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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

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Another Day without Facebook: Coffee, Cats/Dogs, Unplanned Activities, Shalom

My pattern of activity before lying down in bed at night includes preparing coffee for the morning with the coffee maker set to automatically begin brewing at 6 AM. Theoretically that means I can crawl out of bed, take care of all bathroom necessities, grab my Ipad off the charger, pour my first cup of coffee before settling in my corner of our reclining couch to begin my day. Theories are wonderful starting points, but seldom represent the actuality of life.

For example, if Max our Shitzu/poodle rescue dog decides that 4:30 AM is an absolutely wonderful time to take a walk or ELSE [like this morning], the automatic coffee maker does not adjust. And since I would rather pull on puffy blue coat [yes, it is still cold here] over my t-shirt and shorts, push my bare feet into my calf high boots, push my sleep mask up on my forehead, rather than clean up the OR ELSE, Max and I take a walk. [NO! I am not posting pictures] There are mornings like yesterday morning when a sense of calm and awe settles over me as we walk along the road in front of our house. The Milky Way, the Silver River of which Earth is a part of dazzles the eye on crisp clear early mornings. There are also mornings when it is pouring down rain and the wind cuts right through. Likewise there are mornings when my eyes are open to the wonder and others when I barely stumble out and back inside. After these walks I sometimes can crawl back into bed and sleep. On others, like today, I simply get up, shower, dress and bypass the auto feature on the coffee with a push of a button.

IMG_1275We have a cat, also, Sweetie. She arrived on our doorstep last summer barefoot and pregnant. She lives indoors, but still hears the call of the wild. We let her out during the day with Max and she stays out until she is good and ready to come back in. When I take Max out for his 4:30 walk, she waits at the back door and yowls at us both when we return. Cats vocally express themselves, or at least ours does.

Max and Sweetie have what could only be described as a sibling type relationship if one sibling was from Mars and the other from Venus. In this case, Max would be the one from Venus. He delights in chasing and wrestling. She [Martian, for sure] delights in sneaking up and batting him with her paws and getting him to chase her. If one is on my lap or Terry’s the other one is looking sad [Max] or giving the evil eye [Sweetie]. Nevertheless, thus far there has been no bloodshed except mine when Sweetie dug her claws into my bare foot when I almost stepped on her in the dark the other morning after one of Max’s early morning jaunts.

With all this talk of Max and Sweetie, interrupted sleep, and unexpected outcomes, at the end of today, I will undoubtedly [God willing] prepare coffee to come on automatically at 6 AM. Tomorrow it might work like I plan it. But does it really matter if it doesn’t? Will it damage my sense of well being?

Truth is, I will never know. I can not remember a day [of course, I am having a few memory issues] when EVERYTHING went just as planned. I am not even sure I want that. Oh, OK I WANT THAT! But, I am learning, yes, that is still possible at my age, to roll with the punches, so to speak and to live the day God has given me. THE PRESENT, what a gift! Will I ever be completely spontaneous [maybe in heaven]? Will I ever NOT PLAN? REALLY!

I am exploring the word ‘Shalom’, so often translated ‘Peace’ in English and used as ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. To live the Christian life and embrace each day, I need to seek Shalom with God, with and for others, and for myself…the enriched definition promotes a peace of harmony, wholeness, prosperity, and well being. It means living with every intent of bringing into my discordant, disorderly, broken day SHALOM. It means no matter what the day brings, God is in control. I am NOT!

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Another Day Without Facebook: Humor, World Peace, Barbara Bush, Regrets

 

I should have responded, “A strong faith in God, patriotism, and courage!”

IMG_6135The question posed was the last segment of the Miss Frederick [Oklahoma] contest, 1963. Yes, Yes, amazingly enough I once did a pageant. The first two segments were swimming suit and evening gown—and again, yes, that is what we called formal dresses back in the day. I enclose pictures although I almost did not. Back to the question asked each of us, out of the hearing of the others. I can attest that part is true, because I would have been listening and probably SHOULD have been listening to the others. I do not mean to imply that had I answered CORRECTLY that I would have won, because we all knew Ginny Stevens was going to win, Ginger Plott was going to be second, and third place, well, that was a bit more iffy but take it from me not one of us was surprised when Alana French took that. I did it mainly because frankly, I loved being on stage. Frightfully shy socially, unable to make small talk, I had discovered with a script, in this case a rather dark poem I had written, I could perform. I was having fun.

Back to that pesky question, which when you hear it you will immediately cringe at the gender bias expressed—but, hey, this was the 1960’s.

“Miss Ivy, with the Space Program training astronauts to one day go to the moon, what qualities would be most beneficial for the WIFE of an astronaut to have?

With no hesitation and a big Vaseline enhanced smile, I replied, “A strong faith in God [check], patriotism [check], and a Great Sense of Humor [WHAT???]!”

The MC was momentarily silent, as was the audience, there were a few nervous giggles, and then a smattering of polite applause. My coach and good friend Katherine met me back stage and her face said it all but her mouth followed, “SURE! You will laugh when he goes up and when he comes crashing down!”

Years later I heard an interview with several of the original astronaut’s wives which vindicated me as everyone of them sung the praises of having the ability to laugh and find humor in their lives, but at the Miss Frederick Contest 1963, mine was not a popular response.

My question and answer did not fit but I have heard it said that working ‘world peace’ into a response usually wins contestants points. Funny thing was my faith in God, my patriotism, my courage and even my sense of humor were barely formed in 1963. Still somehow I knew they were, as companies often refer to certain performance evaluation elements, Core Values. The same is true of Peace. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’ Trouble is we get so tied up in the lack of and need for WORLD PEACE that we don’t even see where Peacemaking might benefit our friends, family, and even ourselves. We and by that I mean “I” fail to understand how estrangement among friends, family and with myself requires a peacemaker.

On the way to get our nails manicured yesterday, my granddaughter Abigail and I had the opportunity to talk. Our conversation included discussion of an estrangement in our extended family. I remarked that the tension and alienation which exist potentially will cause great regret. I told Abigail that holding on to hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and even anger over purposeful acts, damages relationships. Forgive so that you have no regrets. Make peace with others if you can, but let it go so that at least you make peace with yourself.

The last few days words Barbara Bush spoke in a commencement address have found a place in my memory storage.
At Wellesley College on June 1, 1990, Bush told the graduating class:
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”
I would add at the end of life, mine or someone I love’s, I do not want to regret holding a grudge or allowing animosity to divide. I want to promote healing and peace among those closest to me even knowing that is dangerous territory.

Terry once advised a man in our church to forgive his brother and sisters over a family land sale that he felt had treated him unfairly.  He became angry with Terry as well as his family and spent a whole year away from the whole lot.  He quit coming to church completely.  A year later,  His niece, his only brother’s only daughter took her life—it took that tragedy to bring him back, but alas! The niece who had pleaded with him to forgive died before it happened. During Lent the next year we each carried a nail, ‘my nail, my sins nailed to the cross’—on Good Friday, individually we came and drove our individual nail into a rough hewn cross. When this man came, great tears rolled down his face and he drove his nail violently so deep within the wood that the head was barely visible.
Regret is a bitter pill to swallow. He knew that Christ had died for his sins, but in this world we still live with the consequences of our brokenness and the brokenness of others. We live where war rages through out the world, in our communities, in our churches, in our homes, and in ourselves. Whatever peace we can carry into each day makes a difference.
AND BY THE WAY A SENSE OF HUMOR DOES HELP!

Regrets I have a few, but not a one involves leaving Facebook….I am lying…still going through withdrawal.

Just saying…

 

Breaking/Braking One Day at a Time

 

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Spring in a Vase, May 2015, colored pencils

Time Magazine has picked the 100 most influential people of 2018. I haven’t yet checked the list but I suspect some of the most influential people in my life this year to date or in my lifetime did not make the list. How about the influential people in your life? When you stop to think about the folks who have strengthened you, encouraged you, slapped you up the side of the head [metaphorically speaking] when you needed it, WHO makes the list? Who are the people you want to be more like?

I am contemplating that list today as I steer clear of any Facebook Stalking.

You can see my break with Facebook brings with it WITHDRAWAL, because suddenly I am without my daily fix of Angela, Carolyn, Betty, Jeanne, Claudia, Sandi, Pat, Patti, Tom, Lynda [Linda], Brenda, Bill, Terry, Kay AND oh, so many of you. Words with Friends even requires me to log in through Facebook, which I did with one eye closed so I could keep my promise not to peek. I realized MY FACEBOOK Friends are among my most influential friends, so how am I coping.

To steal from the 12 Step Plan: One day at a time. . .the temptation is real every time I open my Ipad.

What are the PERKS? Are there PERKS?

  •  So I now have more time for the Opening of the Day with God—I am working on a series of devotionals based on the scripture of the day in Bible.com called Abide with Me, creating images to frame the scripture and then adding bits of verse from my heart dealing with the presence of God in me working to help me live out His word and to become more like Christ. I am reading David Jeremiah’s book, A LIFE BEYOND AMAZING
  •  I am reading more. Now I am a reader but I am ravenous at the moment. I finished THE GIRLS OF THE ATOMIC CITY by Denise Kiernan. Periodically, as I read it I would burst into Terry’s office to read him passages or share something I had learned. I passed it on to him and he is reading it now. All I can say is if you like history and human stories THIS IS A FASCINATING BOOK. I am also on the lighter side reading Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series …I am reading at present R IS FOR RICOCHET..and am totally enamored with Kelsey Millhone, because flawed person that I am, I love flawed but decent protagonists.
  •  I am getting my nails done with my granddaughter Abigail today. I will have to let you know how that goes later.
  •  And if I get my self up from here I am going to fix lunch for Tom, Terry, Abigail and myself.
  •  I have time to work on my influential people list—More about that later.

 

From another time of breaking/braking in my life [seemed to fit]

Sometimes things need to break to set the captive free
Sometimes I hit the brakes before I hit a tree
Sometimes giant waves break on rocks or sandy shore
The tides of life breaking so the captive can see more
In breaking there comes insight, not seen when tight and closed
In breaking comes the mending, a healing in repose

Ckisler, 2015

 

Are There Any Good 12 Step Programs for a Facebook Junkie?

I confess, I miss my daily Facebook Fix, the funny animal videos, the birthdays of friends, the family photos—you get the gist. I miss it so much that although I have deleted the APP from my phone and Ipad, my account remains active. So I confess I have snuck back in twice now to catch up a bit. Addiction is a bitch. This blog post will most likely show up in my Facebook timeline. I hate that being hacked numerous times with hackers engaging my friends in conversations that ARE JUST NOT ME! SPOILER ALERT! If you received an offer of money from FAKE ME, Delete it immediately. Likewise, I am not seeking to sell you ANYTHING!!!

I am considering giving up the morning and evening news programs, because I am tired of the whole docudrama of politics—but again, I want to know the weather forecast, local news, births, deaths, funny animal videos and human stories highlighting what is good and decent about our fellow beings. Did I mention, ADDICTION is a B-I-T-C-H!

I want to stay in touch. I want to see your pictures. I want to wish you a happy birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Anniversary, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas—you get the picture.
Addictive personalities and I admit I got that gene, find themselves in a quandary, especially when they reach a point where THEY know they are POWERLESS and their ADDICTION is harming them and potentially unleashing destructive POSTS.

Some folks can enter the Facebook world without being sucked into a black hole of negativity or without airing thoughts better shared face to face or in a less public forum. Some people can tolerate being hacked without imploding. Some can take a drink or not without emptying the bottle.

BUT SOME PEOPLE I AM NOT. I need a good 12 step program for Facebook Junkies like me.

So this is my meeting…my one day chip in hand…My name is Carolyn and I am a Facebook Junkie!

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I will not be checking Facebook so if you have any comments please post them on this blog page.

 

Looking Reasons in all the Wrong Places

IMG_6116I admit I have not read Kate Bowler’s books, not even the one whose title and editorial reviews, EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON–AND OTHER LIES I HAVE LOVED, led me to the thoughts I am sharing here.  As I get older the platitudes get thinner, like trying to breath at 14,000 feet, which is why I want to cling so much closer to the scripture and less to human wisdom.  and to real life folks who know what it is like to be gob smacked by LIFE on PLANET EARTH and then turn around to receive blessings they did not one thing to deserve.  I do pray more when I have been gob smacked,

Everything happens for a reason?
Really?
There are paths I have taken
Selfishly, without regard for consequences
Or foolishly despising the idea that I might
Stumble and fall head first into a pile of manure
Of my own making…S—t happens, nonsense
There are consequences to guzzling toxins,
Whether toxic thoughts, foods, attitudes, or people
The body, mind and spirit can only handle so much garbage
And yet I have indulged in garbage, taken it in
And poured it out. . .and fallen into it.

Everything happens for a reason?
Really?
Disease, pestilence, famine, poverty, EVIL with all caps?
Endlessly occurring all around
Pouring out on the masses
Coming to roost in folks we love
And on our enemies…well, maybe..NO
Trains derail, planes crash, Tsunamis batter
Cancer cells metastasize, joints ache, bones break
Outside the garden, where all was well
The world festers with weeds and thorns
Broken systems, broken people, including me.

So, perhaps the phrase—
Everything happens for a reason—
Softens the reality of life in a fallen state.
At any rate, like all platitudes it plays out best
When I apply it to someone else
The mother whose child has died—
the husband learning that his wife has Alzheimer’s—
the friend diagnosed with Stage lV cancer—
the family living in their car
Applying it to myself as life twists my insides
Doesn’t play out as well—Imagine that!
BUT if I look for God in the midst of brokenness
I do indeed find him there.

 

Everything happens for a reason?
Whether true or not, EVERYTHING that
Happens transforms me.
Presents choices. Presents an opportunity
To turn to God or turn away
To run, to hide, to stand
To rest in the assurances of God

Or restlessly fidget with my own inadequacies
While I may struggle with ‘everything happens for a reason’,
I do believe in everything that happens God works
To bring me closer to the Divine

So I can choose to believe in His grace or Whine
Somedays I waver between the two.
How about you?

 

He Heals the Brokenhearted

‘Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever been blue? Know what? I have, too. At nearly 73 years I read my granddaughter’s blog and I am reminded of a comment I once read in book…’it is never too late to have a happy childhood.’ I want to reach out and rescue my grandchildren, my children from heart breaks, to race in and save the day. I want to prevent them from the hurts of the world, to heal all their diseases, to mend all their wounds, to leap in front of the speeding bullets the world throws at them and to keep them from making all the mistakes I made or at least the ones they make themselves.

BUT I cannot! You see I have more brokenness, more wounds, more cracks in my veneer than they will ever know. And yet, I also have a Lord who walks through the fire with me, who carries me through the raging waters, who cleans me with his blood.

So I share my granddaughter’s post knowing that God allows wounds, sometimes God wounds us. BUT everything works to bring us to him. He longs to restore us, to give us joy.

It is never too late to have a happy childhood.

““Though I sent my great army against you— those swarming locusts and hopping locusts, the destroying locusts and the cutting locusts that ate your crops— I will pay you back for those years of trouble.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:25‬ ‭NCV‬‬

God restores and renews over and over again.

Barefoot & Blonde

As I was driving to work this morning I was listening to the song “Great Are You Lord.” A particular lyric stuck out to me, “You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken.” 

This line really hit me hard and as I drove I couldn’t stop the overflow of tears, but at the same time God plastered a super cheesy smile on my face. No matter what has caused your heart to break, God restores EVERY heart that is broken. Let me say that again… no matter how much it hurts now God restores E V E R Ysingle heart that is broken. How amazing is it to know that this pain you’re feeling right now, it’s not forever, it won’t always be this way. You won’t always feel this seemingly unbearable pain, you will feel joy again.

God is using whatever storm you’re going through to…

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Lydia and Abigail–A Tale of Two Sisters

Let me tell you a story, part truth, part fiction, because my mind tends to imaginings.

It was the worst of times followed by the best of times.  There was death and then there was life.  For there are  two sisters, one who died before she was born and one born ten months after the first one died. On November 10, 1997 I had lunch with my daughter Brandee at Wendy’s in Madisonville, KY just before her scheduled OB appointment. She was expecting our first granddaughter, who already had a name, Lydia Elizabeth. Just the weekend before our son Scott and daughter in law, Martha had been to visit with our grandson Jonathan, so we had had both grandsons Jordan [Brandee’s] and Jonathan. It had been great to have them together. Still the idea that a girl would soon brighten our lives thrilled us.

At lunch, Brandee confided that she was a bit anxious to see her doctor, because she had not felt Lydia move since the previous day. “I will feel better once I hear her heartbeat.” She said.

Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat not in the doctor’s office or at the hospital for a confirmation ultrasound while I sat holding my daughter’s hand [my son in law worked in Tennessee at the time and was on his way]. Brandee, whose faith has since she was a child amazed me, through tears said “I know God has a purpose, but I don’t know what it is.” The silent ultrasound mocked our platitudes. I was hurt. I was angry. If I were God, I would have made our Lydia’s heart come alive and beat again. All I could do was hold my hurting daughter.

SIDE NOTE: Terry and I have ever since began praying for unborn babies and the parents as soon as we hear of the pregnancy right up until birth and sometimes long afterward. I do not think that God punished any of us for not praying enough, but we want to acknowledge that as natural as pregnancy is, life is fragile and we want to be connected to the one who gives life and sustains it.

On October 9, 1998, Abigail Jo Foster entered the world, a healthy robust child. At the same time in heaven, Lydia leaned forward off her Grandmother Jo Nell’s lap giggling with delight. ‘My Sissy!’ She proclaimed. ‘I LOVE HER SO MUCH!’ The Lord was so delighted by her response that He appointed her as Abigail’s number one encourager. When Abigail succeeded at learning to walk, talk and give orders to everyone, Lydia clapped her hands with delight, ‘That’s my sister, she is one strong willed girl. I love her.’ Abigail in the meantime began to alternately look forward to Lydia’s interventions and the random thoughts that often bombarded her and bat them away from her.

Likewise when Abigail failed to take chances or perform in public, like when the kindergarteners in her class were rewarded by getting to do the Chicken Dance in a school assembly and Abigail chose to stay in the classroom with the kiddos who were detained, Lydia got right in her head and planted seeds of courage. Abigail did not appreciate anyone planting anything in her head, but Lydia kept right on. Later those seeds grew and with lots of encouragement, praise and love both earthly and heavenly , Abigail began to throw off the basket that covered her light. Lydia danced and sang and cheered right along with her little sister.

When Abigail sulked, ranted, raved and grew incredibly selfish at times, Lydia scolded her gently, though had she been on earth she might have smacked her one. When Abigail fed Frank, then Izzy and Clay, calfs abandoned by their mothers, Lydia stayed right with her and relished the dedication and hard work. Though Abigail and she had never met physically, the sister bond tightened over the years. Abigail noticed the nudges, the cheers, the scolding, but largely thought they came from her own head.

When at fifteen Abigail’s friend died in a car accident, Lydia rushed to meet Abigail’s friend near the portal of heaven, embracing her and loving her while at the same time reaching out to her hurting little sister to comfort her. From a front row seat in heaven Lydia has witnessed Abigail’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys, sorrows with a confidence that everything works together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. With her own place in heaven secure, she has watched and nurtured Abigail’s faith along with her parents, grandparents, and others.

Being a decisive person herself, Lydia finds Abigail’s indecisiveness a bit unsettling, nudging her here and there to get on with it. She also encourages her to be more adventurous and to live LIFE to the fullest. Lydia never took a breath on earth, but she knows heaven well.  And she sees what life really is and wants Abigail’s life to have meaning and purpose even though she is earth bound.  GO FOR IT! Is the cheer she shouts at Abigail daily, along with LOVE OTHERS!, BE KIND!, LAUGH! CRY! FOR HEAVENS SAKE LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN–CAREFREE!  Abigail does not hear the shouts though LYDIA screams as loud as she can.  She does, however, feel little brain pinches and wonderings. . .which frankly annoy her a lot

Sisters, What are you going to do with them?  One with her feet on the earth and the other firmly settled in heaven, but still connected, still sisters.

Whatever happens in Abigail’s life, her sister in heaven, knows that someday they will meet, laugh, giggle, dance and sing together. Until then she and God have a deal, Lydia is Abigail’s number one Cheerleader!

As a grandmother to both these sisters I feel strongly they are connected even though they never met each other in this world.

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A Girl & Her Grandparents

For 23 years Terry and I have been grandparents with three of our grandchildren near by and five of them 600 miles away. Proximity makes a difference, not in the love one has for grands, but in the opportunities for brow beating–excuse me! I meant to write ‘influence’. Abigail’s blog brings to mind various memories. I suspect her Papa, Papaw and Nana have similar responses. We all feel fortunate to have had our grands in our lives. Terry did indeed provide childcare for Abigail and her older brother Jordan from the time their Mom went back to work until they were in kindergarten with some external child care also being provided. He did this while pastoring a church filled with wonderful folks to whom family was very important. They accompanied him to the various homes, hospital rooms, retirement homes. When Jordan was an infant, I would often come in from work to find Jordan over Papa’s shoulder asleep while Terry composed his sermons, took care of correspondence, or did research at his computer.

While we tried to make MOMENTS with our Oklahoma grandchildren, our Kentucky grandchildren just kind of filled our moments. Abigail as an infant and toddler rewrote the grandparent manual. From the git go she was a force to be reckoned with. While Jordan had relaxed eating often nursing or taking a bottle with Papa at a slow pace. Abigail sucked her food down in a few minutes in order to get on with life. Her problem solving skills involved a lot of observation and planning. She would sit on a blanket and access an object on the edge. Rather than heading after it , she would pull on the blanket and bring it to her. It is like we have telescopic views of our Oklahoma grandkids and microscopic views of our Kentucky ones. Love them all, but I am especially close to this one.

Barefoot & Blonde

When thinking of my grandparents there’s one word that comes to mind: blessed. Throughout my nineteen years of living I’ve ALWAYS had my grandparents in my life. Looking back, I can’t imagine it any other way. My grandparents are my biggest supporters, my rocks, my shoulders to cry on. I know that no matter what, I can turn to any of them and they’ll welcome me with open arms. I don’t think I can ever express just how much all four of them mean to me. So here is a little peek into just how great they are in my eyes.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.29.59 PMMy Papa is one of the greatest men I know. He’s got a HUGE heart, and a great love for God. My Papa has had to put up with me since day one, which I’m sure wasn’t an easy task. When my Mom went back to work, he was…

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FATHER, ALMIGHTY, CREATOR–EVERYTHING I AM HINGES ON WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT THESE WORDS

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I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Do you? Do I? Or, do we equivocate? The extent to which I believe this initial statement in the Apostles’ Creed establishes the lens by which I see the world, history, science, education, conservation of nature, people. Indeed the lens by which I view everything. C.S. Lewis and Eugene Price both avowed atheists before their conversions FIRST came to belief in GOD as the origin of all creation before becoming Christians. Their stories are found in SURPRISED BY JOY and MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.

In the commandments given to Moses it is what hinges all the commandments together. HEAR, O ISRAEL. THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.  YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE HIM.

SO, to recite these words while holding views that eliminate God from creation or limit God’s role in creation, or question his parenthood over All then I would be better off not saying them. Not because, the Creed says that, but because the Scriptures say that. Do I believe science and God oppose one another or do I believe that God created the clues in the Universe and the curiosity in humankind that seeks answers and solutions and knowledge to unlock the gates to discovery and invention and scientific processes? Do I believe every human carries within them a spirit stamped with the DNA of God Almighty. Do I believe the words of Genesis, ‘Let us create mankind in our own image. So male and female, he created them.’

So, is it empty recitation or awe filled proclamation. Do I speak a truth I believe or bear false witness while blasting the whole idea of God Almighty creating heaven and earth in favor of man’s theories which discard or dilute his power and action?

I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth!

What is your stand?

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