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Posts Tagged ‘a holy experience’

Maybe it’s because I am guilty of saying the wrong things to my kids that made me decide to re-post this … and don’t take it personally, but this one is for me … not you!

When I read the following story, by singer/songwriter Jason Gray, I could relate to his first interaction with his son.

As a parent, I say the wrong things to my kids so often. I sometimes feel that if a caricature were drawn to represent me as a mom, one (either or both) of my feet would be sketched into the gaping hole on the middle of my face!

Please read Jason’s story of foot in mouth disease (thanks once again to Ann Voskamp for sharing this story, with such perfect photography, on a holy experience Caring For The Right Thing At The Right Time)

“The other night while we were washing dishes, my son Jacob said he’d seen a trailer for a movie he wanted to see.

“Oh yeah? Which one?” I asked.
“The new Red Dawn.”

“Ugh.” I said. “Why would you want to see that one? You know they’ve been sitting on it for a couple of years because they knew it was a stinker. I think they’re only releasing it now because it’s got Thor and Peeta in it and they’re hoping they can cash in on their popularity and at least get something back for their poor investment.”

Jacob continued, unfazed. “It’s also got an actor in it who I used to love when I was a kid—Josh from Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh. I’d really like to see what he’s doing now.”

Undeterred, I continued my diatribe. “Well, I loved the original when I was a kid in the ’80s, but this one got TERRIBLE reviews. It’s going to be bad. I’m just telling you because I don’t want you to waste your money.”

About the time these last words came out of my mouth, I began to realize how much of a self-righteous jerk I was being.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon for me—I can be oppressively opinionated and uppity. By God’s grace, however, I am learning to recognize it better and quicker.

I’m so grateful for growing conviction, the evidence that God is still at work in my life.

A part of my problem is that sometimes I care about the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Sometimes I care about fairness instead of generosity.

Sometimes I care about someone else’s theological accuracy when quiet listening would be better.

In this particular instance I was caring more about the quality of a film than I was caring about the quality of a conversation with my son. (In fact, I think he knew that I wouldn’t care for this movie but brought it up anyway, risking my scorn. Brave.)

Of course it’s good to care about things, and it’s good that I care about things like well-crafted films and good storytelling.

I care, too, about nuanced and cathartic acting performances that are as delicious to the soul as a fine meal is to the palette. I am grateful for my capacity to enjoy these and other forms of art-making: books, music, painting, and on down the list.

I care about these things because I’m convinced that beauty matters and is both a grace to be enjoyed and a calling to participate in.

But in that moment with Jacob, my care for a certain kind of beauty turned ugly because I was picking the wrong thing to care about.

Consequently I failed to recognize a more subtle and significant beauty that was being offered to me: the beauty of my son sharing his simple desire to see a movie—one that reminded him of fond memories of his childhood.

In that moment I had also been offered a chance to create something beautiful myself: a generous response with the power to foster a culture of kindness, grace, and intimacy in our home. What work of art—be it a song, a book, or a film—can compare to this?

By God’s grace I recognized what I’d done early enough to maybe do something about it.

“Ah Jacob. I’m sorry. What a jerk I am sometimes. Can we try this again, would you let me? Let’s start over. Tell me again what movie you want to see.”

He laughed, but played along. “Dad, there’s this movie I really want to see. It’s called Red Dawn.”

“Oh yeah? Man I loved that movie when I was kid. Tell me more about it, why do you want to see it?”

“Well, it’s got Peeta from The Hunger Games in it. It’s also got Josh from Drake and Josh” and just looks kind of cool to me.”

He was creating something beautiful of his own by graciously playing along with me, giving me a chance to make amends. This is the beauty of grace.

“Awesome! Well, let me know when it comes out and maybe we can watch it together.” I said, smiling.

“Okay, dad,” he said, smiling back. He had accepted my apology and offered me a way back into his world. He is a kind boy.

Later that night my youngest son Gus asked if I’d lay by him in his bed a little bit before he went to sleep.

After a little reading (from The Jesus Storybook Bible—so, so good, check it out if you haven’t already!), we lay there a bit in the dark.

Kipper and Jacob had come upstairs and were across the hall talking with their mom, laughing, being rambunctious and making some noise.

I sensed it was distracting Gus in the quiet of the moment we were sharing.

With every word and bark of laughter he heard from across the hall his body would tense. I could tell he was about to holler down the hall for them to be quiet because he was trying to sleep.

I was about to say, jokingly, “Man, your brothers are noisy!”

But remembering my earlier moment with Jacob, I wondered if there was something else I might say that would be better, something that might help foster kindness, grace, and intimacy in our home.

What was the right thing to care about?

“It’s nice to hear their voices, isn’t it?” I whispered to Gus in the dark.

“Yeah,” he said as his body noticeably relaxed.

He was quiet for a moment, and then said, “That’s just what I was going to say.”

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“Hello, my name is Carole, and I like to avoid the dark of night … of life.”

So, I had a guest post all prepared and scheduled for today … and then Wednesday happened.

If you have read my Sunday guest posts for awhile, you will know that I quite like the writing of Ann Voskamp, over at A Holy Experience, and this past Wednesday was pure delight.

Ann introduces us to a delightful, plain, unassuming man … one who does not stand out like a spotlight … but one who most certainly resembles a nightlight. One who does not let the dark stop him … but one who keeps running through the dark of night.

This guy does not avoid the dark of night … he runs right through it!

Here is his story (How to get Through the Dark Places), told through the soul-whisperer herself, Ann Voskamp :

“The old cahoot ran in his boots.

Weren’t too many of anybody who believed he could.

The kids and I read about the old guy one night after supper and the dishwasher’s moaning away, crumbs still across the counter.

How the old guy ran for 544 miles. His name was Cliff Young and he wasn’t so much. He was 61 years old. He was a farmer. Levi grins big.

Mr. Young showed up for the race in his Osh Kosh overalls and with his work boots on, with galoshes over top. In case it rained.

He had no Nike sponsorship.

He had no wife – hadn’t had one ever.

Lived with his mother. Never drank. Never ran in any kind of race before. Never ran a 5 mile race, or a half-marathon, not even a marathon.

But here he was standing in his work boots at the starting line of an ultra-marathon, the most grueling marathon in the world, a 544 mile marathon.

Try wrapping your head around pounding the concrete with one foot after another for 544 endless, stretching miles. They don’t measure races like that in yards – -but in zip codes.

First thing Cliff did was take out his teeth.

Said his false teeth rattled when he ran.

Said he grew up on a farm with sheep and no four wheelers, no horses, so the only way to round up sheep was on the run. Sometimes the best training for the really big things is just the everyday things.

That’s what Cliff said: “Whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go run and round up the sheep.” 2,000 head of sheep. 2,000 acres of land.

“Sometimes I’d have to run those sheep for two or three days. I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”

“Got any backers?” Reporters shoved their microphones around old Cliff like a spike belt.

“No….” Cliff slipped his hands into his overall pockets.

“Then you can’t run.”

Cliff looked down at his boots. Does man need backers or does a man need to believe? What you believe is the biggest backer you’ll ever have.

The other runners, all under a buffed 30 years of age, they take off like pumped shots from that starting line. And scruffy old Cliff staggers forward. He doesn’t run. Shuffles, more like it. Straight back. Arms dangling. Feet awkwardly shuffling along.

Cliff eats dust.

For 18 hours, the racers blow down the road, far down the road, and old Cliff shuffles on behind.

Come the pitch black of night, the runners in their $400 ergonomic Nikes and Adidas, lay down by the roadside, because that’s the plan to win an ultra-marathon, to run 544 straight miles: 18 hours of running, 6 hours of sleeping, rinse and repeat for 5 days, 6 days, 7 days.

The dark falls in. Runners sleep. Cameras get turned off. Reporters go to bed.

And through the black night, one 61-year-old man far behind keeps shuffling on.

And all I can think is:

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not.

καταλαμβάνω Katalambanō – Comprehend. Understand. Master.

Cliff Young runs on through the night and there is a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not master it.

The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.

Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.

The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.

The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.

The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

That low lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.

Darkness can’t drive out darkness. Only light can do that,” Martin Luther King had said it, had lived it.

Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark.
Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark.
Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.

Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light. The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.

You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.

You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.

Cliff Young runs on through the dark — because he didn’t know you were supposed to stop.

The accepted way professional runners approached the race was to run 18 hours, sleep 6, for7 days straight. But Cliff Young didn’t know that. He didn’t know the accepted way. He only knew what he did regularly back home, the way he had always done it: You run through the dark.

Turns out when Cliff Young said he gathered sheep around his farm for three days, he meant he’d run across 2,000 acres of farmland for three days straight without stopping or sleeping, without the dark ever stopping him. You gathered sheep by running through the dark.

So along the endless stretches of highway, a tiny shadow of an old man shuffled along, one foot after another, right through the heat, right through the night. Cliff gained ground.

Cliff gained ground because he didn’t lose ground to the dark. Cliff gained ground because he ran through the dark.

And somewhere at the outset of the night, Cliff Young in his overalls, he shuffled passed the toned runners half his age. And by the morning light, teethless Cliff Young who wasn’t young at all, he was a tiny shadow — far, far ahead of the professional athletes.

For five days, fifteen hours, and four minutes straight, Cliff Young ran, never once stopping for the dark – never stopping until the old sheep farmer crossed the finish line – First. He crossed the finish line first. Beating a world record. By two. whole. days.

The second place runner crossed the finish line 9 hours after old Cliff.

And when they handed old Cliff Young his $10,000 prize , he said he hadn’t known there was a prize. Said he’d run for the wonder of it. Said that all the other runners had worked hard too. So Cliff Young waited at the finish line and handed each of the runners an equal share of the 10K.

And then the old cahoot in boots walked a way without a penny for the race but with all the hearts of whole world.

While others run fast, you can just shuffle with perseverance.
While others impress, you can simply press on.
While others stop for the dark, you can run through the dark.

The race is won by those who keep running through the dark.

Could be the year to pull a Cliff Young. 

When those reporters asked Old Cliff that afterward, what had kept him running through the nights, Cliff had said, “I imagined I was outrunning a storm to gather up my sheep.”

And I sit there in the thickening dark.

With the One who mastered the dark and overcame the storm to gather His sheep and now there is a Light Who shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.

And you can see them out the front window, far away to the west, out on there the highway —

the lights all going on through the dark.”

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Forward

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Today I am simply providing a link for you to click, then read the words of a guest writer.

It is still the New Year, and we are still thinking back at all was done … and not done, in 2013.

So today, please click on the link to http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/12/how-to-move-forward-into-the-new-year-when-you-feel-like-you-failed-the-last-year/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HolyExperience+%28Holy+Experience%29, where blogger, writer, speaker, mother, wife Ann Voskamp shares a good word to focus on this new year.

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I have shared from the wisdom and experiences and pondering of Ann Voskamp frequently. Her blog, A Holy Experience, is exactly that for me.

Although I do not live on a farm, do not have six children, do no homeschool, and do not have a New York Times bestseller, I do read what she writes with an ability to relate on a kindred spirit level (hum, maybe this is why she has a New York Times bestseller).

Today, I am going to share, once again, words and wisdom from Ann, that so touched my heart and soul as I read them (and a video of a song, the words of which are a fitting response to her words).

You can also check out this same post, but on her site at A Holy Experience.

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“When I get to her door, it’s after 6:30 and dawn’s breaking rays down rows of the cornfields and I’m already late.

Mama’s got a note on her front door that reads in a black scrawl, “Welcome! Come on round. We’re out on the back deck!

Every other Saturday we meet when dawn breaks the day open. We bring Bibles.

We are four, one Linda, who is my mama and her name means beautiful and she really is.

And one Annette, one Anne, one Ann, three with one name meaning grace and the Trinity really is and I am the deep dirty Ann who has to bathe her stains long in His Grace.

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Mama’s got plates of sliced oranges laid out, strawberries, raisin bread toasted.

Her tea pot there in its cozy. Their Bibles are all laid open. The air is cool this early, the sky quiet clear. A cardinal heralds the sun from the tip of the spruce tree at the fence. I nod embarrassed, always the last, and mama pours my tea and the steam wraps itself up and around the cool, warming fresh morning.

John 21,” Annette winks her welcome, points to her page and I find the passage.

Ah, yes, this passage — the Scriptures about Jesus at dawn and the disciples at sea with their nets and He’s already got the fire kindled and He beckons, “Come and have breakfast.” I smile. Mama’s got breakfast out at dawn! Our own feast! Mama clasps her hands, laughs.

We read the passage four times. Once lingering. Once listening. Once lifting voice to pray the words. Last time: to live it.

Annette says she wants the passionate abandon for Jesus that jumps out of the boat like Peter, plunges straight into water as soon as he sees Him, and did he do it because he thought he might walk on water again?

Mama keeps returning to the three times Jesus asks “Do you truly love me?” and she says that all week she’s been working through feelings of rejection and it’s been hard and it hurts and yes, betrayal, and what does it really mean to feed Christ’s sheep today and she has to figure that if that’s the way we show we really do love Him.

Anne, the other one with the fanciful “e” and curling hair, she’s thinking about Peter with a battered faith who says I’m outta here, I’m going fishing, and a Jesus who won’t let Him go, who wants him to build His church even when he’s betrayed Him three times and that’s a kind of love she needs right now.

Then Mama turns to me, “And for you, Ann? How is He shaping you through this passage?”

The sun’s warmer now on our faces, higher over the corn behind Mama’s house. A robin’s singing with the cardinal.

“Well, there’s the fact He asks us to trust him when it feels like we’ve been in a long night and caught nothing and will we trust Him, do what He says, when He asks the unconventional of us: “Throw your net on the right side of the boat”….

And there’s this: … the wild love waiting for us at the end of dark, empty nights of the soul — the kind of love that has breakfast waiting for us on the beach, the fish and bread all ready for us… but really… and this is what I keep coming back to,” I glance around anxious at their faces and I run on excited, “I keep coming back to this:

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.

It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?”

They knew it was the Lord.

I look up. They look blank.

I try again. “It was full of large fish — 153!”

Mama nods slowly… waiting for the epiphany to strike. Annette’s smiling politely. Anne’s fingering the corner of her page, re-reading the text.

I just blurt it out: “Someone had counted the fish!”

Peter, the failure, the reject, the broken, he had counted fish.

Now they all smile, nod politely. My cheeks are hot. I distract with reaching for my cup of tea, swig back a long gulp, and sputter out something about it getting that time and maybe it’s time to close in prayer?

We go around the circle and the sun’s sure now, strong, and we each pray passionate for the woman to the right of us, for her bruises and for her dark night and for her longings and that she might be fed, her nets full to overflowing in the morning and that we would each really love Jesus.

We squeeze hands with the final Amen.

And for a moment, we all sit still and silent in the sun. I close my eyes, listen to the world waking. The light feels healing. The robin keeps singing. A back door closes down the street. I can hear a car start.

“Well, you’d all better get back to families!” Mama’s gathering plates off the deck table. We carry in teacups from the back deck, wander in through her house for our shoes.

And there it is on Mama’s kitchen table. Stacks of photographs, pictures scattered, laying there in open books.

Us three Anns pause on our way through.

Mama sets the teapot on the counter. “Yes, forgive the piles. All week, I’ve been sorting out the years. Filing them into albums.”

I scan my history — my Mama’s. I hurt inside.

A child abused. A wife replaced. A mother broken. 

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Annette leans over, points to a black and white image of a little girl holding a doll, her mother’s hand.

“Who is this?”

“That’s me — ” Mama smiles. Annette’s eyes grow big, picks it up for a closer look at time.

There are photos of Mama a toddler, her sitting on her father’s lap, a color-tinted photograph of her mother, Mama’s first Christmas with my father, his gold-band hand resting on her shoulder.

Photos of me sleeping on Dad’s chest, my first steps, my Dad holding me brand new in the heat of an August dusk. Mama looks so young. Her whole life is laid out across the table on kodak paper.

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Anne points to one a white-blonde girl with sky blue eyes playing in a cardboard box. “And this?”

Aimee.”

Mama says her name quiet and holy, name of my younger sister who was killed before Mama’s eyes.

I want to find the door, run away home. I want to pick up the photo of Aimee and me and Mama sitting on the orange flowered couch with my brother, my Dad and I want to go back and make it right, make it all hold. My parent’s marriage. My sister’s life. Us.

Mama picks up the picture for me, of us all. Holds it so I can see. Dad’s smiling.

I remember when Mama had long hair like that, dark and thick and wavy, under a kerchief. When they were married and we were all together and I remember Aimee’s giggle and her alive.

“Yes… “ she traces faces… says the words more to another time than to us right here. “Now you can see why I’ve been working through rejection.”

I swallow hard. When we can’t say it and we just want to run away, Jesus asks our question for us, again and again, “Do you truly love me?”

Anne nods understanding towards Mama and Mama looks across the table, asks in this wounded whisper, “What do you do with all this?” It’s her life.

We are silent.

And then it comes, and I murmur it quiet:

“You count fish?”

Mama turns to me and I reach for snapshot of John and Aimee and I playing in the sandbox and I say it slow.

“You pull in your life and you see that though you felt ripped open —- the net actually didn’t tear.

That there’s grace in your net.

And you actually count them.

You make sure you count the fish. So you don’t have to ask who it is –  You know it is the Lord.” I feel the lump in my throat ebbing.

“You count every single grace that He gave through the long dark night, and you see that there are more than 153. Far more than 153. It’s a feast!” I look up. Mama’s looking at me.

“You count fish….” she nods.

And clasps her hands and laughs lovely and soft and long and she is beautiful. The epiphany strikes: “You just keep always counting the fish!”

It’s when you count blessings — you see Who can be counted on.

It’s when you count the ways He loves, that your life multiplies joy.

It’s a life that counts blessings  — that discovers it’s yielding more than it seems.

“The secret to joy — is to keep seeking God where you doubt He is.”      {excerpted from One Thousand Gifts }

Us four stand around a table picking up photos and the pain from the past.

And we’ve lingered over Scripture so long that now we’ll live it and we are disciples counting the blessings hauled in by a life.

I hold one picture long.

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And I count it twice.

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I awoke on Saturday morning, realizing that I am speaking at a women’s conference in exactly four weeks!

The cold sweats, the tummy rumblings, the tension headache all began to surface … reminding me that time is moving along, and my preparations are not moving as fast as the days on the calendar!

I resolved, then and there, that my goal of memorizing the scripture that I would be speaking from (Psalm 139) would simply not happen, and I would need to put aside this lofty goal, so that what I plan to say would be well prepared … ah, instant relief!

And then, I started through my Saturday morning ritual of reading blog posts from others …

Once again, God spoke clearly to me as I read the words of Ann Voskamp (maybe I need to stop reading her posts … just joking 😉 ).

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Ann, author of the bestseller, “One Thousand Gifts,” writes a wonderful daily blog called A Holy Experience. It is worth your time to check it out.

In the post that has convicted me (once again) to continue to work towards memorizing this beautiful passage, Ann creates music with a combination of left-handed piano playing, the value of hiding God’s word in our hearts, and the hard parts of life.

Check out what Ann has to say about, How to get Through Lifes Hard Parts

“Your life doesn’t sing unless you play.”
Ann Voskamp

PSALM 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

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How do I introduce a guest post whose writer’s words have so fed my soul, filled my heart, made me weep and taught me that I’m still a newborn in learning to be thankful? As I lay across my bed, with dark shadows of fatigue and stress from choosing to carry the weight of the world all by myself, there are also lines of mascara from the leaking from my tear ducts just minutes ago, as I was gently massaged with words like ointment on my scarred heart.aholyexperience-logo

Let me introduce you to a woman who knows about
delight,
joy,
fear,
pain,
Eucharisteo (Thanksgiving)!

I was introduced to the (Canadian) New York Times bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp by two co-workers who said that I NEEDED to read it. I am cheap and thought that signing up for her blog would do just fine, thank-you … I was right … and wrong.

The blog was good, no great! And so I bought the book. I bought the book in early September, and have only read three chapters in the three months, not because it is not good … Quite the contrary, it is too good to rush through! I am savoring it like aged cheese, sweet wine, dark chocolate … No! Not even those favorites can compare. More like those moments when you held your newborn baby and looked into their eyes praying that God would imprint every detail of that moment into your memory … that is what this book is like!

And so today I am offering to you a treat that I think might send you to the bookstore too! Enjoy A Holy Experience

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Frijdom

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A L!fe Lived

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J. A. Allen

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Relax --

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The Mustard Seed Kingdom

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If you want to be a hero well just follow me

The Wild Heart of Life

"He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life." ...James Joyce

Ishshah's Story

Tell the story. Live the story. Be the story.

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Playwright and actor Ellen Peterson writes mostly true stories.

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My life in words...

My heart and soul explode with joy- full of glory! Even my body will rest confident and secure

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