Dreams

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams . . .

Acts 2:17 ESV

The Bible mentions dreams and visions as a mode of communication between God and man multiple times throughout the Old and New Testaments.

I don’t know about you, but I can say that most of the dreams I have had in my life have not had much spiritual significance. But there have been a few I felt were from the LORD. In fact, some of the most significant times in my life that I sensed God leading me, or warning me, have come through dreams.

I recently heard someone say that dreams are the way our mind tries to figure out our lives. As well, there is quite a bit of research on the rapid eye movement that occurs during sleep and how it is beneficial in therapy such as EMDR to ease PTSD. There is certainly something special about dreams, especially when they stick with us long after we have woken up.

Throughout my life, I have had a few different series of dreams that became a progression of sorts. The dreams come out of nowhere and carry similar themes. This week, I had another progressive dream, and I’m thankful to say it shows that I have progressed in my life. Before I share it with you, let me share the previous dreams I had that belong to this same series of dreams.

I had the first dream two or three times. In the dream, I was a college graduate, but I was stuck in high school! I would talk to the administration, trying to convince them I didn’t belong in high school and that I had already graduated. I would suggest that I take the GED and test out, but each time they would tell me I had to stay in high school for two more years, and that I had to sit through the classes.

Those dreams were very frustrating to say the least, and mirrored what I felt in my life–stuck. The accomplishments I had made in my education and experience didn’t seem to matter to anyone at work. I couldn’t seem to “graduate” to the next phase of my life no matter how much I knew I was beyond where I was stuck.

This week I had a new dream in the progression of this series of school-dreams. In my dream, I was in college! Yea, no more high school! At least I moved on from there. In the dream, I forgot I had registered for a history class. I made it through the semester when I realized I hadn’t gone to history class for weeks!

I was determined I would get to the class, but it started in 10 minutes, and I was waiting on my parents to give me a ride to class. I kept telling them I needed to go, or I would be late. Finally, I climbed in the backseat of their vehicle and we were on our way.

It was a silly dream, and one that doesn’t make sense at all on the surface. I graduated college years ago, and have no desire to formally further my education. And riding with my parents? I haven’t depended on them for a ride since I’ve had my driver’s license.

Despite the silliness of the dream, it stuck with me. I couldn’t shake it when I woke up. What was it about this dream that I needed to remember? In a moment, a flash of meaning entered my mind. In the dream, if I didn’t get my life straightened out, I was going to have to repeat history–something I desperately did not want to do!

I’ve been facing some pretty large life lessons over the past two years. They haven’t been easy, and I desperately want to move forward beyond them. With this simple dream, I felt the Lord was getting my attention. I can’t blame anyone else for my problems–not teachers or my parents or just being forgetful. I have to take responsibility and learn the lesson, or history will repeat itself.

Have you had any significant dreams lately? Is God trying to speak a word into your life through the dreams you have? Please share. I would love to know how God is speaking into your life.


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

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A Lovely Day

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YOU ARE LOVED

It’s that time of year again. The stores are sprinkled with red helium balloons, chocolate candy, and the smell of fresh flowers. I almost bought myself some flowers today, until I noticed they had quadrupled the price for Valentine’s Day . . .

When I realized my blog for the week was due on Valentine’s Day, I thought about writing about God’s love for us. But that kind of felt like avoiding the reality of what many people in my age and stage of life (the mid-20s through 30s and single) are experiencing right now.

To be honest, I’ve felt a little sad over the past week. I think it has more to do with the weather than Valentine’s Day, but maybe the idea of what life is “supposed to be like” has affected my non-conscious self.

I remember several years ago, I was purposeful to make sure I spent Valentine’s Day doing nice things for other people. I didn’t want to be the kind of girl that just moped around all week, wishing for some kind of fanciful romance. I wanted to be an active part of making the day special for someone else. I honestly forgot about that initiative until now as I am writing. I somehow let my purposefulness slip away over the past few years, but it’s not too late for me to pick it back up this week.

The truth is, I’m not the only one who feels a little sad this week. Many people all around me are going to be hurting on Valentine’s Day. People will feel lonely, sad, rejected, unsettled, anxious, fearful, etc. I’ll be interacting with people who have been through break-ups, divorce, death, and all other sorts of transitions and losses that can make the day more difficult to face alone. Some may even be in the middle of a relationship full of turmoil, strife, and confusion, wishing they didn’t have to deal with that kind of hurtful, living and present grief.

If I could send a message out to anyone who is hurting on Valentine’s Day, it would be that you are not alone. There are many people in your same situation. I challenge you to look around and listen to other’s stories. Realize how much we have in common. Connect to someone.

The world is an unsure place. Life gives us more than we can handle at times. We need each other now more than ever before. Reach out to help someone else. Don’t wait for someone to reach out to you. Give compassion and care to someone else, and you will find your heart overflowing with love.

You are loved. God loves you, and there are people in your life who love you. Acknowledge and accept that love.

Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the solitary in families . . .”

I am so thankful God has placed me in a great group of friends like I’ve never had before. I have somewhere to go on Friday nights to hang out with friends, people to eat with on Sunday afternoon, and all sorts of meaningful and fun events to participate in throughout the week.

If you are in the San Antonio area, in your 20s or 30s, and looking for a group to join, check out the CBC Young Professionals. We meet on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. in Room C-136 at Community Bible Church located at 2477 North Loop 1604 East, San Antonio, TX 78232. We would love to meet you and make you a part of our community.

“Celebrating life change in Jesus’ Name.” -CBC


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

She wrote this piece to share with the San Antonio CBC Young Professionals class, of which she is a part. It is also featured on her personal blog, http://www.RachaelKathleenHartman.com

OK in the middle of brOKen

IM-OKI’m currently attending a class at church called Hiding From Love. Tonight we talked about the splits in our lives–the areas where we are broken–and how that brokenness keeps us from loving God and others.

 

We started to share the ways we try to hide our brokenness–putting up facades, rejecting others, turning to addictions or pornography, isolating . . . and the list went on. People started talking about how they wanted healthy relationships, and some talked about past relationships that failed and why they failed, and why they are better off now without the person they used to be with.

I stayed quiet for the most part throughout the first part of the class. I didn’t have anything to say for a while. There was only one thought in my mind, and it was about the relationships I have and have had–the broken relationships, with broken people, and a broken me. Finally, I shared my thoughts.

14-14-1-15-19-56-48m.jpgI can’t cut off my family just because they aren’t perfect. I can’t stop all relationships because they aren’t healthy. So what if I love someone who isn’t the best for me? If I love them, I love them; there’s no turning it off.

The goal isn’t for me to get better so I can be in a perfectly healthy relationship. The goal is to love, to stay, to be present, and to be active in the midst of the brokenness. There’s going to be brokenness in every person and relationship; we can’t let that stop us from living and loving now.

I have friends who are committed to their marriage even though one person has an addiction. I have friends who stay even though their loved one is fighting cancer and it is painful to watch. I have a friend who keeps living life to the fullest, even though he was in a terrible accident that cost him the use of his legs. I personally have anxiety, bouts of crying and panic attacks, but I’m still taking risks and living my life.

love-quotes-22I have come to the place where I know I’m going to have times where I cry and am angry and feel hurt, and that is okay. I’m going to face difficult times, and I’m going to be able to live through it and love through it, even though it hurts.

We don’t have to hide from love because we are broken, or because the person we love is broken. We don’t have to wait to live until there’s a better moment or a more ideal situation. Today is the day to live and to love.

If we continue to seek something “better,” we will constantly pass up love while we wait for “the best” for our lives. Why not be content now? Why not have fun now? Why do we have to keep grasping for a better job, a better person, a better life? We have the life we have now, and it’s ours to live, with all of its brokenness.

We can seek perfection, or we can seek contentment. Perfection will cost us our relationships, and being present in the moment. But with contentment, we can live and love today, in the midst of brokenness.

We have a choice, we can harden our hearts to protect ourselves from the hurt life brings, or we can allow God to give us a heart that is full of passion, the ability to feel, and, yes, vulnerability to pain.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

Lord, help us to see beyond our brokenness. So many of us seek “better” things . . .  accomplishments, jobs, a person to be in a relationship with, more money, beauty, or even a quest for emotional health . . . But all that really matters is that we love right here and right now. Thank-You for loving us in our brokenness, and for giving us the capacity to love others in the midst of theirs.’ 


Rachael

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

She wrote this piece to share with the San Antonio CBC Young Professionals class, of which she is a part.

My Journey to Emotional Sobriety

8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 5:8-11

4-ways-to-turn-weaknesses-into-strengthsA wise man once explained to me that the word sober in 1 Peter 5:8 not only refers to refraining from drunkenness, but also to staying sober from anger, greed, and other emotional, and spiritual issues. There are so many things we can be drunk on. “Love” for another person being one of those things. There are so many experiences and emotions that can inhibit our ability to be “sober-minded” and avoid the lion who seeks to destroy our souls.

By God’s grace, I personally have never been drunk with alcohol. I’ve never had a desire to drink at all. But I have had problems with anger and selfishness and lost my emotional sobriety. My anger and unforgiveness turned to bitterness and brokenness. It was so bad there seemed to be no way for me to stop the rage that began to boil inside my heart and mind.

The person who was hurt the most was me. I have implosive anger… Instead of tearing a room apart, I would keep all the anger inside and it began to destroy my self-worth and peace of mind.

The only thing that began to help was, ironically, The 12 Steps. I started to attend Life’s Healing Choices and other Celebrate Recovery types of programs like Changes that Heal, Boundaries, Hiding From Love, etc. I started to apply the 12 Steps to help me seek emotional sobriety from anger, bitterness, fear, rejection, panic, anxiety, depression, and emotional highs and lows.

I’ve heard people say that deliverance can come in two different ways: instantaneously, or through a process. For me, remaining emotionally sober has been a process of deliverance, one I have to remain committed to, just as my brothers and sisters who are recovering alcoholics and addicts.

I have to always remember that I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I find that when I think things are becoming “right” in my life, and I start to slack in knowing my need for Jesus, that’s when my emotions begin to flare up again. I find myself emotionally overpowered by depression, anxiety, fear and anger . . . and then back to the realization that I am not God, not in control, but that God loves me and cares for me. I’m learning my life is and will be a constant surrendering dependence on God.

As I release my emotions to God, He fills me with forgiveness, peace, and joy. I share this testimony of the power of Christ with you to give you hope. Whatever it is you are fighting, turn to God, turn to Christian support, and seek sobriety.


Rachael.jpg

Rachael Hartman is a 30-something with two dogs, and a passion for writing. She owns Our Written Lives, LLC an independent Christian publishing company.

She wrote this piece to share with the San Antonio CBC Young Professionals class, of which she is a part.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

It has been quite some time since I have had anything to write. Months. I suppose you could say my soul was ravaged and I’ve been struggling to pick up the pieces and move on, most of the time drowning my sorrows in work.

But today I have something to write.

A few weeks ago, on August 9th to be exact, I posted a short video of some baby birds squawking in their nest as their momma flew back and forth with dinner. It’s not unusual for me to share little photos and videos of the sweet things I happen upon. I’ve always been in awe of the beauty of nature around me. I particularly love animals.

After work on August 17th, I met a sad sight. One of the baby birds was dead on the ground outside the post office where their nest was under the awning. I was late to my next appointment, so I texted my coworker asking him to move it to the flower bed outside the building next door. No response. I honestly forgot about the poor baby bird until today when I saw it still lying there outside the post office door near the nest.

At the time I saw the bird I was feeling sorry for myself, alone, and forgotten. My heart has been missing my mother lately. She lives across the country. My heart has been grieving the children I have not born, and the love I have lost. My heart has ached for my friends, the mother who recently lost her baby at full term, another mother whose son was diagnosed with cancer, and others.

I couldn’t leave that baby bird there again. I kept thinking of the mother bird and the other babies, and if they had continued fly to the nest, passing over this lost one every day. Its life was too valuable; I would not forsake it.

I had received a letter in my post office box from a woman in prison that I stashed in my purse. She hadn’t sealed the envelope; a simple slice of tape kept it shut. I removed the letter, marked out our information, and added a new destination.

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I used a nearby leaf to cradle the baby bird into the envelope.

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As I stood, I peeled off the sticky and sealed the envelope. A song entered my heart. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me . . . There it was, the whisper from Heaven I had longed for all day. I began to weep as I acknowledged God’s presence. None of us are forgotten.

I walked over to the raised flower bed next door at the veterinarian’s office. There was a beautiful bush with blue flowers that caught my eye. I climbed into the flower area and began to thank God for the gift the baby bird had been to me. I remembered how much joy I had as I watched the mother bird feed the babies.

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I placed the envelope under the bush and climbed off the edge of the platform. I looked back; it wasn’t good enough. I could still see the envelope. I climbed back up and pushed the burial shroud further under the brush. It’s just the kind of mother I am, I thought. The baby must have a resting space.

As I walked away I noticed some baby birds hopping on the roof of the vet-clinic and flying through the garden area. I imagined they were the same bird family the little one belonged to. They sang their song as if all was right with the world now that their brother was where he belonged, safe, and at rest.

As I climbed into my vehicle, I felt a solemn peace wash through me. Though there was a pain in my heart, I felt solid strength holding up my soul. I sensed the presence of the Lord whispering that no matter how much we feel life is over, there is still something there–the love, the joy, the gratefulness. There is still something to be thankful for.

This evening I took my two creatures out for a walk. I brought my camera along and took pictures of flowers and trees, bunnies, other dogs, a mama deer and her babies, a bunny, and even some vultures camped out on their cell phone tower (or whatever it is). I just needed to be outside, to feel, to appreciate life.

I came home and read the beautiful letter I received from the woman in prison. I thought of my brother, in prison on the other side of the country. I thought of the thousands of incarcerated Americans who feel forgotten. I prayed for them all, and I prayed for me too.

And I remembered . . . His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over us all . . . and . . .

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Rachael and the “What If Monster”

 

whatifToday I received a What If Monster plushie and book from my friend, Naomi Havens. Naomi facilitates giving these books and plushies out to military families. It’s a therapeutic book that helps us deal with fear, anxiety, and other issues. If you’re nowhatifbookt familiar with the book, I highly recommend it. It’s great for everyone, no matter your age!

This gift was truly right on time. I have an incredible opportunity that I’m pursuing, and though I know it’s a great thing and I’m really excited, I’ve been dealing with some “what if’s” . . .  so, I’m going to write my own What If poem! It’s short, but here it goes!

Rachael and the What If Monster

What if you go and no one likes you?
What if you’re lonely and become unglued?
What if they think that you look really young?
What if they think that you’re not much fun?

What if you get stuck in traffic and come in late?
What if everyone around is filled with hate?
What if you get hurt and your heart gets broken?
What if your words get trapped inside, unspoken?

I’ve had a What If Monster talking to me for a while now.
It gives me a headache the size of a brown cow.
My What If Monster whispers words of fear all day long.
The thing is, what if he’s wrong?

What if I go and everyone likes me?
What if lots of friends invite me to tea?
What if they think I look great for my age?
What if they think my life is all the rage?

What if I’m stuck in traffic, but still get all the work done?
What if everyone around is filled with love?
What if I find happiness and my heart becomes full?
What if the truth I speak gives me lots of pull?

The What If Monster is always making sounds,
But what if I turn his “what if’s” all around?
What if the next adventure is really great?
What if good things are so close they can’t wait?

“You have Jesus’ personality”

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“You have Jesus’ personality,” she said smiling at me.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her how wrong she was, or how the thorn in my flesh had already confirmed the truth that day. So I smiled and accepted the best compliment of my life.

“I’ve never met someone with those personality letters, INFJ, but I always wanted to.” Z.C. explained how she read a book on the personality types from the library, and how she had all of her friends take the test.

She introduced me to some of her friends at the completion ceremony at the end of the Kairos weekend. “She has Jesus’ personality,” she said again, beaming.

I once again smiled as I shook her friend’s hands. They were excited to know I was a writer, and they told me how they are all writing books and planning their businesses for when they get out. They were all young, in their 20s, just a few years younger than I am.

“You have given me so much hope,” Z.C. said. The second day during our Kairos “thankfulness” prayer, she had thanked God for “yesterday being the best day of my life.” I have no doubt she touched the heart of every volunteer with that prayer.

I will never forget those words she spoke to me. You see, I know the truth, she is the one with Jesus’ personality. “. . . I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:36-40

God bless every volunteer who goes into prison. In particular, God bless the Kairos #40 ladies I had the honor to serve with, and all who donated to and prayed for our weekend.

“You smell like home. . .”

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“What is that smell?” She asked. S.I. was a resident participant at the Kairos ministry team at Pulaski State Prison I volunteered at last weekend.

“Febreze,” I said.

She looked around cautiously before starting to lean down to smell the arm of my sweater. I held it up for her and she took a deep breath in.” You smell like home,” she said. I could see the tears in her eyes. She has been in prison 8 years and has at least 8 years left to serve.

There are so many little things I take for granted. Febreze. Gum. Real food.

Two of the girls at my table kept a running list of the food we fed them, so they could cherish the memories.

We may think we aren’t doing much going in and providing a safe and hospitable place for four partial days for 36 women. But to these women, the little things can go a long way in reawakening the mind to what love, acceptance, and “home” feels like.

Jesus gave us His Spirit to comfort us. As we bring a small comfort to these women, we are facilitating the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The response might not always be an emotional, miraculous, supernatural “move of God.” But it might be just what the women need in the moment.

In return, the moments they give us make a lasting impact in our lives. I slept in a comfortable bed last night, with my two dogs. Today when my laundry is finished, my sheets will smell fresh. I have a private bathroom with a lock on the door. I was so grateful to clean my bathroom with Clorox wipes today. As I clean, my thoughts and prayers are with the women who are living with the loss of these freedoms and comforts.

I have no control over their situations. I can’t change their circumstances. But I can show God’s agape love for a few days. I can be a vessel to bring hope to their hearts that one day, whether in this life or the next, they can be “home” with the Greatest Comfort of all – Jesus.

Letter #36 to a Woman in Prison

Letter #36 of 36. Each woman who attends the prison ministry weekend will receive a handwritten letter from each volunteer. Please pray for us as we prepare for the weekend.

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Dear ______,

Is it possible to find freedom inside of any situation or circumstance? 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

It is possible to have freedom in your mind and spirit, even when you are stuck in a situation. Even on the outside, people are stuck in many situations: bad marriages, debt, jobs with bully bosses, facing sickness, facing death of someone they love. Life isn’t easy on the inside and it’s not easy on the outside either.

Some of us seem to have worse lots than others. It doesn’t seem fair, and it’s not. But no matter what our life situation is, Jesus offers us His freedom. Spiritual freedom is possible only through Jesus Christ. We can find peace, joy, and love in the presence of God.

Sometimes our situation won’t change, but our experience in it can.

Praying for you in Jesus’ Name,

Rachael Hartman

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I’m raising money to help pay for this weekend. $150 will pay for one female inmate to attend the Kairos prison ministry I’m volunteering at.

If you would like to donate to the prison ministry, it needs to be in the form of a check made out to: KPMI (which stands for Kairos Prison Ministry International). In the memo put: Pulaski, GA. You can mail it to me, Rachael Hartman, at: PO Box 501, Bloomingdale, GA 31302. If you want a tax credit, include your full name and address on a note and they will mail you a tax receipt.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers! Every $5 goes to pay for a meal for one of the inmates that weekend. The meal will have a tag with your name on it. And we will have a paper chain link that will also have your names on a link to show that you have prayed for and invested into the weekend. Praise God for what He will do! Please keep me in your prayers as I will be speaking on Obstacles to Accepting God’s Grace, and sharing part of my own testimony in the process.

To add your name to the prayer chain (which will be visualized with a paper link chain – your name will be on one link) please leave a comment below. And please pray for Kairos #40 ~ Pulaski Women’s State Prison in Georgia. Kairos weekend happening August 25-28, 2016.

Letter #35 to a Woman in Prison

Letter #35 of 36. Each woman who attends the prison ministry weekend will receive a handwritten letter from each volunteer. Please pray for us as we prepare for the weekend.

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Dear ______,

Do you like to read? I love to read. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Have you ever noticed mistakes in a book? I do. Every book has at least one mistake in it – even best-sellers have mistakes.

It’s nearly impossible to make a book perfect because human beings are the ones writing it and editing it. Even when computers are involved, there are still mistakes.

That’s how it is when we are living life. We need God’s grace because we are human and we make mistakes. We will never be perfect, and that is OK. Like a book with a mistake here and there, we can still be effective.

Your faith journey is like a book, and Jesus is the author, editor, and publisher (Hebrews 12:2 says He is the “author and finisher of our faith”). He wrote the story we believe in. He didn’t just write it, He lived it. He came, lived, died, and rose again so that we can have new life.

Our faith story IS His story! Our lives bring Him glory as He saves us by His grace. Keep your eyes on the Lord and your life will becoming a living book “known and read” by the people whose hearts are touched by your witness (2 Corinthians 3:2).

You are the only Bible some people may read. Allow the Holy Spirit to live and love through you.

Praying for you in Jesus’ Name,

Rachael Hartman

————————————————————————–

I’m raising money to help pay for this weekend. $150 will pay for one female inmate to attend the Kairos prison ministry I’m volunteering at.

If you would like to donate to the prison ministry, it needs to be in the form of a check made out to: KPMI (which stands for Kairos Prison Ministry International). In the memo put: Pulaski, GA. You can mail it to me, Rachael Hartman, at: PO Box 501, Bloomingdale, GA 31302. If you want a tax credit, include your full name and address on a note and they will mail you a tax receipt.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers! Every $5 goes to pay for a meal for one of the inmates that weekend. The meal will have a tag with your name on it. And we will have a paper chain link that will also have your names on a link to show that you have prayed for and invested into the weekend. Praise God for what He will do! Please keep me in your prayers as I will be speaking on Obstacles to Accepting God’s Grace, and sharing part of my own testimony in the process.

To add your name to the prayer chain (which will be visualized with a paper link chain – your name will be on one link) please leave a comment below. And please pray for Kairos #40 ~ Pulaski Women’s State Prison in Georgia. Kairos weekend happening August 25-28, 2016.