For Coffee Man

What does love look like?   It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
 It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.
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If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.  He’ll thank you for it.  Don’t worry about feeding him.  He knows the places along Main Street where he can get a meal. He doesn’t eat much.  Besides, his pride won’t allow him to receive a meal from the hands of a stranger. 
Coffee is different.  It warms him up for the day ahead.  He likes coffee.
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Don’t be offended by his appearance.  Living on the street, sleeping on park benches, makes it hard to be presentable, but he keeps his body clean.  It is a source of pride for him. They unlock the bathrooms at the marina at seven o’clock and you can find him there performing his daily ministrations.

You needn’t be concerned that he will harm you.  He won’t.  He’s seen so much pain, been victimized by too many to hurt a fly.

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He has to know the intentions of your heart before he’ll let you help him so be careful how you approach him or he’ll hop on that old bicycle of his and ride away.  It’s best to bring a cup of coffee with you when you come.  Stand about five feet away and softly but casually ask him to join you.  He will watch you carefully.  If you make a sudden move, he’ll be gone.

You won’t get much conversation from Coffee Man.  He’s not the talking kind.  But if he does open up to you, it’s best not to ask too many questions.  He’ll tell you what he wants you to know.

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Early mornings before the sun would rise; Coffee Man and I would be the only ones at the marina.  He would sense my presence and sit up, watching always watching.  I would watch him too after all; it could be a little scary in the predawn hours.  I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me.  But soon, we became comfortable knowing there was another on the bay; watching.  I, for the sun to rise and he for the gatekeeper who would unlock the bathroom door.  Soon, I began bringing an extra cup of coffee.  One for me.  One for him, strong with a touch of milk and plenty of sugar.

When it was time for me to move on, he and I went to the coffee shop he liked. The only shop that would let a man who looked like him stay for a minute.  I gave the old man who ran the shop some money.

“This is for him,” I said.  “Make sure he has a cup of coffee each morning. Make it strong, with a touch of milk and add plenty of sugar.”

I received a text message Christmas Day.  It was sweet but it broke my heart.  I heard from Coffee Man, wishing me and my family a Merry Christmas.

I was glad to hear from him. I wanted to know that he was okay because I want everyone in my world to be happy. That’s naïve. That’s not going to happen.  But that’s what I want.  That’s what I pray for.

Coffee Man is still outside.  He’s sick and he’s lost a lot of weight. He told me that he had been beaten, his front teeth knocked out and his bicycle and his coat stolen.  He told me that he was cold, so cold.


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If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.

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I know he needs so much more, but one cup of coffee will warm him up for the day ahead.

God will do the rest, if you pray with me.

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I know He will.

Christmas – A Legacy of Love

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Remember our Christmas brunch at my house?  Andre and I prepared a full course breakfast and served you.  We stood in a circle and held hands.

We made a birthday cake for Jesus and spoke of our blessings remembering the reason for the season. I found gifts at the dollar store and wrapped them so pretty so that of those who had graced our home, none would leave empty-handed.

The eldest among us, would bestow blessings upon us.

We always had the most beautiful Christmas tree, whether we spray painted pine cones or bought ornaments at the store.

One year, Son Son and I stapled lights to a cross we had made of 4 ft boards and erected it in the front yard to remind those passing by that we were a family that observed God’s gift to the world.

Life has driven our family to different parts of the world but it does not alter the legacy of love we have been given.

Wherever we are, among family or friends, alone or together, we are made greater by the memories of love we have shared.

Hold them in your heart.  Never let them go.

Pass it on.

Never forget who you are and of whom you are.

My daughter, my son…you have been given a legacy of love.

Pass it on.

Lovers of the God We Serve.


Of all my accomplishments my greatest by far, is being mother of two very different but amazing children.  It is both a joy and a privilege to answer the phone and one of the two is on the other end.

My daughter is vibrant and colorful. She fills a room with her personality.  Her conversation is stimulating and diverse.  She is also serious, business minded and opinionated.  She is caring and kind insightful, and discerning.  I can never close a conversation with her without reflecting on a poignant thought she has shared on whatever subject we discuss.  I can never anticipate what the conversation will be about when she calls or what direction it might take but I know that it will always end in prayer.

Polaroid

My son is and always has been a barometer for me; not as a measurement of atmospheric pressure but of life.  As a child, his interests varied, daily.  He would wake with a smile ready to explore the possibilities of the day.  His excitement was contagious and through his eyes, I rediscovered the joy of life’s simplicity. It was innocent and sweet and perfect.  And I so wanted to protect this beautiful part of him.  But life has a way of eroding the simple heart of a child although it is our most precious commodity.

So I watched him grow into the man he has become and I am so proud.  He has allowed me to, not only witness his evolution, but share it with me; am I not the most blessed of woman?

His conversation has changed over the years as he continues to explore life but his character remains intact.  He is easy-going and laid back, introspective and intelligent.  He too is business minded with excellent reasoning powers. He walks as a man among men.  Not arrogantly but with a certain confidence that I have always known to be born of the spirit of God.

This is our conversation now, his discovery of the God in him.

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There is no greater joy for a mother than to witness her children become lovers of the God we serve.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah 54:13

Reconnect to the Source

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I am a fixer.  I fix things and I fix people.  I am the one that finds solutions to problems so that others don’t have to.

A fixer is a caretaker.  We care for and fix things for everyone in our circle of influence.  We are the ones that are up at 2 and 3 in the morning interceding for others.  We are the ones that get out of bed at 1 am to go the hospitals. We fix the meals for the homeless.  We take care of men, children, dogs, cats, fish, birds and turtles.  We are servants.

Who fixes the fixer when the fixer is broken?  When there are too many things that need fixing that all the fixing that needs to be fixed cannot be fixed by the fixer.

Short answer?  Christ.

No brainer right?

That’s who I have relied on in the past and whom I must turn to now to fix me so that I can continue to be the fixer of people and things. I know this both in my head and more importantly in my heart.  I have lived my life running to Jesus.

I am a single parent, Christ was all I had.  Christ was sufficient for me.  Yet when I needed to feel the physical representation of Christ, I would reach for the hand of my precious young son.  Holding his hand for a moment rejuvenated and strengthened me.  I knew I could not fail in whatever endeavor I had to face.  I would succeed.  When I needed prayer, I would solicit the pure innocent prayers of my young daughter.  I knew that even if Christ would not respond to my petitions, we would honor the simple petitions of a child.

My children are grown now; they live their own lives far from me.  This is how it should be.   They are good people.  I am blessed.

Yet, as a fixer, a caretaker, there are times when I feel separated from Christ as I do right now.  Overwhelmed, alone, and empty.  It seems that I have nothing left to give because I am an empty vessel.   Who will pray for me?  Who will hold my hand?

When my system of support is removed for whatever reason;  I have to find a way to reconnect.

I must do this quickly.

For me to live independent of Christ is to invite disaster.  It means that the problems that I can fix through Christ cannot be fixed through me.  It means that the burdens of others Christ holds me responsible for and those of my own, I am left to carry on my own slender shoulders.

I cannot.   I was not meant to.  I was created for relationship with Christ.

I of myself am nothing.  I of myself can do nothing.

I must reconnect to the source.  By any means necessary, I must reestablish my relationship with my source. Whether or not any one else is here to stand with or for me, I must reconnect to the source.

My source is Christ.

Help me Lord.

 

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Psalms 1  1:3

We Need the Gift that She Is

Today while in the swimming pool, I met an 87-year-old woman.  If you can believe a woman can be beautiful at that age, believe that she was beautiful.  Snow white hair, a rosy almost wrinkle free complexion, and when she smiled, you just couldn’t help but smile with her. How her face lit up and her eyes danced with joy when she smiled.

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We talked for over an hour. Although both of us came to exercise, she to stimulate legs that refuse to walk without a walker and I to simply enjoy the rejuvenation water always seem to bring to me, we did not.  We talked; rather, she talked, I listened.

She told me about her lovely neighbor who had moved next door to her a few months back and how she cooks dinner for her one or two times a week. She told me about her deceased abusive alcoholic husband that she had married and divorced two times. She told me about the men that had sought her affections since his death and how she resisted their attentions out of fear. She told me about her only grandson that she raised since the age of two when her son and first daughter in law divorced and discarded the child. She spoke with pride of him for he is now a professor of geology in a major university. Then sadly, she told me that for all his achievements and through all the love she gave him, and all the years that has passed; he still suffers from bouts of depression resulting from being abandoned by his parents as a child.

She also told me something else.  She wants to leave this world, she said. It is not that she is tired of living; she simply does not know how to live anymore. No longer can she do the things that she did before. Her legs and her hands refuse to cooperate.

Her son lives less than a mile from her.  Oh he dutifully comes when she calls him.  But she is not comfortable in doing so.  You see his wife, her second daughter in law of thirty years, does not want to compete for her son’s attention.  She and her grandson  might be tolerated on holidays but clearly are and have been an unwanted intrusion in the life the son has carved with his wife of thirty years. Oh the pain in her eyes when she speaks on this can cause a heart to break.

She wants to leave soon she said. She said she has finally come to terms with the limitations of her life.

I watch her carefully and I am afraid for her; there is finality in her voice, determination in the lifting of her chin.

As we prepare to go our separate ways I ask her not to go away yet.  I ask her to stay awhile in this world, in my world.  I tell her of the joy her company meant to me today and what it can mean to others.

I’m not ready for her to leave this world.  I need, no, we need the gift that she is.

Proverbs 11:16

A gracious woman retaineth honour:

Proverbs 31:10
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

 

It takes the God kind of love

           One winter day in the early morning hours when darkness surrenders to light, the demon of bi-polar disease came and stole the gift of life that was my sister. My sister died alone, sitting on the edge of a dirty old mattress, riddled with cigarette holes, in the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. “Maybe,” they said, “She had been dead a week before she was found.”

           Old and ugly, decrepit and scaring looking, the house is still there, my sister is not.  But if you had walked by it last summer, you would have caught a glimpse of who my sister was.  In the front yard, growing around an old rusty light post whose light has long ago ceased to shine, bloomed big beautiful star-shaped white flowers attached to a chaotic arrangement of green vines. The vine of flowers was breathtakingly beautiful.  My sister told me it was a clematis vine.  My sister planted it.  My sister said that a clematis vine is the most aristocratic of all flowers. She said with all its queenly beauty, the clematis vine is very delicate. She said a clematis vine has to have support to bloom and grow properly, or it will die.

          If you walked past the oldest house on the block with the breathtakingly beautiful clematis vine, last summer and the window was open in the living room you would have seen the delicate white lace curtains my sister had hung, seductively dancing in the gently breeze. You would have heard the sweet melodic yet melancholy sounds of my sister’s flute.  You might have stopped to listen. Many often did.  My sister played so well.  You would have felt something pure and good, rich, and beautiful stir your soul. The music might invoke a sense of sadness but you would have left with a good feeling too, because each note resonated beautifully from the depth of her heart.
I loved her.  It was not easy.

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             I miss her more now than I missed her when she was living even though we lived over eight hundred miles apart.  That’s the kind of distance I thought I needed to continue to love her. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease. In order to continue to love someone you believe you have to put distance between you. Either that or you must have an extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of you.

             If my sister were alive, I would wash and comb her hair again.  I did that the last time I saw her, a year ago.  I wanted to do it.  I braided it too.  It needed to be combed and braided. Her hair stopped being a priority many years ago so it always looked like that.  It was matted and pressed to her head on the side she slept on.

              I would bathe her, if she were alive.  I did that the last time I saw her.  She let me bathe her.  She didn’t let me touch her very often.  Sometimes touching made her mad.  I didn’t want to touch her very often.  It made me mad. I didn’t want to be around her very often.  She made me mad.  But the last time I saw her, I wanted to bathe her.  I wanted to clean that nasty rusty bathtub and fill it with clean fresh water.  I knelt on the black tile that was supposed to be white and washed her back.  I rubbed lotion all over the rubbery skin that clung to her frail thin body.  I put baby powder on her and a little perfume too.   I did that, the last time I saw her.  I slipped a clean fresh cotton gown over her head and gently bent her frail little arms to help her get the gown on.  I did that the last time I saw her.   I touched her face.  I looked into her eyes.   She looked into mine.  There were no words spoken, none that you could hear.  I loved my sister and she loved me.  It was not easy for either of us, without God.

           The last time I saw her, I packed up thirty-eight large trash bags of dirty filthy clothing that had accumulated in that old house and Son and I threw them in the trash. I threw out bottles too numerous to count that was once filled with alcohol. I turned over the filthy sheet less mattress she slept on, the last time I saw her.  I saw that her cigarettes had burned clear through to the other side but I didn’t tell her not to smoke in bed.  I put the clean fresh sheets that Mommy had bought for her on the bed.  I sprinkled baby powder on the sheets and I told my sister to lie down now and get some rest.  She let her big sister boss her around, the last time I saw her.  I pulled the covers up and tucked them up under her chin.  I kissed her and I told her I loved her.  She let me.
I went into the filthy kitchen and tried to figure out where to begin to clean.  I rattled some of the dishes in the overcrowded sink.  I needed to remove the dishes and clean the sink before I could begin to wash the dishes.  I had brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning, so I could clean that old house, the last time I saw her.

            “You’re making me nervous,” I heard my sister call out from the bedroom.  Her voice was low and sweet sounding. This time.  Kind of rhythmical, sing songie, like.  I never heard her talk like that before.
“I’m just gonna clean your kitchen, then I’ll head back to Mommy’s,” I called back to her.

            When she replied, in that sing song like voice, “You’re making me nervous”, the second time, I froze for a second, my soapy hands suspended in time, over the sink. Fear crept up and down my spine. Recovering, I tilted my head to the side to listen for the muffled sound of footsteps, scurrying across the hardwood floors coming from the direction of the bedroom, sounds that would signal danger. The last time I heard the sound of footsteps sliding across hardwood floors, my sister tried to push me down a flight of stairs. Hearing none, I quickly dried my hands on my jeans and grabbed my purse from the doorknob where I had hung it when I first got there and I left my sister all alone.

             Therein lays the deception about bi-polar disease.  You hear the things that are not spoken, or things spoken but might not mean what you think it means. You learn to hear and interpret what is really being said. You learn or you might get hurt.  You learn to listen to the sounds and interpret the movements.  I heard my sister the last time I saw her. In that sing song like voice, she told me she loved me but she might hurt me.  She told me she didn’t want to; but she might. In that sing song like voice, she loved me enough to warn me. That’s the God kind of love.

          We did not understand the forces that would cause a beautiful intelligent talented woman to walk naked down a darken street.  We did not understand the forces that made her rant and rave one minute then cry uncontrollably, with such a heart wrenching sorrowful wail the next.  Bi-polar was two opposites fighting against each other, in thought and behavior, within the frailness of my sister’s body.  This disease progressively wreaked such havoc on her thinking process that alcohol was the only medication she believed would weaken the process and bring a form of stability to a mind that would not keep still.  Not meant to be a cure-all, alcohol, overtime, too, deceived her and eventually, eroded her liver.  My sister died alone.

          We did not understand what she tried to make us understand because her actions so often offended and assaulted every sensibility that we possessed.  She stopped trying to tell us.  When communication failed, she went away from us to her own little hole, a place where she could go and lick her wounds and not embarrass us anymore. My sister retreated to the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. There she planted, around an old rusty light post whose light had long ago ceased to shine, a chaotic arrangement of green vines that brought forth big beautiful star-shaped white flowers. She retreated to the only place she could freely communicate the vestige of her heart through her music.  She loved us when she was unlovable.  She loved us when we were unlovable. That’s why she went away. To the oldest house on the block. She played the flute and planted a clematis vine. She never asked for anything more. She died alone.

          I loved my sister and I miss her.  Like the clematis vine, she was beautiful and delicate. Like the clematis vine, without support, its pattern of growth is chaotic. My sister needed my support to live. But it takes the God kind of love to love someone unlovable. I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me to.

           I finally cleaned her house but she was no longer there.  I wanted to do it.  I wanted to do it alone.  I brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning. I opened her closet. Unlike the madness evidenced in every room in her house, the clothes in her closet, were arranged neatly and orderly by color. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease.  If only we could have seen behind the closet of her mind, beyond the chaos of her actions; we could have seen the order that was there to see. But, it takes the God kind of love.

         Among the dirty filthy clothing that once again had accumulated on the floor in her bedroom, I found a reminder of who she once was. I found her gold charm bracelet with a solitary little gold heart with her initials and her birthday inscribed thereon. It dangles from my wrist now. I never take it off. I found her flute. She played so well. I took her collection of CD’s. Surprisingly, I found only songs of praise and worship. Now, eight hundred miles away from the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house, I play them, and I raise my arms in gratitude to a holy and merciful God because I know He knows.  I loved my sister and I miss her.  I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me too.

           Down the street and around the corner, from Mommy’s house, there is a solitary grave among many where my sister rests.  You cannot miss it. Look for the vine with little white star-shaped blooms. It is a clematis vine. It is the queen of all flowers. There is no light post to support the vine, only a tombstone.

It takes the God kind of love.

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English: Puawhananga (Clematis_paniculata) flo...

Less we forget

 I want to remember your smile

Not your tears

I want to remember your smile

Not your fears

I want to remember

before                         

   The madness

     I want to remember

before

 That there was joy

       In your life

before

Then I will not forget

           As it was in yours

So it was in mine

Because you were there

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Jesus said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15: 4,5

                                                                                

I Will Stand for You

Do you remember when you first left God?  When you believed you stood all alone?

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I do.

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Do you remember the price you had to pay for doing so?

I do.

I remember the subtle hints that I ignored.

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First, there was a devastating situation that I thought I had to go through on my own.

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I believed that no one could possibly know how I felt. Who could possibly know how much it hurt.

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When or if I tried to discuss the matter with my loved ones, I didn’t  accept their advice.

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They were too old. Too spiritual. Too lame.  Too Dumb.  Too something.  They just didn’t know nothing about nothing.

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I believed they were clueless.  They had never experienced what I was dealing with and couldn’t possible understand.

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Second, I began to look around in my circle of acquaintances to find someone to commiserate with. 

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I looked for and gravitated toward someone who would validate my feelings of  “It’s me against the world.”

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Finding others who were as  hurt and angry and broken as I, who echoed my sentiments and resentments, they became my source of support. I thought they could relate to my experience. We could get through the madness together.

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Third, I sought a antidote for my pain.  It could have been drugs or alcohol, sex or pills; anything that I could physically hold on to, to help make it through the day.

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Fourth, I kept my family at a considerable distance. Deep down inside, I knew they loved me.

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But it was’nt enough. I didn’t want them to know how far I had strayed from the values and principles I learned as a child.

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I no longer believed as they did. The world was not a good place. Only the strong survived. I had to fight my way through.

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Together with my cronies ….

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who were wise to the ways of the world and was fighting what I thought was the same fight;

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I begin to formulate my own strategies to make it because I thought I was so smart. I thought I had all the answers.

Fifth, as I begin to sink lower in the abyss of life; I begin to question the nature of God.

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He couldn’t possibly love me because if He did he would have stepped in and untangled the mess of my life. He would have changed my situation. He would have stopped the hurt and pain. He would punish all those people who hurt me and did me wrong.

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If He didn’t love me no one else could.

Six, as my journey of deception completed its cycle; I began to hate who I had become.  

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Seven, I felt empty, unable to feel for anyone or anything.

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Satan thought he won.

But God said…

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NO!!!

Someone stood in the gap.

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Someone was praying for me.  Someone was interceding on my behalf.  Someone told me God loved me.

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Someone who would not give up on me. Someone who would not give up the fight.

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Someone stood by me through it all.

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Someone clothed with the helmet of salvation and the breast-plate of righteousness. Someone whose loins were strong with the truth. Someone who held the sword of the spirit in one hand and the shield of faith in the other.

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Someone whose feet remained steadfast, forging on until the victory of peace was won. For me.

Covered by the blood….

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Now, I can stand for you.

I will stand for you.

Now I have power to tread on serpents. I have power over the enemy of your soul.

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I stand for you.

I will fight for you.

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Don’t you worry. God already told me, I WON!!!

Walk with me in victory!

I’ll hold your hand……

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because I stand for you!!!

So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.       1 Thessalonians 2 – 8

For ye are our glory and joy     1 Thessalonians 2 – 20