Author Archives: psalmgirl

A Letter from the Harvard Women’s Soccer Team-Nicholas Kristof/New York Times

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A Letter from the Harvard Women’s Soccer Team-Nicholas Kristof/New York Times

I guess I missed this story in the kerfuffle of the recent Presidential election.  I read about it today and it inspired me to write.  To read the article: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/11/07/a-letter-from-the-harvard-womens-soccer-team/

It’s rather ironic in several ways.  First, it relates to the election in a bad sort of way. Further, it’s not lost on me that the very subject of the letter is, in part, how Facebook came to be…the site I’m posting to.

Ah, the ranking of women- not for their intelligence, capabilities, contribution to society or more, but based on their physical attributes- and we aren’t talking about abilities relating to finessing a soccer ball.   The response of the women involved in this situation is handled beautifully.  Kudos to their courage and brilliant counseling they gave one another or sought from other sages.  It’s something to share with young women of all ages.

Sadly, this probably won’t be the last time a story like this is read.

It leads me to question, who has been setting examples for the young men involved?  Is this behavior that has been accepted over time? Brushed off? Laughed at?  Is it a tradition? Are their role models acting like this?

While the promoted video tapes of Trump’s infamous words about women are reprehensible,  I’m sorry to say he’s not alone.  He got caught.  There is a long line of public officials who could hold rankings on the list of using the most deplorable words and behaving in the most dishonorable manner through their careers.

Let’s forego political figures for the moment.  Have you had a chance to hear how middle and high school kids talk to one another?  Do you ever stop and listen to the lyrics of the song you sing so easily on your way to drop off kids at school?  Do you understand what they mean? How many intimate sexual situations have you viewed in that favorite tv show or movie you like so well?  How many times have your kids been present for that and you just stayed silent?

I’m not standing in judgement and I’m not excusing anything.  It’s just not that shocking given history, today’s pop culture and the entertainment industry.  How many more times do I need to see a movie with full frontal nudity of a woman and only a fleeting glimpse of an actor’s unclothed posterior?  I don’t understand that.  I don’t want to see it either.  Just stop it already.   Give me a good story and some credit for having imagination.  I digress.

I always thought I escaped sexual judgement in the workplace.  I was never in a situation where I felt threatened or demeaned because of my gender.  I never felt my job was at risk, nor a promotion on the line because of how a man viewed me.  Those in positions of suggesting something along those lines probably knew it wouldn’t be soccer balls they had to worry about if I was preyed upon.

That said, I can recall what seemed like innocent compliments by men in supervisory positions who said things like they had the most attractive women on their team, or  she’s my Pretty Woman, referring to a distant likeness to Julia Roberts because of a hair style or outfit.  Did I feel complimented?  Yes.  Did I feel threatened in any way?  Not really.  Should I have?  Probably. Was it acceptable behavior by someone in a position of authority relating to my career?  NO.  Did I know better?  I guess not.

Compliments are wonderful in the right setting and circumstance and by the right person. They make you feel great.  Perhaps that’s why we brush them off in the wrong circumstance. We need to rethink that.

Young women won’t know what’s right and wrong without role models teaching them.  The good news is…we are all role models- men too.   You don’t have to be famous or out-spoken.  You  can be a teacher, author, family member, friend, server, flight attendant, fire fighter, doctor, or someone who is just a witness to a situation.   And, sometimes the role models are college-aged soccer teammates who are wise beyond their years.

Now should we talk about equal pay for equal work?

 

Dear Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump…

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I write this letter as one small voice from the millions of people one of you will soon be providing leadership to and representing as our Commander In Chief. As the guardian over our country I want to know you understand your actions are impacting the world I live in and the things that I cherish most deeply on this earth: my faith, my family, and my freedom.  I am not alone in this thinking.  I am united with people all over this country and world.  We are depending on you for your best.

I have great concern. You have spent the past 365 days in relentless pursuit of something you cherish so highly that you would expose the worst in yourselves and one another.  Just when I think we have hit rock bottom, someone appears with a shovel to dig deeper. I want to believe you have chosen this grueling path for reasons other than personal power and gain.  I am not naive.  I am hopeful.

Sadly, so many in our country don’t want either of you to be President.  I guess it’s a little ridiculous to say you should both be ashamed of yourselves.  Neither of you have led exemplary lives.  Please use this as a turning point.  Show us you can be better.  And winner, don’t be smug.  You may be winning because people liked the other candidate less.

I will be praying over the next 24 hours for personal guidance, and for our country as a whole.  Unfortunately, I won’t be voting for the candidate I want in office.  I will cast my vote for the candidate I feel will cause the least damage and hurt the fewest people.

President Elect I pray you have an immediate change of heart–an awakening.  I pray you humble yourselves before the people of America and are filled with a heart of service to support and lead the millions of people in this nation.  Lives depend on it. Clean house of the people around you who are misguiding and misleading you. Prove to your country that you sincerely deserved the votes you received.  Leave a legacy in which your family, friends and our country can find pride.

 

 

 

 

I’m voting for Jesus

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I’m voting for Jesus

This has been an amazing election season to be witness to.  No one could have anticipated the current results for either political party in the U.S.  This period of time is bound to be discussed and debated as a pivotal moment in modern politics.  And, I haven’t the foggiest idea who I will be voting for.

I’m not a hardcore Republican nor Democrat. Both sides have principals I believe in and both sides have ideas that go against my grain.  I took an online quiz, answered a bunch of questions, and learned that there were two candidates that  most closely matched my political points of view.  One was Democrat and the other Republican.

Influential people on the same side of a platform also aren’t in agreement with each other which tends to confuse me more.  As  I listen to commentary from both parties I find I’m still without a clear vision as to my candidate.

I’ve heard people who are passionate Americans say they just aren’t going to vote this time.  I’ve watched antics played out by MOST candidates running for office though it’s pretty clear the right side is a more interesting spectacle to watch than the left side.  At least for now.

I hear words that each candidate says and have to note those words are often misinterpreted by the press, the opposing party, opposing candidate, celebrities, political activists, associates and so on.  I’m constantly talking to my radio, tv screen or lap top saying, now wait a minute, I don’t think that’s exactly what person x,y or z said.  No one answers back, thankfully.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 5.12.46 PMI don’t know if there’s every been another time in history where the political process has been so divisive.  Of course, we weren’t around when the Declaration of Independence was drawn up- nor the Constitution.  Much to my high school history teacher’s dismay, I pretty much relate those moments to singing and dancing characters in the musical 1776- which may not have been too far from reality.  There were definitely people loved and hated at that time. Some went on to be our country’s President at a future point.

I find it ironic this process is  being managed in the media  like a reality t.v. show- since one of the candidates  was a reality t.v. star and gets criticized for that. I guess it’s more exciting for people to watch when the participants are making ludicrous accusations, creating volatile situations, and drama.  Will the media ever catch the candidates saying something that is positive in an effort to help us make our decisions? Sadly, American citizens have proven to love watching these theatrics and I can only imagine what is being said in the conference rooms of major media outlets like Fox TV and CNN in terms of talking about ways to spur it  on.  One of the candidates seemed to get it from the beginning.   The others finally caught up.

I’m struggling with the kingpins on the right trying to manipulate election results by deciding for themselves what is good for America.  Are the votes of the people who have already cast them not worthy? Do they feel the people who voted for a candidate they don’t like can’t be right?  What is happening to democracy?  I may not always agree with the outcome, but  the people are speaking.  Is anyone listening?  Is anyone trying to understand why the results are what they are- on either side?   While Bernie hasn’t fared as well lately, there’s certainly a ground swell where he’s concerned.  I don’t really need to say much about Donald Trump.

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I read that between 50-60% of the eligible voters have used their right to vote in each election since 1960.  So 40-50% are choosing not to be involved.  From what some are saying publicly, if their candidate doesn’t win the primary they won’t vote at all.  That made me think rather than not vote at all, why not send a more powerful message than any of us could imagine?  If you don’t feel you can vote, and I encourage everyone to do so, why don’t you go to your polling place and write in a  vote for Jesus?

If there isn’t a candidate you feel you can really get behind, don’t stay home and do nothing.  Write Jesus on the ballot.  That would be Jesus Christ to make sure there is no confusion with regard to immigrant status.

Jesus Christ has more than proven His worthiness of your vote- He died for you on a cross. He gave His life so you could be saved.   Jesus took care of orphans and widows during his time on earth- repeatedly- and told us to do so as well. He forgave and forgives people from all walks of life for all types of sin.  He’s trustworthy and dependable.  He’s performed miracles that have been documented in history and passed down through the generations. He is always available for you and wants to engage in communication with you constantly.  Any fact checker would find out Jesus is truth.

In keeping with the times, you could say Jesus Christ is the star of a reality show–your reality show.  And everyone becomes a winner who comes to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

If you read this and think I’m trying to be funny or cute, I’m really  not.  I want you to cast your vote for the next President of our county. It’s your privilege and right. Americans have died in wars to allow this for us.  I’m just saying if you don’t think you can, still do something.   Make a statement.  Write in your vote for Jesus Christ.

If you think this idea is completely ridiculous, then I say get on your knees and pray. Ask for guidance to vote for the candidate who will do the job that Jesus wants him or her to do.  I completely trust in Jesus’ ability to lead our nation in this decision. Amen.

 

 

You Can Turn Water Into Wine

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There has been a lot of discussion about refugees in the news of late and a dialog of fear often accompanies the conversation. There are dire situations around the world that result in people being displaced from their homeland due to wars, persecution or natural disasters.  This officially makes the people involved, refugees–in pursuit of refuge.  This can happen in a land far away or in your own community. It’s not new news, but it appears to be happening with greater frequency and is a popular topic.
We often think of refugees as foreigners- perhaps from the middle east. However, I find there are also local people who have become displaced  for any number of similar reasons- the spouse that raises a hand as a solution, the family whose home was struck by a tornado,  the couple living on the financial edge at the brink of disaster, the “outsider”
who isn’t like us in one way or another and their life is made a living hell.
Refugees are near and far.  Any fear we muster pales in comparison to what someone being displaced must feel.
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When I grew up there were two young girls who joined our school mid-year.  They were from Cambodia.  Speaking absolutely no English they were integrated into my fourth grade class.  Thankfully they were fairly well accepted and we oblivious girls tried to make them feel welcome.  We had no idea about their nightmares,  or the devastating sights they must have seen in their homeland.  We rode our bikes, played with our dolls, ran outside for freeze tag and kick ball without a second thought.  Refugees were fairly unusual in our middle class, suburban neighborhood at the time.
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In a completely different situation I recall two siblings temporarily staying with my family because their father was dealing with mental illness.  I remember driving down a busy avenue looking out the back window with fear their dad might come after us.  I couldn’t have imagined what was going on inside our friends.  I selfishly harbored a high level of anxiety -probably not thinking twice about how they must have felt.
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Not too long ago a woman from Iran spoke in the church about the growing population of Christians in her homeland.  We saw images of hundreds of people being Baptized and heard amazing stories of people coming to know Jesus.  Talk about fear,  this woman’s  life is in constant danger.  She and her family have been imprisoned and threatened over what they are doing.  Yet, she has the passion and calling to continue with her efforts as a Christian converting Christians in a land of few Christians. Photos cannot be shown for her protection. Worth noting is the extreme danger she is under and the strength of her convictions.
Most are familiar with stories of families in World War II who hid persecuted men, women and children from the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazi regime.  The fear of being discovered and sent to a concentration camp- how could they face each day?  Underlying thoughts of fear and trepidation must have engulfed them.
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While we, in our warm homes with stocked refrigerators, scan our tech devices for funny photos and celebrity tweets, have we considered the desperate situation that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people are facing each day?  It’s easy to forget the tent dwellers thousands of miles away as we cozy up to our memory foam mattress.
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There’s another refugee story, from the middle east, involving a couple who needed a place to rest following a long journey.  The woman was going to have a child soon.  There wasn’t a great place for them to stay because there were already so many people in the area. I can’t say with certainty what their accommodations ended up being, but I have read that  the setting was not ideal.  After the baby was born he was placed in a feeding trough for horses and cattle.
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The birth went well, but not too long after, the family had to uproot themselves and go from their homeland to a foreign land.   They had to hide from a horrible king whose mission was to find this particular baby and kill him.  The family became refugees. They somehow survived the journey to the far off land and maintained an existence there until they could safely return to their homeland. The baby was not harmed.
You might be familiar with this family too.  In fact, we just celebrated the occasion of their baby’s birth…Christmas.  The baby’s name was Jesus and he, along with Mary and Joseph, lived as refugees until they could be safe.
With all of these stories it becomes evident that, aside from having amazing perseverance and determination,  there were people who surrounded the victims to help them and provide as they could.  Though not every story has a happy ending, during the time of refuge these people were cared for.  I imagine the love shown through small gestures to the refugees was worth more to them than the effect that any amount of money could provide.
When I look at today’s refugee crises around the world I ask what can be done to help?  What better place to look than the Bible?  There are stories of refugees from just about the beginning of time.  We are given clear direction on how to care for them.
Feed the hungry,
Give drink to the thirsty,
Provide rooms for the homeless,
Offer clothing for warmth,
Visit the sick and imprisoned.
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Every time you do this for one of Jesus’ children, and we are all Jesus’ children, it is like you are doing it for him.  I don’t want to carry that burden because it’s simply not the right thing to do.
Without regard to where you stand politically, we are called to take care of all people. Politics get in the way and delay taking action.  The week I heard the Iranian woman share her journey to Christianity the following was said:
People who think do not change the world.
People who act change the world.
People who think and act change the world forever.
When you do what Jesus tells you to do, water will turn to wine.
Write a check, provide food, purchase or donate clothing, make yourself available, extend a welcome, cook a meal, say hello or offer a smile.  Help turn water into wine.
There are many organizations who provide aid to refugees.  One that I put my trust in is Lutheran World Relief  –  http://lwr.org/

Europe and the Syrian Refugee & Migrant Crisis

Wellwishers offer warm clothing to Syrians after they arrived on a train from Budapest's Keleti station at the railway station of the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, early morning September 6, 2015.
Photo: REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach, courtesy of Trust.org

 

AS THE CIVIL WAR IN SYRIA CONTINUES, the number of civilian casualties, internally displaced people and refugees continues to grow. According to UNHCR, 11.6 million people are in need of assistance, 7.6 million people are displaced within Syria and over 3.9 million have taken refuge in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and countries in North Africa.

LWR’s Response

  • Supporting ACT Alliance members in providing humanitarian support. ACT members are providing hygiene items, winter coats and blankets, emergency shelter and psychosocial support in Hungary, Serbia and Greece.
  • We are in contact with the ACT Alliance to determine additional needs on the ground. We will continue to channel our support to the refugee crisis through the ACT Alliance to ensure a well-coordinated response.
  • Lutheran World Relief is shipping Mission Quilts, Baby Care Kits and Personal Care Kits to Serbia to distribute to refugees and migrants. Since October 2012, LWR has provided $7.05 MILLION in assistance to Syrian refugees, reaching more than 235,912 BENEFICIARIES.

YOU CAN HELP

  • Give to the Crisis in Syria fund. Your cash donations will support the response of our partners in the ACT Alliance.
  • Make Quilts and Kits. Donating Quilts and Kits helps ensure we have an adequate supply to send around the world to partners who request them, as well as in response to emergencies.
  • Pray for the people affected by this crisis and the humanitarian aid staff working to reach them.

Time- a priceless Black Friday door buster

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Time- a priceless Black Friday door buster

I came across the story below reading quickly through my emails.  I had a chance to rummage through my in box, in solitude, as my daughter napped from our earlier-than-dawn retail rendezvous.   The words immediately resonated with me.  Just days before my daughter asked me to watch a movie with her…with one condition.  She wanted me to just watch the movie– no magazines, no emails, no crafting–nothing.  Just watch the movie.

This wasn’t the first time she expressed disappointment that I multi-tasked when we were together.  In my world, what’s the harm in shrinking the ever-growing pile of junk mail while we watch a mullet- haired Uncle Jesse teach an important lesson to Michelle…one more time?

Wanting to be a good and dutiful mother, of course I put everything aside…everything except  my 12 year old daughter who wanted to spend time with me.  We didn’t talk much.  I don’t even remember what movie we watched.  Yet, thinking back, I wish I could freeze that moment of time–where we were just together.  It meant more to her than I understood and therefore it meant the world to me.

I can hear the voices around me reminding me that time flies and I’m lucky she wants to spend time with me.  They are right.  There was nothing momentous about that night.  Actually, we both drifted off to sleep while the t.v. played on.  But, I spent time with my daughter. Something she requested that was so easy for me to give.  After reading the story below, I realize that “time” is a better gift than anything that could be purchased in a Black Friday deal.

You can imagine how the story in today’s news touched my heart.  I hope it touches yours as well.  I’m so thankful for my family and for the lessons they teach me, especially my daughter who is a million times wiser than her age would suggest.

This story is reprinted from the Facebook page of David Rosenman- November 22, 2015

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This morning, at her request, I took our 9-year-old daughter to a coffee shop. She brought with her a little crocheting activity; I brought the newspaper, a notebook & pen, and my phone. This was going to be an outing not unlike others we’d had before: while sitting at the same table, we’d do our own things — she’d keep herself occupied with something, and I’d catch-up on emails, organize my week, get work done, etc. Sound familiar? Today, she made one additional request: “Daddy, can you not read the paper or doodle or check email today? Can we just be together?” I’m not trying to be melodramatic; that was her question. So today, we were together. She showed me her yarn project. I recalled the day she was born. We compared notes about whether or not couples at other tables were on “dates” (she likes to impersonate people on dates — resting her smiling face on her hand and practicing a starry-eyed stare). She told me about her friends and their hamsters. I watched her chew her breakfast sandwich and melted a little bit as I thought about how much I love her. I wished it hadn’t taken her past experience and her courageous reaching out for me to give her the attention she so wanted and needed.
Before we left, I went up to the counter to order a take-out snack for her brother. When I returned to our table, there was a note, left face-down, in front of my seat. My daughter told me that a woman, before leaving the coffee shop, had asked her if I was her father and said that the message was for me. I looked around (nobody was there) and flipped over the paper to find the words below. This anonymous message was enough of a reinforcement for me, that I hope more people might be guided by its power and by its author’s thoughtfulness. 

All you need is hugs…

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Free_hugsHugs may not be all we need in reality, but they can sure make a difference in your life.  I know two people who are without a doubt the best huggers in the world.  When they hug you it makes you feel like the most loved and secure person ever. Growing up, my family was pretty conservative with hugs. Over time new people would become members of our family and through them we were taught the way a hug can make your feel.  It’s been an irreplaceable gift.

i’ve recently gotten to know a married couple where one of the spouses has Alzheimer’s Disease. She can be funny and silly and frankly not make a lot of sense.  However, she has an amazing way of communicating that is easily understood. She hugs. If she wants to hug you, watch out!  Ann walks up to strangers and tells them they look like they need a hug and out go her arms. She doesn’t think twice about it.

Recently Ann and her husband went on a vacation to Colorado.  As Ann’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, her “filters” have weakened.  We received a note from Ann’s husband about their experience.  I’d like to share it.

“I wanted to share a great story about Ann that has taught me a lot and that we can all learn an important life lesson from.  As many of you know, Ann’s “filters” in life have been lessoned quite a bit the past several years from her disease.  She loves to walk up to people she does not know and offer random words of affirmation, encouragement and hugs.  Her favorite “targets” are young moms with kids and elderly women.  Recently Ann was shopping with our daughter in law and randomly went up to a lady, got her attention, and with a big smile looked her in the eye and told her how beautiful she was.  Ann reached out and they hugged for a long time.  The lady was quite emotional and said, “ I am 84 years old and I really needed this today.”

I have been with Ann when she has done this literally 100’s of times these past several years. I have never, never, seen Ann get a negative response.  Many are taken back at first, but they always seem to quickly warm up to her.  Sometimes she tells them her story about her health.

I was thinking about Ann’s lack of filters and wondered about the filters in my life and all of ours that keeps us from treating others in a similar manner every time we walk out the door. Filters of feeling too busy in life to take time to care, filters of fear of rejection, filters or fears of being vulnerable,  filters of being afraid of what others will think about us when they observe us, filters of not wanting to get involved in people’s lives we don’t know.

Ann has been unable to be involved in much formal ministry work these past couple of years because of her disease.  I think God is using her in an amazing way in people’s lives by her random acts of affirmation, encouragement, kindness, and lots of hugs.  Sure it can feel uncomfortable for those of us with her at times, but then again, WWJD.  I know it has stretched me in my life in the way I have been interacting with people more openly these past couple of years.”

The note continued on further, but the best part is what I shared above.  I have been a recipient of Ann’s hugs.  They do wonders.  While I do not wish Alzheimer’s on anyone, there is goodness that has come from the ugliness of this disease.  I hope in my life it doesn’t take something tragic to make me earnestly strive to help another person feel better.  Imagine the impact we could have on each other by saying , “You are beautiful!” and extending your arms to hug.

I can’t say I’m ready to completely release my inhibitions, but perhaps I can start with a smile, or a hello.   Maybe Ann’s experience will help me to lighten up.  I hope so,
because it would make a world of difference.

All we need is hugs…and more Anns.

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Whose God is He Anyway?

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The first time I heard this unconventional song (see below for video)  it took time to process.  It had me thinking, and I had to take a step back and examine myself- my beliefs. Did I believe what I thought I believed?  Was what I believed right? Was God the God of thieves, whores, pedophiles even?  Isn’t this truth?  Why was I rethinking it?   I wanted to believe my God was also “their” God, but was I able to get beyond the “want” to the certainty of it?

When you read about the underbelly of society in the Bible the words used aren’t quite as direct as in this day and age.  They don’t feel like “pedophiles” and “whores”.  These are more uncomfortable to me.  Was I judging?  I don’t believe in judging…do I?

Biblically, sin is sin.  It’s hard to discern from reading the Bible that one sin is worse than another- except disavowing God. The consequences of sins vary greatly which may make us think some are worse than others. I have to admit at this point we may not agree. It’s challenging to fathom speaking poorly about someone behind their back is as bad as a sexual sin.  I kind of reconcile that dealing with our sin is God’s responsibility when it is all said and done.  It’s not that I don’t have to worry about my sins or those of anyone else.  There are things, though, I/we just can’t fathom here on earth.  I trust that God is omnipotent and takes care of it in His amazing way(s).   All things… work together for good… to them that love the Lord… and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Though I didn’t recognize I had issue with this, there was something nudging me as I listened to Kees Kraayenoord’s song.  I had to reconcile myself to the idea that the God I love and who loves me, is the same God who loves people who do despicable things. My God is everyone’s God.  He isn’t just here for me.  He’s not just mine.  He isn’t the God for only those who do good or live in a way that is pleasing to me.  He is the God of/for everyone…the worst of the worst and the best of the best.  He is the God of the Moon and the Stars and I come to Him.

People do unspeakable things.  I don’t agree with the choices everyone featured in this song makes.  I don’t agree with all the choices I make.  I have awaken to the notion there is one God and He is the God of all.  He loves us all.  His forgiveness is accessible to all.

Don’t watch this for the visuals or video dynamics.  You will be disappointed.  Watch and hear this for the words it expresses.

Completely thought provoking.