It’s Almost Christmas

Christmas decorated streetIt’s almost Christmas. Only two more days to go. In nine more days we enter into a new year. How did it get to be the end of 2021 so soon? I’m still trying to figure out what happened to 2020.

With those thoughts in mind, I would like to give you a few quotes to remind us why we celebrate the birth of our Savior, in the hope we remember the reason for the holiday every day throughout 2022.

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

“Christmas is that moment in time when God, in His unconditional love, stepped out of heaven onto earth, in order that we might one day step out of earth into heaven.” ~ Charles F. Stanley

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!” ~ John F. MacArthur, Jr.

“The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that he might offer up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.” ~ Rev. Billy Graham

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” ~ J.I. Packer

Which of these quotes is your favorite?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:10-14 (NLT)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Babe In The Manger

manger sceneDuring this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as God the Son who stood beside God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit when the world was formed out of nothing.

In Genesis 1:26 when God said, “Let us … ” he included both Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

During this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as the Suffering Savior who took the penalty for our sins on his perfect sinless self so we wouldn’t have to pay the debt we owed.

In Psalm 22:1 David spoke of Christ’s suffering on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These were the very words Jesus spoke as he hung from the cross of Calvary.

During this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as the Victor who won the battle over hell, sin, Satan, and death. BOOM! Jesus is the Mighty Warrior who will return and establish his kingdom.

In Revelation 21:6 Jesus says he is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”

As we look at the babe in the manger, let’s remember he is also the one who was and is and is to come. He is Jesus Christ, Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords now and forever. Emanuel. The one who is here with us.

Amen?

In all of the festivities of Christmas, do you ever find it difficult to think of the babe in the manger as Jesus Christ the Savior who died for you?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Christ is the Word of Life. He was from the beginning. We have heard Him and have seen Him with our own eyes. We have looked at Him and put our hands on Him. Christ Who is Life was shown to us. We saw Him. We tell you and preach about the Life that lasts forever. He was with the Father and He has come down to us. 1 John 1:1-2 (NLV)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Joseph Was A Noble Man

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus

At this time of year when we focus our attention on the birth of Jesus, something I’ve found to be true is that Joseph, the noble man who became Christ’s earthly father, doesn’t get much recognition. I find that sad.

The Bible doesn’t give many details about Joseph. We are told he was a righteous man, descended from Abraham and David. He was engaged to be married to Mary. When he learned Mary was pregnant, he decided to break the engagement, which was his right.

According to the religious law at the time, he could have publicly humiliated Mary. He could have even gone so far as to have her stoned for her perceived sin, and the embarrassment her pregnancy caused him.

But Joseph was a noble man. He would have none of that. He would divorce Mary quietly. His silence would cover her without any condemnation. I’m sure he understood hurtful, vicious, mean-spirited words and actions would probably be hurled Mary’s way. He loved her. He refused to add to her pain.

Here’s something I hadn’t thought about until recently. Perhaps it’s something you haven’t considered as well. Joseph was just as chosen by God to raise God’s Son as Mary was. Think about that.

God trusted Joseph. He knew Joseph’s character. God knew Joseph was a noble man who would take care, not only of the woman God chose to birth his Son, but also of his Son.

It takes a lot to raise a child who isn’t yours. When Joseph accepted God’s plan for his life, Joseph proved he was up to the challenge right from the start.

Joseph was a noble man who, from what we can tell, wasn’t upset about fading into the background of the Greatest Story ever told.

How do you view Joseph’s role in Jesus’ story?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (GNT)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Remembering Our Veterans

Navy buglerHappy Veteran’s Day to all those who are serving, and who have served in our military. Thank you very much for your sacrifices. Thanks also for the sacrifices of your families. This post originally appeared here on November 7, 2013. I thought it worth repeating. I hope you agree. This post gives a little background of the origins of Veteran’s Day if you’re interested.

My dad didn’t talk much about his experiences in World War II. Although I wish he had, I understand why he didn’t. Although being on a Naval vessel during the attack on Pearl Harbor is something he never forgot, it was not something he cared to share.

There were a few things my dad did tell me, though.

He told me how difficult it was to watch the buddy he fought next to get killed while Dad remained physically unscathed.

He told me how he walked into a restaurant and someone he knew was shocked. They’d heard Dad’s ship was destroyed. It was, but Dad had been tendered to another ship to take over for their deceased gunner before Dad’s ship was hit.

My father told me how much it hurt to come back to the States, the country he’d proudly fought and sacrificed for in the Pacific Fleet, to see a sign in front of a business that said, Sailors and dogs keep off the grass. He put his life on the line for this?

In researching the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, I spoke with Dr. Bickham, Col. Harold H. Brown, and Mr. Harold Alston, Sr. In talking with these men, they told me of the sacrifices they made to help defeat Hitler overseas and Jim Crow at home. These men faced much worse than signs telling them to keep off the grass.

And here’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus left his throne in glory to come to this earth as a man to fight for us. To win the victory over sin for us. He endured all things we humans endure, to pay the price for our freedom from Satan’s claws of death.

Jesus knew the joys. The pains. The prejudices. The humiliation. The betrayal. The love. The loss.

While I can sympathize and get upset about the unfair treatment others face, unless I’ve walked a mile in their moccasins I cannot truly comprehend the raw emotions and pain events in their lives cause.

But Jesus can.

He won the victory. He is the conqueror. His death and resurrection bought our freedom. Praise God.

Know a veteran? Tell them thanks.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

It’s obvious, of course, that he (Jesus) didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed. Hebrews 2:16-18 (MSG)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Seasonal Scripture Verses

For today’s post I am sharing several seasonal Scripture verses. Some verses we associate with the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Some verses we associate with our celebration of Christ’s sacrificial death.

As we read these Scripture verses, let’s not forget we cannot celebrate Christmas without celebrating Christ Jesus’ Resurrection.

A child is born to us!
    A son is given to us!
    And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
    “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
    “Prince of Peace.”
His royal power will continue to grow;
    his kingdom will always be at peace.
He will rule as King David’s successor,
    basing his power on right and justice,
    from now until the end of time.
The Lord Almighty is determined to do all this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (GNT)

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” Luke 2:8-14 (TPT))

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.

And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. Isaiah 53 (NLT)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

Today and always may we never forget the baby in the manger, whose birth we celebrate each December 25th, is also the Sacrificial Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, that all may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus is Christ the Messiah. King of kings and LORD of lords. To him be glory, honor, and praise now and forever. Amen.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse you read at Christmas?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Do You Have Room?

Have you ever wondered how the innkeeper felt when he told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them in his inn?

When I was young I thought the innkeeper rather mean to turn them away. I wondered why he couldn’t squeeze them in somehow. Move things around. Make room amidst his crowded inn, and crowded life, for them to stay until Mary gave birth and recovered.

Maybe he was mean. Or maybe he was just preoccupied with all the busyness that surrounded him as he ran his overflowing inn and accommodated his patrons. Perhaps he just could not handle two more people and a soon-to-be-born infant.

Do you think the innkeeper regretted his decision once the multitude of angels’ voices filled the night air above his stable? Do you think he wondered what all the hub-bub was about? Do you think the innkeeper searched back in his memory to the scriptures he learned as a child about the Promised Messiah being born in the city of David?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

My intention is not to paint the man in a poor light. Nope. Not at all. My intention is for each of us to look at ourselves and see how much like the innkeeper we might be.

Have we told Jesus there is no room in our lives for him right now because of our busy schedules? We’re full up and consumed by other things at the moment. Maybe later.

Are we preoccupied with keeping the things in our lives running smoothly and do not need to add studying the Bible to our ever growing to-do list?

Does our busyness leave Jesus out in the cold of night until a more convenient time?

I don’t know. I only know the innkeeper couldn’t find room for Jesus.

Maybe his story is a lesson for us not to leave the Messiah out of our lives either. If our lives have become as crowded and filled with the things of this world as the innkeeper’s house, perhaps it is time we moved things out of the way so Jesus has a place to stay.

Do you have room for the Savior?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant.  While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough. Luke 2:4-7 (NCV)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Mary Said Yes

The Annunciation painting at Señora de Loreto de la Bahía chapel Goliad, Texas. Notice the rattlesnake, Satan, in the lower right corner.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she was highly favored by God, Mary said yes. Not only did the mother of Christ say yes to delivering the Son of the LORD Most High, Mary said yes to a whole lot more.

Have you ever considered that? Have you ever considered what saying yes cost Mary?

Considering the laws of the day, Mary knew saying yes might cost her the future she planned with Joseph. It might cost her his love, his devotion, his protection. Saying yes could very easily cost Mary her life once news of her un-wed pregnancy got out in the public.

For certain it cost her reputation and countless wagging fingers and tongues. Don’t you think?

Nevertheless, Mary the mother of Christ willingly laid down her hopes and dreams to be the vessel The Almighty Father could use to fulfill his plan of salvation to a lost and dying world. 

By saying yes to God’s plan, Mary said yes to traveling to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey at a very pregnant nine months. She said yes to giving birth to God’s son in a cold, dank, stable away from the care of her mother and other family members.

She said yes to having strangers see her child before those close to her saw him. She said yes to the bewilderment and awe Jesus’ birth created. She said yes when Joseph told her God said they should leave and flee to Egypt. Egypt? Hadn’t God warned his people not to go down to Egypt?

Mary said yes when her son left home to become an itinerant preacher.

She continued to say yes to God even when her yes led to the foot of the cross where her precious dearly loved son was brutally murdered by the very ones he died to save.

I imagine some of Mary’s yeses weren’t easy. Still. The one highly favored, highly blessed, by the Lord trusted him enough to say yes when Gabriel appeared to her in Nazareth. And she kept right on saying yes.

Oh that we would have such faith and trust to lay down our own hopes and dreams to answer yes to each of God’s opportunities to be part of his plans and purposes.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

The angel came to her and said, “Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you!”

 Mary was deeply troubled by the angel’s message, and she wondered what his words meant. The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” And the angel left her. Luke 1:28-33, 38 (GNT)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Share the Story of Jesus

This time of year is usually a flurry of activity with plays, music performances, Nativity reenactments, and stories galore. But not this year. While some of these events may still take place, I do not believe during our time of Corona Virus social distancing they will take place to the full extent they have in years past.

The Christmas before Pie’s fifth birthday he was a shepherd in the church Christmas program. He wanted to share the story of Jesus. He knew his part, plus everyone else’s parts. When the teen next to Pie forgot his lines during one point of the performance, Pie nudged him with his elbow and said, “It’s your turn.” Then Pie proceeded to feed the teen his lines.

While many of us share the story of Jesus’ birth this time of year, I wonder. Are we as excited to share the story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and what that means to the world?

As the last days of the Apostle Peter’s life drew near, he made it his mission to share the story of Jesus with his listeners. He wanted to “wake them up with a reminder” so they would not forget how the story of Peter’s life was entwined with the story of Jesus’ life.

The words Peter preached were not cleverly contrived myths. They were eyewitness accounts of Christ’s majesty. Peter warned the early believers not to become complacent. He warned them not to let the things of the world keep them from believing the story of Jesus.

The same warnings hold true for followers of Jesus today.

While we may not be in a position to share in the story of Jesus’ birth through a Christmas performance this year, we can share in the story of Jesus everyday, regardless of the date on a calendar.

How do you share in the story of Jesus?

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We have not depended on made-up stories in making known to you the mighty coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our own eyes we saw his greatness. We were there when he was given honor and glory by God the Father, when the voice came to him from the Supreme Glory, saying, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased!” We ourselves heard this voice coming from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain. 2 Peter 1:16-1

I wish you well.

Sandy

The Warmth of Christ’s Love

One of the books my family owned when I grew up was The Christmas Book, a collection of forty-five Christmas stories and poems. How do I know it had forty-five stories and poems? That book still sits on my shelf today.

At one inch thick this book was enormous to my small hands. Still, I tugged it off the bookshelf often and flipped the pages one by one. At first all I could do was look at the pictures. Next, I asked others to read stories to me. Then the day came when I was able to read the words on each page by myself.

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite stories. I returned to it over and over. Although it does have a happily-ever-after ending, the story itself is rather sad. If you have read it, perhaps you understand.

In this post I’ll briefly give a story synopsis, so if you haven’t read the story, be forewarned.

The spark for this post came when I recently pulled that book off my bookshelf and turned the faded, fragile pages to page 281, and once again read the story that held my attention all those many years ago.

The Little Match Girl is the story of a young girl who lives with her strict father in a rundown shack. Her job is to sell matches. Christmas Eve she finds herself cold, hungry, and alone on the street with only her small handful of matches.

Three separate times she lights a match in an attempt to stay warm. Each time she envisions beautiful, wondrous sights. Near the end of the story a star falls, reminding the little girl what her grandmother told her before the grandmother died. “When a star falls from the sky, someone is dying and their soul goes up to God.”

Believing she sees her grandmother, the little girl asks her grandmother to take her with her.

This time, however, it isn’t a vision. The grandmotherly woman the girl sees is real. She takes the match girl home to live with her forever.

The end.

Or is it?

We may find ourselves cold, hungry, and alone in the world and wish someone cared enough to notice us. To love us. To provide for and protect us. We’ve lit every single match we hold and still, nothing. It all goes up in smoke. We feel as if all is hopeless.

That is, until Jesus steps into our lives, picks us up from the cold stone step we’ve sat on, and carries us to his home. A home he prepared for us which is more beautiful and wondrous than we could ever imagine. It’s warm. We’re safe. We smell delicious food. Jesus is smiling at us. He tells us he wants us to be his child forever.

Will we accept?

The choice is ours to make. We can stay outside the warmth of Christ’s love, or we can jump right into his arms and be safe now and forever.

The little match girl chose to stay safe with the lady who wanted to adopt her. What choice will we make?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

“Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am.” John 14: 1-3 (GNT)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Be Thankful

Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

Henry Alford, D.D. 1844

This song was my favorite Thanksgiving song growing up, and it still is. I love the melody. I love the words. I love the call to acknowledge our Lord as the giver of every good and perfect gift. I love the call to come before God with thanksgiving, realizing he owns it all. Every blade, every fruit.

Life today no longer looks as it looked twelve months ago. Many of us here in the States will celebrate Thanksgiving differently than we did in the past. For some of us there will be empty chairs at the table where loved ones once sat. The size of our gatherings may be reduced per Corona Virus guidelines and restrictions. Limits might be placed on what we can afford to purchase for our meal.

Yet amidst the many many changes 2020 brought, some things remain unchanged. God is in control. He loves us unconditionally. His love will last forever. Nothing can separate us from him. Though the mountains should crumble and fall into the sea, God is on his throne.

In good times and bad may his holy name be forever praised.

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation. Psalm 100 (NLT)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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