Friday, January 31, 2014

Fear is a Dangerous Thing

"But the midwives feared God and did not do
as the king of Egypt commanded them,
but let the male children live." 
Exodus 1:17
I used to secretly believe that emotions were like God's little "oops" when he created women. There are several reasons I had that belief. One is that some emotions are quite uncomfortable and I didn't like  feeling them. Second, my father was quite stoic, as is my husband, and any emotion displayed against their stoicism always seems out of control. Third, there were several times in the church that I was admonished for expressing an emotion that was normal and I had come to believe that I was defective as a believer for experiencing emotions. Fourth, I was pretty intuitive from early childhood and I could sense and see little changes indicating things were not right, but when I asked questions, I was usually told everything was fine. So, I began to doubt my ability to see accurately and assumed the emotions that were triggered by what I thought I saw were not valid. 
A few years ago I wrote a curriculum for our high school group on the book of Matthew. As I read through the book, I looked for the relationships Jesus had with people. I also looked through the other gospels for the relational interactions recorded in those books. What was interesting is that I began to see that Jesus' feelings were recorded in the Scriptures. Jesus passionately expressed anger, sorrow, ambivalence, compassion, love, grief, and frustration. I began to realize that the culture He was born into was a more emotionally expressive culture than this culture I live in. 
I remember at one point the youth pastor saying to the students that the only legitimate fear object is God. I don't know that I totally agree with his statement because I believe fear has a duel purpose, but I do agree with what he was trying to say by his statement. 
First, fear was given to us to signal that there is impending danger and we need to take action to stay safe by fleeing, fighting, or freezing. Now, as a person who has experienced trauma in the past, I realize my danger sensor is set extra high and I over react. I am that person that screams and runs from rubber snakes just like I do rattle snakes. I tend to be jumpy in the car and slam my foot on the dash board when I feel like my husband isn't braking fast enough or assume he hasn't seen a car I have seen. In my defense, I've prevented two serious accidents in our almost forty years of marriage. In his defense, I have unnecessarily scared him thousands of times!  
Second, I believe God gave us fear to drive us to relationship with Him and to govern how we choose to live in this world. This is the part of fear that the youth pastor was addressing when he made his statement. To explain it, I am using the first chapter of Exodus. A new king who did not know Joseph had come to power. He saw that the number of Israelites living in the land had grown quite large. He feared that if Egypt were to go to war, the Israelites would join the enemy armies and if they did the Israelites could escape and the Egypt would easily be defeated.  
His fear drove him to make rotten decisions. He set up taskmasters and enslaved the Israelites. But God was on their side! The more the king oppressed them, the more they began to multiply. The more the Israelites multiplied ,the more the Egyptians feared them. Enslavement and oppression was no longer enough to make the king feel safe, so, he told the Hebrew midwives to kill every baby boy that was born to the Israelites. My stomach churns at the thought of being ordered to do that. Midwives are supposed to help mothers deliver babies safely. How horrible to think that midwives in such a trusted position would destroy the lives they were delivering. Thankfully two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, feared God more than they feared the Egyptian king. They continued to deliver babies, but they didn't kill the little baby boys as ordered. Instead, they lied to the king, saying the babies were born before they got there. God honored their fear and blessed their actions by giving them families of their own. 
This chapter assures me that fear is not sin. It is a God-given emotion that has the potential to lead either to life or lead to death, both physical and spiritual. The Egyptian king didn't understand that it is God who births nations and God who removes them. He didn't understand that it was God who anointed him king and God who would take him out.
The king enslaved and oppressed God's chosen people because he feared them, not their God. His fear lead him to order women, against their own conscience, to carry out a mass murder of babies. In the spiritual realm the king aided the Enemy as he tried to stop the line of the promised Messiah. On the other hand, the fear--the reverence the midwives had for their God caused them to risk their own lives to obey God. As as they fulfilled their purpose and they preserved the lives of the baby boys, God used them to preserve a nation and the family line of the future Messiah. 
God-given fear can physically save our lives when danger triggers it and we take appropriate action. The fear of God's wrath surfaces when we realize the Creator is a holy God and we are an unholy people and that healthy fear grows as we realize it is Him who holds our lives and our eternal destiny in His hands. That fear drives us to the Messiah--the Savior who took our shame and our guilt on the cross so that we can be reconciled to Him. His perfect love casts out the fear and replaces it with a sense of reverence, of awe, a deep love, and a growing desire to know Him. As long as we remember who He is and who we are, as long as we are grateful for what He as done, we will make choices that honor Him and preserve, protect, and produce life. 
When we lose sight of what Christ has done for us, that old fleshly fear of man can resurface and  drive us to do things that destroy life, both physically and spiritually. I can't help but wonder how often the fear of man impacts still impacts what we do, even as believers.
Have we participated in gossip or slander, assassinating the reputation of another? Was it motivated by a fear of not belonging or a fear of another looking at our messy lives? 
Have we spoken harsh words, piercing the hearts of our children, spouses, or friends? Could it be that the anger driving those words covered a fear of being found less than perfect as a parent,  spouse, or friend?  
Have we stayed in bondage to behaviors, substances, or relationships, because we are afraid of what others might think if we asked for help to break the stronghold? 
Have we done something our boss, spouse, or church leader asked us to do that we knew was wrong because we were afraid of a loss of position or afraid to stand up to someone who has the power to ask us to leave? 
Have we failed to say  no to participating in sin for fear of losing friends? 
Have we viewed porn or not confronted a husband who does, because it comes into our home and no one, but, the grieving God who died to set us free?  
Have we had an abortion because we feared what the church would say if they found out we conceived a baby marriage while hoping God would understand our why?    
Have we failed to ask for prayer, because we are afraid it would our weaknesses or that we would be judged? 
I remember talking to a friend that I occasionally work for about a friend who thought something negative about me. Instead of getting all wrapped up in what the friend said, he quietly asked, "I wonder how much more freedom you would enjoy if you gave her permission to think what ever she wants to think?" I realized that if we just give other people permission to think what ever they want to think about us, it frees us to became more focused on what Christ has done for us and in us, and maybe, just maybe we would be filled with such a sense of wonder and gratitude that it would drive us to make God-honoring, life-preserving decisions.
Then gossip would turn into affirmation and life-building encouragement. Stinging words would be replaced by words of blessing that molds and shapes hearts rather than shredding them into pieces. Fear would be overshadowed by the courage to get help breaking strongholds that hold us tightly in their grip. Lives would begin to reflect the heart of a loving God to a dying world. Work ethics would reflect the belief that God is the real Boss with the real power. We would live morally pure lives, promoting peace rather than shame and fear of being found out. Decisions and choices would more consistently preserve life and create joy and peace. Pride would melt into humility enabling us to rely on a great and loving God who is mighty to save. 
I realized, as I read this story, that I don't want to fear man, I want to be a Puah or a Shiphrah who fears God and God alone. I want to be a preserver of life rather than someone who destroys it. That is important in this dark time when the church doesn't look all that different than the world.
Hebrews calls the church a peculiar people, maybe the state of the church is that we are afraid to be peculiar even though peculiar means se are loving, kind, patient, forgiving, and growing in holiness, grace, and truth. Even though it means we are living beyond our fear and are a part of God's plan of redemption. Come to think of it, peculiar doesn't look so bad. So, in the face of the many choices I face ever day, the question I must ask myself daily, is "Who is it you fear?" 

Friday, January 24, 2014

This Ugly Thing Called Pride

"Now I Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, for all His works are right and His ways are just; and those who walk in pride
 He is able to humble."
Daniel 4:37
Christmas is over and I am back in the book of Daniel. The chapter I have sat in since the middle of December is the fourth chapter. It is in part Nebuchadnezzar's testimony on how God humbled him. I think anybody who reads the book of Daniel would conclude that the king of Babylon was one proud dude! 
In his pride, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and didn't just plunder the people, He took vessels of honor out of the house of Jehovah took them to the house of his own god which is a way of declaring that his god was more powerful that Jehovah.
In his pride, he captured young men of royal families of Israel who were the cream of the crop, the  future leaders. They were handsome, wise, full of knowledge and understanding. He took them to his palace and educated (brainwashed) them in the ways of Babylon. He was saying he had the right to hold captive the sons of mothers and fathers who had raised their children right, to hold captive the future leaders of another nation, to try to brain wash believers of Jehovah with religions of a foreign land. By his actions he showed that he measured a man's worth, not by the heart, but by appearances, education, and power.   
In his pride he demanded the impossible. Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream and demanded his best men to recount to him the dream and its interpretation or be put to death. He started to execute them, but  when Daniel gave him the both the dream and its interpretation as Jehovah had revealed it. The king was thankful and canceled the death sentence, but he didn't really like the dream. It had been about a statue of a man, whose parts were made of different elements indicating the different nations that would come to power after Babylon.
In his pride, he built a statue like the one in his dream, but it was only of gold representing his belief that his kingdom would never end, indicating his rejection of Jehovah's sovereignty over Babylon. 
In his pride, he ordered the top leaders, including the ones captured from Israel, to bow down to worship the statue or be cast into a blazing fire. Three of Daniel's friends refused and found themselves bound and cast into a furnace hot enough to kill the men tossing them in. In his pride, the king watched as the men were cast in. But what he saw as he gazed into the fire began to chisel away that ugly pride of his. Jehovah removed bindings and stood in the fire with His men until the shocked king had the presence of mind to call them out. 
In his pride, the king declared blessings over Jehovah and prohibited anyone from speaking evil of the God of the Israelites and promoted the men, but he refused Jehovah for himself. Thirty years later and another frightening dream is interpreted by Daniel, allowing Daniel to advise the king to repent of his sin, to practice righteousness, and to show mercy to the oppressed so that Jehovah might lengthen Nebuchadnezzar's rule. A year later he was still full of himself. In pride, he proclaimed that all he had was from his own hand and was for his own glory.
Jehovah had finally had enough of the "great" king who worshipped himself and did what he did only for his own glory. Jehovah stripped him of his kingdom, his authority, his sanity, and then drove him to live among beasts in fields where his hair grew long and his nails looked like bird claws. There he stayed until he came to his senses and was ready to acknowledge the sovereignty of Jehovah God and give Him the honor and praise He was due. The king, humbled by God, was restored.  
As I read this account several things stood out. First, pride is self absorption at its worse. Nebuchadnezzar's self absorption was because he thought he was so great. Mine pride surfaced in a different form, self absorption of a negative kind. I thought I was such a rotten person I shouldn't take up space. Regardless of how it surfaces, self absorption blinds me to what God gives, what God is doing, what God is doing in me, and what God is doing through me. When I am self absorbed, He doesn't get the glory He deserves, because I ether glorify myself or spend my time wallowing in the mire of rottenness. Self absorption tends to blind me to his radical love, His multitude of gifts, His outlandish grace, and His continuous love whispers--you know those things He places in my life to remind us of His continued presence in my know the kind words of a friend, the smile of grandchild, the forgiveness of a wounded spouse, the ample provisions, the newly painted sunrise, the diamonds sparkling on the ocean top at sunset, or the joy from His written Words. 
Second, self absorbing pride is unattractive. As I read the Nebuchadnezzar's story, I did not find my self drawn to him in any way. In watching how he conducted himself, I wasn't even drawn to his riches. I knew in my heart of hearts that there was nothing he had that would satisfy the deep longings of my heart and nothing he had would bring me joy. Why would it? He owned it all and he wasn't satisfied and conquered other nations, taking captive the best of the best and trying to convert them to the worship of idols. Nor would anyone be drawn to me or to Jehovah when I am wallowing in the rottenness of my imperfection; That is because all others can see is misery, not the love, not my redemption story, and not my grace filled life. 
Third, self absorbing pride can cause a lot of unhappiness. Pride turns desires into demands,  demands into expectations, and unmet expectations causes anger either aimed at others or myself in depression and focus of my rottenness. Pride causes me to miss the blessings of the present by causing me to focus on the past, keeping me stuck on what should have been, causing bitterness to take root in my heart and keeps me bound to the past through an unforgiving heart. Pride can also keep me from enjoying the present by trying to control all things leavings me powerless, looking for offenses, and overwhelmed by an anxious heart.
Fourth, as a believer I thought it funny that Nebuchadnezzar thought he could thwart the plans of God by building a statue. But maybe I did that in smaller ways when I was a new believer and a mom of small children, demanding perfection from myself, my husband, my kids, and my friends. It was pride that was at the root of my toxic shame...that shame that caused me to wallow in the rottenness. Pride in me wanted others to see me as a "good Christian," a perfect wife, and a awesome mother. Pride didn't want other's to look too close for fear the chinks in my fa├žade, the unhealed wounds in my heart, and the lacking skills of this wife, mother, and friend would be obvious and expose my shame. 
Lastly, I am thankful God is able to humble the most prideful hearts. He did it for the King of Babylon, and He did it for me. I didn't have to eat grass or grow claw like nail, but the journey was just as long, hard, and sometimes painful. At times I thought I would dissolve into a million pieces, but Jehovah was there delicately stitching old wounds, closing every hole left by His excision of sin and pride, and redirecting my path to a path of blessing. 
It was so freeing to grasp that grace is not just about salvation, it is also about living. It's about setting aside my rights, my desire for justice my way, letting go of the past, of abusers, and trusting Jehovah's work in their lives and His desire to bring beauty out of my rotten places. Humility is about letting go of that part of me that wants to be perfect and learning to live a more transparent life where mercy is visible and having a home where grace gloriously displayed. It is about giving up my demand to be loved and accepting the responsibility of learning to love well and to live loved. Humility is about resting in Jehovah's sovereignty and not worrying or trying to control my tomorrows. It about living fully in the here and now, enjoying life, people, and most of all enjoying Jehovah and His great love. It's about living in such away that my invisibleness isn't a mask, but a conscious decision to let others see Jesus in me.        

Monday, January 20, 2014

What does God Look Like?

"For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me."
Genesis 33:10b
I recently had a conversation about forgiveness which triggered some icky memories...memories in which people hammered me with "truth" when I needed wisdom and encouragement. One time I asked for prayer in a Sunday School class concerning a painful situation our family faced daily in our neighborhood. I wanted God's wisdom in how to handle the situation and wanted to know how to help my children deal with pain. One man who didn't know me came up to me afterward and asked me if I had ever heard of forgiving because Jesus had forgiven me. I experienced humiliation and shame and left believing I was defective for experiencing emotions over the situation. I never asked for prayer in that class again. As I write on the topic of forgiveness, I fear I will shame readers who are hurting. Please know if I were sitting across from you I would want to hear your story, understand how hurtful events have impacted you, cry with you, and then and only then move on to discover where you are in the process of healing and forgiveness.      
After I had that conversation on forgiveness, I contemplated doing a word study on the topic, but decided it was for another day. Instead, I read the Bible reading for the day which happened to include the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a deceiver who cheated his brother out of his birthright blessing by dressing up as Esau and feeding his dying father a meal Esau was supposed to have prepared. Esau was so angry he declared that he intended to kill his brother, causing Jacob to flee.
Jacob then spent years working for his father-in-law who frequently gave him a taste of the medicine of deception, leaving him with a mess to deal with for the rest of his life. Jacob heads for home at the prodding of God. Home to the land where Esau lives. Home to the land possessed by the one who had  wanted to kill him.
He comes up with elaborate plans, hoping to placate Esau's anger. When he hears Esau is coming to meet him, he falls on his face and prays, acknowledging that he was not worthy of God's steadfast love and faithfulness, revealing that something new had taken root in his deceptive heart. Something called humility. In fear, he begged God to deliver him from Esau's hand. Jacob ends up in an all night wrestling match with a "Man" like no other. As dawn broke, the "Man" touched Jacob's hip and told Jacob to let Him go, but, Jacob said he would not let Him go until He blessed him. The "Man" blessed him and changed his name to Israel, and Jacob declared that he had seen God face to face and lived. Many people believe the wrestling match represents our wrestling in prayer with God over difficult things. For many years that was what stood had out to me most about this story.
Jacob then looked up and saw Esau coming and went to meet him. He was not faced with anger as he expected. Instead, Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and they both wept. This passage is very familiar to me, yet, a couple of days ago something new jumped out at me in the midst of the familiar words. Jacob said, "...For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you accepted me."
This story is about forgiveness, but God didn't demand forgiveness at the moment of wounding like we often do (and like I did with my children when they small and fought)! Instead, He taught Jacob how his deception impacted Esau by subjecting him to his own medicine. God also used Jacob's fear to humble him, taking him to his knees before he came face to face with his brother. I am curious as to how God softened Esau's heart to prepare him for that day. We aren't told, but I believe the forgiveness Esau displayed could only be given through the power of God's Spirit. 
I have often prayed that other's would see Jesus in me and it hit me, as I read this story, that if I don't forgive others, I am depriving them of the opportunity to see Him! I honestly don't know another person in the world that doesn't long to be accepted, not based on performance, but on who she is behind her mask with her weaknesses, her frailties, her imperfections, her mistakes, and her sins. 
Oh, how I fear I have denied people an opportunity to be accepted and to look into the face of God by not forgiving and by living in a self-protective mode that keeps others at arms length. 
I wonder how different our churches would be if we were more willing to listen to people's pain, hear their stories, and walk with them, allowing them life lessons and time to wrestle with God. In stead of remembering they were shamed by judgmental people, they would remember Him who humbled their hearts, healed their pain, and prepared them to forgive what feels unforgiveable. 
One of my granddaughters recently asked what God looked like. It was Christmas and we talked about the baby Jesus. But after reading this passage again, I think I would have answered her differently. I would tell her, "My God looks a whole lot like forgiveness!"

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Living In Reality

"He will swallow up death forever;
and the LORD GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
"Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; 
Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation."
Isaiah 25:8-9   
As Christmas approached, I found myself wishing I was a perfect gift giver. You know the person who reads between the lines and creatively comes up with meaningful gifts for everyone. Gifts that draw oohs and ahs and great big smiles. I so wish I was that person, but I am not. Instead, I find myself  a tad overwhelmed as five kids grown have added spouses six grandkids to the mix, making loud and crazy fun. Yet, this mom's heart noticed in the mist of noise the loud silence usually filled by three missing voices. Voices of those experiencing first Christmases away. Phone calls and Facetime helped some and grownup kids made Christmas easy this year, helping in the kitchen, doing projects with kids, taking dogs to the park, and creating laughter with jokes and stories. No longer bearing the sole responsibility of making Christmas happen was good for both me and Poppi. 
Then goodbyes were said, our house became too quiet. Christmas became another memory as neighborhood twinkling lights diminished. I found myself experiencing a bit of grief. So, when Poppi suggested a movie, I quickly voted for Saving Mr. Banks, thinking it would be light hearted and pull me out of my "after-Christmas funk." But instead, I got a deeply thought-provoking, emotion-rousing, and grief-stirring movie! The kind of movie that leaves you feeling like you have been standing on sacred ground watching someone's pain unravel. At the end the movie I wanted to sit there for awhile out of respect for the story I'd just seen. I wanted to savor the emotions I momentarily believed I had shared with the characters on screen. Instead, I wiped away my tears and we left. But, inwardly I wept the rest of the day.  
I had heard the story was about the making of the Mary Poppins movie and the relationship between Walt Disney and Mrs. Travers. But I think it was more about her need to control the making of the movie. Present scenes, delicately woven with flashbacks of the author's life, lend understanding to her need to control, her judgmental stance, and her curt tongue. At one point Mrs. Travers gets angry at the creative crew, yelling that they have made Mr. Banks to be a monster of a man and wants to know why they can't make him better. They had made him as she had unknowingly described him in her book and her cry was a deeper cry she had never spoken before.
I want to say more, but won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. So I will focus on why it impacted me. I lead support groups for women who suffered trauma in childhood, many of them coming out of extremely dysfunctional homes resulting in deep, long buried pain. These beautiful ladies coped in all sorts of ways, some similar to Mrs. Travers. Most of them having lived in denial most of their lives, peal off their denial, one layer at a time...this is that sacred ground I visit a lot. In the movie Walt realizes Mrs. Travers' pain drives her decisions and behavior in the same way that I see it in our ladies. 
I realized yesterday that we may develop denial in childhood to protect our hearts from things that are too painful to face, but we continue in denial as adults because we want different endings to the stories we live. We want to live in a family who love us more than their addictions. We want to live where cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer's doesn't take away people to early. We want to live where depression and a hosts of other mental illnesses don't rob us of the minds of those we love. We want to live where eating disorders don't destroy health and consume our daughters, moms, and grandmothers. We want parents who didn't abuse children in all sorts of ugly unspeakable ways, some even in the name of God. We want to live where pornography and adultery aren't ripping families apart and objectifying both men and women. We want to attend churches that don't wound us. We want to live where wars and natural disasters aren't scaring people until they are a but shell of the person God created them to be. 
The sad truth is that we have all been impacted by living in this sin-filled world and we have grown up in imperfect, broken families. The sad truth is that at the end of the day, every single day, we must face the fact that we, ourselves, have wounded others by loving so poorly.
I realized yesterday that adult denial is about wanting different endings, endings that gives peace and joy. Mrs. Travers sought those with her little Buda and her great big denial system, but she didn't get it. Walt sought peace and joy as he attempted to rewrite his story by creating "The Happiest Place on Earth," but it really isn't. In the same way, ladies in group try to write different endings through denial, endings in which parents didn't hurt them, disease didn't kill, people beat their addictions, innocence wasn't stolen, and needs were consistently and joyfully met. But, the truth is, people in denial remain plagued by the past that they avoid and they bear scares of broken relationships, bitterness, and depression. 
As I discussed the concept of denial with my husband it hit me that the one thing missing in the movie was that God has already written a different ending for each of our stories and that we often don't realize that. Because of His birth, His death, and His resurrection we can face the truth of our stories. For you see His story is not a make believe story, it is a redemption story! In Him chaos is calmed, insanity made sane, addictions and eating disorders overcome. In Him we can face and forgive unspeakable acts and be set free from the bitterness that hardens hearts. In Him we  experience unconditional healing love freeing us of the pain we hide. In Him, our morning is turned into dancing, grief into joy, inadequacies into adequate, not enough into enough, too much into just right, hatred into love, weakness into strength, and pride into sweet humility.
What if our desire for different endings is a holy desire? What if it was indelibly written on our hearts by the Creator to drive us to Him? Maybe, just maybe, it is our denial systems which we hold so tight that keeps us from seeing the beautiful stories already being penned by Him. Maybe it even clouded my ability to see that the only perfect gift is the gift of Jesus, Himself. 
As the new year unfolds, I hope we live in the truth of our stories just as He has written them, ever watchful as they unfold full of grace, full of redemptions, full of joy, and full of peace. There may be tears and fears in this life right now, but He will ultimately wipe away those tears as He takes us past our fears. We can trust Him who died in our place. For He bore our reproach, freeing us from the need to deny reality. Facing reality enables us to embrace His grace, freeing us to experience His outrageous, indescribable love. In Him, there's no need to rewrite a story, for salvation stories are stories He has perfectly written.    


Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!