The Family Tree

Today I’m sharing another of Pat’s wonderful devotionals. And don’t forget that Pat’s new devotional book, FEAST OF JOY, is available at Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Xulon.

 


The Family Tree

 By Pat Knight

“Then the King will say…
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father;

take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you

since the creation of the world.’”

─Matthew 25:34

During a recent TV documentary, historians speculated about Adolph Hitler’s family history.  Even today investigators are at a loss to identify Hitler’s relatives because he ordered all of his family records destroyed, including birth certificates, photos, and personal letters.  He so obsessively pursued creating the perfect society that under his tutelage genealogists eliminated the records of his biological family and recreated new documents, permitting the dictator to manipulate people into and out of his family tree.

“You can choose your friends, but not your family” is a recognizable quip that applies to most of the human race. An exception to the rule was most recently illustrated when Adolph Hitler appropriated the ability to redesign his own family. His lineage has been so entirely revised that researchers are trying to piece it together now, more than seventy-five years after the dictator’s death. The German Chancellor of the Third Reich had three step-nephews who currently live in total seclusion in the USA, refusing to cooperate with investigators probing for the truth regarding their family history.

With the small amount of progress gained in retrieving Hitler’s original family tree, a psychiatrist has determined that there was a genetic predisposition to mental disorders within his family. As a child, young Adolph was subjected to his father’s abuse. Disillusioned as an adult, Hitler could not tolerate imperfection, especially within his own family. To avoid humiliation, he merely interchanged his family members with those people he perceived to be of superior quality.  

The one, perfect God opens His arms wide and accepts all who request salvation, a birthright into His holy family. Imagine being a member of the family of God! It is blessed reality, a truth taught by Jesus when He walked this earth. God’s family is a composite of all human life beginning with Adam and Eve and descending through the ages. “Then the King will say … ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).

Because God is sovereign, He could be highly selective of those who will live with Him in heaven for eternity. He could choose among candidates who are physically superior or attractive. However, God reminds us in His Word that exterior appearances are deceptive; He is not impressed with man’s emphasis of achievement or beauty. God looks deep within a person’s heart. Since that is the case, one might further assume God prefers those who possess the most innocent or altruistic thoughts. That is the reasoning man tends to use. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Mankind has always been separated from God because any sin, pondered or committed, is offensive to Him. Our Father is holy and sinless. He sacrificed His only pure Son to redeem a sinful people who are separated from Him by a deep chasm of impurity. We cannot reach God without the bridge of His Son’s shed blood to redeem and unite us. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

Since Jesus has redeemed us by willingly sacrificing His sinless, pure life, God has promised we will inherit eternal life; co-heirs in eternity with His own Son, Jesus. If you were notified that you had inherited a mansion where you could live in untold riches for an eternity, wouldn’t you hasten to accept the gift? That is exactly what God is offering each one of us. He refuses no one who genuinely believes and in humility accepts Him as Lord and Savior. Though God is reproached by sin, He is willing to forgive the most heinous acts of indecency. “‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more’” (Isaiah 43:25).

God is merciful, desiring that no one perish. The eternal King lavishes us with His love and welcomes us into heaven as His children. It is unnecessary to bribe or manipulate, but only believe. We are promised an eternity in paradise where the only illumination is supplied by the absolute glory of our holy, heavenly Father. 

Perfection on earth is impossible. Adolph Hitler’s delusions caused world-wide suffering.  Millions of people were annihilated in one man’s quest to create an ideal family and a perfect society. The one perfect Son of God substituted His flawless life to save a world of lost sinners. Even those who endeavor to manipulate their family tree on earth must succumb to the Lord’s rules to access heaven. There perfection shall reign eternal!


Image credit: Sweet Publishing / New Harvest Ministries International at http://www.freebibleimages.org/

God’s Christmas Gift

God’s Christmas Gift

 By Pat Knight

I had just settled into a pew prior to the church service, when my husband tapped me on the shoulder. As he whispered, “Something’s happened to my mother,” I heard panic in his voice. Her crumpled form lay on the cold floor of the church vestry. My hand over my mother-in-law’s chest detected the last heartbeat as someone else attempted to palpate her carotid pulse. There was no time to think, but simply to respond. Our knowledge of life saving, practiced and stored for future use, must be activated into quick and decisive maneuvers. The ambulance arrived and whisked Della off to the hospital. I was stunned. It was Christmas Eve and my mother-in-law had just suffered a cardiac arrest in church. In a few short minutes the serenity of the day had given way to utter chaos.

Further testing revealed our loved one had not suffered a heart attack, but worse—a ruptured brain aneurysm. The weakened wall of an artery had burst, causing a stroke in a vital area of her brain. She was transferred via ambulance to a larger medical center as a blizzard raged on Christmas morning. My husband and his sister followed the ambulance while I remained at home to create a little Christmas spirit for our young son and his four older cousins.

Exhaustion enveloped after the holiday dinner I prepared for eleven people was barely nibbled by five excited children. Aimlessly, I slumped into a chair while the teens supervised the young children outside playing in the snow. I could no longer focus on the events of the past twenty-four hours. Instead, my mind wandered to Bethlehem. On a cold, still night in the sheepfold, I was a weather-worn shepherd, frightened by the sudden appearance of an angel. Then the sky spontaneously opened to reveal a vast army of heaven’s angels, singing the jubilant praises of a birth announcement. ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:14)

In the midst of the adversity the Holy Family experienced on that first Christmas day, God assured them, and us, of the greatest gift of all time—His Son. I was rejuvenated by the stunning reminder that it was Christmas day and that I, too, had reason to rejoice.

Among the uncertainty and confusion, God lavished me with His marvelous gift of peace. The affirmation that the Lord was in control was very real. Knowing that His plan for the birth of His Son was perfect to the last detail, just as it had been prophesied for centuries, how could I doubt that God’s plan would be any less perfect for the life of my mother-in-law?

The physicians gave us no encouragement that our loved one would live. In fact, when we inquired about her future homecoming, they simply stared at us in disbelief that our focus was on her recovery. For weeks her life hung in the balance between life and death. She endured brain surgery, drug reactions, and paralysis. How should I pray? Seeing my husband’s mother in her fatal condition, I could hardly ask that she live. Yet, I didn’t want her to die. I realized that I must commit her life totally to God. Hesitantly at first, I prayed, “Thy will be done. How difficult it was to let go! But, eventually my ineffectual hold on her transformed to urgent, trusting prayer that God’s will alone take precedent.

In the town where we lived, news traveled fast. People congratulated me for my heroic actions in saving a life. I bristled against the distinction. “Oh, no,” I clarified, “God saved her. I was only one of many people involved in His plan.” But my explanation didn’t discourage the next well-meaning person from assigning hero status. It was futile to attempt to dissuade public opinion, but my heart and mind rebelled against the perceived distinction. It had never been my desire to participate in such a pivotal event.

Previously, I had wondered if I would be able to perform CPR on a family member.  Although the steps to the resuscitation process emerged naturally, my emotional reaction was overwhelming. One night at work, my nurse manager asked how I was handling the family crisis. I was shocked to hear the words I blurted out: “I can’t shake the terrible guilt I feel for participating in her revival, only to see her remain in a vegetative state these past few weeks.” 

My manager responded, “Oh, I thought you believed in the One who died to remove all guilt.” What spiritual introspection and unrest that one comment elicited! I then realized how significantly my faith had been stymied by personal guilt. How could I possibly pray with conviction, believing in God’s compassion, power, and authority, if my heart was filled with self-incrimination? I proceeded to ask His forgiveness and press onward, requesting God’s help to develop a confident, obedient faith walk.

The quintessential question remains as to God’s purpose for afflictions and hardships in a Christian’s life. Though we will likely never know all of the answers until heaven, the crisis produced an unexpected personal consequence: I grew substantially in my faith walk and prayer life as a result of my mother-in-law’s turbulent illness and prolonged recovery.

God eventually performed a healing miracle in our loved one’s life. She lived for another seventeen years following her recovery, pleasantly astonishing her neurosurgeon and caregivers. Never did our family celebrate another Christmas without boundless joy and gratitude for the spectacular miracles God delights to perform in His children’s lives.

Waiting in Faith, Trust and Hope

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
they will mount up with wings like eagles,
they will run and not get tired,
they will walk and not become weary.

─Isaiah 40:31

Waiting in Faith,
Trust and Hope

You may have noticed that I did not publish any blog posts last week. That’s because of some wonderful news I get to share with you today. Rick and I were in Phoenix because our family has officially increased by two precious babies.

Our journey with twins Austin and Alex began in June 2016 when they were just four months old. They were brought to Alan and Denise (my son and daughter-in-love) through the foster care system. Unsurprisingly we all immediately fell in love with them and have spent the last 33 months hoping, praying and waiting for everything to work out so that Alan and Denise could adopt these sweet little ones. Last week that long-awaited event happened and Rick and I were there at the adoption hearing, along with many family and friends.

I often write about faith, trust and hope. Over the past three years, all of us have been praying and praising God with faith, trust and hope during the waiting. Admittedly there were times when we all wondered if the adoption would ever happen. We repeatedly found ourselves high on the mountains of good news, only to be thrust down into valleys when those hopes were dashed. Still, we continued to rely on God for his comfort and peace while we waited.

Years ago, a fellow writer shared this gem with me about waiting. I have shared his wise words before and they never get old. It definitely applies to our situation:

Even though it was very hard at times to keep on trusting and believing that God was working out the details for the good of all of us, including the babies, we never gave up hope that adoption day would finally happen. The most important thing we learned from everything we went through is that God already had a plan in place, and last week we witnessed the fruition of that plan.

So here we are, almost three years later. Because of the anonymity and protection required for children in the foster care system, we haven’t been able to speak publicly about this … until now.

Oh, dear Lord, this Meemaw is utterly thankful to be able to finally tell how You walked with us through all that waiting. To You—our awesome and everlasting God—be the glory for allowing us to be part of such an amazing journey with these two precious children.

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, 
the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
─1 Timothy 1:17

As I was writing this post, the song To God Be the Glory kept running through my head, so here is a video of Nicole C. Mullen singing My Tribute (To God be the Glory)/My Redeemer Lives:

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer, and in Sickness

This is an excellent article from UnlockingTheBible.org.

Marriage for Worse, for Poorer,
and in Sickness

By Sarah Walton

I remember the moment I stood before my groom and recited my wedding vows. I certainly didn’t expect life to be perfect, but I assumed my marriage would be filled with more of “better” than “worse.”

With stars in my eyes, and blissfully unaware of what the future would hold, I confidently vowed, “I take you, Jeff, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live.”

That was almost 13 years ago.

Trials Can Test Your Marriage Vows

Little did I know those thirteen years would hold chronic illness, financial loss, special needs, suffering children, marital strain, and overwhelming stress. I never imagined that I’d experience so much of the “worse, poorer, and in sickness” part of our vows.

I’m grateful as I reflect on the unexpected trials that have tested our marriage. In God’s goodness, the “worse” parts of our marriage have ushered in a deeper, Christ-centered experience of the “better.” This hasn’t come without the pain of loss and failure; yet Christ has used it to mature us in him, change our character, and increase our love for each other.

This, of course, is only possible with and through Christ. While God can certainly change the heart of a non-believing spouse and use the pain of unbelief to draw both spouses to himself, the following truths reflect a husband and wife who’ve put their faith in Christ and desire to follow him. If you’re married to an unbelieving spouse, I pray God will use the trials to draw them to a saving faith in Christ.

Read the rest here.

Saying Goodbye

I have written about my parents before here. Last year I shared a prayer request about my Dad here.

Earlier this week the Lord called Dad home. He had been struggling with dementia and other health problems for some time. Last fall his health began to go downhill fast.

I cannot travel by air these days because it causes severe migraines, so last year I faced a difficult decision. I wanted to see Dad again but knew what flying would do to me. Reality: should I see Dad while he was still alive or wait and go to his funeral?

I happen to have the greatest sisters in the world. I’ve written about them here before. They know what I go through each day, and all of them encouraged me to see Dad while he was still with us. So I flew to Florida in November to be with Dad and my sisters. It was the most special, yet bittersweet time, and I am ever thankful I got to see him one last time.

I can only imagine the joyful reunion Dad and Mom had in heaven and am looking forward to seeing them there someday.

DadCollageFramed--AMP

Beloved, family life is special but there are also times of anger and strife. We’re only human after all. If there is one thing I want to leave you with, it is to choose to forgive and love. Okay, that’s two things, but my point is that life is short. Don’t allow circumstances or disagreements to keep you at odds with or separated from your family.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body
to hardship that I may boast, 

but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

—1 Corinthians 13:1-8a

 

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Family Prayer Request

My family

I have written about my family before. You can read about us here and here. The photo above was taken back in 1995. Obviously a lot has happened since then.

Mom went home to the Lord in early 2007. It will be Dad’s turn soon. 

In a couple of days I will be traveling to Florida to gather with my sisters so we can be with Dad, who has been faced with some severe health problems over the past couple of years. It seems Dad’s time here on earth will come to an end soon, so we want to see him before the Lord takes him home. He may not even recognize us but that doesn’t matter. We haven’t all been together for several years because I don’t travel well these days, especially by airplane which makes my migraines so much worse. However, we need to be together as a family now.

Beloved, I am sharing this with all of you to ask you to pray for us as we come together with Dad. I cancelled the posts I had previously scheduled to publish during the time I’ll be gone. I want to concentrate on being with my family without having to wonder about how things are going with this blog. I’ll be back soon. My family and I thank you in advance for all your prayers.

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Thankful for My Family

today-thankful-orange…..

my family.

I grew up in a household full of sisters—5 of us altogether—and although we’ve had our share of rough times and in spite of living so far apart, we are probably closer than ever. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am for my precious family!

I love this photo of all of us taken way back in 1995 (I think).

My family

Left to Right: me, Nancy, Palma, Mom, Dad, Julie, Maria

Mom has been home with the Lord since 2007 and we all miss her so much. Dad is living in an independent retirement community these days. He participates in many of the activities where he lives, and keeps busy doing a lot of walking with the help of his rolling walker. In fact, I have it on good authority that he is a speed demon with that walker!

You can read more about us here and here.

The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.  —Erma Bombeck

AnnaSmile…..

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Family Tidbits

Tidbit Tuesday

Mother’s Day 2013

Enjoying Mother’s Day with Kathy and Alan

Loved the gift of these gorgeous pink tulips!

I’ll never get enough of being around these two!  ♥ They turned out so great in spite of me and I’ll always be thankful to God for them in my life!

AnnaSmile

My Treasures, Part 5

On May 8th I posted about the treasures in my life and decided to expand on each of those treasures for the next few Treasure Tuesdays. This week I want to share the fourth of the treasures on my list:

My Mother and Father

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. –Exodus 20:12

MOM

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. —Abraham Lincoln

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. —Tenneva Jordan

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. —Sophia Loren

I no longer have my Mom because the Lord took her home five years ago, but I always love sharing this favorite photo of her. This version is “enhanced” with my image so you can see the resemblance:

Don’t you just love Mom’s fabulous smile? Here are some other photos of her:

Our family waaaay back in 1995

Mom relaxing after dinner

Mom and grandson Daniel

A couple of years before the Lord took Mom home

I miss my Mom but she is in a much better place, probably dancing and laughing joyfully with Jesus.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

DAD

Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope. —Bill Cosby

There are three stages of a man’s life: he believes in Santa Clause, he doesn’t believe in Santa Clause, he is Santa Clause. —Unknown

To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter. —Euripides

Dad worked hard to provide for our family and I’ll always be grateful for that. We didn’t have many luxuries but we had the necessities and a few things more. I don’t ever remember feeling deprived, but that’s probably because there was so much love to go around.

Dad lives in Florida and is flying here to visit Rick and me next month. Because of health problems on my end, I haven’t seen him since Son Alan’s wedding in 2010, so we’re really looking forward to his visit.

Here are more photos of Dad:

Me & Dad at the Grand Canyon

Dad hamming it up on the Grand Canyon excursion

Dad & Rick geared up for a ride

Relaxing after dinner

As I said before, Dad worked hard to provide for our family but now he gets to relax and spend time with each of us. As you can see from the photos, he loves having fun so I’m wondering what fun things we’ll do on his next visit here.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Parents have a huge role in shaping our lives. We alternately look to them for guidance while seeking to assert our independence. We want their approval and blessing at the same time we think we know better or more than they ever could. I am ever thankful for the treasures of my Mom and Dad. They taught me the value of a solid work ethic, patterned the “waste not want not” attitude that still guides me today, and showed me what family togetherness is all about.

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. —Proverbs 1:8-9

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. —Proverbs 23:22

Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. —Proverbs 23:25

 

My Treasures, Part 4

On May 8th I posted about the treasures in my life and decided to expand on each of those treasures for the next few Treasure Tuesdays. This week I want to share the third of the treasures on my list:

My precious children: Kathy, Alan and Denise (my daughter-in-love)

I don’t normally write very much about my children so as to respect their privacy but I’m making an exception today because each of them is a true treasure to me.

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. –Mark 9:37

A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous…full of beauty and forever beautiful…loving and caring and truly amazing. Deanna Beisser

Kathy is my first-born and what a treasure she is in my life! I became aware of her existence while I was still engaged to be married to my first husband (Rick is my second husband). Like many women who find out they’re pregnant before marriage, my first thought was to have an abortion. Yes, as difficult as it is for me to share this with you, I gave very serious consideration to having an abortion. I even made the appointment but God had other ideas. After making the actual appointment, which was a couple of weeks away, I became so despondent that I slept almost every minute I was not working, and boy, did I have nightmares about babies dying!

Since I’ve shared a tiny bit about Kathy here before, obviously I did not go through with the abortion. And the blessings I have received since deciding against the abortion have been HUGE! Kathy is precious to me in ways I can’t even express. I am so thankful and blessed that she is not “only” my daughter but one of my closest friends. In fact, she knows me better than anyone else, even my Rick. After all, she and I grew up together and we’re both pink girls!

So, my Kathy, I know I’ve told you before how much you mean to me, and how thankful I am that you came into my life, but I don’t think I tell you often enough how precious our relationship is to me. Because, as you well know, my eyes would leak too much … as they are right now! Thank you for being such a wonderful and caring daughter to me. I am so proud of the woman you have grown to be, one who loves the Lord and seeks to always do His will. I you soooooooo much!

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6

It is truly a gift to have a son like you who grows more precious with the years! Author Unknown

Another treasure is Alan, my second-born. As I’ve shared before, I am one of 5 daughters (no sons), and Alan was the first boy born into our family in over 20 years. To say I was a bit unprepared to raise a boy is a huge understatement. Oh, in my babysitting years I had of course watched boys as well as girls. But raising up a boy of my own?

As a child, Alan loved anything to do with trucks and construction equipment. He went through a phase when he was around 3 years old when he wanted to be a fireman. He had a child-size fire helmet (red) and a plastic riding fire truck and loved both of them. Fast forward to about 15 years ago [please forgive me, Alan, if my math is slightly off] when he became a true firefighter. And these days, as a captain, he’s wearing a red fire helmet again!

Alan’s faith walk is a story that bears sharing because it shows how God honors the prayers of a faithful heart.

Alan asked Jesus into his heart as a youngster, but as a teen and some years beyond, he became very disillusioned with organized religion and did not want to hear or talk about spiritual matters. That terribly hurt this mother’s heart but didn’t stop me from praying constantly for him to come back to the Lord. For many years I prayed for the Lord to bring a godly friend into his life, and not only that, but for a godly wife for him too. How was I to know that the Lord would honor each of my prayers by bringing Alan both things in one person?

When Alan told me he was going to propose to Denise, he said, “She’s the one God used to bring me back to the light.” Oh, how happy and thankful I was to hear that!

But wait… there’s more.

Alan thought he knew the Lord intimately then (that was about 3 years ago), but last year while he and his crew were helping to fight one of Arizona’s inevitable summer wild fires, God showed Himself to Alan in such an incredibly personal way that Alan was immeasurably changed. He not only became baptized—and I got to witness that special event!—but he is now involved with a mission team that serves in Albania to teach medical and life-saving procedures and protocol to medical personnel there. In fact, he has been on two missions so far and will be leaving on another one this September.

Can you say gratified … joyful … thankful … and a bunch of other praise adjectives I can’t even think of right now?

Alan, I always have and always will appreciate your love for me and  how much you care for and want to protect me. I am so proud of the man you have grown into, and will never cease to thank God for you in my life. And I’m guessing He still has some mighty big plans for you, Son! I love you more than you can imagine!

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. –Proverbs 31:10-12

Daughters are angels sent from above to fill our heart with unending love. J. Lee

Denise is my next treasure. I know it’s a cliche, but I call Denise my daughter-in-love because she is! And besides, daughter-in-law sounds so technical… and legal [which it is, but that’s not the point here].

Denise was first Alan’s friend and that friendship blossomed into something more. I have often said that a solid marriage needs to have the base of friendship and Denise and Alan’s marriage has that.

To say that Denise is a gift from God to Alan is to state the obvious. That she is a gift to our family is undeniable. She and Alan complement each other very well, and support each other spiritually and personally.

When Rick and I were doing our premarital counseling, the example of an orange was used as a way to describe marriage. If you tear (not cut) an orange into two halves, each half has ragged edges and you can only fit the orange back together in one way. In the same manner, husbands and wives have strengths and weaknesses that complement one another so that they “fit well” together. Where one may be lacking something, the other can fill in.

This is how I see Alan and Denise’s marriage. Denise just completes Alan and vice versa.

I love Denise immensely because of who she is, because of her strong faith, because God chose her to bring Alan back to Him, because Alan loves her so. And last but not least: because she loves Alan—my son—so much.

So it’s no wonder I consider Denise as one of my children even though I did not give birth to her. She is the daughter of my heart if not my body. Denise, I thank God for you every day and love you so much!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. –3 John 1:4

So there you have it: the treasure of my children. They are truly astounding and precious gifts from God to me!