Heavenly Father,

My friends who are missionaries in Cameroon (Africa) are so torn. They are safe back here in the states but their hearts are still with their beloved people who are being killed in a bloody civil war. They had to come back with their young children but have been keeping in close contact with their fellow believers who are trapped in the middle of this war. It has affected the children in their home town in Cameroon being able to go to the school they founded, the families’ and teachers’ safety. Since they are back here in the states, it is so hard on them to hear of the escalation there in Cameroon. Today they found out a young missionary dad was killed in the crossfire.  He was “killed in action”—on the front line for You. He was father to eight young children and their family had only been there one month.

Father, I know from reading Your word that there is a special place for those who lose their lives for Your sake. I know this dad is safe with You. Will You comfort and protect his family. Will You rally the believers there as they see this man’s and their family’s sacrifice? Will You comfort and strengthen this young widow and her children with the truth that You are with them and will never ever leave them (even though their earthly protector had to leave them). Your ways are so high above our ways, Lord. It is happening now around the world. I have no doubt that Your plans will prevail. I know that this dad is experiencing victory now. I know that You will lead his wife and children to victory. I know You are at work in Cameroon and other places—no matter how things look to us.

I think of all our missionary friends and relatives around the world who stepped out in faith to give up the comfortable lives they could have had here in America to go out on the often lonely battlefield. Yet I also know You have called each of us who have surrendered our lives to You, to be willing to give up our own lives—no matter where we live. That looks different to different followers. These children and wife who lost their dad and husband have had to give up their security in him and will need to trust more fully in You. My friends who came back from Cameroon had to leave the field when they didn’t want to, yet they are ready for action wherever You lead. Some other friends of ours are presently in a whole different culture and have had to give up comforts and conveniences found here to live among a lost people. Our brother and his wife have left all their family to reach a difficult people in another land. Father, all I know is that I hope and pray that whenever and however my time comes to go Home with You, I will be found doing what You want me to be doing. Let me be found “in action for You” when You come to take me home.

 

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“This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”   1 John 3:16

 

“”Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”  Matthew 25:13

 

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.”  Matthew 24:44

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, am I truly ready? Am I in action? …

Heavenly Father,

Real relationships are a struggle. It takes a lot of work to truly try to get to know the other person’s inner soul and for them to understand who you really are. The struggle happens no matter what the relationship is- husband/wife, parent/child, siblings, friends, neighbors, coworkers, fellow believers, teacher/student, boss/employee…the list goes on. Time, energy, patience, kindness and understanding are all parts of building love relationships with those around us. It is a two-way street, but we only have power over our part of the relationship. Yet, our part with Jesus in it covers more than we can imagine.

At times, it may seem easier to have a pleasant short “relationship” with strangers because it doesn’t involve the struggle of going deeper. But it’s worth the struggle to go deeper—to love those who are a part of our daily life in a deeper more eternal way. I’ve been going through a struggle lately that has involved several relationships. Each of those was important enough for me to wrestle through. I have been bringing them to You, Lord. And as always, You help me through my growing pains.

When I explained to You how I’ve been working so hard to love them but they don’t seem to understand me, You gently showed me how I can understand them more. When I whined that no one understands me, You tenderly reminded me that You “get me” better than I even understand myself. You pointed out that it was just as important to share my soul with them as to understand theirs. When I complained that it seemed as though they didn’t even want to try to know me better, You didn’t say anything…

Your silence reverberated in my soul. How often do I truly try to get to know You better—to understand You—to get to know Your heart? How often does it seem like a one-sided relationship to You, Lord? You do all the giving and the loving, and we just want more. Father, it is worth the struggle to me to go deeper in my relationship with You. It is worth it to discover more of Your heart by reading Your word, by spending more time just listening to You, by keeping my eyes open to see Your glory all around, by thanking You for Your indescribable love and blessings, by worshiping and praising You in and out of church, by writing and singing to You, by learning from You, by following Your lead every single day. You gave Your all when You sent Jesus to die and rise again for us. There was no way we could ever have eternal life with You or even begin to understand You without You giving everything. It may take a struggle on my part to keep seeking to know and love You more deeply but it is so worth it.

 

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“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”  1 Corinthians 2:9-12

 

“How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with You.”  Psalm 139:17-18

 

“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:12-13

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, I want to seek more of You…

Dear friends,

“How can I move forward?” was the simple lone post by someone grieving his other half.  Since it wasn’t posted on this group and I don’t have permission to say his name, I will use it as a question almost every griever asks at some point. Before answering this question, let me just say that I am not an expert on YOUR grief. Every single person has to go through this lonely journey on their own, in their own way—yet I hope you discover, like I did, that you are never ever truly alone. I’m also fully aware everyone is at a different place on their journey. Some reading this are at the very beginning. I am praying for my dear friend who is having a service today for her 46 year old daughter. I’m also praying for the brokenhearted husband and children. Another friend just rang the bell completing chemo. She was diagnosed less than a month after her husband’s death and is coming up on the year anniversary of his passing.

Now back to the question, “How can I move forward?” The answer: one day at a time…sometimes one moment at a time…one step at a time. Any griever knows that it is definitely not a straight smooth path. One moment you can be smiling at a precious memory, another minute might bring overwhelming sobs that make you feel like you are literally drowning. Another moment you may be laughing at the silliest thing that might not even be that funny. Anger can can in an instant over some simple thing some well-meaning person says. The next moment might bring panic over a bill, trial or the thought of facing something that you always did together with your loved one. Grief can involve the craziest, most emotional roller coaster ride of your life. It won’t always be so hard. It is a part of your earthly journey that you have to go through—one step at a time.

It can be the loneliest journey as it seems no one understands. Yet it can also be the time when You discover the greatest Comforter, Companion, Guide, Counselor, Friend—the One who understands you better than you understand yourself—the One who is always awake, ready to listen, holding you when you can’t take another step—the One who never ever leaves you. No one else can be there for every single step except the Lord.

After my young husband’s death, they used to sing an old song at my church about walking the lonesome valley by myself. It was so sad that I had to leave during the song. It wasn’t until later in my journey that I stayed for the second verse which told how Jesus walks it with me. There will be joy in the journey ahead. Take hold of His hand for each step. He will lead you through—and lead you all the way Home one step at a time.

Love and prayers,

Eva

 

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“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”   Psalm 23:4

 

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Isaiah 4029-31

 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

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 My Forever Memories of You- adult and children’s versions available

Most High God,

There are times I fit all too well into this world…and there are times I feel completely out of place in this world. This morning I seem to be out of place. As I hear things that are dishonoring to You, it hurts my heart. How can people live their lives without any thought of You—the very One who created them and gives them life? They live their lives with no thought or acknowledgement of Your sovereignty. Worse yet, is the mocking, downright rebellion, rejection and haughty attitudes that spit in Your face—the very One who knit our DNA and cells into existence—the One who created all the beauty and wonder and miracles to give us breath, life and everything we need.

I hear young children use Your Holy name like a flippant curse word; I hear older people who should know better say Your name with vulgar ugliness spewing from their hearts. It seems fewer people honor You with their lives, actions and words. It seems like there is more honor for the latest movie, sports team, lottery, manmade achievement, political party, paystub, vacation spot, musician, Hollywood star, house, car, animal, biggest TV, latest tech gadget—pretty much anything other than You and Your Son Jesus.

Yet You knew all this when You sent Your Son Jesus to be born as one of us (yet holy and without sin) for the sole purpose of taking our eternal punishment. Not one of us is without sin against You (including me). We have all dishonored You—yet You love us and desire that we will choose to accept the great honor You have given us through the sacrifice of Your Son even though we are definitely undeserving. It is Your great desire to have us live with You forever in perfect peace. It is Your desire that not one should perish but have the eternal life You long to give us. The day is coming when every single one of us will see You in all Your glory and realize who You are.  Father, thank You for the way You honored me with Jesus’ death and resurrection—though I do not deserve it. Help me honor You more and above all in this earthly life and forever.

 

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Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they ae doing.’” on the cross, Luke 23:34

 

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38

 

 

“Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.’”  Revelation 4:9-11

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me what I honor above You…

 

Heavenly Father,

I cannot tell you how many times as I have cared for children that they ask me a question and I answer. Within a few minutes, they ask me the same question—I answer again. A few minutes later, they ask me the same exact question. I finally point out that I have answered their same question every single time they have asked me. They ask; then go about their busy play—not even waiting or listening for an answer.

Lord, how many times in my life have I done the same thing to You? I make a big deal of asking You for something or for guidance in a situation; then it’s like I forget that I asked—or I don’t even bother to wait or listen for Your answer. I know that You hear every single thing I bring before You. My prayers are precious to You (even if what I ask for is not always so precious).

I’m learning to listen for Your answer after I ask You something. I’m learning to be patient and wait to see how You are working on whatever I have brought before You. There are many times, as I go on about my busy day that You quietly point out that “This is the answer to that prayer.” You work so much differently than I do. Your thoughts and ways and plans are so much higher than anything I could ever scheme up. Your ways are always so much better—even if I don’t see it at the time.

How I thank You for all the big and little ways You have answered every single one of my prayers. I can think of prayers that were answered immediately (sometimes before I could even voice them) and others which You answered, “Wait” and it took 34 years to see the answer. It was so worth the wait! Lord, help me continue to bring every little and big thing before You, and then listen and watch for Your answer. Thank You for listening to me, Lord!

 

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“They have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; so I will choose harsh treatment for them and will bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke no one listened. They did evil in My sight and chose what displeases Me. Hear the word of God, you who tremble at His word.” Isaiah 66:3b-5a

“He (Jesus) came and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. And when He had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are all the prayers of the saints.”  Revelation 5:7-8

 

“He answered their prayers because they trusted Him.”  1 Chronicles 5:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me listen to You, watch for You, and obey You today…

Heavenly Father,

As I sit with You this morning, I realize how very full my life is…not because of what I have…not because of what I have accomplished…not even because of where I am in my life. It is overflowing because I have You—and You have me.

You have always been with me—through every season and storm in my life. You have never ever left me. You have been right here- encouraging me, pushing me, comforting me, leading me, protecting me (mostly from myself), providing for me (in big ways and small delightful ways). At different times in my life, I have been more aware of Your presence than at others. Too many times, I have veered off my own way trying to make things happen the way I think they should, trying to prove how capable I am, falling into the trap of fear and worry, wishing I had what someone else has… Yet because I accepted the sacrifice of Your own Son Jesus for my life, You never let me wander too much. You call me back to You. I find much more than I need in You!

I purposely come to You before I get too far in my day because I have discovered my life is full and has meaning only when I stay with You. I was made for You. My soul is not complete without You. I am so weak without You. Yet I am full and strong when I am with You. Anything I might try to do without You is short-lived and meaningless. It can even be damaging. But when I am with You—when I surrender myself and whatever situation I might be facing to You—it becomes kingdom worthy. Only when I bring things to You can You truly work in and through me. That’s so fulfilling.

You, Lord, are what fulfills me. And when I am fulfilled, I can love others better. I see more and more blessing all around. It just keeps getting better and better. And I still have all eternity to know and love You more! Maybe that’s why I will someday have to have a new body—this one just can’t handle Your filling me up too much more!

 

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“And God placed everything under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, who fills everything in every way.”  Ephesians 1:22-23

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

 

“Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and amen.” Psalm 72:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Fill me up, Lord…

 

Dear Friends,

One of my sweet relatives is moving to a new house this week, and it also happens to fall on the year anniversary of her young husband’s passing. She said she had not touched his clothes even once during the past year, but now she has to touch and move everything all at once. I’m so glad she has help from family and friends to move and to face this day.  It seemed like a good time to bring out the issues faced when dealing with clothes and personal items—each which carry such special memories.

Every single person faces how to handle this in a different way. There is not a right or wrong way—just what works best for you. Some people do not want to change the pillow cases for a long time because they want to smell their loved one’s lingering fragrance as long as possible. Some choose to sleep in an old shirt that they can barely bring themselves to wash. Others cannot bear to look at or move clothes or other important items for a long time. The toothbrush is still in the bathroom, stuffed animal still on the bed, robe hangs on the door, the book they were reading is still on the nightstand…

If you are the type of person that needs to remove their clothes and personal items as soon as possible, you may want to consider packing them up until later. I have seen more than one who later wished they hadn’t been so hasty in getting everything out of the house. They realize they or someone else in the family might have wanted to keep something. For some people, the photos, clothes, toiletries, their loved one’s personal stuff is simply too painful to deal with. They feel they can’t function with all the reminders right in front of them.

There can sometimes be friction or disagreements between surviving family and friends when there are differing styles of dealing with these items. Extra patience is required with each family member as they come to compromises about how to handle this touchy subject. It needs to be talked about and allowances made so it doesn’t cause hard feelings. It should not be assumed that because one wants to take down photos, give away clothes or other items that they did not love as much as one who wants to hold on to these things. It also should not be assumed that those who hold on to their loved one’s items are not working through their grief fast enough. These are very personal ways to grieve.

When it comes time to depart with clothes and other precious items, it often makes it easier to give them to someone who truly wants or needs them. This blog does not dare to tell you how to handle these important decisions. Making these choices are all part of your unique way of coming to terms with your loved one’s absence. Find more about this subject and some ideas for working through this issue in the book My Forever Memories of You: The Story of Our Relationship- Discovering Eternal Hope in the Midst of Grief.

Love and Prayers,

Eva

“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raise imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” 

 1 Corinthians 15:42b-44

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

Lately, I have realized how often I say, “Just a minute!”—to the children I care for when they call my name, to my husband when he needs my help, to my grandkids who want my attention, to the phone or the doorbell when they ring (even though they can’t understand me!) A minute is only 60 seconds—just one out of the 1440 minutes/86,400 seconds during one day. I wonder how often I spend just one minute praising You, Lord—not asking for something, whining about something—simply praising You for who You are and letting You know how much I love You! Here’s one minute of praise to my awesome God who is unlimited by time in His thinking of me:

You are forever eternal yet You cherish tiny little moment-in-time me and it was most important to You to make a way for me to spend all eternity with You…Just by Your word, You set galaxies into motion and created this special place called earth for us…You created all the magnificent animals and ocean creatures as well as every miniscule atom and cell…You personally knit us each together in our mother’s womb using DNA and things we will never fully understand though we try…You know each thought and action, even those we attempt to hide from ourselves and others—yet You love us anyway…You sent Your own perfect and holy Son Jesus for the sole purpose of taking all our sin upon Himself and taking the death penalty for the sins we committed so we could have His pureness and holiness and live forever in glorious eternity with You…Father, You are patient to hold back judgement to give each of us a chance to choose Life with You through Jesus…It is part of Your great love and plan to allow us freedom to choose…Now that I have chosen eternal life with You, I can’t imagine why anyone fights against it; there is so much more freedom in Christ!…

Father, You reign high above all there is in heaven, on earth and under the earth, yet in Your wisdom, You allow us to choose who/what to worship…There is no king, president, organization, nation, earthly or spiritual power that does not answer to You…If we go through any type of fire, You are with us—now and forever…You promise a coming life where we will see You face to face and all sin, darkness, fear, evil will be completely dispelled in the Light of Your presence…You, Lord, hold all my moments and my days (both in this life and my coming life where there will be no need for moments), I want to spend more minutes here on earth praising You!

 

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“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.”  1 Corinthians 7:29

 

Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17:1-3  “After Jesus said this, He looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. For You granted Him authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those You have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.’”

 

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  1 Timothy 1:17

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord God, I want to spend a minute praising You…

Heavenly Father,

I’ve seen the look of both trust and non-trust as an early educator—in parents and in children. Trust is critical. Parents drop off their precious babies in the morning. Since I cover a lot of different classes, I am in a lot of situations where the parents and the kids don’t know me the first time we meet. They have no idea whether they can trust me—other than I have been hired as a trained professional at this particular center. They are not just dropping off their laundry, they are leaving their most treasured vulnerable loved one in my care. Even when they attempt to conceal it, they are looking me over trying to decide if I will cherish and care for their babies even half as good as they do. They clutch their babies tightly even while trying to convince their kids they will be fine. The babies are also looking me over. They are usually a better judge of character than adults who have heard too many bad reports. Little children know when they are loved and enjoyed. They can see love in the eyes and in the heart!

Father, the more I read and hear Your word, the more I realize how important trusting You is. You have beautiful plans to bless us, if only we will look into Your heart and see how good and holy and loving You really are! There is no one more trustworthy. You love us so much more than we can ever imagine or describe. It can be delightful discovering more of who You are every single day of our earthly lives and beyond. Yet far too often, we clutch hearts with fear. We hold on to our circumstances and the people we love. We are not sure we can really trust You.

Lord God Almighty! Do we think we can do better than You? Are we trusting in our weak human understanding more than Your divine knowledge that created us and everything around? Do we truly believe we can care better for our loved ones than You can? Do we tend to trust only in what our mere eyes can see instead of You—who knows all there is from the beginning to the end? Father, help me look into Your heart at all times and trust who You are. You loved us so much that You sent Your Son Jesus to die once and for all for our sins, and rise in victory so we can live for all eternity. All we have to do is trust You! (Even if it seems like a tiny trust at first.) I suppose we will be forever growing in our love and trust of You the more we get to know You—and place our treasures, sins, concerns, fears, situations, dreams and loved ones in Your hands!

 

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“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved, As the scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts  in him will never be put to shame.’”  Romans 10:9-11

 

Jesus said in John 14:1: “do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.”

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, who do I turst…

Heavenly Father,

It’s easy to fall prey to sadness when it is gloomy outside. I am usually a very upbeat person (even being accused of always seeing the bright side) but everyone faces storms and cloudy days—even if it is only seen by one’s self on the inside. My brother takes amazing daily photos of the sunset on the lake by his house. It is the same exact lake view, but not one of his hundreds of photos are ever the same. Some are made up of glorious vibrant colors that take your breath away. Others are dark and gloomy. The lake is the same. Trees have not moved. The sun still sets in the west. Some days there are clouds, birds, or people in the photo; other days there’s nothing in the photo but the water and sky. The weather can affect our view. Our mood can make a difference in what we see. Too much on our minds; the stress of trying to control our circumstances; worries and fears can all attempt to blind us to the glory all around us.

That’s why, though I might feel gloomy tis morning, I still come to praise You through the grey skies. All may seem dreary—but when I purposely begin to turn to You, calling out to You, praising You for who You are, my view changes. When I stop to remember that You, alone, are God Almighty; that You are the Creator and Designer of all there is; that You hung the sun, stars and entire galaxies into place and cause them to stay there; that You are still the same glorious God though I cannot see You at the time; that You are still shining just as brightly as ever.

As I praise You, my Eternal, Everlasting, Majestic, All-Powerful, tender, merciful, Righteous, Holy, comforting, True, Faithful, Forgiving, Expectant, Constant through the Ages, Victorious, Most High God—there is a little part in the clouds and a ray of Your glory shines down on me. You sustain me, encourage me, direct me, guide me, restore me, refresh me, heal me… Most of all, the sweet joy of Your presence melts away the greyness in my spirit. Once again, I know that You are still God. There is no darkness or hopelessness in You at all. Though there might be some grey days here on earth, the time is coming when I will see you in all Your glory. My view of You will be unhampered by the clouds of this life. When I praise You, I get a sneak peek of Your glory!

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“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:4

 

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”  Psalm 18:28

 

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”   Matthew 6:22-23

 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Most Holy Father, am I looking to You or something else?