Sow & Gather

thanksgiving

Giving Thanks When You Don't Feel Like It

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
#sowandgather #thanksgiving Give Thanks In All Circumstances, For This Is God's Will for You In Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

Breathe in and breathe out, close your eyes and be still. It will all be over soon. Have you ever felt the weight of the world on your shoulders and weren’t sure how you were going to survive another minute without feeling like your head was going to explode? What do you do when you are faced with insurmountable odds and are not sure where to turn?

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we should give thanks. Really? This is the last thing I want to think about doing when I am faced with fear and anxiety over something that’s happening in my life. What I really want to do is run and throw a blanket over my head, find a dark quiet place in my house to escape until whatever my problem is goes away. Of course, this isn’t what God wants for us.  

As Christians, God has given us the Holy Spirit. What comes with this amazing gift is the ability to stand firm on our belief that whatever is happening is God’s will. No matter what troubles or trials we face we know that we will persevere because we are a child of God. 

When we are in the midst of trials, God is fine tuning us to be stronger and bolder for Him. Giving thanks in all of our circumstances tells the world that our God is greater and stronger than anything it has to offer.     

Giving thanks to God is easy when life is going great and everything seems to fall into place.  Why is it so hard to give thanks when we are down? Instead of turning our focus during a crisis to God, we instead turn our focus on ourselves and how the world says we should react. When you think of mainstream media, the acceptable reactions to problems vary but are typically negative. When faced with a difficult situation, the world media trains us to believe our situation is hopeless and we should react out of a sense of fear. 

Thankfully, our God is a God of mercy, grace, and love. Thankfulness is not easy when life gets hard but when we choose to thank God for our difficult situation, we will receive His blessing. Remember that God is always at work in your life, He has a plan and it will reveal itself in His timing not ours. So stop focusing on the, ”Why me?” and, instead, turn your attention to God and confidently declare, “Why not me?”    

Dig Deeper |

Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 5:20

Action Item |

This week practice giving thanks in all of your circumstances and see how this changes your view of life when difficult circumstances are present. 

Prayer |

Blessed Heavenly Father, thank You for Your pure and perfect plans. I know that the Christian walk is not without trials and difficulties. Thank You for believing in me to carry out Your will. I will work on focusing my efforts on Your promises and thanking You for all my circumstances. Thank You for loving me.

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Giving Thanks For The Imperfect Thanksgiving

ThanksgivingSow & Gather - Tamera B.Comment
#sowandgather #thanksgiving Give Thanks For The Imperfect Thanksgiving

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7 NIV

Thirty people are coming. My brother is coming a day early. My sister-in-law is staying a day late. My parents are too elderly to drive. I've got to cook it all. Oh, and my favorite cousins are coming and staying at a hotel - there's a reason they are my favorites.

Does that sound anything like your inner voice today? This week we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving. A time of giving thanks to God for the blessings in our life. What I hear over-and-over from people is the stress of the holiday and not the joy.  

For years I stressed over hosting events at my house. Would the table be set on time? I don't have enough matching glasses? Will my husband or child eat what is being served? Years ago I realized that I've yet to attend or host a perfect event. Working myself up for the event does nothing but make me stress, worry, and be unpleasant to those around me.

I had a Thanksgiving turning point almost two decades ago. I hosted my first Thanksgiving on the wrong day of the week. This, my friends, is the trick to a relaxing, imperfect, joyful Thanksgiving.  It was going to be a small event with another couple that already had plans for Thanksgiving day.  I took the relaxing Thursday to prepare the meal and Friday became our day of celebration. I was separated from my family by 600 miles that year. As we got ready to say grace, my back door opened and in walked my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. I had a choice between freaking out because my table wasn't big enough or rejoicing because the people I loved most were all together.

Pick rejoicing. It's always the right choice.

Would you like to embrace celebrating an imperfect Christmas for the perfect Christ? Join the women of First Baptist Grapevine and speaker Allison Allen on December 3 at 1 pm. Allison Allen is an actor and Bible teacher that was on tour with Women of Faith.

Dig Deeper |

Luke 10:38-42; Ecclesiastes 9

Action Item |

Write down 3 things you are thankful for today.

Prayer |

Dear God, thank you for our imperfections. We are each uniquely created in your image. Give us patience to "roll with it" during Thanksgiving and every other day of the week. Amen.

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The World Needs Hospitality - - Not Entertaining!

ThanksgivingMarci Anthony7 Comments
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Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.   Romans 12:13

About this time of year, I start to get anxious about what to prepare for the family Thanksgiving meal. Thankfully, I only have to bring a few dishes to share with a sizable family of twenty-five.

One year I decided to depart from the traditional dressing and go rogue with an apple and sausage dressing. Sounds somewhat delightful – right?

Well, let’s just say that each year my family says a prayer of praise when they see the traditional corn bread stuffing on the table!

Why do we get so caught up in the meal, the presentation, and the spotless house? There have been so many times when my focus was on myself as the host and the presentation verses the true needs of my guests.

In this passage in Romans, Paul is reminding his readers how to live as redeemed people in this fallen world. When Paul says “practice hospitality,” he is not saying that we should esteem ourselves as the perfect host and throw the perfect party, but quite the opposite. How we view hospitality in the western world is not what this word in the original Greek (philonexia) meant; which is to entertain strangers.

Taking our eyes off ourselves and the entertainment and giving attention to our guests and their needs is practicing hospitality. These guests may be your neighbors, work colleagues, or someone God has placed in your path. Their needs may be a meal, shelter, childcare, elder care, mentoring, or just friendship.

The great news about hospitality is that it can be performed in the messiest of homes (I'm grateful), school playground, park, or wherever you happen to be.

Whether we are sharing with a believer in need or sharing our faith with the lost, practicing hospitality is a way we can live out our faith each day.

This year I pray that God will focus my heart on my family and guests and less on the presentation. May my guests be filled up with the love of Christ through me and less on the dish I prepare (even if it is the apple sausage stuffing!)

Dig Deeper |

Romans 12:9–21

Action Item |

Where is my focus this Thanksgiving season? Are you more caught up in being the perfect host or pouring attention into your guests?

Prayer |

Dear Lord, give me opportunities to practice hospitality to those you have placed in my life. Give me the eyes to see the needs.  Amen.

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This post is part of the 100 Happy Days Linkup

And, Honored to be selected as "host pick" from the 100 Happy Days Linkup -- "I loved the message here about focusing on what’s more important – people or presentation. And especially at this time of year, I want to take time to slow down and focus on ministering to people’s needs rather than just appealing to their eyes. This beautifully delivered message pointed me in just that direction with an ever so gentle and encouraging nudge!”

 


Give Thanks In A Crowd Of Family

harvest, ThanksgivingMarci Anthony4 Comments
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Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife. Proverbs 17:1 NIV

What a wonderful time of the year!  It is autumn and the leaves on the trees are turning a vibrant red, yellow, and orange. The trees are glowing and the leaves are beginning to fall lazily to the ground waiting to be raked.  The days are getting shorter and the air is crisp in the morning and just perfect during midday.

It is a time to prepare all the yummy foods and indulge in treats only made once a year. The house smells of these tasty snacks and the décor of your house looks like a pumpkin patch. Even the clothes we wear are different comprising of long-sleeved shirts, flashy scarves and cute socks with boots.

Along with these changes of autumn, we have our family.  We not only have our spouse and children in our lives but we have parents, in-laws, our siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles.  We have a myriad of family in our house and in our life.

From my experience with all this family comes periods of unrest, strife and just basic anger and exasperation.  Even though we love them, strife occurs. It is not always intentional but just happens with so many family members and so many personalities all in the same place. 

I desire peace, so every year during this season I begin to meditate on Proverbs 17:1. I start with asking Jesus to be evident during our family times and to help me to love my family as he does. Second, I try to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Being quick to listen for a talker like me is so difficult, but I will conquer listening with Jesus. Finally, I practice the fruit of joy, which comes from the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) With this fruit of joy, contention, anger, and bitterness cease.

Let peace begin!

Dig Deeper |

1 John 4:7

Action Item |

Decide now to be a house of feasting with peace! With Jesus peace can occur.

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, Thank you for seasons in our lives and especially this season of autumn. Help me to be aware of your presence, to love as you do, be fast to listen and emit a joyful spirit with my family. I know I am able with you. Amen.

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This post is part of Kelly Balarie and Friends #raralinkup.

purposefulfaith.com

Praise the Lord Always!

Thanksgiving, PsalmMarci Anthony2 Comments
even-the-trees-praise-the-lord-sowandgather

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do His bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds. Psalm 148:7-10 NIV

Vacations are so thrilling. It is so wonderful to leave the routine and drudgery of daily life and just get away. Whether you have a “staycation” or a travel vacation, there is nothing more rejuvenating than a change from the day-to-day routine.

In October, my husband and I decided to travel to California and and visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. The national parks system in the United States is so awesome and as you can imagine, both of these national parks are true to their name. Yosemite is full of roaring waterfalls, rugged gray granite cliffs and mountains ready to be conquered with long arduous hikes. Sequoia is just as awesome but also so . . . inspiring.

Sequoia is covered with the huge, red-barked redwood trees. One of the largest and oldest trees is the General Sherman.  He is 275 feet tall, 79 feet in diameter and about 2000 years old. As I gazed upon this beautiful tree and others around him, I was awestruck. I stared with my mouth open attempting to comprehend the beauty and size of this tree. It just goes up and up and up. The branches reach to the heavens. I stopped and thought, “This tree was probably around when Jesus walked the earth.” Wow!!!

But the most remarkable thing about the redwood trees is that they appear as if they are praising God. These trees stretch toward the sky with their branches waving. They stand straight and strong as if praising God and glorifying His name. They are singing to Him. And, at that moment, I realized I should be declaring and praising His majestic name as well. Jesus is worthy to be praised! What a God! 

Well, vacation is over but life is not. I can’t physically see the trees anymore, but in my mind’s eye, I still visualize the majesty and splendor of those beautiful creations. Just as I praised and thanked Jesus in the park with those incredible trees, I can praise and thank Him here in my home, at work and even as I run errands.

Today I will stand like General Sherman praising the LORD from the earth.

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 148Psalm 136

Action Item |

Take time to thank and praise our wonderful LORD. Write down three things you are thankful for today.

Prayer |

Dearest LORD, I praise and worship you. I thank you for who you are and the wonderful blessings you have given me. I don’t want to miss a day without giving thanks and praise to you. Amen. 

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This post is part of the Shine Blog Hop.

The SHINE Blog Hop

How to Give Thanks When We Are Overwhelmed

ThanksgivingMarci Anthony2 Comments
give-thanks-when-you-are-overwhelmed.jpg

. . . make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  Had too much on your plate? Wanted to erase every filled box on your calendar? That’s where I was!  I just wanted to crawl on the couch, turn on the T.V. and pull a blanket over my head, hoping no one would see me! How can I do EVERYTHING that needs to get done? They are all things I love and agreed to do and truly felt God had placed on my plate. So why am I so frustrated??

In Hebrews 13:21 the word “complete” doesn’t mean “perfect” it means “prepared.” This verse is telling us that God is equipping us by way of adjusting, shaping, mending, restoring, or preparing us by what He has put “on our plate." God is preparing me in every work to do His will so that I will be well pleasing (through Jesus Christ). WHAT??? 

This means I need to get on my knees and ask God to give me strength, energy, wisdom, discernment, and even the ability to do the things I need to do. He had me exactly where He wanted me, where I needed to be...unable to do it in my ability and strength so that I would seek Him. I can get so distracted by what I am supposed to be doing that I forget WHY I’m doing it.

God never expected me to do ANY of it in my own ability – He knew I couldn’t; but He had to show me that I couldn’t do it. It is when I seek Him that what seemed like an overwhelming schedule, actually turns out to be opportunities to minister to others and to see Him working in my life.

What was once an overwhelming mess, in God’s hands becomes a way to reach out to others with love, joy, and peace. It is in those moments that I realize it is all through Him, and then He gets the glory and praise instead of me hurting my arm by trying to pat myself on the back for “all I did."

The holidays are upon us! You can choose to be overwhelmed, frazzled, and maybe even a bit angry. Or you can get on your knees and ask God where He wants you and what He wants you to do. Then, do it in His strength so that others can see the fruit of the Spirit manifested in your life. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

What are people seeing in you, someone who is overwhelmed or overjoyed?

Dig Deeper |

Philippians 1:6; 2 Timothy 3:17; 2 Corinthians 13:11

Action Item |

Write down three things you are thankful for today? If you are overwhelmed, write down why you are overwhelmed and give it to God in prayer.

Prayer |

Lord, help me to seek You in everything I do.  In Your hands even the smallest gesture can have life changing results.  Help me to remember that it is all about You not me. Amen.

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God Doesn't Exaggerate - Thank God For All Of Them

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
give-thanks-for-all-of-them-sowandgather

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT) 

“Mom, I think you remember that story very differently from how it happened!” Those are words I have heard a few times from my children after they have listened to me recount a family story. It is somewhat of a family joke that I have a tendency to exaggerate a bit. Of course, I call it thinking big. I love to use words like most, always, biggest, all, and every, bringing incredible drama to my stories. 

I find it so interesting that God also uses words like always, all, and every. As a matter of fact, you will find those words peppered all through the word of God. There is a huge difference, however, to God’s use of those words and mine. GOD NEVER EXAGGERATES!  Every time he says all, he means all. Every time he speaks always, he means it. When he says every, it means every single one! 

Understanding and grasping that God never exaggerates has given me enlightened eyes as I approach His Word. You see, because Thanksgiving is approaching, I have been doing some searching for verses about thanks (I will, as always, quote these scriptures for my kiddos and force them to have a grateful heart.)  Through my search I stumbled on this one, 1 Timothy 2:1. Timothy’s instruction is a tall order. Pray for all people and give thanks for them. By “them” does he seriously mean ALL people? I believe he does as God never exaggerates. 

At this time of year, we find ourselves listing off the many blessings we have in our lives. We thank God for our protection, our safety, our life, our families, His word, and the list could goes on and on. There are many people that have been incredible blessings in my life and I treasure a season that reminds me to tell them how grateful I am for them.

But this phrase ALL people is throwing me for a loop. Seriously, does God want me to be grateful for those who are a thorn in my flesh?  Does God want me to be grateful for those who repeatedly discourage me? Does God want me to be thankful for those who don’t even like me?

God said ALL PEOPLE. GOD NEVER EXAGGERATES! So the answer is YES! 

God’s instruction for us is to pray for ALL people and to give thanks for them. This Thanksgiving season, as you list the many obvious blessings in your life, make sure to look around at the people that surround you.  Notice the people with which you work. Recognize the people that sit on committees with you. Take note of the people that live close to you. No matter who they are and how they respond to you, thank God for ALL of them!    

Digging Deeper | 

2 Timothy 2:1-8

Action Items | 

As November approaches, take time to make a list of all of the people in your life.  List them by category (i.e. family, co-workers, friends, etc.). Take time each day to thank God for the blessing of encouraging people. Then, take time to thank God for people who are not encouraging. Thank God that He is teaching you through those people.  

Prayer | 

Dear Jesus, thank you so much for your word. I thank you that you care enough about me to give me instruction in your word that makes my life more relevant, useful and contented. God, give me the courage to thank you for the people in my life that don’t love me. God, give me the strength to see those people through your eyes. Amen. 

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How Can We Give Thanks Daily?

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
Give-Thanks-Daily-SowandGather

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

If you had to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, how grateful are you? Do you express your thankfulness to Jesus on a regular basis or only on holidays? And how well do you convey thanks to others? 

This past New Year’s Day I was reading the newspaper and I noticed an article on gratitude. The article spoke of a gentleman who conveyed thanks every day by hand writing a short note to an individual who had served him. Needless to say I was awed.  He wrote a note of thanks every day! I began to think how often I showed or even stated, “Thank you,” and I realized I fell very short. 

I was reminded of the above verse which states to give thanks always. So, I decided to implement gratitude in my life. 

Every day I began to thank Jesus for one thing, person, or event and I kept track of it by listing it on a calendar. I have started to hand write short notes of appreciation once a week to someone in my life who has served me or just showed care for me.

I have even become more cognizant of the waiters at restaurants, customer service representatives, landscapers or those that regularly provide a service for me and say, “Thank you.”  

It’s a beginning and I still struggle with communicating gratitude, but I’m glad I have begun to exercise this “command” in my life. 

Dig Deeper | 

Psalm 136; Psalm 100

Action Item | 

Do you express gratitude to Jesus on a regular basis? Do you convey thanks to others?  Begin to take steps to live a life grateful. 

Prayer | 

Dearest Jesus, thank you! Thank you for being my God and for loving me. Thank you for the people in my life and the many activities, privileges, and blessings you have given me. I am so grateful and I love you. Amen. 

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This post is part of the weekly #raralinkup with Kelly Balarie & Friends.


Snow White Thanksgiving - We Are Washed As White As Snow

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
snow-white-thanksgiving-sowandgather.com

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Psalm 100:4 (NASB)

Thanksgiving was an extended family affair for my home. Each holiday we would cram into our blue Pontiac with plastic seat covers. Pillows, suitcases, cinnamon-clove wafting pumpkin pie, toys, hanging clothes . . . there was barely enough room to squeeze in, but enough room that my brother and I had a dividing line.  The kind of line that we weren't to cross or swift reprimand would follow. We traveled like this for four hours so when we arrived, it was like releasing caged animals into the wild. 

I was an outside girl so I immediately would head to my grandparent's front lawn where many one hundred year old oak trees stood. In the fall, the ground would be covered in leaves and acorns. The leaves were often wet from fall rains and had begun to decompose and decay giving them a pungent, earthy smell.  Being the tomboy, I loved raking these multicolored offerings into piles I jumped into without reserve. I usually came out with bits of leaves clinging to my naturally curly hair. The moisture which was a deep rich brown often stained my clothes and was virtually impossible to wash out. 

One such Thanksgiving as the aunts and uncles and grandchildren gathered, it began to snow. Since snow was not common at that time of year, the grand kids took turns pressing close to the window glass hoping to see the round cracker-sized flakes fall. Excitement hummed as the children were hopeful to play in the snow.  

As the house awoke to my granny's favorite alarm of a metal spoon and cast iron skillet, the kids rushed to see what had happened in the night. Mounds and mounds of beautiful, pure white snow lay softly on the ground. I thought it was the most beautiful sight. The dead, decaying leaves which made me dirty had been covered by such beauty that sparkled in the sun.

It was a snow white Thanksgiving! 

Much like this story, my life before Christ was stained and filthy. Without treatment of His precious blood, I would not be clean. I had a life filled with death and decay that needed only what the Savior could give. Oh, but what great joy when on the day that I trusted Him to save me, He softly laid His beautiful pure righteousness over me. So when I enter His gates, I am thankful because where I stood rejected, I now have acceptance. Where I was called an enemy, now I am called a friend. Where I once was judged, now I am not condemned. Where I once was dead, I now am alive.

Where once I wore filthy rags, I now wear white that shines like stars in the universe.       

Dig Deeper | 

Isaiah 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:1 

Action Item | 

When was the last time you remembered to thank God for His grace towards you through Jesus Christ? Think of all it cost Him so you could have life. 

Prayer | 

Thank you Lord for Your saving grace and for covering me with Your righteousness. Thank You for doing for me what I could not do for myself. Help me not forget what it cost You to give me freedom from sin and death. Give me courage to share with others this tremendous gift of life. Amen.

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Give Thanks in Frustration

ThanksgivingMarci Anthony2 Comments
give-thanks-in-frustration-sowandgather.com

My go-to emotion is frustration. Problem at work – frustration; raising a teenager – frustration; disagreement with spouse – frustration; dirty house – frustration; eat the ice cream – frustration; don’t eat the ice cream – frustration.

Frustration is a vicious little merry-go-round of being upset or annoyed when I’m unable to control a situation or make a goal a reality. Frustration for me is a “disturbance in the force.” While I am not a Star Wars groupie, I’ve always loved how reaction to events caused the feeling of agitation or frustration in certain characters. Life, as they knew it, was out of balance.

Over the years I’ve learned that balance is everything. When one area of my life gets heavy and weighted down, that spinning merry-go-round starts to wobble and the longer and faster it spins, the more out of kilter life becomes. I’m currently in the middle of an out of kilter disturbance in the force. It’s been building for weeks, but somehow I missed the signs or ignored them altogether. If frustration is my go-to emotion, ignoring the frustration is my go-to response.

The more out of kilter, or the greater the disturbance in the force, the more frustrated I become. At some point, the intensity is so high, I have to decide: do I stay on this crazy ride or jump off?

Jump where?

Jump to Jesus. It seems so simple. He’s right there watching me spin around and around and around with His arms open wide, ready to catch me. He knows I have to make the jump. I’ll only jump when I accept that I was never in control and He was always in control.

I think of Moses and the beautiful, raw, heartfelt conversations he had with God in the desert. In Numbers 11 we see more than a glimpse of Moses’ frustration with the Israelites, their living conditions, and Moses’ responsibility. Moses was spinning really fast on that frustration merry-go-round. As frustrated as he was, he did jump off – Moses jumped to God. Moses laid out his frustrations and God answered with one of my favorite verses of scripture: “is my arm too short?” (Numbers 11:23) My translation of God’s reply – “don’t you know I’ve got this?”

No doubt, Moses had a lot more going on in his life than I have in mine. Yet, my frustrations are just as valid. And, my response is just as important. We read in Psalm 90 how Moses continued to give thanks, even in the days, months and years of frustrations. Making the jump is the scary part. Giving thanks should be easy.

Today I am thankful I have a job, thankful for the blessing of a child, thankful for the love of a spouse, thankful for a home to rest in, and thankful for abundant food to eat.

Continue to join us this month at Sow & Gather as we explore what it truly means to be thankful. Thankful in all situations.

Dig Deeper |

Numbers 11; Psalm 90

Action Item |

Commit right now to jump off whatever emotional merry-go-round you are on and do it.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, you know my heart. You know that I allow frustrations with uncontrollable outcomes to build up to the breaking point. Lord God, make me aware when this is happening. Help me to jump as many times as necessary until I learn to give you complete control. May I give thanks always. Amen.

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