Matthew 18:15-20

Thy Word:

Correcting Another Believer

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.

“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:15-20 NLT


My Thoughts: “Oh if only….” however, before I type another word, my fingers pause mid-air and I hear a whisper “careful, Cecilia, careful!”

Have you ever noticed when you are about to type or say the word “they,” the Lord reminds you that you better look at yourself in the mirror first? No doubt, the Lord has something to say to me and I get to share it with you. 😳 So, let’s jump right into what Jesus is saying, shall we?

I want to point out that Jesus is talking to believer’s about correcting other believer’s, so this should be an easy lesson for us. After all, believers are like-minded, and we are all working towards being more like Jesus. Isn’t that right?

I want so badly to say “yes” to these truths! But my truth is I do not find it easy whether I am the teller or the receiver of an offense.

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Normally I am a very non-confrontational person and I know that comes from my abusive past. I am also a ‘tip-toe-through-the-daisy’s’ kind of gal and I want everyone to get along and be nice to each other!

However, whether a Jesus following believer or a lost sinner, let’s remember we are all still sinner’s (Romans 3:10, 23), and neither of us are always willing to look at or face our mistakes or sins, are we?

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  Romans 3:10, 23 NLT

What happens when I am confronted with an offense depends on the person. I usually tend to bristle up and start preparing a rebuttal. Hinging on who they are, how well we know each other, and how it is delivered, determines my ultimate reaction.

For instance, when confronted with an offense by my husband, my kiddos, or my family, they know I may be getting ready to put on my word boxing gloves. They might have to get prepared for a comeback punch (i.e. excuses or sassy words)!

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Another example: if you are a friend I know well and you lovingly approach me with an offense, I probably will not let you see my fighter side. None-the-less, I may still be preparing a wordy rebuttal, or my silence may speak louder than my comeback punch.

Lastly, if I do not know someone well at all, and they point out an offense, I may deliver a comeback punch first and ask questions later.

(Say I am not the only one who does this! Mercy!)

Please do not close this blog! I have good news and not just my terrible confessions! I am getting better at not preparing those rebuttal’s or comeback punches! How am I doing that? It is only because of my relationship with Jesus, reading and knowing the Bible, and the examples of so many loving Christian family and friends.

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Once I surrendered my heart to Jesus, He began a process of changing me to look AND act like him. Do I still mess up? Yes. But, remember, we are all sinners and the main difference between me—a woman who has chosen to follow Jesus—and a sinner—someone who does not know Jesus—is forgiveness.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16a NLT

Before I became a Christ follower I could not trust, I would not change, I did not want to admit an offense without putting blame on someone else. Once Jesus died for my sins (and yes, yours too!), I was redeemed when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

“When he died, he died once to break the power of sin.” Romans 6:10a NLT

That means my thought process began to change and while I might start my old habit of preparing a defensive rebuttal, another voice in my soul, the Holy Spirit that lives in me will now ask my heart: is that what you really want to say? Is that response an accurate representation of Jesus?

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalms 19:14 NLT

This verse still challenges me! When I first read this verse the words that flew out of my mouth were, “Oh no!” You see, although I was accurately speaking the right words, they did not always line up with what was in my heart. I was “meditating” or thinking something entirely different and it was not pleasing to the Lord!

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Please do not get discouraged if the same thing happens to you! You see, I was half right, and you are too.

When I speak pleasing words, it is an act of obedience to the Lord. Over time as I repeat this pleasing behavior, my heart begins to get in line with those pleasing words and eventually both my words and my heart are in alignment. Eventually I will automatically speak pleasing words of grace and mercy in place of contentious comeback words.

The bonus is that it not only brings me peace and calm, I grow spiritually. My countenance begins to change just a little bit more and my reflection begins to mirror Jesus which brings His joy and approval. There is nothing more precious to me than knowing I have pleased Jesus!

I was blessed to own a big ole rescue dog for 11 months. She was 86 pounds and her body and soul were a broken mess. One of her “offenses” was separation anxiety and she would tear things up when we left her alone in our home. I did not want to always crate her when I left, so the vet and I teamed up together to help her change her bad behavior. He provided anxiety meds and I gave her little separation training. I would close her in a room and talk to her through the door. I repeated this process with her in many different times and ways, until she began to understand I was coming back. When I opened the door and saw she had not torn things up, we would have a party! She got applause! She got excitement! She got hugs and praise! The best part (for her) was she also got a treat! She eventually stopped her anxious bad behavior because she knew it made me happy and she loved to make me happy! Deep down in that brokenness, she learned to trust me, and she knew that when she did the right thing, good things happened! ❤️

That is what happens when we act in true obedience to God! We get applause in heaven, we get a feeling in our souls that feels like the best hug ever, we can feel the excitement, and He blesses our obedience.

Plus, Jesus says right here in His words:

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20 NLT

It might not feel so great to hear we’ve committed an offense, but if we listen from our heart, and sincerely ask for help to right a wrong, our Father in heaven will help us, and Jesus will be there among us. I love that!

Note: one of the greatest books I have ever read about helping to learn how to correct an offense (other than the Bible) was written by Randy Alcorn, “The Grace and Truth Paradox.” It is a small book in size and number of pages but rich with wisdom about this subject. You will want this in your online or bookshelf library!

In the end, (among believers) there should be no court other than the church. Ideally, the church’s decision should be God-guided and based on discernment from the Bible. Therefore, believers have the responsibility to bring unresolved conflicts or sins to the church, and the church has the responsibility to use God’s word to seek resolution to conflicts or sin. That is a big responsibility for the church! But if each person, along with church leadership are praying for God’s will, and not just their own will, a pleasing resolution will be reached.


Closing Prayer:  Father, it is so hard for me to easily accept when I have committed a wrong, but thankfully, because I am a believer in Jesus, You left the Holy Spirit in me. I now understand the importance of setting things right and I pray it does not take more than one loving believer to show me the way when I have committed an offense. Lord thank You for Your guiding words today that teach us they are so much more powerful and joyful than comeback words.

Father, there are so many in my life who need that relationship with You and I pray, from my heart, that their hearts are changed soon. I will never stop asking or praying Your promises to me back to You! In fact, I cannot wait to rejoice and have a party when it happens!

Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers. Genesis 17:2 NIV

I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.



Matthew 18:11-14

Thy Word:

“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11 KJV

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 NLT

Parable of the Lost Sheep

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14 NLT


My Thoughts: I guess you noticed right away that I kicked off today’s Word with a King James Version of verse 11, then I dropped back into our more conversational NLT Bible version for the remaining verses. Well, there is a reason for that!

Some newer versions of the Bible (NIV, ESV, NLT) saw verse 11 as more of a footnote, or a copyist’s attempt to make the book of Matthew match, or agree, with the same wording in the book of Luke (that verse also included). So, they eliminated verse 11 from the translation.

We are keeping the verse intact because (1) it is truth, and (2) it is a great segue (to me) for our next verses about the Parable of the Lost Sheep!

white and black goats

However, before we jump into these verses in Matthew, I’d like to share Psalm 23:1:

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need.” Psalm 23:1 NLT

Last week I finished a study by Jennifer Rothschild called “Psalm 23 The Shepherd with Me.” As I read our verses in Matthew today, this study comes back to my mind because they seem interwoven.

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My favorite word out of this verse would be “is.” Oh, how the Lord has tended to my heart through this word! The word “is” having strong connotation in this verse denotes an affirmation or truth. There is no misunderstanding about what the author (David) of this verse wants to communicate: The Lord is my Shepherd. Following that statement, he adds that because the Lord “is” his shepherd, “I have all that I need.”

For me the word “is” also implies surrender. Now, I know as women this is not a popular word, especially in today’s world where women are constantly fighting for equality. However, for me, I can think of nothing better than to surrender to my shepherd, Jesus Christ. Why? Because just like the lost sheep in Matthew, He also came and got me when I was lost!

If you read my testimony, you could argue that I wasn’t really lost because I knowingly and willingly ran away from the herd, and you would be partly right. You see, I had a skewed version of who the shepherd was and what he could do for me. (Personal Testimony Part 1 and Part 2) Worse than that, I didn’t really see myself as defenseless, nor did I understand there was danger in being alone. But God tells us:

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

lion roaring inside cager

However, just like those sheep, I needed a Shepherd to not only guard me from predators, I also needed a Shepherd to guide me!

Definition of shepherd: to guide or guard

Definition of a sheep: a timid defenseless creature

Characteristics of a sheep:

  • Timid, fearful, easily panicked.
  • Dumb, stupid, gullible.
  • Stampede easily, vulnerable to mob psychology.
  • Little or no means of self-defense; can only run.
  • Easily killed by enemies.

Some of the characteristics for sheep are not very flattering, so it’s tempting to shy away from comparing yourself to a sheep. However, what I’ve learned since I accepted and submitted to the Lord is my Shepherd, I’m a much happier and less fearful woman!

Furthermore, we are assured in our verses today that should we wander away from the herd:

“Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” Matthew 18:12b NLT

man holding sheep statuette

Are you lost? Have you come to a place in your life where you know a change is needed but you aren’t sure where to go? Maybe it’s time to say ‘yes’ to the Shepherd and surrender your heart and life to Him? He’s waiting for you, you know. In fact, we learn there is a celebration just waiting to happen when you surrender your heart to Jesus.

[When He finds you], I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over [you] more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!” Matthew 18:13 NLT (Words in brackets are mine.)

It is His heart’s desire for none of His flock to perish to the roaring lion who is waiting to devour lost sheep:

“In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14 NLT

He loves you. He wants you. No matter what “sheepish” thing you have done!

selective focus beige and brown goat


Closing Prayer: Father God, thank you for the comfort of these words today that remind us how much you love us. You not only gave Jesus, your only son, in exchange for our lives, but you come to find us when we are lost. What amazing grace! Father I ask if there are lost sheep who are reading this today, they surrender their hearts to you so they can be found and placed into everlasting life. Thank you for your guidance and protection, Lord, and I pray you lead the sheep I pray for every day into the safety of your herd too. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen

(Note: for guidance to surrender your heart to Jesus, please refer back to my previous blog Matthew 18:7-10)



Matthew 18:7-10

Thy Word:

“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” Matthew 18:7-10 NLT


My Thoughts: Today we read some very harsh words from Jesus to sinners and those who tempt others to sin.

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First, let me ease your mind about cutting off body parts; Jesus is not telling us to do this literally! No! He is telling us to remove or “cut-off” sin, or those who tempt us to sin, from our lives. It is possible that when sin (especially a long-term or repetitive sin) is stopped, it may feel like we are amputating part of who we were or who we had become, if that make sense.

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Let’s look at some examples of those sins: Perhaps you are an addict and you need to not only cut that addiction from your life but also all the relationships related to that addiction? Perhaps you aligned yourself with an unhealthy relationship and that person encourages you to sin by living against the word of God? Maybe you dangerously “had these friends…,” then the next thing you know collectively you are all breaking the law? Maybe you are committing what you think is a private sin that only you know about, for instance, watching on-line pornography? Finally, is your sin affecting the safety and trust of a child—which could be the most egregious of sins—because Jesus starts this warning with the word “beware!” These sins may have an emotional, relational, or controlling attachment that feels like it is a part of who you are, but that is a lie!

The thing about sin is it doesn’t stay still; it constantly temps you to want and do more, more, more! Over time hearts and minds start to become cold and indifferent to sins being committed. Maybe the first time you committed a sin your conscience was bothered, but now you find that you don’t care because you want what you want, when you want it, and that is all that matters to you!

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Caution! Caution! If you have lost your conscience to sin, you are now under the control of evil from the pit of hell, and this truth should terrify you!

Jesus tells us it is better for us to go forward into everlasting life by leaving those things behind us. So how do we do that?

One of the best, and most confusing explanations about sin and how it controls our lives comes from the Apostle Paul in the letter he wrote to the believers of Jesus Christ in Rome.

(Note: If you are skimming this blog you may want to come back later because his words are a mind bender!)

Struggling with Sin:

“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

“And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

 “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:14-25a NLT

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There is only one way to battle and overcome sin and that is by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! Without Him living in our hearts, minds, and souls, we are simply unable to win the battle over sin, which does nothing more than enslave us.

Because of my relationship with Jesus, I am (a) aware of my sins, and (b) I can overcome the desire to commit those sins that are tempting me because the power of Jesus Christ lives in me!

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” Romans 811a-12 NLT

I love that! Do you have Jesus in your heart? Or are you desperately looking for a way to cut that sin out of your life right now?

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The answer is simple—surrender your heart and life to Jesus Christ! Although, the battle may be hard, you won’t be fighting alone, because Jesus will fight with you!

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Roman 8:31b NLT

However, going to battle without taking the first and most critical step, will only end in failure. So how do we surrender our heart and life to Jesus Christ?

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT

Next, you begin the battle to cut the sin away from your life, and you may need professional help. Don’t shy away from getting all that you need, to become all that God has for you!

questions answers signage

Hopefully, you know Christians who can guide you to a good Bible believing church and walk you through the necessary steps to make changes in your life. If you do, contact them now and get started! It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself; I promise!

If you are unsure where to go, you can start your journey by going to and scroll down to the section titled “Do You Have Peace with God?” Click on “Start your journey today” or call their toll-free number at 1-877-247-2426 to speak to someone in person about beginning that journey. They will be able to answer questions and walk you through salvation, then point you to the next steps in the journey.


Closing Prayer: Father God, I pray if there are eyes reading this today that are ready to surrender their sins and give You their heart and life, You will guide them to all the right resources. Help them take that first courageous step to get eternal life along with freedom from the pangs and destruction of sin. I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen!

Sanctity of Life

Sanctity of Life

This phrase applies to so many areas of life, but I believe our focus this weekend is on human life as it applies to pro-life verses the right to choose.

When I look around this room, I see the faces of many who have walked with the LORD most of their lives. My story is different. It reminds me of a song I barely know the words to, and I certainly don’t know the tune! But the first line of the song is:

One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong…

That would have been a very good description of me had I stepped in this class 20 years ago. You see, I didn’t choose to become a follower of Jesus until I was in my 40’s.

Like many of the Israelites we have been studying, I was very mad at Jesus for a long time and I refused to give Him my heart. There were only three people I trusted: Me, Myself, and I and there was no way I was going to allow Jesus to be a part of this exclusive group.

Typical of a teen in the early 70’s I was impacted by the media, and one of the biggest things to hit the news happened in 1971: Roe versus Wade. Every television set was tuned in to hear the details and form their own decisions.

I was 15 years old, I went to school full time, and I worked a job full time in the evenings with my older sister, and single mother. I was very independent, and I was mesmerized by this case!

In January of 1973, a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. It struck down many U.S. state and federal abortion laws and divided out country. It still divides our world today.

While all of this was happening in the news, our high schools were having their own arguments and debates. A very dangerous piece of information was planted in my mind through one of those discussions: when a person became pregnant it was essentially nothing more than a lump of skin, a cluster of cells, if you will, but it wasn’t alive. We were told life didn’t happen until that “lump” was many months along.

So, I believed it. I was pro-choice. I wasn’t old enough to vote for that right but that January in 1973 I took a stance to be pro-choice right along with the Supreme Court.

A year later, I became pregnant with my first child and I’ll never forget my response when the specialist asked me “would you like an abortion?” It was so casual my response at that young age of 17 was simply “I beg your pardon?” Gone was my bravado and politics. I simply looked at my belly and said, “I have a baby!”

The specialist warned me I would have complications and I might not carry that baby full term. She was right about one thing; that pregnancy was complicated, but I carried that baby full term and he was precious! I was warned he might be my only baby.

But God had other plans even though I still didn’t include Him in any of mine!

Three years later, I became pregnant again and I was given the same choice to abort. That pregnancy was very difficult, and I was in and out of the hospital, but again I carried her full term.

However, although that sweet little girl looked perfect, she was fraught with “problems.” We were in and out of doctors’ offices and by the time that child was nine years old she was finally diagnosed with epilepsy. You would think a parent would know that wouldn’t you? Well, it was complicated; and I did not know.

At age sixteen during a well check, my daughter and I were told: it’s not that Sarah can’t have children, but she should not because the risk to her and the babies could be devastating.

Sarah left that office crying and she said to me, I’m going to have a baby someday. Momma Bear simply said, no, you will not! A huge divide was created that day between me and Sarah.

In 2004, my husband Danny and I were on a vacation in KY and oddly enough we were visiting a Jim Beam manufacturing plant at 10:00 am for the first tour of the day. Danny worked for IBM and many of his clients were manufacturers. He was fascinated by the business and wanted to share that fascination with me. While we waited for the tour to begin, sweet young ladies were walking around with trays filled with small samples of their products. We both declined.

Suddenly I received a phone call from my Sarah. The tour was about to begin so I stepped outside and Danny decided to join me. Sarah’s first words were “are you sitting down?” We learned that morning she was not only pregnant, she was carrying twins. I will never forget that moment. Sarah did not get the joyful excitement from her Momma one typically expects, I was FURIOUS! I was also terrified. Our conversation ended quickly and badly.

Danny and I rejoined the tour and I stopped by one of those sweet young ladies and drank every glass of whisky on that tray!!!

Two weeks later I was in OK with my very frail daughter. She had been referred to a doctor who dealt with special cases like Sarah’s. At this point Sarah was seven weeks pregnant and had already had multiple Grand Mal seizures. She and the baby’s health were both in danger.

There was also one very significant difference that day in 2004 as we waited in that specialist’s office filled with medical equipment: I was a new believer in Jesus Christ.

So, what does a pro-choice woman do/feel/think as a believer in Jesus Christ when her child is faced with a life-threatening pregnancy? I’d like to say I was a much different woman, but I was still a new believer. So I went directly back into my practical Momma Bear mode and told myself if the doctor said my daughter must terminate the pregnancy for the safety of her health, that’s what would happen.

But I couldn’t bring myself to say that out loud. I simply told Sarah we needed to listen carefully to what that specialist had to say and follow his advice.

What does a 27-year-old young lady have to say about that? A girl who doesn’t really look one thing like her Momma but is exactly like her Momma on the inside, which includes a wide streak of stubbornness? She simply tells me that it doesn’t matter what he has to say she is having those babies.

Thankfully before we had a big old battle, the doctor arrived, and he carefully and gently explained everything until both of us were crying. It was hard information to hear. Then he told Sarah to hop up on his big old sonogram table/bed and he said, “let’s see what we are dealing with.”

Y’all what we saw were two little bitty babies. Not a lump of flesh but two little children that had arms, and legs, and sweet little faces with eyes. At seven weeks! I could even see their little hearts beating and he turned up that volume and it was the sweetest sound I had ever heard! The doctor said “look at your hands Momma and Grandma, because these children are about the size of your thumbs but they both look very healthy! This one right here,” he pointed with his finger, “will be Baby A and this one is Baby B. That’s how I will refer to them from this point forward until we know whether they are boys or girls or one of each.”

Can I just say that my pro-choice stance suddenly evaporated in thin air? I had absolute proof that even as tiny as they were, they were alive, whole, and I was looking at my grandchildren!

It was not an easy nine months! There were so many Grand Mal seizures, and her seizure medication had to be tripled. But she carried those children full term and when her delivery date finally arrived, she had those babies with no complications.

They were both addicted to her seizure medications at birth, and both had to go through withdrawals. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but despite our initial divisiveness, we worked together side by side like a well-oiled team to get those babies through to the other side.

By the way, Baby A on the right is Cheyenne, and Baby B on the left is Charles. They are now 15 years old, with not a single issue we had been pre-warned to expect. Here is their current picture (front view not included to protect them from predators):

Twins from Behind 7 2019

Thank you for letting me share our story.



Matthew 18:1-6

Thy Word:

 The Greatest in the Kingdom

 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6 NLT

“After they [Jesus and the disciples] arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.” Mark 9:33-34 NLT (Items in brackets from me.)


My Thoughts: We learn in these verses in the book of Mark that Jesus knew there had been a discussion among the disciples about who was the greatest of them. This is so typical of man/woman (i.e. us) isn’t it? Our own society teaches us we must achieve even if that means it comes at the expense of someone else.

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In a recent blog Jesus warned the disciples that he would be killed soon, and it would be someone he loved who would betray him. (Matthew 17:22-23)

However, rather than ask questions, or try to determine what they could do to protect Jesus, they are arguing amongst themselves about which of them is greater! In many ways this cold-hearted selfishness is so surreal to me, but I also know that I can be just as capable of being self-focused and miss the main thing!

Jesus used the example of a child to help his self-focused disciples understand the main point: we are not to be childish like the disciples, but childlike with humble and sincere hearts.

Eek! I am immediately being challenged to ask myself the same compelling question Jesus asked his disciples:

Am I in the habit of being childlike or childish?

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When I typed that question, I expelled a heavy sigh because my emotions have been a cesspool these last few months. Yes, I’m saying that a lot of things I have been feeling have stunk to high heaven. I’ve spent a lot of hours praying through my Bible and with some of my favorite Bible scholars to walk through every stinking thing because I needed to clarify some things, and deal with some shearing pain. When our hearts start breaking, our hearts and thoughts start stinking; it happens.

However, while I needed to understand the entire situation about what was happening inside of me, it never gave me the right to say or do things in retaliation, or in childish behavior to either make a point or to further my own personal agenda. There has been an unholy battle waging inside of me for a position of authority and answers. I’ve had to confess that for what it is (sin); and ask my Jesus for His forgiveness and for His direction. I couldn’t get it from anyone else because no one else had the right answers, nor can anyone else comfort or restore my broken heart.

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I thank my God everyday for the mercy of His forgiveness and restoration, but especially during the difficult times.

“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name.” Psalm 23:3 NLT

I knew the stakes were high because of the dangers of making the wrong move in my pain or speaking words from my heart in an unsafe place. Jesus clearly said:

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 NLT

woman wearing eyeglasses and black hijab

What could be worse than harming a childlike person who has trust in Jesus? That would be intentionally or carelessly harming a person who doesn’t yet know Jesus.

“I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” I Corinthians 10:33b

I do have a personal relationship with Jesus therefore, I can tell you that while He cares about my pain, He expects me to act like a follower of Jesus! That includes whether the other person deserves it or not, but especially if they have not yet found their way to Jesus!

So. I’ve picked myself up out of the cesspool. I’ve stopped acting like I’m in authority. I humbled my heart completely before my Jesus and confessed everything, including my anger with Him. He knew all about it anyway, I might as well have gotten it off my chest! Jesus took it all from me the moment He died on the cross for me and I surrendered my heart to Him. Kneeling before Him, Jesus washed the pit of hell off my body and put my name tag right back on my heart where it belonged. It didn’t say that I was in authority or in charge, but it boldly did say:

Daughter of the Most-High King

white and pink floral freestanding letter decor


Closing Prayer: Father God, you bless my life every day with Your love and Your mercy, and I am so grateful. Thank You for allowing me to keep You close as my pain is healing and as I wait on You for Your will. Thank You for already establishing that my calling still has value even when I couldn’t find value in myself. Father may I bless You this day, and sometimes moment by moment, as I walk this road to Your glory. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Matthew 17:24-27

Thy word:

“On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”

“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”

“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” Matthew 17:24-27 NLT


My Thoughts: Taxes…, I remember my first paycheck and the shock I felt when I saw the net amount after taxes were deducted! Yikes! Welcome to the working world and reality kid!


This is a simple lesson—like it or not—no matter where we live there will be taxes, government authorities, and laws to guide us. We are required as citizens to follow those laws and pay taxes. This should be a blessing for citizens of the United States of America. We are a privileged society (for now!) that is free to vote on who we want in office, and what we want to guide our country. Once those government officials and mandates are in place, based on our votes, we are called to be under the umbrella of the authority that was chosen by the majority. Most of the time it’s not that hard to be obedient, even if we aren’t crazy about the majority vote.

That is until this last presidential election. Wow. Oh, I know trouble has been brewing for years, however, the American people went wacko in 2016 and it hasn’t stopped yet!

man wearing brown suit jacket mocking on white telephone

I’m so sick, and weary of all the divisiveness and sin. I can no longer watch or listen to the news. I’m horrified by what people are saying and doing out loud with no shame, especially when that person has lived as or claimed to be a Christian (for real!). I truly don’t believe we have seen this much selfishness and open sin (in my lifetime) as we are seeing right now in our country. It’s discouraging and upsetting.

However, while I am broken hearted and shocked about what is happening in our world right now, the LORD warned us these very days were coming:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” 2 Timothy 3:1-4 ESV

affection board broken broken hearted

Sounds exactly like what we are facing as a nation every day, doesn’t it?

Before you go crazy and think I’m accusing everyone but myself, I am not. I’m a sinner, and worse than that, I’ve allowed the disgrace of our despicable national behavior and other life challenges surrounding me to resurrect old enemies: fear and discouragement. Those weaknesses have given wings to my feet and I’ve been running from the battle instead of doing what I was called to do by God.

As a victim of child abuse the old me—before I became a Christian—would run from things that would cause me pain or make me uncomfortable. However, as a believer and follower of Christ, I was freed from my past so why in the world did I bend over and pick it up again? God took that burden and replaced it with a new heart, one that prepared me for all sorts of things, including battles and trials.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

Knowing in advance that I will encounter battles should have prepared me to stand firm with solid assurance I have the Lord’s mighty power to fight the battles with me!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV

Alone, I am powerless, but with Christ, I am filled with his mighty power!

Sadly, instead of clinging to these truths I’ve been begging God to take me out of the battle rather than remember I have all I need to face the battle! God didn’t choose me so I could hide from uncomfortable things, he chose me to specifically represent him IN the battle!!!

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17 NIV

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

I gave Satan a foothold in my heart and believe me, he’s been relentlessly taunting me. I’ve been confused, hurt, tired, discouraged, and I’ve given up my calling. Why didn’t I remember my victories and call on the Lord? Why did I just lie there and let evil throw those lies at me? I was reminded in my church class last Sunday; I wasn’t putting on my armor every day. Had I done that I could have withstood his lies!

Jesus asked [her], “What do you think, [Cecilia]?”

I think I better snap out of it and remember who I belong to and it isn’t Satan!

photo of child reading holy bible

So, my wrap up is this: Jesus was a good citizen and he mirrored that for us more than one time in the Bible. Likewise, it’s our job—my job—to take a stance and stop being complacent. We have a major election coming up (not to mention taxes!), so I need to:

“Put on all of God’s armor so that you [I] will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 NLT

“Now that I understand where that trauma came from, I can see it for what it is. And by finding the courage to turn and face it, I have the opportunity to stop it in its tracks.” The Dressmakers Gift by Fiona Valpy


Closing Prayer: Father God forgive me for returning to my past which is no longer a part of my life. I choose You, because You chose me. Thank you, LORD! Father help me to set healthy boundaries, so I don’t get pulled back into the black hole of bitterness and depression. Let me represent you in all that you have called me to do using Your armor*, Your strength, and Your love. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

*Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”

Matthew 17:22-23

Thy word:

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief. Matthew 17:22-23 NLT


My Thoughts: Jesus first tells his disciples he will die in Matthew 16:21-

“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”

Notice in these verses he tells the disciples where it will happen (Jerusalem), and that the religious leaders will be responsible for his death. However, in the verses we read in Matthew 17:22-23, he tells them something very unsettling: someone Jesus knew and trusted would be so unfaithful they would surrender him into the hands of his enemies.

I can’t help but wonder if these men considered whether the betrayer would be one of them? Did they discuss it among themselves? Did they worry about what the death of Jesus would mean for them? After all, they had left everything behind to follow Jesus. Did they worry as his trusted disciples if they would be killed too? There could only be one response from these men:

“And the disciples were filled with grief.”

Grief; for such a small word it carries a lot of weight in our hearts and souls, wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s look at a definition of grief: deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone’s death. Synonyms- misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, agony, suffering (to name a few).

I’m sure you have noticed that I have been absent from the blogging world for weeks. There are a few reasons why, but it is mostly because of the topic of these verses. It is a subject I really didn’t want to discuss because of the grief it causes in my own heart, especially now.

You see, as a caregiver for my elderly relative, I know she has more days behind her than in front of her. With her new health issues, the number of days ahead seem uncomfortably short. We both know that she will not escape death; no one does, but it doesn’t stop us from wondering how it will happen. However, I know God doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow:

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 NLT

My Mother, on the other hand, left this world eleven years ago on 9/21. As I am reminded again of her death it has made my heart lonely for her and rekindled difficult memories of her final days on this earth. Unlike the disciples’ shock hearing about the coming death of Jesus, our Mother’s death was not exactly a surprise as her health had been declining. However, it was a shock to face how she died (physician neglect and mishandling of medications). My siblings and I knew the “who,” we knew the “how/where,” and we felt like the doctor “betrayed her trust.” We, like the disciples, were filled with grief, but we were also filled with anger.

But let’s look at something very closely in these predictions: In Matthew 16 Peter attempted to criticize Jesus for speaking the truth and he was immediately admonished by Jesus (Matthew 16:23). Perhaps that exchange contributed to their response when Jesus predicts his death the second time?

Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at those predictions closely, my take-away is that sometimes the right response to death is simply grief.

When we learned about my Mother’s neglect (and we had proof), we were so angry. Initially, we did want that doctor to pay for his careless mistakes, but we chose not to handle it through the courts. Instead, our wise older sister took the proof directly to that doctor and placed in his hands. We gave him the guilt and we walked away from it, because it wasn’t our burden to bear.  Our decision to take that path gave us the freedom to simply grieve our loss and rejoice in the truth that she was with Jesus. This was such good news for our bruised hearts!

Which brings me to most amazing thing about both predictions from Jesus. The disciples didn’t ask Jesus what he meant when he said in BOTH predictions:

“on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”

How could they have missed hearing this piece of the prediction? This is good news! Why? Because the sacrifice Jesus made—to die for us—is absolutely the greatest gift and act of love we will ever be given, and we are free to receive it! When Jesus shed his blood for us, he covered ALL our sins as the final and perfect sacrifice! When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we freely receive the gift of everlasting life.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. As believers in Christ, our lives continue with God after our physical death. That means when I die, I will be reunited with my Mother! I know that she will be so proud of us for surrendering our anger and for not adopting bitterness about her death. We will celebrate together that we chose to grieve, yes, but most importantly, to rejoice in her new life with Jesus.

So, how do we earn this gift of eternal life (salvation)? We can’t!

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

We can freely receive this gift simply by surrendering our hearts to Jesus:

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT

Another piece of good news is receiving this gift of salvation has nothing to do with our sin, because Jesus tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). If your response is ‘you don’t know what I have done,’ well, look at what God says about that:

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV

When Jesus died, he died once to break the power of sin in our lives.  Once we surrender our hearts to Jesus the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and we are no longer slaves to our sins. We can repent, meaning we can turn away from those sins, with the power of Jesus that lives in us!

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11

Why indeed, didn’t the disciples ask Jesus about that amazing piece of good news? Are you ready to receive that good news and surrender your heart to Jesus?


Closing Prayer: Father, I am so sorry it’s taken me awhile to embrace the good news that Jesus offered amid the hard news about his death. I thank you for your patience and faithfulness to wait on me as I struggled with those old memories until I was reminded of our victory in You!! Father, I pray for the eyes reading these words–dictated to my heart by You–will surrender their heart to Jesus and receive that gift of eternal life. Thank you for the security of everlasting life because my heart belongs to You. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.



Walking With Dad


I read this blog this morning and it said everything to me. In this new season in my life with health changes for my Aunt and myself, what a great reminder that God walks with us through our journey…., not out of the hard things but through them. It makes us stronger and glorifies the Lord when we go through it relying on God every step of the way. Thank you, Patty, for sharing your heart.

via Walking With Dad

If You Want Help….

Thy Word: Then Jesus Said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28


My Thoughts: Sometimes help doesn’t come unless you ask. Walking back through Matthew for strength.

Spend Time With Jesus

“For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:8


Closing Prayer: Father, I thank you for the reminder that we need to continue to look in your word for the answers we seek when we are in over our head. I’m making my way back to you, LORD, and I am so grateful that you are always there waiting for me. Lord, thank you for taking my worries so my mind is at ease. Thank you for the promise that no matter what I walk through today you are with me. When the dark words are rained down in bitterness today, give me your precious words of praise to stop them before they damage my heart and mind. I belong to you LORD and not to the darkness that wants to steal me and throw me in the pit. I am not hopeless, I have hope because I am yours. In the name of Jesus clothe me today in your promises. Amen

Matthew 17:14-20

Thy Word:

At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”

Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?”

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:14-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬


My Thoughts: Today we see Jesus exhibit a bit of frustration with his disciples because their lack of faith kept them from healing this boy. Have we ever been guilty of doing the same thing? (Ummmm, I have….)

woman leaning on wall

My year has been filled with a collection of hard things. I’ve had a feeling of constantly walking uphill. As the year progresses the hill seems to get steeper because I barely get through one thing and here comes another. Singularly most of these issues aren’t awful, but all together it feels like my shoulder is pushing against a wall. I have a feeling the father of this young boy felt the same when the disciples were unable to help heal his son.

Usually, when hard stuff comes, I lean into Jesus and read the Bible looking for answers and direction. Then I journal what I learn and what the Lord says to me. I’m still reading the Bible, although not consistently, and recently, I stopped journaling. This is not good for me because staying on track in the word and writing helps me track my journey and understand what the Lord is saying with more clarity.

I’ve allowed fatigue, confusion, and frustration about some issues cause me to behave like those disciples; as if they can’t be resolved by faith. Let me explain.

person in hospital gown using walking frame beside hospital bed

First: a beloved family member* is facing health issues that have left us both tired, frustrated, and perplexed as we seek answers for a somewhat frightening diagnosis. We started this journey in July and although we have a lot of information there are still missing pieces from the puzzle so we ‘hurry up and wait’ for the next doctor visit hoping they may have answers. Every stay at the hospital or visit to a different doctor has been somewhat enlightening but, in the end, they just tell us to go to another specialist. It feels like we are digging a trench with a spoon in order to get through the information and we still don’t have answers! It has been stressful.

Another issue that has frustrated and challenged me is a new twist to an old health issue that also came on in July. I suffer from osteoarthritis, but I manage it well with a team of doctors and responsible decisions (not always, but I try!). I was told early on that “motion is lotion” therefore I walk consistently. This year I intentionally focused on eating more sensibly and reducing portions to manage my weight which also helps lessen pain and pressure on my joints. Osteoarthritis is not life threatening, but it is life altering and can be painful. What has distressed me the most about the disease is that it progresses despite my positive efforts! Now I must balance management of this new treatment for pain with my other treatments for pain. Ugh!

woman working girl sitting

Both situations have one thing in common: they are stressing me out!

Healthline has a lot to say about the effects of stress on the body, but what hit me square in the face was that some symptoms of chronic stress include irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Good grief, I’ve had every one of these symptoms lately, therefore, I can clearly see that stress is making my problem(s) worse!

In addition, I find myself having conflicted reactions/responses to my problems. One day I fall back into old habits of pushing away from the Lord, the next day I’m reading a dozen different devotions or playing Bible roulette! I know what the answer is so what is wrong with me?

The apostle Paul also struggled with conflicting reactions:

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Romans‬ ‭7:15, 19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

There is a battle waging inside of me and my responses look exactly like these confusing verses from Paul! However, before we get discouraged let’s look at what happens next in our story: the disciples talk to Jesus.

Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” Matthew‬ ‭17:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Talking to Jesus is a critical part of getting through our hard things! While I have been asking questions and many also begin with “why,” my questions give the impression that I believe my life should be less stressful, or perhaps I don’t deserve these problems.


close up photography of person s eye

I’m embarrassed because I would never verbalize my questions that way, but that’s what they imply when I really look at them! Jesus never told us our lives would be perfect or easy! In fact, Jesus said:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John‬ ‭16:33‬ ‭NLT

The most important question I should be asking myself is “Cecilia, why in the world are you focusing more on the problem(s) than the solution(s)?” Maybe because I am afraid the solution isn’t exactly what I wanted, but what if I remember the journey could bring a better answer in the long run? What if I make the same important decision the disciples made? What if I just ask Jesus and get back to focusing on my faith?

Jesus was very candid with the disciples by telling them plainly that the real problem was a lack of faith. Then he immediately followed that truth with hope:

“I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew‬ ‭17:20‬ ‭NLT

Jesus gave his life for me so that I can be free from the bondage of my sins, including the sin of wrongful or destructive thinking (stress). The battles I face do not have to be faced alone because the Lord says he will fight for me.

“The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NLT

heart shaped fireworks

In addition, I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus! I did not surrender to:
1. Pride, because I don’t want to admit to a new health issue
2. Guilt and lies about my sins, because I am forgiven
3. Worry or stress, because neither ever solve a problem
4. Hopelessness, because Jesus is my hope!

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬


Closing Prayer: Father God, thank you for reminding me that my faith is in you which gives me the resolve to get back into your Word. Thank you for showing me when I said “yes” to you I can overcome any lie and put that truth in writing! Thank you for the reminder that I can do everything through You because You are my strength. I especially thank You for the reminder that some hard things, the ones that are breaking my heart, could be the very thing that leads to You. I surrender my heart, my worries, my stress, and my will for Your perfect will, Lord.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world [Cecilia], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NIV


(*Side note: if you have seniors in your family who are experiencing changes in their health which require medical care, I hope they have an advocate! I truly believe we would not have gotten as far as we have with these physicians without my persistence because my family member is 87 years old. This is not me tooting my own horn, this is me telling you our seniors are often ignored in the healthcare system because of their age!)