Monthly Archives: May 2008

Posturing Our Hearts for a Sabbath Rest

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

It’s coming around again. An ending to a week that has just barely begun. I couldn’t have accurately forecasted its path seven days ago because chaotic living has become my norm. Most days spend as a blur, and by week’s end, exhaustion finds its bed within my weary frame.

I am tired, and I am in need.

My Father knows my requirement, and thus he gives me permission for a Sabbath pause—a gift of rest consecrated and set apart for my ceasing from the ordinary in order to partake of the extraordinary.

The problem is…

I rarely take him up on his gift. And tonight I ponder as to the probable cause of my denial.

The Israelites got caught up within the particulars of a Sabbath’s rest. Regulations and requisites ruled the day. And as so often the case, whenever the law of religion supersedes the grace of its faith, rest is rarely, if ever…found.

I am afraid we are not so far in our thinking and in our doing from that of our spiritual ancestors. We busy ourselves with the many details of a Sabbath observation. Church life requires it. We didn’t mean for it to be this way…to make Sundays a day of work rather than a day of rest. It is simply the nature of the beast that we have fed with our programs and perfections and providings.

Instead of entering into the gift of God’s rest, we exhaust ourselves by walking around it, coddling it with the promise of our return once the details have walked their course. Unfortunately, their steps are many and their pace is measured by the cadence of man’s intent rather than the consecration of God’s endowment.

We have made the Sabbath a difficult embrace. God has always meant for it to be our simple acceptance. And tonight I am wondering…

What would it take for us to arrive at a similar conclusion—to get to the point where we lay down our busy in exchange for a posture that simply lies down?

What indeed?!

Meet the Robins’ family. They nest just down the street at Inie’s house, and they have much to teach us about a Sabbath pause, for they have perfected a consecrated rest.

A Sabbath rest is found in the hiding.

“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5).

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the sheltering with brothers and sisters.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25).

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47).

A Sabbath rest is found in the lifting up of heads.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).

“But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.” (Psalm 3:3-4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the waiting.

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18).

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1).

A Sabbath rest is found in an open mouth.

“‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.’” (Psalm 81:10).

“The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.” (Isaiah 50:4).

A Sabbath rest is found in the filling.

“Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9).

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35).

A Sabbath rest is found in an eventual launching.

“‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Hiding. Sheltering. Lifting. Waiting. Opening. Filling. Launching.

The posture of a Sabbath rest. Not requirements and regulations. Simply a lying down for a day so that a rising up for tomorrow can find its wings and take flight.

I am tired, friends, and I am in need. How about you? How long has it been since you have found your Sabbath’s rest? Would you allow the Robins, along with the Word of God, to be the compass that leads you there this weekend? Next week belongs to next. God’s Sabbath belongs to our today, and so I pray…

Take us there, Lord, to a place of rest and consecration underneath the shelter of your wings. Surround us with the care and comfort of your people as we rest. Lift our heads from our temporal and focus our eyes on your eternal. Teach us the patience of a sacred waiting. Feed us, Father, for we are hungry for your Word. Fill us, Jesus, for you alone can satisfy the craving of our souls. And when our rest is full and finished…complete and more than enough…breathe your breath to launch us into a world that needs to find its sacred pause. Amen.

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PS: I want to hear about your Sabbath rest this weekend! If you’re like me, the summer promises to be a busy one. I want to invite you all back next week, when I hope to begin a new mini-Bible study called “Raising Faith.” Hope to. A well-intentioned thought and a big dream considering that I now have four underfoot for the summer! I’ll have to squeeze in posts when I can.

And for those of you who will be nesting in worship with me this Sabbath? You’re in for a big treat. There has been a wonderful P.S. to Billy’s sermon last week! You will be awed and stunned by the faithfulness of our great, big God. See you Sunday.

Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

A Second Ladle of Grace from Amelia’s Wishing Well

A Second Ladle of Grace from Amelia’s Wishing Well

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13-14).

She couldn’t have known what her time at the well would mean for her in the days to come. Truth had come to meet her at the point of her deepest need. And when Truth arrives,

Truth transforms and transcends. He reveals and he requires. He invites and he instructs. He confronts and he commissions. He loves and he lasts.

What she decided to do with that Truth would count for always. Rather than run from Truth, she drank deeply from his sacred ladle to know a lasting grace that would follow her into her always. It was an always that would soon transpire into a second ladle of grace, portioned out upon the soil of her past.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:39-42).

Can you trace the power of a journey’s thirst that leads one to pause at a well? A pause that stops along the way to cast a penny’s hope into the sacred waters that stir with the breath of a Father’s intent? The Samaritan woman came with her emptiness. She left with a spring of water welling up within her to eternal life.

Eternity for her. Eternity for those who witnessed her transformation.

That is the way of sacred wishing and sacred waters. One cannot experience a taste of the Truth and leave as unchanged. God’s grace extended beyond her single ladle of refreshment to become a second helping of grace for those who knew her best. As it was for this Samaritan woman and her community so long ago, so it was for my household this past weekend.

I didn’t know there would be a P.S. added to A Penny’s Worth of Wishing—a second ladle of grace dipped from the same fountain that cradled my daughter’s wish for her Father to come and to reveal himself to her. One ladle was almost more than this mother’s heart could handle.


But God is like that. He is a more than God. And when the well of Living Water touches the life of one, it ripples outward to touch the life of another. In this case, another named Jadon. Another I call son.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to script this P.S., for its worth far exceeds a penny’s throw. Its worth measures eternal.

My son has been walking around his sister’s salvation story for a couple of months now. She asked Jesus into her heart on Good Friday, and I chronicled her moment in a post entitled A Cradled Surrender. At that time, Jadon made some mumblings about a similar wanting, but because my son is prone to following…to impulsivity rather than conscious decision…I confess that I gave little credence to his words.

My heart was tender to his thoughts, but I wanted Jadon to come to his own conclusion in the matter of faith…to come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ in his own time, in his own way, rather than riding on the coattails of his sister’s experience. That moment has come, and just yesterday, while sitting on the back porch steps with my son, he told me a story that is worthy of my pen.

Jadon told me about his moments at the wishing well. He had accompanied us on our field trip to find a well that would cradle our pennies’ worth of dreams, and while my attention was solely focused on Amelia making her wish, my little boy was making one of his own.

“Mommy, I asked God into my heart at the wishing well the other day.”

“What does that mean to you, son?”

“I know he is here in my heart. All four pennies were worth everything.”

Brief words. Powerful in their impact.

Enough said. Enough time for him to come to his own conclusion in the matter. Enough words to silence this mother’s misgivings and to finally embrace the tender declaration of a son’s wish.

We talked further, and then we prayed a prayer of firm commitment.

How could I have known that a trip to a wishing well would mean one thing to one child, and then, in turn, would mean everything for another child? That is the power of a journey’s thirst that leads a soul to the ladling from God’s sacred well. A drink from the fountain of Living Water always exceeds the parameters of a single wish. It spills forth onto everyone within range.

Sacred ladling…

Reveals Truth. Reshapes hearts. Renews perspective. Revives the dying. Rewrites forever.

First and second helpings. Thirds and fourths and beyond. One P.S. after another until all the world has been given the opportunity to drink. You and I, even Jadon and Amelia, host the eternal waters of our living God as he churns within our frame. He is meant for the overflow. He is meant for the spilling. We all have been given the sacred trust of carrying his ladle to our near and to our far…to our moments that exist ahead of this one.

To cast his life’s wish into the fountain of humanity so that all people can fully know and boldly proclaim that he really is…

the Savior of the world who readily receives our four pennies worth of wishing and showers us, in return, with the gift of everything.

And so I pray…

Thank you, Father, for a second ladling of grace… for the times when your working exceeds my visioning. Thank you for the ladles that will come to others through my life and through the lives of my children. Keep our quenching to the eternal waters of your filling. Let our taste for the world drink bitter while our taste for You drinks sweet. You, alone, are worthy of every wish of my heart. May your name be glorified and lifted up because of our time spent at your well this week. Amen.

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Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

A Penny’s Worth of Wishing

A Penny’s Worth of Wishing

“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:9-11).
“Mommy, someday if we see a wishing well, could I throw a coin in?”

“Yes, baby. What would you wish for?”

“I’d wish that Jesus was down here on earth so that I could see him.”

“What would you say to him?”

“I’d tell him that I love him.”

“I think you just did.”

A deep conversation between mother and daughter, packed within a stop-light’s pause. A moment worthy of a pen and some scrap paper—actually the back of a large manila envelope containing, yet, another rejection notice from a publisher.
My mind really wasn’t on the road. It should have been, but my heart was otherwise inclined to its wandering. My trailing thoughts were interrupted by her words. They were words meant for my ears, for they scripted the similar penchant of my heart.

Words that spoke of wishing wells and pennies and a throw that just might bring a heart’s desire to fruition. Words of invitation, asking for the Father to reveal himself in the flesh.

Amelia wanted to see the Jesus that lives in her heart, for with the seeing, faith becomes a little more real. And this mother and her little girl are all about our Jesus being real to us.

Indeed…this was a penny’s worth of some sacred thinking. Hopes and dreams. Mine. Hers. Yours. And the dearest wish of those who stood in the presence of the risen Lord just moments prior to his departure.

I wonder how many wishing wells the disciples passed that day on their way back to Jerusalem. Back to their waiting for the promised gift of God’s Spirit. Back to their uncertainty. Back to life in their new usual, for their old usual had been interrupted by the unusual, unexplainable, and unimaginable presence of the Divine.

Life would never be as it once was. That is the way of a sacred journey that has encountered the truth of Jesus Christ. Truth transforms and transcends. He reveals and he requires. He invites and he instructs. He confronts and he commissions. He loves and he lasts. What we do with that Truth—how we choose to walk in or to walk away from that Truth—is a choice allowed its lingering within the well of our will.

From that well, we either draw out a ladle of obedience or a portion of defiance. Both choices are laced with the wet of the living Water because once Christ crashes onto the scene of our current, we cannot leave as unchanged. We can ignore. We can pretend that He never happened. We can push him under the rug of our routine, but at the end of the day…at the end of a life,

All ignoring and pretending and pushing aside drains our cups to empty, while leaving the rim salted with the savor of the Sacred. We can no longer swallow life without swallowing him first.

It’s a bitter swallow for some, but for my daughter and me…

He’s the sweetest taste of our souls.

Perhaps this is reason behind her wish this day…her desire to throw a penny’s wish in hopes of seeing her Lord. A life span of almost six years has been more than enough time for her to begin in her understanding of her Savior’s love over her precious life. A young heart wrapped around this kind of truth, is a heart marked for kingdom living.

Miss Amelia has begun her quest toward her eternal. She reminds me of someone I once knew. And just today, that someone fell in love with her Savior all over again. At a stop light’s pause. Through a child’s words. In a penny’s wish for a Father to come and to be present, so that she could simply voice her love to him.

Face to face. Heart to heart. Child to Father. Sinner to Savior.

I don’t know the wish of your heart this day. We spend a lifetime wishing and wanting for more. More stuff. More money. More health. More purpose. More wisdom. More love. More time. More joy. More _______________.

I wonder what would happen if we would simply pause long enough to cease from our wanting “more” and to, instead, throw our penny’s wish into the one well that always ladles sacred. That always serves satisfaction. That always fills to overflow…to more…to beyond the portion that we could ever ask for or imagine.

I wonder.

And it is this wondering part of me—the childlike portion that remains tender to the possibility of a penny’s wish—that led me to find a few coppers and to navigate my van to a well not far from our home.

For all of the things we could have wished for in those moments before the fountain (we had a lot of pennies…), we first wished for Jesus to come. Then, we wished for other things, like telescopes and surprises and a publisher and some peace. And as we smiled and walked around the water’s edge, somewhere in the trickle of its cascade I could have sworn that I heard the whisper of my Father echoing from deep within…

Behold, dearly beloved child. I am coming soon! And I am bringing my reward with me. And my reward belongs to you and to your daughter and to everyone whose heart’s hope is scripted with my name. I am coming to take you home to the place that I have prepared for you. A place that exceeds your wish. Where faith becomes sight. Where forever becomes final. (Rev. 22:12; John 14:1-4; 1 Cor. 2:9, 1 Cor. 13:12).

And so I pray,

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, to the well of my hope. Today I throw my pennies…my life…in your regard and ask that you make yourself real to me. Split the sky and stand upon my current. How I long to see you face to face and to throw these arms around the arms the hung in surrender for me. You are my wish, for you are my beginning. My end. And my middle. Everything else…everyone else…is just filler. Keep my faith at a child’s understanding, so that pennies and wishes and wells become my portion, as my skepticism and doubting fade to black. Amen.

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Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

Well Spent Livin’

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.” (Rev. 1:12-15).

OK…it’s now official. My older sons are hereby no longer going to the movies with their way too emotional mother…

Ever again.

We have just returned from seeing Prince Caspian, and I, by far, was the most openly expressive participant in the movie theatre.

It really doesn’t matter if you have read the book. I think I did somewhere in my distant past, but quite frankly, I’ve never quite made it past the enchantment of the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But this adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ book to the silver screen trumps the Wardrobe. The graphics are incredible, and while I could do without some of the comedic license given to talking mice, I thoroughly engaged with the movie through my emotional and spiritual lenses.

It’s not a new story. Good verses evil, with good winning out in the end. But it was the good ending of this particular story that nearly sent me into audible shouts of hallelujahs and hands raised in praise.


I remembered the two boys next to me and restrained my response by grasping my mouth, while allowing the free fall of tears to wet my shirt. They simply nudged one another (as if they knew it was coming) and handed me a napkin.

In one of the final scenes, the battle reaches its climax on a bridge over rushing waters. Aslan, the Lion, sounds his voice with a deafening roar, forcing all within earshot to take notice. All.

Created beings and created earth.

It was then that my Charlton Heston, Ten Commandments kind of moment arrived. I knew it was coming for I could hear the stir of the waters even as they crescendoed in response to the sound of Aslan’s voice. From the North, and with the fury of a Savior’s beckoning, the water found its way to the battle line. It didn’t come alone, but rather it came with the visual imprint of a face within its engulfing wet, representing the witness of my God’s presence.

I don’t remember much about the rest of the movie. My heart and my thoughts remained suspended in that scene for the final minutes of the film. However, this one scene was enough to catapult Prince Caspian into the category of money well spent. It is a good scene to remember, for with its remembrance comes a rich metaphor of how a life can catapult its way into the category of well-spent.

A well-spent life is a life lived in the truth of who our God is.

A rescuing God. An awe-inspiring Creator who belongs to our battles because a Savior has made a way. A soon and coming King whose voice commands the surrender of all creation.

Not a wimpy God. Not an unconcerned Creator. Not a God who turns away from the cries of his children as they face the toughest battles of their earthly existence. Not a cruel God who limits his love only to the good and to the righteous.

No, my God is a consuming God. He is the finisher of the battle. The final Word that trumps ours. He is the Wind and the Waves. The Fire and the Flood. He is the First and the Last. The Love and the Grace. And at the end of the day, as we stand on the bridge of our climax, all that really matters is that our souls breathe in unison with living, breathing Water who arrives on our scene…at just exactly the right time…to usher us into our next.

He is the One who brings a shout to my heart this day. For all of the other reasons to find some joy, there is none better than Him.

Now…I don’t know about you, but I certainly think a hallelujah is in order. And just in case you haven’t seen the movie…no need to worry. God’s Word is enough to script your heart with a similar response and to catapult your journey into the category of a life well-lived.

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has the name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).

My sons may never want to go to another movie with me, but as long as they make the final journey with me, we’re good to go.

Give yourself a treat this week. Go see Prince Caspian. Greater still, go and visit our God on the pages of his holy Word. Either way, it is time well spent, and you just might find your hallelujah in the process!

As always,

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Unseen Glances

Unseen Glances

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).


She captures my thoughts today. My Amelia Jane.

I probably don’t have to tell you why. A tragic ending to a fragile young life has made the national headlines, stunning the Christian community and forcing a family to deal with the unexpected and unwelcomed intruder named death.

Maria Sue Chapman, five-year-old daughter of singer/songwriter Steven and Mary Beth Chapman, has left the arms of her earthly parents to make her entrance into the arms of her heavenly Father. A life gone too soon. Five years of loving a child is simply not enough. It is a grief that struggles to reconcile fact with faith. A hard reckoning in my opinion, but one that becomes necessary for all who walk its candid and cold embrace.

My mind and my heart cannot frame it. It strikes a chord within me, as it has with so many of you. Death does that. It strikes. It resounds. It penetrates the silence with the deafening chorus of a truth better left unsung, or so we think. It is a truth that follows our entrance into this world. A truth that will mark our exit from it. A truth that simply and poetically scripts …

We were born to die.

From the moment we first breathed the air of our temporal, we began our journey home to our eternal. It is the way of things. Always has been. We shouldn’t be surprised by death’s arrival; still and yet, it almost always strikes an unexpected chord with a precision that leaves us to grapple with its certainty.

And unless the Lord returns in our lifetime, death will be our required portion.

The Apostle Paul asks us to keep our focus in times of trouble. To understand that our temporary afflictions are achieving, accomplishing, and producing an eternal glory that far exceeds are pain. To perceive the unseen and to believe that the unseen surpasses our current fracture. To keep heart, even though our hearts shatter and scatter with the winds of adversity that howl loudly and break hard.

Good truth.

A difficult striving.

For in our flesh, death always limits perspective. Our flesh cries out for the temporary…for the immediate…for the right now. A tomorrow’s work will have to wait because today’s tears are all that can be absorbed.

How can anyone begin to walk in an understanding that limits the “current” to seemingly nothing more than a monument to learning…to becoming…to moving on to a yet to be grasped perfection? How can death be parametered into a pill that swallows smoothly? What do we do with a grief whose bite seems lethal and whose gnaw continually chews? How do we fix our eyes on anything but the casket that currently cradles our sorrow?

How indeed?

Paul doesn’t ask us to turn away from a casket’s gaze. He doesn’t ask us to quickly get over our grief and move beyond. Instead, he simply and poetically asks us to gaze deeper into death’s frame. His thoughts are not callous or removed…a script meant for a stage some 2000 years ago. No, Paul’s words are exactly the words of comfort we need in times of sorrow because a human life is more than flesh and blood. Our fragile frames embody both the seen and the unseen…the temporal and the eternal.

God has created us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27) and set eternity into the hearts of all people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This sets us apart from all of his other created works. So when Paul asks us to fix our eyes on the unseen and the eternal in times of momentary affliction, he gives us permission to mourn our loss. So does our Creator, for with our tears we acknowledge a human life for what it is.

A created flesh covering an eternal pulse. The seen cloaking the unseen. The momentary shrouding the never-ending.

This is why our grief is real.

This is why we can say good-bye to “things” with little fret, but when it comes to people, our fret is palpable and deep.

This is why we can find hope, even in the midst of a tremendous grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

For when death visits a life, perfection finds its home. The unseen begins when the seen embraces its end. The eternal breathes its fullest when the momentary breathes its last. The glory finds its brilliance when the temporary finds its dull. The heavens chorus its applause when the earth silences its song.

And while it’s true…we were born to die…the greater and final truth is this.

We die so that we can fully live.

Eternally. Without restraints. Without affliction. Without sorrow. Without endings. Without good-byes.

This is the perspective I need today as I live and breathe the truth of a family’s grief. Maria Sue has found her life, even as her fragile frame has found its death. It is the same for each one of us as we draw ever nearer to tasting a similar portion.

Let us not shrink back from dealing with our grief. Let us not hide from its bitter taste. Instead, let us bravely acknowledge the hope that pulses beyond every death. Let us fix our eyes on the Creator who created each person to breathe an earthly life’s span and then to breathe an eternal life forever.

He is where I’m headed, friends. And should we never meet face to face on this side of forever, I will meet you there where we will share in our Father’s happiness for always.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of his comforting and abiding Holy Spirit, I ask and pray and believe all these things in my heart. How I pray you believe them too.


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Copyright © May 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

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