can love the sinner but hate the sin? Another world view instantly removes our ability to stand against anything, including murder, pedaphelia, or any other crime.

Loving people like Jesus did means we love all people but we don’t love all things people do.

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People do all kinds of things in the name of love–but only God gets to define love, since it wouldn’t exist at all had He not created it to begin with!

#truthbomb

Derive Your Value From His Heart

I see her standing there, silent and calm, in the larger Swiss airport where chocolate lines shelves in the shops and little outfits hang to remind people of Heidi running the snow covered Alps.

Quebec was elegant with its French language and wine, but Switzerland is charming and peaceful. Even in the airports, one can pick out certain cultural qualities and appreciate them. But always, I notice the women.

Some are confident, marching along in slacks and brief cases for business. Others wear the exhausted look of a traveling mother. Some are clearly retired, with an older but carefree expression on relaxed countenances. For them, life was well lived, and now, enjoyed without work or pressure.

In Quebec, I headed to the wine bar for some Chardonnay, but in Switzerland, I head to a well covered nun to see if I can find something to relate to her with.

She’s shy, and immediately tries to cover her mouth with her hands as she speaks. I look past her fingers to yellow teeth and wide open gaps. She’s a dear, quiet soul who somehow has given her life to service—and I wonder, who will love her?

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Our plane lands in Tanzania where women live in poverty and cultural manners are distinctly different from America. The airline worker bumps into me on numerous occasions—and she, too, wears the dead pan look of a woman who’s deepest longings have long been lost.

The cook at the shack where we stop to purchase breakfast of soup and chapati is a prostitute. At night she sells her body and in the day she sells soup out of a smelly little shop looking more like a barn. Men with no integrity line her tables, and we choose a side spot to avoid stares.

I’m thinking back to the beautiful, smartly dressed woman in America who waited behind me in line at security. Confidence oozes from her persona, beauty emanates her being. She’s loved, admired, beautiful, and comfortable.

But what about the nun with silent longings and wide gaps between her teeth, who never feels beautiful and lives a hidden life of service to others? Is she less of a woman?

Or does God speak something of value that reaches every woman?

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Opportunity varies just as much as culture. Culture varies from one continent to the next, and a girl can’t choose her country any more than she can choose her parents. We are born where we are, and life begins, there.

How is it possible, then, to place greater dignity and value on one woman than another?

I’m wondering if Jesus weeps a little (or a lot) when he loves his daughter so passionately that he designs her in the womb with thought and detail, then she enters the world and never receives the slightest resemblance of love from those surrounding her.

The little African girl seated at my sister’s table with her own five kids eats quietly, gratefully. Just a few years back, she roamed her village while her mama ran off to live another life and her little brother and young uncle cared for her. She slept with them in a small mud shack, and basically survived.

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Today, because someone chose to love her, her eyes hold a little more light. But there is still the old-soul suffering in her young countenance as she silently chows down as much food as she’s allowed. If she wasn’t guided to stop, she’d get a tummy ache.

Do we know this little girl, sleeping in a mud hut with her little brother, is worth as much as the little girl dancing in the studios back home, face alight with happiness and body clothed in princess attire? That the color of her skin makes no difference to her worth, and her limited opportunity does not equate limited value?

And you, sister, who’s been rejected and left behind—do you know that in Christ, you are sought after and claimed? Just as opportunity and culture cannot determine a child’s value, so your circumstance cannot determine yours.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

What a culture says to you, or what a man gives (or doesn’t give) to you can in no way define your worth.

Many of the women in Africa walk about with life-less eyes. They are used by men rather than loved by one man. And they tell my sister, “Your man wants only you, only one? You are so lucky!”

If I knew Swahili, I’d make it my mission in the next two weeks to assure every single woman that her worth isn’t measured by a man, by her circumstance, by her house, food, clothing, or opportunities.

It’s unbelievably cool that in the eyes of God, the lady chanting loudly to sell her wares outside the compound is worth every bit as much as the lady standing behind me in the airport dressed in smart business attire. One may despise the other, but God loves both equally.

I chat quietly with the nun, wishing there was more to bridge the gap between us. I wave to the lady balancing a log atop her head while she swings her youngster onto her hips—without losing balance. I smile at people behind me in long, weary lines.

Because the people of God are called to live out the heart of God, called to love each person equally, called to value, honor, and cherish each individual life whose worth began when God decided to create that life.

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The nun with crooked teeth may know, just as well as the girl dancing in the studio, that she is loved with deeper love than she could ever imagine; a love not based on humanity but on a God from whom all humans owe their existence.

If you owe your existence to His handiwork, you may as well go one step further and derive your value from his heart!

Encourage with Life

Some of my friends are so encouraging I view my interactions with them as pure life. When I joined the worship team, I put school aside for a later hour each Monday morning just so I could sit and glean from them during our weekly meetings.

I felt like the baby of the bunch. Because some people are so well-rounded and whole that your own growth pales in light of overwhelming goodness. And your own insecurities and weaknesses squirm a little because dark can’t really thrive in the face of light.

It’s vital to hang out with people more mature than we are, ourselves. And hey, these people were so full of encouragement that they pulled every possible good thing in my life right out into the open.

When I said, “I really desire the gift of prophecy,” they said, “You already have it—but we’ll pray for more.” And they’d sit me in the center of the room while they gathered round and laid hands on my head, praying life giving prayers all the while.

I grew by hanging out with them. Grew like never before.

Because they operated in the authority of Christ, they brought the life of Christ. Sisters, did you know you are heaven sent with a mission to bring life in the face of death, to being truth in the face of lies, to turn evil into good merely by your presence because you are filled with a God who has all authority in heaven and earth?

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Some of you are smack dab in the center of the most traumatizing circumstances, and you’re left gasping for a single breath of air just to make it, much less inhale deeply. But, God has authority, and you only need to ensure you are breathing his air.

I can walk in God’s authority just as my friends do. The only reason they give me life is because they know life. They listen in to life. They walk in truth, refuse lies, and counter evil with good in mighty blows that leave the enemy reeling.

They’re not out to please people, sisters. They are out to walk in life, and that pleases GOD. They hold up my hands as they urge me to do the same, and my life changes over a course of time.

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Do you walk in so much life that you give out the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Sister, you are called by God to bring the authority of God to each hurting heart in your life today. You are called by God to invest the life of God into immature places, and fill them with heavenly graces, instead.

Give out all you have, and you will be given more. Because all authority has been given to Him, He now asks you, sister, to go forth and bring it to those around you. Abide in Him, and you abide in His unbending, unyielding, uncompromising, life-giving authority that always brings life. 

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“And Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18&19, ESV

Faces of Africa

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Today, as I’ve just returned from a remote village in Tanzania, I’d love to share a few photos with you! Sometimes, we learn a lot just by seeing more of the world………….

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People have much, much less than we do………..but they still smile more than many Americans. The greetings they call out of their humble abodes spread more joy than the silence of Americans living their individual lives. 

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Kids gratefully lick every last drop from a porridge kettle, dipping fingers into liquid food left over from our breakfast. In America, kids pout over whether they get to have Lucky Charms over Cheerios. 

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Young kids care for even younger kids…….girls wear babies on their backs while mamas hoist heavy sacks and buckets onto their heads. I can’t help but think of teens whose mothers have to ask them many times over to wash a few dishes……..

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Kids entertain themselves for hours at a time. They are starved for love, and happy to chow down each morsel of food they are given. In America, kids are celebrated and pampered—then, often turn around to complain for more. 

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People work hard for very little. A good year means there is lots of corn—not lots of potato chips or candy in the pantry. They give their best to us as guests–even if that means there’s goat intestines in the meat!  (I had to quickly spit out the rubbery texture and was grateful that custom has the host family wait elsewhere while guests eat!) 

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A mom of six walks one hour to get to a small church service……..In America, many moms run ragged (and late) to get into the car for an easy ten minute drive. Fellow sisters, how hungry are we for God? 

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Missionary kids don’t always have many toys or movies……..these boys are incredibly creative as a result, and even their smaller siblings pitch in with chores voluntarily–because nothing else is grabbing for their attention. They build anything and everything out of wood, and the smallest things hold creativity and excitement for them. American parents, could we move away from the screen a little so other things have a chance to hold their attention? 

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This downs syndrome child is trusting and grateful. He’s needy, with feet as tough as raw hide, needing a good hot soak to wash away days (perhaps weeks) worth of dirt. But his smile and his love as he grasped my hand and walked through town with me, a complete stranger, was contagious. Can we love like that? 

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In Tanzania, you get asked to wed a man who is holding your hand a bit too long as he exchanges greetings. “Give her to me! I want to marry her.” You walk away quickly, shuddering just a little. And you appreciate your brother in law even more. 

You might see a Black Mumba snake late at night, or have gigantic cock roaches creep your way as you use the latrine. Or, you’ll need to head into a pitch black night for the same purpose, thankful your phone is charged and has a flash light. 

You might be out of toilet paper and towels on the same night, and the make shift shower will be cold. Your feet will get grimy just getting from the shower house to your bed, which is a mattress on the floor under a mosquito net. 

If you’re very slender, you will get no compliments for beauty–but if you have a few more curves, you’ll be told that you have a “big” (when you’re actually tiny), beautiful body, and  look like you’re pregnant (even though you don’t–this is considered a great compliment!). A row of men will be laughing and happy over their assessment of  beauty while they drink home made liquor from a filthy shared bucket. You’ll look at their eyes and be so creeped out you’ll want to run–but for love’s sake, you stay. 

You’ll hear screams, and watch a man chase a child with a whip. You’ll want to run outside to intervene, and your emotions will go haywire. You end up doing push ups and listening to worship music because internet connects in one part of the house. 

You’ll hear drunks laugh loudly right beyond your bedroom wall, and it feels as if they are an inch away. 

You’ll meet the chief, steeped in Spiritism, who, after two years of Bible lessons decided the Bible is indeed true, but he can’t live accordingly. You’ll meet his oldest wife, who is one of five, and you’ll notice her eyes hold years of darkness and pain. Ironically, the young man leading worship at the Sunday service is his son. He’s clean, peaceful, and strong. What a contrast of light and darkness! 

 Cultures vary, but God’s Word speaks the same thing the world over. When these men get saved, they quit beating their wives and taking multiple wives. As a result, the women often end up happier even if they don’t accept Jesus. The gospel always liberates and values each individual heart. 

And the gospel is always true, in each place the world over. Culture cannot determine the gospel–rather, the gospel must permeate and determine the culture. 

Fellow Christians, we must be okay to be different, not only in Africa, but in our very own, comfortable America. Let God’s Word win, the world over! 

Feminism or Faith?

The girls and I walked out of Pike’s market and up the sidewalk. Seattle was teeming with people, as always, and we were loving our girl’s day out.

One of the girls shrieked just a little, and I looked her way. A statue-like figure, deathly unreal, but for the eyes—oh, so real! Blood shot but friendly, defying the stark, unnatural state of the rest of her form.

She reached out a hand, and my blood chilled. Then, she went silent and dropped her delicate head in silent repose, hand held gracefully to the side of her long Victorian attire.

I wonder how ladies used to work in such an elaborate display of fabric. She keeps to herself shyly, quietly, then suddenly reaches out to a passer-by, moving swiftly before resuming her bashful, silent pose. 

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I was simultaneously fascinated and creeped out by the artificial, yet real state of her being, but I loved the display of femininity in a city teeming with gay and transgender people.  

Just that morning, on our way to Seattle, I’d been chatting with my daughter about men needing both honor and strength from women. And as I observe our culture, I wonder where the need for male strength has gone?

I wonder if men turn more wimpy when women seem to need them less. Perhaps our culture’s women needs to take back a bit of the femininity of this Victorian lass.

We may not wear multiple yards of fabric, but ladies, are we feminine? Can those around us see that we wear our womanhood well?

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We may wear jeans, but do we refuse help from the men who would love to offer us their strength? What happens to a society when women no longer need men?

Men are born to protect. They are also born to lead and know honor on a daily basis. When we remove those attractive elements from our womanhood, what is there to call to the deepest heart of a man?

Watch your styles, girls. Keep no one guessing if you are male or female; rather, celebrate your femininity!

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My daughter is troubled by the growing amount of lesbian girls in town. Girls turning to girls means they no longer need men. Men no longer needed turn to each other for the same depraved desires. When we remove the best parts of us we also refuse to give the opposite sex what they need—and this goes both ways.

Men need us to be women. We have nothing to prove except prove that womanhood is a glorious thing.

If we were meant to be as strong as they, we’d be born with as much muscle.

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If we were meant to do all things they do, we’d be heading for the coal mines and the hottest lines of battle.

Why do the loudest feministic cries usually not lead them to battle in the most dangerous places? Why aren’t feminists the ones offering to die on sinking ships while men and children step onto life boats? The ones willingly giving their lives are, most often, still………men. 

They’ll stand there with brave repose as waters ooze in. They’ll watch their wives and kids with love as they sink lower to a salty grave. And they’ll do it on purpose. 

Men die for us, women. They do it all the time.

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Even on that day driving to Seattle, I had passed my husband coming home from Seattle. I was on my way for a fun day there with the girls, and he was on his way home from a dangerous night doing what I couldn’t have done in a million years.

I still can’t wrap my mind around what he does. It’s hero’s work, really.

I’m sipping a latte in a safe cafe because men like him are holding shields the night before and busting doors open to who-knows-what.

I haven’t seen many feminists join him. I wonder why.

These men would love it if we just rallied around them enjoying who we are rather than turning coarse, hard, and bossy. What is there for them to be attracted to? 

And we’d love it if they kept their strength. Guys, keep opening doors for us and offering to lift that fifty pound sack of feed in the grocery isle. We appreciate it, and we honor you for your strength. We need it.

If we all celebrate who God created us to be, if we honor each other, and love in tangible ways, this universe will keep spinning on its axle, well. If we don’t, society will turn even messier and girls like my daughter will have to wonder where the real women are, and how many guys are manly enough for the task of being there for her. 

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Guys, cultivate your strength, whether it be physically or spiritually. Us ladies need your spiritual and character strengths more than your muscle–so don’t pressure yourselves fit some kind of mold at the gym! 

Girls, cultivate your femininity—and know you can do so and still be strong! Show honor to men and let them know you appreciate them. Thank them for bringing home a pay check even if you do so as well. 

God created Adam, then created Eve out of Adam’s rib, close to his heart. Strength and feminity go hand in hand. This powerful word for help meet, Ezer, is also translated for God when he was needed as a Savior and protector for his people. 

Dare to Love Your Husband Well

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Keeping your femininity implies that you keep your strength. There is nothing feminine about a door mat or voiceless woman. But learn to use your voice WELL! 

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How to Process the Hurts in Your Life

She looked at me and expressed it, “I don’t know what to do with the anger I feel.”

I bit into the stalk of celery and wished it was cake, instead. Just like I listen to painful stories and wish they were happy ones, instead.

But life is real. And I can tell she’s sincere when she says, “I don’t feel mean; I just feel angry.”

Rightly so,” I respond. “There’s a big difference in feeling angry or simply being mean. There’s also a huge difference in forgiveness or being able to trust.”

Christians often deny their humanity in a misguided effort for spirituality. And I can give some hurting woman a clique “christian” quote of forgiveness or I can walk with her through the toughest place of her life and own her pain.

Get this—I can allow her to throw rocks, vent it out in the car, cry buckets of tears as she owns her anger. Only then can I invite her to healing grace. Because Jesus never asked us to deny our anger; he asked us to give our anger to him.

How can we bring him something we’re too ashamed to admit we own? And why, when Christ himself was angry enough to turn tables over in the temple and tell everyone to GET OUT, do we feel inner pressure to glibly pass through the greatest wrongs with a smile on our faces and no “negative” emotion?

Seriously?

Christian friends, we’re hurting people in the name of healing people. In the name of loving God, we are hurting those he loves.

When we cause others to feel as if it’s too sinful to own their anger in the face of dreadful wrong, what we do, instead, is lead them to superficiality. Somehow, a shell begins to form—and this is exactly where you find rows of bench warming people with placid smiles on their faces filling up the church.

People shouldn’t have to go to a bar in order to be real.

We are human, and therefore, must come to grips with our human emotions.

I look at her sweet face and I know she’s not a mean-spirited person. Quite the opposite, actually. But, she’s been deeply hurt, and it’s painful. She’s been wronged, and it’s unfair. She’s been wounded, and she needs healing.

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I want to own it for these women. I want to be at their side and say, “Wow, of course you feel anger. You should.”

Then, I want to walk with them to forgiveness without pressuring them to trust. Because forgiveness can be granted in a moment, but trust needs to be earned—and hear this, friends—if someone’s demanding trust before he or she earns it, that someone is proven even more untrustworthy. Only an unrepentant person demands what he or she doesn’t deserve.

But did you know you can forgive without placing yourself in harm’s way again? No one owes us anything, because we owe Christ everything.

We can release a person without requiring them to pay a debt they owe. Christ did that for us, and wow, aren’t we grateful? I’d be in a terrible place were it not for undeserved grace.

Can you look at someone and own your feelings about what they’ve done, then look to Christ and own your gratitude for what he’s done—and then, move on to grant your offender exactly what you’ve been granted?

Forgiveness.

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Owning your anger is no excuse for lashing out, ripping into anyone with words hurtful enough to slice even a hard heart wide open.

Kinda like my daughter did yesterday when she was antagonized repeatedly by a brother who smirked annoyingly when she got mad. She’d had enough, and yelled out some pretty hurtful things that entirely demeaned his manhood.

He brushed it off, but I found him in tears later. And she needed to apologize, as did he. Two wrongs never make one wrong right.

We hear that repeatedly. But somehow, we still justify ripping each other up with words when we own our anger. We say things we don’t want recorded, replayed, or repeated to another soul.

How about saying instead, “You really wronged me, and I feel very hurt/angry about it. Is there a way we can work through this?”

How about even saying that to the Lord before you say it to the person who hurt you? Being honest with God allows release so that you can process healthily with another. 

The world is all about owning and expressing feelings. If it feels good, do it; if it hurts, push it away; if it wrongs you, yell at it. If this is the best way of relating, why is the divorce rate going up, and many friendships broken rather than restored?

And, the church is all about silencing “negative” emotion in the name of only promoting love. If this is the best way, why are so many Christians superficially “happy” but not truly joyful?

Isn’t there a better way? A way for our humanity to be real, bare enough for those around us to see?

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When we pretend we have no feelings, we actually enable the one who is doing us wrong. There are no negative side effects for them to face. And ourselves, well, we turn into some smiling robot who’s dying inside because denying pain allows pain to take over and slowly lead us to emotional death.

Christ owned our sin. He owned our pain. And hear this—he also owned his own anger. He’s actually not smiling down on sin as this grace-thirsty culture wants to believe.

Christ is angry with sin. He’s coming to judge it and proclaim himself victor over it. And long before he does so, he allows us to be victor over the very things that would destroy us and lead us into our own sinful responses.

No matter how spiritual you want to be, you will most certainly feel the affects of another’s sin. You will feel hurt, perhaps angry. And you should. If God is angry with something, why should you not be? And I can assure you, God is angry with sin.

His heart breaks for you, sister. Will you allow your own heart to break so it can also be mended? Because if you force yourself not to be broken, you also harden yourself to healing. 

Please don’t deny yourself the right to be human in a vain attempt to be holy. Instead, own your humanity so you can respond in holiness. Christ never died for some perfect looking creation who would pretend not to feel the affects of wrong.

He came to set you free from the affects of wrong because he knew you would feel them keenly, and you’d need to own the truth, and you’d realize that you can’t lie about anything.

Owning our hurt or anger never means we rip another open with it, or because of it. We simply own it first, so we can also own grace. It’s part of the redemption story, sisters. We own our pain just as we own our sin, and only then can we be free from it.

Be honest with a Savior who pities those who fear him just as a father pities his child. Then, allow him to help you through it even as he allowed you to come to it.

From that place, you will be free to love, speak honestly but productively, and allow the world to see heaven’s grace written all over your life.

Because God is love, and love always wins.

Book Launch!

Hi friends,

This is the month of planning………..there are honest-to-goodness books sitting in my closet waiting for the event.

And I’m honest-to-goodness just a little frightened. You see, so much of that book was written without knowing it would certainly be turned into a book.

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I’m flipping the pages, and freaking out just a little. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. But I’m convinced the world doesn’t need another poetic author as much as we all need to pull together, rally around, and live life with each other and for each other. Women of Purpose is written with a purpose just to be real about my own humanity, then rejoice in the realness of Christ.

Because He’s absolutely, flat-out GOOD. And He has good things to say to my heart, things I write down and know they are meant for more than just myself. 

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That marriage book never would have happened had not God reached down from the sky and guided someone’s fingers to type me a request to write it. I’m so far from perfect I had vowed not to write it. But God gave me a nod (and perhaps a wink), so I gave in.

Go figure, I’m seriously thrilled over this book. Did you know we ladies can have a voice and use it well? 

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Here they both are. Check them out and share them with your friends! I’m grateful to every inch of heaven for the push to turn my finite person into a channel for truth.

Love to each girl this side of eternity,

Sara Daigle