Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God”… Psalm 46:10. It goes on to say, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

So many times in the Bible, the words “Be still” are used. So many times over the past week, I’ve been reminded to Be Still. I see the phrase everywhere I go.

I have a hard time being still, and I certainly have a hard time letting God, “fight for me by being still” Exodus 14:14. I’m a fighter, and I like fighting my own battles. I must let Him fight for me.

Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him”. Whew, that’s a hard one too. I am not patient. Mark 4:39 “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” I believe that!  1 Samuel 12:16 “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.”

God even made the sun stand still. For an entire day. (Joshua). If He can cause the sun to stand still, then certainly I can be still for a moment and see what He wants me to do, that He is fighting for me, to know that He is God. Surely, I can wait for Him, practice a bit of patience. I want to be still and see this great thing that He will do right before my very eyes.

I need only be still. I need only to have faith. “Faith is expecting God to do what He said He would do.” (BR)

Be still with me. Let’s see what God has in store for us. Be still with me and let Him fight for us. Be still with me and see Him exalted in the earth. Be still with me and KNOW that He is God.

When we are still and surrendered to God, we find peace even when the earth gives way, the mountains fall (verse 2), or the nations go into an uproar and kingdoms fall (verse 6). When life gets overwhelming and busyness takes precedence, remember Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Run to Him, lay down your burdens, and fall into His arms. Acknowledge that He is God and that He is exalted in the earth. Be still and know that He is God.

Thanks to my sister, Beverly, and my BFF, Rhonda, for encouraging this blog. God is telling us to BE still, and know all these things to be true. I love you both.

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That Wasn’t in My Planner

So…my plan today. Get up early, (well 8:00 is early in the summer), study a little for the review and celebration tonight. Get a shower, maybe do my nails (toes and fingers)  and let them dry. Go to church, and clean up a little, set up for Bible Study, get snacks at the grocery store for our final session for this particular study. Do a little somethin’, somethin’ on the computer for projection tonight, work on the chalkboard some. Busy day ahead.

My phone rings at 7:49, and Walker is sick. He has to leave daycare, and I’m more than happy to run get him (overjoyed really). We’ve played today, he hasn’t been sick at all (that’s good), he’s been so much fun. We’ve watched Pete’s Dragon, and Paw Patrol, among other things. Gran and Aunt Kellye came by for a visit, and got hugs and kisses.

I say all this to say, I was sad this week because he’s leaving for the beach at the end of the week and we wouldn’t get to see him all weekend (unusual). I should have known the Lord would provide. He is my shepherd; I lack nothing. (Psalm 23)

So I sit here and write while he naps.  I had to “make” the snacks for tonight, (I hope they’re good). I haven’t had a shower (Walker’s in my bed asleep. Heaven forbid, I wake him), or done my nails. Thank goodness I studied last night, and will have time still before 6. I’m waiting for Pops to come home, and I’ll put it in high gear.

I wouldn’t trade my time with Walker for anything in the world, (even if it’s because he’s sick). He’s the sweetest, kindest, smartest little two-year old I know.Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21) My purpose today, was to be with Walker, and consequently, to remember that you can make all kinds of plans, but sometimes HE has a better, much more important purpose for you.

Now, off to the races! Pops is here! Look out POG Women, here I come! Our session will be great tonight if we allow him to purpose our ways.

 

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The Church is a Mess!

“The church is a mess!” I said to Walker this morning, as I went there to set up for Bible Study tonight. He just kept right on watching the cartoon video I had pulled up for him to keep him occupied while I did a few things. I thought about that statement, and realized, the church is a mess, but it’s a beautiful mess.  A mess of people that are messy.

The mess I’m talking about has nothing to do with the cosmetics of the church. Though, that was probably some of the most fun we’ve ever had.

We’re all messy people. We might look pretty and pristine on the outside, but we all have struggles, we all have real struggles. We come from different places, and different backgrounds. We come from good families, broken families, and no families. We come from prison, we are in prison, and we’ve broken out of prison. We come from happy places, good places, bad places, and far away places. We’ve been kicked out, beaten down, and dusted off. But we are a FAMILY. Membership in a local church means joining your imperfect self with other imperfect selves to form a community that, through the love of Jesus, sets sail on a journey toward this thing we call LIFE... together.

The church was purposely designed to be a place for all people to come as they are to worship the living God. We want our church to be welcoming to everyone no matter what your background was/is, or what you are currently struggling with.

This is not the case of every church I have been part of. But thankfully, there are churches that are seeking to be a refuge for all. Churches that welcome people just like you and me. No church is perfect, and thank God they’re not. I would never fit in.

He sees what we are going to become.

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
– 1 John 3:2

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

God truly makes beautiful things out of dust, and out of us.

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Manners and Faux Pas

Call me old-fashioned, but some things are becoming acceptable that once were not. When you consider what your grandparents told you, you must consider the times, but being respectful and nice never go out of style.

  • Don’t wear white to a wedding, unless you’re the bride. Don’t even wear off-white, because the bride might wear that color.
  • Don’t wear white shoes or pants after Labor Day or before Easter. Or just don’t wear them at all. They get very dirty. You’ll eat spaghetti that day, I’m certain.
  • Say “please”, and “thank you’. It’s proper for anyone, no matter how old you are. My almost 2-year old grandson says it. Please use nice words. Thank you.
  • Do not talk with your mouth full of food. Gross. Who wants to see that? Chew like you have a secret.
  • It’s rude to chew or smack your gum in public. If you can chew it discreetly, it’s okay. If not, spit it out!
  • Always tip your server. With money.
  • Children should always obey the adult in the room. (Of course there are exceptions, and you know what they are.)
  • Boys, meet the parents before the first date. Don’t pull in the driveway and blow the horn. Rude. Come inside, and meet the parents. And girls, don’t meet someone for the first date. Don’t be convenient. He needs to pick you up.
  • If he doesn’t treat you like a princess, he doesn’t deserve to be your prince.
  • Ask dad for her hand in marriage, that’s quickly going out of style.
  • Chivalry is almost dead. A man should always hold the door for a lady. Even the feminists. Sorry, not sorry.
  • Men, do the heavy lifting. You’re stronger. Sorry girls, they just are.
  • Be punctual. It’s rude to your host if you’re late.
  • The lady always orders first at the restaurant. Your food will arrive at the same time, promise.
  • If a handshake is necessary, wait for the woman to extend her hand first. Guys, don’t just assume.
  • The man should always walk on the outside of the sidewalk, let the lady walk on the inside.
  • The man should follow the lady upstairs, lest she falls backwards. Likewise, he should go before her when descending.
  • If you’re on a bus or train, or in church, etc., and someone is standing…offer them your seat. No matter your age or gender..
  • Don’t say, “what” or “huh”. Say, “Pardon me?”
  • Learn how to use a telephone, write a letter, and address an envelope.
  • And about that phone…excuse yourself when it rings. Don’t talk at the table or in the company of other people, unless it is an emergency. Just walk away if you must answer it.
  • If you receive a wedding gift, you’d better get that thank you note in the mail quickly.
  • Learn to listen with your mouth closed.
  • And last, but certainly not least, proper grammar will get you far in life.

“Never confuse etiquette with manners. Bad etiquette is using the dinner fork with your salad. Bad manners is pointing out that someone used their dinner fork with their salad.”  Anonymous

 

Extravagant Love and Extreme Submission

Real worship can come from a broken heart, or a contrite spirit. Tonight it came from out of no where.

Worship isn’t the amount of money you put in the offering plate, or the number of times you stay in the nursery. It’s not the slow song the choir sings. These may be acts of worship, but do not define what true worship is. Webster defines worship: to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.

Tonight, during our practice for our service on Sunday, we honored God with extravagant love and extreme submission. It was one of the most worshipful times I’ve experienced. I wish everyone could have been there.

God promises us He will come when we worship Him:

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.

 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
    let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
    he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Psalm 96:8-13

He was there tonight. I prayed, and am still praying that the Holy Spirit will lead this Sunday as He led tonight. As I was singing, (or crying/singing), I closed my eyes and could see God’s people filled with His Spirit, and worshiping along side us.

Thank you, God, for who You are, and for what you are doing in my life, and in the lives of others around me. Fill us, use us, lead us. Show us the extravagant love, that we might give to You our extreme submission.

See you all on Sunday!

Please choose a house of worship this Sunday, to experience love like you never have before, and offer that same love back to Him.

Taking Up the Slack

As Mother’s Day approaches, I would be amiss to not say, “Hey, my mom’s birthday comes first!” I feel like she always gets ripped off, because they’re both usually on the same weekend.

I’ll be out of town on her birthday this year, and will have to celebrate another day. Ripped. When we were younger we thought we were getting off easily because we killed two birds with one stone. Ripped. Thankfully, we grew up, and we now treat them as two different occasions.

My mom is incredible. She has worked hard and provided for her family for many years. We never went without the things we needed. She was widowed at age 37, and never remarried. She worked two and sometimes three jobs to make sure we were cared for. We didn’t have a lot of material things, but we were more content than most.

Joy, happiness, and fulfillment are found in the invisible things of life: love, hope, peace, and relationships. And they are not on sale at your local department store. Stop looking for them there. People who live their lives in pursuit of material things are never content They always want newer, faster, or bigger because they will never be satisfied with material possessions.

Back to my mom. She taught us many things. Like, how to make a bowl for popcorn out of newspaper, (I still haven’t figured it out. It’s like some kind of origami trick). She taught my sister to make really awesome cornbread. I haven’t mastered that one either. She taught us to work and to work hard, and it will pay off. She taught us what kind of girls end up as unwed mothers. [Save your politics, this was the 70’s and 80’s] She taught us that lying is not good, especially if you lie to her, then YOU get ripped. She taught us to be loyal friends, to love each other, and to love The Lord with all our hearts. She taught us to laugh and laugh often, and much, and loudly.

There was one Mother’s Day/Birthday weekend 37 years ago, mom really got ripped. May 9, 1980 my older sister, Denise was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. She died on a Friday, and we had to wait the entire weekend and bury her on Monday, my mom’s birthday, the day after Mother’s Day. I have an excerpt from a Facebook post Denise’s best friend, Sherleen Rew, shared in 2013.

May 9, 2013: A Tribute to My Friend With a Beautiful Heart:

“This week my mind is flooded with memories of a special friend whose life was cut short by a very tragic motorcycle accident. Thirty three years ago I received a phone call that shattered my world. My best friend, Denise Davidson, was gone.  I sat down last night and put a few of my thoughts together about our friendship.

I can’t really remember when I first met Denise. Her Granny lived one street behind ours. When we were young kids, I met her through the fence, and I’m sure we stuck our tongues out at each other a few times. Her Granny made her stay in their fence, and I played freely  throughout the neighborhood. Our close friendship developed in high school during our junior year. We ended up working in the office together and enrolled in the night classes at a local community college. We started hanging out on weekends, attending ballgames, concerts, going on double-dates…We shared secrets and thoughts, but not clothes because I was not blessed to have the tiny waist she did. We did share the same taste in just about everything else.We once bought the exact same greeting card for each other, and another time we both showed up at a New Year’s Eve party wearing the same outfit in different colors. I remember us laughing, but we avoided standing next to each other for the rest of the night.

Our 1977 graduation year came way too soon, but at the same time not soon enough. We headed out to Panama City Beach with about half the graduating class for a week of crazy fun. Life was good, and we were young. In the fall, we both enrolled Snead State where our friendship continued to grow. After Snead, she headed to Jacksonville State, and I moved to Opelika. We kept in touch through letters, phone calls, and occasional visits. We also tried to make it back to Guntersville on the same weekends. I called her when I arrived at my parents’ house that fateful weekend.

She wanted me to come ride motorcycles at her house, but I had already planned a shopping trip to Huntsville. We decided to meet up at 10 am the next morning at her house. We said “bye” and I headed out the door to Huntsville, not knowing that would be the last time I would hear her voice. My mom was answering the phone when I walked in the door from shopping. She handed me the phone and I listened as another friend gave me the devastating news. I have no memory of what happened next, but I woke up on the floor with my Momma holding me. I could not stop the sobs as I tried to tell Mom what had happened.

Heaven gained one “AWESOME ANGEL” that evening, and I lost a very dear friend.

I struggled for years to understand how someone so happy, vibrant, young, and full of life could be taken so quickly. I still miss her and think of her often. I pulled out my Senior Yearbook last night, and read what she had written. I cried and laughed at the long ago memories. Here are a few excerpts from the TWO pages she wrote:

‘Sherleen, Well, as you know, you are the greatest friend I have ever had. I guess everybody else knows also, that’s why they call us sisters. We have had some really good times together. They all started when we worked in the office together and started going to Snead. I will never forget the parties, dates, the Sweetheart Contest, the Warm Concert, our dates with ________and ________ to Snead’s Homecoming, and the night I fell in the lake. Those were a few of the fun times. The crazy stuff is what made this year (1976-77) so good. Remember all the good times we had, but most of all, think of all the times we’re gonna have.

God Bless you.

Friends Always,

I love ya,

Denise’

Yes, Friends Always. Love ya too, Sherleen”

My mom isn’t the only mom to lose a husband and a child in the span of three years, but she’s the only mom I have, and I think she’s a Wonder Woman.  She handled both great losses with great grace and elegance. She’ll be 80 years old tomorrow, and I will celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day as two different occasions. She has been mom AND dad for many years to our family. She took up the slack, and never missed a beat. (I was 11 and 14, what do I know)? Happy Birthday, Mom! And Happy Mother’s Day! I love you!

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He Makes Beautiful Things out of Dust

Yep, my house is under there.

My Facebook post from April 27, 2012

“Today, one year later, I’m awakened by my alarm clock, not my daughter to beg me to take cover.  Today, one year later, I shop for wedding dresses with her rather than huddle with her and her brother in the bathtub. Today, I am thankful. I’m thankful for neighbors that rush in after the storm. I’m thankful for a sister and a mom that opened their homes. For friends and family who helped to gather our belongings for us to move away for 99 days. A brother with connections to big chainsaws and bucket trucks. I’m thankful for my pastor whose birthday I won’t be so quick to forget again…and his wife; who helped me to remember it was that day, and who wanted to bring a hand saw to help. I’m thankful for our house of worship where we met that weekend and I truly worshiped like no other time before “unplugged”. I’m thankful for a brother-in-law and a brother that know how to build things.  A husband that’s quite handy to have around too.  And for a sister-in-law that knows how to pack things. Today, one year later, I’m thankful for blessings and blue skies, for my job that allows me summers off, for Alfa Insurance; yes I said it, and little baby ducks, old pickup trucks, slow-moving trains, and…wait… that’s Tom T. Hall. Most of all, I am most thankful for His promise, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” ~ Psalm 91:1”

Today, April 27, 2017, I wake up to a sprinkling of rain. I’m always a little anxious on this day, I still get very nervous just thinking about it, but on rainy days just a bit more. After being huddled in the tub with your two children, April 27 + rain = apprehension.

It was a morning of getting to sleep late because school was delayed (due to weather). Little did we know, school would be DELAYED. Anna, my oldest, came to me and begged me to take cover with her and her little brother, Noah. I relented, painstakingly. Everyone knows I like to sleep. We all climb into the bathtub, and I realize this is REAL. We hear absolute quiet, and then just as quickly as it turned quiet, it became very loud. We could hear the house being hit by the trees, crashing in, rain pouring in. I spread my body across the kids as best I could. Anna was on her cell phone, receiving texts, talking to her Aunt Delana. Noah yelled, “Pray momma!” Anna yelled, “Get on top of me too!” I couldn’t reach her as well as I could him, I couldn’t pray with words. If ever I needed intercession from the Holy Spirit it was right there. And then it was over. We walked out of the bathroom to find a mess. Neighbors, whose homes were not as badly damaged, rushed over. Noah grabbed every towel he could find. He wanted to save the piano, of all things, which he did. My sister sends her husband with a chainsaw. Tony makes it home from work to see the devastation. We walked out of there alive, unharmed. Many people had much more damage than we did.

250+ people lost their lives that day as multiple tornadoes ripped our state apart. Later that afternoon another one twisted its way through a community close to home and took many.  Today, we remember and pray for the families that had their lives ripped apart.

No TV for 16 days, so we only knew what we heard or read on Facebook. No electricity for 9 days, thank God for generators. Gas was hard to find to run the chainsaws, but we were thankful for what little we had. What was left of our home ended up in the cul-de-sac. The neighbors loved us.

It took a lot of people and a lot of work to put our town back together, but we did it. It’s more beautiful now than it was before.

“Oh sing to The Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!” (Psalm 98:1)

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Early Church

At this time of the year, we celebrate the splendor of God’s creation in the beauty of the flowers, and the sound of chirping blue jays. We enjoy our families with rituals of food and fellowship, laughter and play. Some of us will also sit in services of silence with sacred readings, or celebration music and uplifting words of encouragement. We will reflect on the holy, and the sanctity of all life.

In the Christian calendar, yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. During this week Christians are asked to consider the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross, an event that took place almost two thousand years ago. What will you do to honor Holy Week?

I started with alone time at church this morning. I had to go to church to pick up some music for a friend. I got up a little earlier than normal, and left home earlier than I intended. I’ve never been to church that early in the morning. The quiet enveloped me. After locating the music I was looking for, I sat on the front row, as I had several minutes to spare before going into work. I sat there and looked around at the beautiful place of worship that God has given us and thanked Him.

I thanked God for the moving Palm Sunday service that we had yesterday, and for the reminder of His shed blood and broken body through the Lord’s Supper. I prayed for our people, and for Easter Sunday, that we might glorify Him. I prayed that I might glorify Him, so that they might know Him. I sat for a while and was just there. Alone. With God.

I enjoyed starting my day like that. I must do it again very soon. Church at 6:30 am is not so bad.

I will honor Holy Week by remembering that Jesus “took my sin and my sorrow and made them his very own. He bore my burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.” (Gabriel, 1905)

I Stand Amazed in the Presence: Charles H. Gabriel, (1905)

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The GAP

“Hey, I’ll be praying for ya! Keep your head up. Gotcha on the prayer list at church.” How many times have we said this? Or heard this from someone else? We need to stand in the GAP (and I’m not talking about the store) for our friends and relatives that don’t know Him, are ill, or going through tough times.

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) The Lord was searching for someone who would intercede for Jerusalem and do what was necessary for her salvation. When He looked He found no one who would intercede for the nation and the city.

Every day, we should try to find someone or two someones to stand in the gap for. We need to commit to praying for them, on their behalf because they might not be able to pray for themselves. The best gift anyone can give to another is to pray for him or her. We live in a sinful world where bad things happen to people. Praying for another person not only helps that person find God in the midst of trouble, but also helps us recognize the blessings that God gives us daily.

First Timothy 2:1-5 says: 1 “First I tell you to pray for all people. Ask God for the things people need, and be thankful to Him. 2 You should pray for kings and all who have authority. Pray for the leaders so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives – lives full of worship and respect for God.  3 This is good and it pleases God our Savior. 4 God wants all people to be saved, and He wants everyone to know the truth. 5 There is only one God, and there is only one way that people can reach God. That way is through Jesus Christ who is also a man”. (ICB..International Children’s Bible) It’s that simple.

It is my hope that you will take very seriously the honor that you have of standing in the GAP and praying for other people.

GAP – God Answers Prayer

Facts, Faith, and Feelings

In the eighties and early nineties I had a pastor who preached over and over that we base our opinions on (1) Facts (2) Faith, and lastly, (3) Feelings. It made a lasting impression on me, and now whenever I’m looking for an answer from God, I use that equation to determine whether or not I’m “hearing” the right thing.

This is where I become unpopular. We all too often form our spiritual opinions (answers) based on our feelings first, rather than the facts. The movie, The Shack, tugs at our heartstrings, and causes us to question our belief in who God is. The movie leads you to believe that God is whoever you need Him to be at different times in your life. It’s a feel-good, carnival-ride kind of movie, and in a weird way it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. I’m a bit relieved when we get to the end and the character, Mack, seems to awaken from a dream, or maybe even returns from the rabbit hole he fell into. I feel less like I have to defend the biblical principles I know to be true, and chalk it all up to a well-written piece of fiction.

For all the feel good in this movie, there are as many inadequacies, and they matter because they are about who God is.

I haven’t read the book, but have no reason to believe that the movie isn’t scripted closely. The movie causes us to believe that there is no repentance of sin. That there is no punishment for sin. Papa says, “Sin is its own punishment”. The movie says there is no wrath of God. Papa says, “Wrath? You lost me there”. The author might not intend to mislead, but he misleads nonetheless. He wants us to see the God of love, but not the God of absolute holiness, or the God of final judgement. For all the feel good in this movie, there are as many inadequacies, and they matter because they are about who God is.

There is no question about who God is, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is.

  1. God is God.  1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. ~ (John 1: 1-3) No mention of a woman named Papa. Who, by the way, looks more like a new-age Oprah than God.
  2. Jesus is God’s son. “Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:27) Whatever else Christians may believe, of greatest importance is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Apart from this profession, there is no gospel. The movie comes closest in it’s depiction of Jesus, portraying him as an Israeli carpenter. And I say that tongue in cheek.
  3. The Holy Spirit is the power of God, a comforter, a counselor. The Holy Spirit is someone to call on when you don’t know what or how to pray. The Holy Spirit is not an Asian woman that floats in and out with a glow surrounding her.
  4. This woman called “Wisdom”, she scares me. I don’t know what to say about her, except she’s scary.  In Ezekiel 28 God says about Satan, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.”

I’ll leave you with this essay popularized by syndicated columnist, Paul Harvey, in 1965.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3Az0okaHig

If I were the devil … if I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness.

I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population; I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee.

I would set about, however necessary, to take over the United States.  I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.”

To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is “square”. And I would teach the old to pray after me, “Our Father, which are in Washington…” Then, I’d get organized. Continue reading Facts, Faith, and Feelings