It’s About Religious Freedom

Little Sisters of the Poor

On Monday night our PBS station aired a documentary about Pope John Paul II. As I watched I was remembering the discussions that I had with my daughter about the Theology of the Body (writings by Pope John Paul II).

Julia was attending Marquette University and was introduced to the Theology of the Body, God’s design for male and female, for marriage and sexuality. She brought home some tapes for me to hear, and we talked about them.

I am not Catholic, but this teaching on sexuality makes sense to me. I have great respect for the Catholic position on life. I understand the position of the Catholic Church, opposing contraception and drugs that cause early abortions. As a nurse I have concerns about the        effects of hormonal drugs on longterm health.

So when the Little Sisters of the Poor refuse to be providers of         contraception, I am with them. This is the teaching of their church. They have a right to live out their faith.

My own right of conscience was tested during my first year of nursing practice. I was working in a large city hospital, affiliated with a        university. I was shocked when I realized that an abortion was taking place in our labor/delivery unit—a saline induction. I could not participate. That night I wrote a letter stating my conscience objection to abortion, gave it to my manager and it was kept in my file.   I was     never called to assist with an abortion.

Later I would choose to work at Catholic or Lutheran Hospitals.

In the United States the first amendment guarantees the freedom of   religion—the right to live according to one’s faith. The Little Sisters of the Poor are living out their faith as they minister to the elderly.

Can the government force the Little Sisters to provide free contraception in the health insurance they give their employees? The mandate goes against their faith. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on this case today. I am praying for the right of conscience to be upheld.

If SCOTUS rules against them the Little Sisters will be heavily fined and may be forced to discontinue their work.

The Little Sisters minister at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in my community. I am participating in a day of prayer and service as a sign of support. Let them serve.

Women Speak for Themselves
www.womenspeakforthemselves.com

Addendum: A good sized crowd gathered in front of St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine. We were positioned along Northwest Highway and were encouraged by cars and trucks honking as they saw the signs. We received many waves of approval.

Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the Poor

Maria Goldstein led in prayer and Bible reading. We sang the servant song together.

What do you want of me, Lord
Where do you want me to serve you?
Where can I sing your praises?
I am your song.

Refrain: Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord.
Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.

You are the light in my darkness.
You are my strength when I’m weary.
You give me sight when I’m blinded.
Come see for me.

I am your song and servant,
Singing your praise like Mary.
Surrendered to your Spirit,
“Let it be done to me.”

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We prayed for the protection of conscience rights:

Father, we praise you and thank you
For your most precious gift of human life
And human freedom.
Touch the hearts of our law makers
with wisdom and courage to uphold conscience rights
and religious liberty for all.
Protect all people from being forced to
Violate their moral and religious convictions.
In your goodness, guard our freedom
to live out our faith and
to follow you in all that we do.
Give us strength to be bold and joyful witnesses.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Linking with Thought Provoking Thursday,   Whole Hearted     Wednesday,  A Little R & R

Solving Social Problems or Shining Light in a Dark World?

Every summer I visit Calumet, Michigan. At one time it was the center of the copper boom with a growing immigrant population. Both of my grandfathers emigrated from Finland and worked in the copper mines. I know that Calumet had many bars to serve the immigrant workers.

Calumet, Michigan

So it is with interest that I am reading Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.   The saloons and bars were a place of   escape for men working long hours in menial tasks.

That the proliferation of saloons was abetted by immigrants (usually German or Bohemian), largely for immigrants (members of those nationalities, but also Irish, Slavs, Scandinavians and many, many others),  was not lost on the moralists of the WCTU  [Woman’s Christian       Temperance Union].*

The wellbeing of women and children was affected when a husband spent his paycheck on alcohol.

Various groups came together in a fight against drunkenness,          supporting prohibition. The WCTU, the Anti-Saloon League and the Suffragettes joined together in the battle against alcohol consumption. I wonder if a fight for better working conditions might have helped men and their families—less use of alcohol?

In response the brewers and distillers organized against Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Suffrage became a target because the brewers believed that women would vote for Prohibition.

In 1906 a state suffrage amendment in Oregon was defeated when the brewers secretly enlisted Oregon’s saloonkeepers and hoteliers in an elaborate get-out-the-vote operation. Secrecy also prevailed when the USBA [Brewers Association] paid the nationally known suffragist Phoebe Couzins to repudiate her previous position . . . *

It is interesting to me that Finland gave women the vote in 1906 and the Netherlands in 1917. The United States did not give women the vote until 1920.

What a tangled web we weave as humans when we try to solve social problems. The money involved makes it more complex. Until 1913 when the income tax was instituted, the government depended on revenue from liquor sales.

In the New Testament Jesus does not confront government practices or politics. Instead he asks his followers to be a light to a confused and chaotic world.

You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14

Light of the World

Jesus also prays for his followers.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. John 17: 14-15

In this election year I see the need to spend more time in prayer,      seeking God’s guidance. I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus is interceding for his people.

*Okrent, Daniel, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, New York; Scribner, 2010, pp. 26, 65

Linking with Word of God Speak, Weekend Whispers,  Sitting Among Friends and Faith Filled Friday

Covenant in the Bible and Perspectives on the Family

Perspectives from Covenant

This month our women’s Bible study is beginning a study of the covenants recorded in the Bible.  Chapter 17 of Genesis records the covenant God made with Abram and Sarai. With the establishment of the covenant God changed their names to Abraham and Sarah.

Having recently been in the New Testament it brings to mind other name changes. Simon became Peter. Saul became Paul. Each of these people were transformed for the role that God gave them.

The name changes indicate that something big was happening.

As I studied the use of the word covenant in Genesis, I was impressed by the references to future generations. The covenant was about a long view into the future.

Abram was 99 and Sarai was 90 when God gave them the promise of a son within a year. The promise was for them AND for the future. And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of people shall come from her.” Genesis 17: 15-16

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The most important event in Abram and Sarai’s life was happening when they were well advanced in age. They were given a blessing not just for themselves, but for people in the future. Can we grasp a little bit of God’s perspective?

I have been chewing on this. It is easy to be focused on our personal life. The covenant takes in a bigger perspective, a blessing for many people. It is a perspective that looks long into the future.

We talk about the environment—it is good to take care of the earth—but it is even more important to care for the next generation.   A     spiritual heritage is central in God’s word.

I think about this as I spend time with our grandchildren.    Our        influence as moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents is urgently    needed. The importance of guiding and teaching the next generation is recorded in Deuteronomy.

“You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, when you lie down and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 11: 18-19

Prayer: O Lord, may we be faithful in teaching the next generation your word and your ways.

Linking up with Word of God Speak and Weekend Whispers

It’s March and Spring is Coming!

It is March 1st and spring is coming. The temperatures are still up and down, but I am beginning to have garden thoughts.  I am looking      forward to seeing the blooms from the bulbs I planted last fall.

The delight offered by gardens has been expressed over hundreds of years. I have collected some quotes.

The first garden was described in the Book of Genesis.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.               Genesis 2:15

Gardens bring us in contact with nature, created by God.

When I go into my garden . . .  All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of   existence, all of the burdens of life slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child that asks nothing beyond its present     moment of innocent bliss.   Celia Thaxter (1835 – 1894)

We still have snow on the ground. Yet, new life is stirring and will soon appear.

Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid a million buds but stay their blossoming; and trustful birds have built their nests amid the shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing till one soft shower from the south shall bid, and hither tempt the pilgrim steps of Spring.                      Robert Bridges (1845 – 1931)

My daughter and I enjoyed reading The Secret Garden by Francis       Burnett ( 1849 – 1924). Here is a quote from the book.

They had come upon a whole clump of crocuses burst into purple and gold.  Mary bent her face down and kissed them.  “You never kiss a      person that way,” she said when she lifted her head.  “Flowers are so   different.”

spring crocus
photo courtesy of pixabay

Jesus mentioned flowers during the Sermon on the Mount.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.                      Matthew 6: 28b-29

lilies

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, thru which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.                                                         George Washington Carver (1860 – 1943)

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Linking with A Little R & R, Whole Hearted Wednesday,  Tuesdays with a Twist and Titus 2sdays

Give Me a Steadfast Heart

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards. Give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out. Give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274)

A Steadfast Heart

In November of 2013 I wrote this in a blog post:

On Wednesday morning I was still reeling from the news that same-sex marriage was passed into law in Illinois. The trends in our culture weigh heavily on me. I have been studying the book of Ezekiel, and I see many parallels between Ezekiel’s description of the culture then and the present day.  Throughout the ages, people and sin remain the same. We have a tendency to rebel against God’s ways.

Since then the Supreme Court has decided in favor of same-sex     marriage. Our local school district has opened bathrooms and locker rooms to transgender individuals, without regard to their biological identity.

The moral chaos and confusion is disheartening but our role as      Christians is to remain obedient to God and to proclaim the Gospel.

We have instructions and prayer support from Jesus.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28: 19-20

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours . . .

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one.         John 17: 9, 11

My prayer: Thank-you, Lord Jesus, for your intercession for us. May we, with your help, be steadfast in proclaiming the Gospel.

Linking with Tell it to Me Tuesdays,  Weekend Whispers,  Word of God Speak,  Faith Filled Friday

Hope of the Gospel Overcomes Shipwreck

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

 I am finishing up my study of the book of Acts,  and I can see how    Isaiah’s declaration applies to Paul.    Several times in Acts, Luke      describes Paul’s call to Rome—and his determination to go there to testify. After being imprisoned in Caesarea for two years he is finally on his way to Rome, by ship. They are traveling in a season not favorable for sailing. He and the 275 other people on board the ship are shipwrecked.  God protects them and they are treated well by the  people of Malta. They wait out the winter there. Luke, the physician, was with Paul and recorded the journey to Rome in the 27th chapter of Acts.

Shipwreck
Painting by Bonaventura Peeters

Matthew Henry comments on chapter 27 with these words:

No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help, always at hand.

The work that God had prepared beforehand for Paul was to proclaim the message of the gospel.  Acts 9:15 states this about Paul:   he is a  chosen instrument of mine [of God] to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul was called to proclaim the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in Rome. He was to tell people about God’s offer of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get distracted by world events and by tragedies in our    nation. Why are Christians being beheaded?  How did we ever get to the point that medical research seeks baby parts from abortion      clinics? Why did Justice Scalia die now? In some sense our nation is in a shipwreck.

The words from Isaiah and the example of Paul are a great encouragement. Paul was not deterred by the execution of James and or by his own imprisonments.

Even though storms come up, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. God’s word will not return empty. I may stumble but He is faithful to help. We live with a precious hope. May we bring God glory.

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Linking with Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Is Medical Research Supporting Planned Parenthood?

L of L

For the past five months I have been studying the book of Acts. The book provides a picture of  the early church,  the work of the Holy    Spirit and the challenges that believers faced.

Times and circumstances are different now, but the challenges are similar. When we pursue truth we will encounter pushback. The 19th chapter of Acts records a confrontation between silver craftsmen and the Apostle Paul.

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19: 23-27

Is medical research supporting planned parenthood?
Planned Parenthood in Houston Texas: photo via wikimedia

Planned Parenthood has enjoyed a profitable business in our country, promising women their independence and control over reproduction. The organization receives tax dollars for women’s health. Recently some little known truths began to emerge when videos showed that Planned Parenthood is willing to provide baby parts for purchase.  With a little research I discovered that the interest in aborted fetuses for the purpose of research dates back to the legalization of abortion. On another post I wrote:

In 1950 Finland legalized abortion. Socialized medicine paid for the abortions; research provided a return on the investment.

In the past week Alliance Defending Freedom reported that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Madison, Wisconsin is selling baby parts to the University of Wisconsin. ADF obtained documents through the freedom of information act. Read the press release here. I know that the University of Michigan is doing embryonic stem cell research. Are they buying baby parts too?

Medical research is enshrined in this country. We want answers. We want to eradicate all infectious disease. Should the life of innocent pre-born babies provide for the health of others—and does it even work? How does this fit with God’s design for human life?

In this twisted culture we have a spiritual battle  going on.    The       producers of the videos, showing abortion and the planned sale of body parts, are being indicted. Planned Parenthood gets a pass.  The      abortion industry has deep roots, people that support it for their own profit.

Pray for our country. Pray for truth to prevail. Pray for all innocent life to be protected.

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UPDATE: LifeNews.com has an article that details the sale of fetal tissue–and the tax dollars that support research that utilizes fetal body parts. Click here.

Linking with Word of God Speak,  Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Faith Filled Friday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Responding to Confusion with the Bible

Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.

Bible

Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.

Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”

The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27

The triune God created the world.

Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.

In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the      Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.

Jesus and Allah
Dome of the Rock

The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.

Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17

Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.

As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:

  • Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
  • The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
  • Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
  • Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.

I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.

Also linking with A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Soul Survival and Weekend Whispers

Spiritual Mothering: Book Review

L of L

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt was published in 1992. I have had it on my shelf for a while, but the time was right for me to read it now. I have enjoyed the examples of relationships provided in the book. The purpose of the book is to shine a light on relationships between women that lead to a growing faith and maturity.

Each chapter is preceded by a real life example of a relationship.  The lessons are  developed from the example. Biblical women and scripture verses are included. The beautiful relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is referred to in several chapters.

The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The  chapter on  forgiveness  highlights  Abigail, the wife of Nabal. Her story is told in the 25th chapter of 1 Samuel.    From Susan Hunt’s  perspective, Abigail had an attitude of forgiveness toward her rude husband who was prone to drunkenness. She was free to focus on the dramatic events when David, the future king of Israel, was requesting food for his men.

I had never thought of Abigail in that way. It is true that a forgiving heart has freedom. An attitude of unforgiveness/bitterness is a burden that impacts relationships negatively.

The  book  points  out  the value of women’s  relationships  and the   potential for mentoring. In our culture we have much busyness and competition between women. The loving encouragement in a friendship, modeled by Mary and Elizabeth, is a gift. This is a season of life when I am thinking more about the way I relate to younger women.

As  the  book concluded I thought about the pattern  of  a one-on-one  relationship—the intensity of this manner of mentoring. A few years ago I participated  in  a discipleship group with two other women.    Although I led the group, we were learning and growing together. We shared our lives and challenges with transparency. We prayed for each other. We all benefited.

I am blessed to have two daughters and one daughter-in-law. It was wonderful to spend four days, all together, during the holidays. We have good relationships and will continue to learn from each other.

This book makes the point that a woman does not need  to  have  a   biological daughter to have a mentoring relationship; she doesn’t need to be a certain age. A godly woman can bless a younger woman by taking an interest in her and making herself available. The book is organized for group study, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I recommend it!

Linking with Make My Saturday SweetLiteracy Musing Monday,  Essential FridaysGrace & Truth,  Faith Filled Friday, Friendship Friday,  Booknificent Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Why I Participate in the March for Life

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Sunday is the March for Life in Chicago. For the past three years I have participated in the march that takes place in my community. This year our community is joining the Chicago March for Life. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ride the bus into Chicago, and so I have thought about this. Why do I participate?

As a nurse I believe with my whole heart that abortion is damaging to women. Early in my career I refused to participate in an abortion that took place in the hospital where I was employed. Besides the fact that medical people were killing a  human  being,  I felt that our unit had insufficient resources to help a woman through the emotional impact.

The story of Hagar in the Bible has always caused me to pause and muse on God’s  care for a single woman who became pregnant–through Sarai’s plan to achieve a child. Twice an angel was sent to rescue Hagar.

Painting by Francesco Cozza
Painting by Francesco Cozy

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” . . .  

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:7-10, 13

Later when Hagar’s son was about seventeen years old, Hagar was sent away by Sarai and Abraham. She and the boy were out of water in the desert and an angel directed her to a well. The Bible demonstrates God’s care for all women, in all circumstances. As Christians we can be God’s hands.

One of the arguments for abortion is that if we defund Planned Parenthood women will have unsafe abortions. And yet many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics do not meet the safety standards for a surgical center.

I  recently read a study  that  was  done in  Chile  after they  made  abortion illegal. Did  hospital admissions  for abortion complications  increase or decrease?  Hospital admissions decreased and maternal mortality decreased. Chile has better statistics on maternal mortality than the United States! You can read the article here.

World Magazine includes an interview with an obstetrician. She was asked about rape victims. Would she perform an abortion for a rape victim? She shared an experience that she had with a teenager that was pregnant by incest. Here is what she said:

So we talked with the girl and her family. She said, ‘Oh, you mean you’d kill the baby? I don’t want to kill the baby. No, no, no. I just want you to stop Grandpa from hurting me.” . . .

When you say there is a pregnancy as a result of incest, there’s usually some horrible abuse that must be diagnosed and treated.  To kill  the   victim doesn’t really treat the crime.*

I am not in favor of protests in front of an abortion clinic. I am glad that for the most part the approach has changed to prayer and sidewalk counseling. Clinics like Informed Choices and Caris, in my area, provide support for women that are pregnant and in a difficult place or life situation.

The Christian community can do more.   Women that are single       parents need help. Children in foster care need to be adopted. We can all increase our attentiveness to women and children in need.

UPDATE: The cold temperature in Chicago and wind chill factor predicted for tomorrow is going to be hazardous. Prayer for this event is welcomed!

SUNDAY: We encountered brutal wind chill but all were in good spirits and the march went well!

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Camilla Hersh, “The Happiness Specialist”, World Magazine, January 23, 2016, p. 29

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Home,  So Much at Home, Tell it to Me TuesdayTitus 2sdayTuesdays with a Twist, the Homemaking Party,  Word of God Speak, Grace & Truth,  Essential FridaysWeekend Whispers and Faith Filled Friday.