Posted in Journal

Peace Like a River

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In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”  ~ John 7:37-38

At the end of Sunday’s service one of our pastors started singing the song, “I’ve Got Peace Like a River,” and I have had it on my mind off and on since. It brings to mind “Rivers of Living Water.” It brings to mind also the power that a river has. It is a power that can carry you under or carry you through.

Many of us have been in such rivers this last year. In the river I was in, I felt I was being dragged under by some of the currents. In my natural mind, I wondered if I could make my way out alive…only to find out I couldn’t – but, I was carried out. I found that it was actually in that dragging under stage that my spiritual senses were awakened and developed. The Holy Ghost developed me to know God better there. I felt, saw, heard, smelled, and tasted more of things of the Spirit in those times this last year than all the previous years combined. It has been sometimes wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hard work, and sometimes a whole lot of fun. One thing was for sure though – I was awakened, and I know it.

But then recently I went through a few days where I seemed to feel asleep again rather than awake. Honestly, it was disturbing and no matter how much I told myself our Christian life it to be walked by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) I could not help but feel disappointed in my heart. I wondered what was wrong with me.

Things started to turn back during my prayer time this afternoon when the words of that song started flowing again through my mind. So simple. “I’ve got peace like a river; I’ve got love like an ocean; I’ve got joy like a fountain”…and it became the prayer to my Father. As I prayed those words, I began to feel something big start to flow on the inside.

As believers, we have these “rivers of living water” flowing within us which means we are bigger and more powerful on the inside (in Christ) than on the outside (in the natural). In the natural, very little can stop the power of a river that is overflowing its banks. It can take out everything in its path. And that is the way the Kingdom of God is as well. Bigger on the inside than the outside. Overflowing. We must never lose the truth of this.

Sister Ruth Ward Heflin once said, “You don’t have to feel “full of glory” all the time. You can be an empty riverbed. Just let the river of God flow through you. The waters of God’s river are refreshing, cleansing and empowering. Just don’t stop with the refreshing stage, and don’t be satisfied with the cleansing stage. Move on into the empowerment of the river.

In reading this statement, I am always stopped by one word. “LET!” The word “let” is a great word. It means – to allow or to permit; to grant occupancy or use of; to cause to; to make.

I think the Lord is saying it is time for us to LET HIM move us into the empowerment of His Divine River. In God’s River, nothing can hold you back. Nothing! There is POWER there! You think you are going under at times but I am so confident tonight that you will find, as I did, that you are being carried by our God and developed by the Holy Ghost to know Him even more than you do.

Thank you, Jesus!!!! “I’ve got peace, love, and joy like a River in my soul!”  

 

 

Posted in Journal

The Process

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Late last night, I came upon a group discussion about writing processes. Someone asked us to explain our process. The question was, how do you come up with and complete what you write? Mostly, I write Bible Studies so I will focus my answer on my process to write and deliver those messages… although writing this blog isn’t too different.

We are all unique and God gave us different passions and abilities and afforded us different opportunities to learn and develop. I do have a process that I believe is God-given and that I was taught very well years ago.

Some people can retain easily and can preach or teach easily based on the knowledge they have in their heads and hearts and/or as God speaks at that moment. I seem to be created just a little differently. Speaking is very hard for me and the only reason I can speak is that God called me to do so and He sets me on FIRE to speak what He gives. Delivering a message aloud was the one thing I said I would never do again as I left the University. I said NEVER! But God said otherwise, and He alone gives me the courage. I can only do it through Him and because I have learned to put onto paper in a precise and understandable way my thoughts and my studies.

Last night someone called their process total immersion and I would agree with that for myself. I become totally immersed. I take a subject and/or a passage of the Bible, and I get totally involved. I read it. I question it. I study it. I think of it. I read it again and again and again. I study some more and as I study, I learn. Then I write.

It usually starts with a Bible verse or passage I feel God is speaking through at that moment – to ME! I develop an idea based on that passage. Usually, I have a title at this point. I pray about where to go with the idea and write a preliminary outline. I take many notes – about 40-50 pages of notes and my own thoughts. Then I begin putting each note or thought into my outline (or discarding it). Then with the draft before me, I begin rewriting.

Does this sound kind of like the term papers and presentations of high school and college? For me, it is very close to that same process except I don’t have to rely on notecards and typewriters as we did in the “olden days” and these days I love and appreciate not only the subject matter but the process it takes for me to learn and teach it.

Sometimes the process is painstaking, but when I am writing on the Bible, I have God-given energy and drive and I don’t seem to get writer’s block. In speaking, I sometimes lose my thoughts though they may be on the outline in front of me. But, when writing about the Word of God, if I don’t know where to go next…I go to the Scripture and say what happened next and leave it there…until the Lord gives insight if He does.

The finished work is about 15 typewritten pages between 5,000 and 8,000 words.

Because I have other responsibilities, the entire process takes about a week and is never finished until the message is given. Why? Because I continually edit. When I say continually, I mean until I leave my office to give the message. I have been known to reprint an entire document because the spacing was a little off. Isn’t it strange that I would care so much when I am giving the message verbally? But I do care.

I believe anything I put on paper should have a flow and be grammatically correct, just in case someone happens to pick it up someday. I am obsessive about finding the right words to make the right impact and for every word to be spelled correctly. Mostly I want anyone who picks up the written message to come away understanding what is written and knowing that I love God’s Word and I have presented and preserved what He has entrusted to the best of the abilities He gave me.

Once I give a message, I file it away knowing I have an outlined and fairly well-written document that God may decide to use again someday.

Now you know my process. And of course don’t worry about the errors, I will go back and edit this MANY, MANY more times too. LOL!

Thoughtful Gifts

Back in the summer of 1985 Dan and I took our very first vacation as a couple. We went to Cape May, New Jersey to stay for a few days with his sister, Mary Ellen and her family. During that trip, Mary Ellen and I went to a little market full of unique shops. That is a very common thing now but back then it was new to me. One of the shops was a Christmas shop and there I found some Wizard of Oz ornaments that I bought for my mom. They had a special place on her tree until 1996 when my sister passed away and my mom stopped putting up a Christmas tree. She later gave away all of her Christmas ornaments and my sister-in-law asked for the Wizard of Oz ornaments. Of course, I wasn’t going to say no to that request because I didn’t want to be selfish…but honestly, I found that most years I wished I had.

This year my daughter came to my house insisting I receive my Christmas present early. My present was the exact ornaments I had given to my mom back in 1985. Meagan had not seen these ornaments since she was 10 years old, but she had researched and then searched on eBay for several years to find them. I was blown away, to say the least. I love gifts like this. These many years later it is not so much the ornaments themselves, but it is that my daughter would give me such a gift. It was a gift that was so thoughtful and took effort and showed such love and care for me. I admit I don’t feel that I am often that kind of gift giver…but it touched my heart in an incredible way when I was on the receiving end. And receiving that gift made me so thankful that all those years before I had allowed my sister-in-law the originals.

Sometimes when we release things that are temporal, we make room for gifts that will last forever!

And then it dawned on me that I received mostly very thoughtful gifts this year in addition to that one. A beautiful necklace from a friend that meant so much because of the Word/words etched upon it; wool socks and cinnamon candy canes from my son because he knows I love these things; a notebook and pencil from the GKiddles so I can do my work; a beautiful mug (I do love my coffee); two identical antique Tiffany table lamps that were a heirloom to a relative’s family but no longer wanted, and a ripped up picture of my dad’s company when he graduated from boot camp at the age of 16… along with a letter from the Lieutenant Commander of the Navy to my grandparents that was so personal.

Then there is the most thoughtful gift of all and that is the gift given by our Father when He sent His Son, Jesus, to be born. To be born to die on an old rugged cross for my sins. He sent His Son and He sent me (and you) a Savior.

I pray that in this next season I can take a lesson from my family and friends and from my Heavenly Father and be more thoughtful and deliberate in my giving. Love you all and God bless you!

Posted in Journal

Lessons of The Angel Tree (Love…Just Love)

A few years back, the church I attended had an “Angel Tree.” I had the awesome privilege of helping organize the project. We gathered hundreds of gifts, items of clothing and groceries. Every child received several new toys, books, and a new outfit. Every family received a complete Christmas dinner. We boxed all the groceries, wrapped and labeled the gifts, and then loaded everything up to be delivered all over our area.

At one of the first stops, as we arrived at the house so did another church. We came bearing our gifts and were all left wondering the appropriate response as we saw these children who seemed to have plenty now receive even more.

Then later in the day we arrived at a house that was almost empty on the inside. There was no furniture, no Christmas tree, not even a bed!!! A dirty little mattress in the corner without sheets or pillows. A box for a makeshift table….that was it. That Christmas some kids wanted toys, books, and bicycles. However, these three children and their mom really needed pillows, blankets, coats!!!

We went back to the church, made a few calls and some from our small group headed back the next day with not only more toys and warm clothes, but a pantry and refrigerator full of groceries, pillows, blankets, sheets, toiletries and furniture items such as beds and a kitchen table and chairs.

All other families we visited that year for the Angel Tree Project had needs someplace in between these two “extreme” situations. But to each their need was just as desperate.

After the ministry was completed I sat with a broken heart as I thought of these…. that some are so very poor. I was truly moved by the need. But I was more broken hearted that there are some so poor in spirit. For sure those are often  harder to understand and minister to. We are most often blinded to their need because they are surrounded by stuff from whatever source they can find.

I desire to love the poor and the poor in spirit and help folks in need. Jesus gave me that desire and He so often allows me to see past the junk and distractions. There will always be those that seemingly have too much, take too much, or take advantage…but what if no one ever gave because of those few. Little children in Belmont, NC, USA would have likely been sleeping on the cold floor that Christmas season.

And what of the kids that seemed to have too much and still the parents sought for more? What is in a heart that makes one go to such measures? What kind of bondage? We prayed for them and loved on them and spoke into their lives just as we did all the families. That Word we spoke and prayed, the love we showed surely did a mighty work in all of our hearts….mine included. After all, God is Love.

I have been one of the poor and I have been the poor in spirit. I have been the parent that had to rely on others to give my children even one toy and a Christmas dinner.  I have been the parent that later gave mine way, way too much. I am so thankful God loved me and allowed others to love me in all my need!

❤️ Love…just love! ❤️

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Posted in Journal

When God Speaks and We Obey…

Eight years ago, at a church council meeting my pastor at the time said he was going to start the Christmas season by preaching a sermon titled, The Greatest Gift Exchange. He wanted ideas and music to go along with that topic.

I was driving home and going through the intersection of New Hope and Lowell-Bethesda/Beatty Road and God said two words as clearly as I have ever heard, “Cardboard Testimonies!”

It was not a new thing. It wasn’t flashy or extravagant and didn’t seem all that Christmassy. In fact, it was almost too simple and many, many churches had already done it. Nevertheless, my pastor loved the idea – but he told me since God gave it to me, I had to also organize it. Not what I was expecting. I didn’t feel like people would respond to me. But my pastor wouldn’t let me off the hook, so I got to work. While some people said, “no way” to my surprise I soon had about 50 that responded with excitement. And with each “yes” a great anticipation grew.

December 5, 2010 – God used that anointed sermon followed by the testimonies of people of all ages and from all walks of life to orchestrate two of the greatest moves of repentance and crying out to God that I have ever witnessed at somewhat regular church services. In both services, people were lined around the sanctuary to pray with our pastor. Some to repent and be saved, some to repent and rededicate their lives, some crying out for healing and deliverance, some standing in for their lost and hurting loved ones. Those left in the choir sang and we stood there for well over an hour holding our testimonies of what God had done when He exchanged what we were to the new creation He made us into. What a precious, precious thing God did for us all when we accepted the gift of His precious Son, Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I don’t say this to boast in any way. It was God’s plan, not mine and one of the most humbling assignments I have ever been blessed to be a part of. While I did my part, the reality is that many did their part too and yet even still GOD DID IT ALL. But I do share all of this to also say – LISTEN to GOD. Sometimes He wants things planned and organized; sometimes He wants things totally spontaneous. Listen to Him, be open and obedient and always, always be ready to tell others what He has done for you! He is still speaking and drawing people to Himself by using ordinary people like you and me.

My Cardboard Testimony:

Posted in Journal

Send Me…Where Love Is Needed!

I have often prayed this exact prayer while holding onto the globe waiting on God to send me where I dreamed of going! And I’ve waited and waited and waited thinking God was putting me through a season of waiting. Until finally there it was – my dream, Africa.

But what if during all my waiting, I wasn’t supposed to be waiting around at all. It never crossed my mind that maybe He had answered my exact prayer before I ever even prayed it…because maybe love was needed most right across my town or across my street…or maybe just across my own livingroom.

I guess bottom line (for me) is if God sends me again to Africa I will by all means go and love there. But I have learned while going abroad that people are the same there and here. No matter the difference in culture, color, or language. They all have the very same need for love, compassion, a listening ear, a coat, or a sandwich! They all need Jesus but sometimes they can’t hear what we say about Him because they are cold or they are hungry or they are so alone!

If you are like me and you’ve prayed that prayer…trust me and don’t go into a season of doing nothing and calling it waiting. He has answered. Love the one right in front of you today! If there is no one in front of you…go to the nursing home.

God bless you all.

Posted in Journal

Driving through the Storms

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“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” ~ James 1:5

Yesterday, while driving to a women’s retreat Sister Frankie and I were caught in a terrible rain storm. It was hard to drive through it. Easier as long as the road had a rough surface but when suddenly it changed and the surface was smooth –  there were more reflections and more mist and it was close to impossible to see the lines or where you were on the road. So of course, the Lord uses all things and He started speaking.

What lessons about driving through the storms did the Holy Ghost impress on my heart that can be applied to the storms of life?

Pray! Pray! Pray! – Before, during and after the trip we prayed…not just for ourselves but everybody on the road. We make it a habit of always praying before every trip and most times many times along the way.

Get in the center lane – I had a long way to go on the road I found myself. I wasn’t going to need to exit. We debated getting off the road but I didn’t know the area off the exit any more than I knew the road I was on so I felt wisest to keep going and then because I knew I wasn’t going to need to exit, I got in the center lane. To go through the storms of life we need to get in and stay in the center of God’s perfect will. Not to the right or not to the left of it. Get there and stay there.

Focus – I was having a really hard time seeing the cars in front of me and beside me but there happened to be a great big boat right in front of me. (Now, is that God or what?) Sister Frankie called it the LifeBoat. I got my eyes on that big LifeBoat. He was easy for me to see and easy for everybody else to see. I felt they would be cautious as they passed him. For sure we should always be careful who we follow because following the right person or thing can get you through the storm but if you aren’t careful you can follow someone down the wrong path…right to hell. Get your eyes on Jesus, into His Word, and in places of prayer and worship.

Keep going – Once our eyes were set, we just kept on going. It needs to be the same in life. Keep going. Will we mess up? Yes, probably. When you do, get back up. If You hurt someone along the way ask for forgiveness and then get back up. If you sin, repent and get back up and keep going. It is much more dangerous to stop on a stormy road or in the storms of our lives than it is to drive on through the storm…because it is always harder to get back onto a busy highway.

Remember where your Help comes from. At the worst time, I looked and the boat was ahead of me but a distance ahead of me. In the rearview mirror, I looked and I could see that NO ONE WAS close to me behind. No one was to either side. And not only did I feel safe but I had that song going through my mind. “It May look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” God protected me by keeping everyone away from me during the worst part of that storm.

Praise JESUS! NEVER STOP PRAISING HIM!!!! I thank You, Lord, for taking us through to safety.

So let me close with this. What did Sister Frankie and I see when the storm cleared?

  • Multiple cars in ditches that looked as though they had played follow the leader right there into the ditch.
  • MANY Cars pulled off the sides and the median now trying to get back into the flow of the traffic. They were then causing more backups.
  • Cars spun around, wrecked and trucks jackknifed and totally blocking the road. Someone, for some reason, had made the wrong move likely due to unclear lane changes (now there’s a whole other message).

God bless you all!!!!

 

Posted in Journal

Today I am Reminded…

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Yesterday I wrote about the difference between walking in a sand dune as opposed to walking in wet sand and how much easier it is to walk when the sand is wet and compacted. I had another thought this morning. If the sand is too wet and the water isn’t being released by evaporation or by flowing elsewhere it can create an environment for quicksand and that can be a dangerous situation to try to walk through.

Today I woke up feeling like if I don’t get a handle on a common feeling bombarding my mind it would be like being stuck in quicksand.

What was this feeling? I wanted to quit!!! My thoughts were – what is the need of me in this present place? What do I do that can’t be done or what do I bring that can’t be brought by just about anyone else out there? Now, these are not thoughts I naturally head toward. I am not prone to quit so I have to scream, GET behind ME, satan. I am calling him out and exposing his lies. In warfare prayer, I asked the Lord for help and cast down the thoughts and imaginations and a few moments later the Lord replaced them with some reminders. Just a fairly normal Tuesday in my office but then a fax showed up and as I read it this flowed out of it like a fast-moving stream.

 

Today I am Reminded…

Today I am reminded that some people face hard things that unless revealed we know nothing about. That some face these hard things, not of their own choosing and they don’t deserve it. Today I am reminded that some in trying to navigate those things lose sight of and even the will to be who God created them to be. Today I am reminded that some are just plain tired of fighting it alone…even if they made a choice to go it alone. Today I am reminded that when they lose their sight or their will or their fight the resulting bondage manifests itself in many ways.

Today I am reminded that some battles are so obvious but some hide theirs with gold and glitter and glamorous attire, riches. If you look at them and see the things that surround them; see their success and status you have no idea of their pain. The truth is that if we are completely honest we think we ourselves would be happier with more money and more worldly status so we can’t imagine they are not.

Today I am reminded that  I was that person.

Today I am reminded that the Bible says in Romans 2:4 that it is the goodness of God that draws men to repentance. I am reminded to have compassion and love people as they navigate no matter the bondage they may be in and no matter how it manifests. I am reminded that if I truly love like Jesus loves then they will see Jesus (the goodness of God) in me. After all, God is love.

Today I am also reminded of how much I wanted someone, anyone to see me and care about me and what I was going through. Today I am reminded that someone did come along and they cared. That one person had compassion on me and loved me enough to speak the Truth but to do so while staying alongside me. I am reminded of one person that wasn’t afraid of my baggage. One that lived out the “greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” Today I am reminded that I saw Jesus in that one person and I wanted what they had. I wanted Jesus in my life.

So, truly, even more, today I am reminded of my God and Father that sent His Son, Jesus, to die for me on the cross. For me! Today I am reminded of a God that showed me His grace and mercy and His compassion when I was at the bottom of the pit and on my way to hell. I am reminded of how His goodness drew me to my knees crying out in repentance; asking for forgiveness for my sins; asking Him to help me live a holy life; to help me live only for Him. Today I am reminded of a God that forgave, saved, delivered, healed and turned my life around. I am reminded today of what a beautiful blessing repentance is to you and to me!!!!

God used that one person that loved me as He loves and today I am reminded to be that person for others. I am reminded that when I don’t love, others aren’t seeing the goodness of God in me. What if we all loved? What if God wants to use your next encounter as an opportunity for someone to see His goodness and be drawn to repentance? I am reminded today just how much He loves everyone and each one we encounter.

Today I am in tears at the reality of the hard things some face and are forced to now navigate.

Today I am reminded to love.

Posted in Journal

Holding Pattern

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On this day last year, I was in Tanzania. Today I am not. I can’t help but ponder it all as I see the FB notices from the team flow across my newsfeed.

I was reminded of this. On the way home, our plane flew in a holding pattern for over an hour because of a storm in Charlotte. When we were finally given clearance to land, it was an incredibly bumpy, scary experience. Truly I wasn’t sure in those moments that we would land safely. My Pastor says that what happens in the natural is also happening in the supernatural and really that is a picture of my life over this last year. There is a storm raging on every front. Not just in my life though…in the lives of most everyone I know. Because of the storms, many are in holding patterns, and we will be until given clearance that we are ready to take that next step of heading through the storm!

What does that mean for me? I feel I have a call to the mission field. But I feel just as strongly that right now God has me in a holding pattern – another season of surrender and waiting. I can’t explain it all, but I will wait. I will wait until GOD opens His next door for me if He chooses to open another one. But God hasn’t called me to wait and do nothing in the waiting. In the waiting, God has me doing other things just as dear, maybe even dearer, to His heart. He works to strengthen me, to make needed correction, and He highlights some of the others areas of my calling. He is even changing some of the desires of my heart to line up more closely with His own. This holding pattern is a season of waiting with His purposes and for my own good! I trust His work, and though there times I struggle to keep doubt out of my mind I do find my trust and faith growing stronger day by day.

Now, what does it look like for me? What does He have me do?  Well for me, it looks like on my knees and into the Word. It looks like a surrender! (I am called to obey first and foremost). I obey, therefore, I pray and I pray. (I am called to pray). I read God’s Word and try to memorize. (I am called to “hide His Word in my heart”). I study the Word of God. (I am definitely called to study this Word). I write down what I study and learn, what touches my heart, what I feel God is saying to me (I am called to write), and sometimes I share what God reveals. I do this in Sunday School and in services occasionally, but more on the blog. (I am called to teach and make disciples – aren’t we all?). And when I am done, I turn the page of the Word, and I start all over again and again and again. (I am called to persevere).

The Bible says: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

The blog actually gets very few views. I sometimes wonder what difference any of it can actually make. But every now and then someone finds it. When they do, I know they have been prayed for, and they will come face to face with the precious Word of God – which Itself teaches us will not return to Him void. Waiting isn’t always easy but I find purposefully waiting because God has you in a holding pattern can be life-giving.

On this day last year, I was in Tanzania. Today I am not.  But today someone visited the website from Zimbabwe.  And with that visit today the Lord has allowed me to use the blog to “go into” 100 nations of this world and share the Word of God! Over 80 of them since coming back from TZ last year. I began to really focus on my blog/website again because I didn’t know what else to do with myself.  He put me in this place and for ALL He has done, is doing, and will do – HE GETS ALL THE GLORY AND THE HONOR AND THE PRAISE! I love my Jesus so!!!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Journal

Chosen – Matthew, Lenka, and Anna Maria

I saw this post on the web last night, and it took me right back to 2007 and an Orphanage for the severely disabled in Romania.

Visiting these children was such a beautiful but tough part of the mission…emotionally and spiritually. I was told because of their laws and disabilities they could not be adopted. It left me to ponder why God had them there and why He sent me there as a 46-year-old woman to see it all. I thought how as a young girl after my dad died I secretly dreamed someday I would have another dad that would make a choice to love and adopt me. Though it didn’t happen I was able to hope for that…but here they were and no earthly dad could ever choose them!

I laid in my room that night and I became overwhelmed and began to sob. As I cried the Spirit of God surrounded me and I talked to Him about three little children – Matthew, Lenka, and Anna Maria. Two confined in beds in conditions I was unaccustomed to with infirmities considered hopeless. One confined because though she was a perfectly normal child, her twin sister was disabled and they weren’t allowed to be separated. Oh, how these little ones had touched me and in their faces as I talked and sang and played with them…I saw the face of Jesus!!!

God and I continued talking into the night and I asked Him of the purpose of the lives they were given. When I did, He stopped abruptly and said, “Missy…I have chosen you. I have always chosen you. But why have you never chosen Me?” I said, “I thought I did choose you. 9/11/2006 in my dining room.” God said, “Yes, you chose Me as your Savior that day. But Missy why have you never chosen Me…as your Father? Why do you want an earthly dad more than Me?” That night I made a choice.

Needless to say, Romania was life-changing. Many times, like last night I think of three little children. Matthew and Lenka couldn’t see, couldn’t talk, and couldn’t even move on their own. They did little but lay there all day, every day. Anna Maria was a prisoner because of circumstance and would be held there until she turned 18 or her sister died.

Three tiny but chosen servants of God that He used to soften my hard and bitter heart. One day they will know of their fruit. Oh, how Jesus loves the little children. Oh, how He loves you and me. Make a choice today!!!