The Prisoner Exchange

The American prisoners have been released from captivity in Iran. For this we praise God and offer gratitude for His grace and power. We also continue to pray for the one soul that has not yet been freed and ask God to sustain his family in their waiting. A Bible verse comes to mind as I think of this prisoner’s beloved: I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; I will wait for him.’ Lamentations 3:24

For several days three thoughts have been circling in my mind about the good news of the freedom of these Americans. I share them with you to encourage your faith and inspire worship and thankfulness in your own heart.

+  Once upon a time I, too, was held in captivity by my sin. God so wanted to have a relationship with me that He exchanged the death of His Son for my freedom. I did not earn or deserve such a gift from God. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

+  The Iran/American prisoner exchange was unjust at its core. The guiltless were ransomed for the guilty. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. 1 Peter 3:18

+   It would be unfathomable to think that one of the prisoners whose release had been arranged would have chosen to remain in captivity. How must it grieve God when one of those He sent His Son to die for rejects their freedom in Christ? Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

I earnestly pray that the former American captives will truly live to the fullest in their new found freedom. Likewise, I pray that you and I can do the same…that the Jesus Prisoner Exchange will not be in vain in our own lives. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed from death to life. John 5:24

It is for your freedom that Jesus died. Go then and live freely in the Good News of the Gospel.

OPP(opportunity for action): Mothers, Grandmothers and all others of faith influence: As we close out January 2016 let us purpose to help our children live in the presence of God (12 Things I Desire for our Children #1). Find ways to bring God into the moment in your home. I encourage you to establish a daily habit of doing a devotion with your child. It will serve to secure their faith conscience and remind them of God’s love for them. Heaven knows they will need these things as God’s presence is diminished in the world around them. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on           on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

I WON! I WON!

 

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On this very day millions are hoping for billions! “Do you have a ticket?”, is the question of the hour. As people of faith, let us pause to consider the ticket that we already possess—the one bought with the price of God’s Son. In God’s economy there are no winners or losers. There are only Victors in Christ. As you may know, I am a life-long proponent of Scripture memory. In 2012 I wrote The Scripture Code…unlocking spiritual wealth. The Scripture Code is a short read and a long discipline. Interestingly, one of the chapters is called The Stash. It was written at the time of anticipation of what was then the largest lottery to date. The following is an excerpt from the book.

The Stash

The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 29:29

“What would you do if you had a personal stash of cash? At the time of this writing, the Mega Millions Lottery is at its highest amount ever: over half a billion dollars. Believe me, millions of ticket holders are out there answering this question on this very day.

To memorize Scripture is to immerse yourself in the things revealed. Your heart and mind will become a storehouse of the precepts and principles of the Lord our God. There is much about God and heaven that we will never know until we reach our final destination. In the meantime, God reveals, through His Word, His will and purpose for our lives as we journey on our earthly paths.

For this journey, God has given those who trust His Son for their eternal salvation His precious Holy Spirit. Through the presence of Jesus in our life, we have forgiveness of our sins. Through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, we have understanding of the truth of God as revealed in the Bible. The Scripture Code bridges the eighteen-inch span between our minds and our hearts. Through the Holy Spirit, the Bible truths committed to memory are deposited in the vault of our soul. What will be the outcome of your soul stash?” (The Scripture Code.deedeelcass.p.9)

Could not have said it better myself!!! I exhort you to cash in your ticket. Purpose to make Scripture Memory a significant element of your faith walk. I use a Squared MOLESKINE (TM) Notebook as my Scripture Code Ledger. This discipline has taken me beyond memorization of the Bible to the actuality of the Bible in my life. It has contributed to my desire to live out Colossians 4:12… to stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Everyone loves a winner. Let “ I WON! I WON!”, be your shout today!

My purpose is that they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

OPP (opportunity for action): Our focus in this first month of 2016 is that our children live in the presence of God. Nothing will bring them into God’s presence more than God’s Word. Teach your child the method of The Scripture Code. Ask them to write their initials. Then give them a verse and ask them to write the initials of each word. Example: Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Isaiah 43:5. D n b a, f I a w y.  These letters will serve as a prompt that will help them hide God’s word in the heart (Psalm 119:11). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time your child was afraid of something they could pull this “ticket” out of their pocket? It would be good for you too. Stash God’s Word in your own heart.  I guarantee you will need it in the days to come.

A Resolution Revolution

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New Year’s resolutions are more than statements of proposed changes in our lives. They identify the deep desire we have to specifically alter our path forward. And so, I ask you, “What is your greatest desire as you enter 2016?” I do not negate the value of healthy living and the curbing of ill habits. I do not underestimate the need for self-improvement and advancement on this earth. I do, however, exhort you to examine your priorities—are they earthly or heavenly? The only resolution we can make on earth that transforms our spiritual well being is to know God in a deeper and more awesome way. Therefore, let us make our spiritual health the most important resolve of 2016.

Are you ready for a Resolution Revolution in your life? This question seems far out coming from a woman of forty-eight years of marriage with five grandchildren. But then, who better to encourage your attention to the presence of God in your daily living? The prophet Jeremiah who was dishonored in his own generation spoke words that enlighten us to God’s desired placement of our resolve…

This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24

It only takes one to start a revolution. On this sixth day of this New Year I resolve to seek God with all my heart and soul. Let’s make it two! As one advanced on the time line of New Year’s resolutions, I can attest to the fact that if you make understanding and knowing God your priority focus, all earthly resolves will be met with God’s resolve to accomplish His plan in your life on earth. Want to get it done in 2016? Begin a Resolution Revolution. The heavens will rejoice and the earth will be glad.

Secure your 2016 Resolution to delight God by knowing and understanding him. Deposit these verses in you heart’s vault:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  1 Corinthians 2:2

O God you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

When 2016 has run its course let us be able to say together that we were true to our New Year’s Resolution and that it is well with our souls.

Opp (opportunity for action). Let us incrementally and steadily sow our Growing Robes in faith in 2016. Each month we will focus on the corresponding principle for the Twelve Things I Desire for our Children. Each of these features a quote from Faith Feedings…12 principles to nurture your child’s spiritual development . #1 Live in the Presence of God. Bring God into the moment in the life of your family.  Start by thanking Him out loud for the simple pleasures you enjoy as a mother.
https://thegrowingrobe.com/12-things-i-desire-for-our-children/

Faith Feedings…12 principles to nourish your child’s spiritual development
Available at: http://Amazon.com                     http://Christianbook.com

The Missing Piece

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There is a new brand of jigsaw puzzles out there. Beautiful scenes are passé. Paul and I enjoy piecing together nostalgic collages of candy wrappers, cereal boxes and detailed themes. When we do a puzzle together I always let him have the privilege of placing the last piece. Recently, the last piece was missing. After running his hand over the 999 piece picture and checking the floor, he exclaimed, “Can you believe that we did all of this and do not have the last piece!” Not to worry, number 1000 was under the lid.  Missing piece found. Puzzle complete.

Christmas is like a collage puzzle. We begin on the outside border just after Thanksgiving and fill in the pieces till Christmas Day arrives. We put the puzzle together in segments: decorate, bake, buy and wrap, sing a carol or two and send a holiday greeting. Christmas shouts, “Ready or not, here I come!”. We respond, “I’ll do better next year.” But wait! Is the last piece of Christmas missing? Who is holding it? The truth is that the Missing Piece of Christmas is PEACE and Jesus holds it in His Divine Hand. And what is more…Peace is the only piece of Christmas that matters. Christmas begins with the last piece. If the Peace of the Christ-child does not frame our Christmas our puzzle is just a worldly distraction.

So on this Christmas we pray that the last piece be your first. Let Peace define your Christmas puzzle. Above all, please know this: Christmas is not a puzzle. The mystery is clearly revealed in God’s Word: …Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-7).

Let it not be said that our lives were lived without the Lasting Peace of Jesus

We wish you the Missing Peace this Christmas…

                                       Pardon for Sin
                                       Ever-lasting Life
                                       Abounding Love
                                       Continual Grace
                                       Eternal JOY

With Christmas love and joy,
Paul and DeeDee Cass

 

OPP (opportunity for action): Frame Christmas in your home. Cut your Christ-centered Christmas Cards into puzzle pieces. Help your children put them together to set the truth of Christmas in their hearts and minds. I also encourage you to gather your children in your bed first-thing on Christmas morning for a reading of Matthew 1:18-24 or Luke 1:26-38. Nurture your child’s faith by giving him or her the Missing Piece of Christmas…the Peace of the Christ-child.

The Twelve Gifts of Christmas

 

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As a wife, mother, Grandmother and woman of faith there are 12 things I desire for our children.

I want them …

 

 

1. To live in the presence of God
2. To grow in the likeness of Jesus
3. To find their value and significance in God their Creator
4. To walk in ever-increasing faith
5. To be raised in godly discipline
6. To be surrounded by people who believe in them
7. To know God will fulfill His purpose in their lives
8. To know that God loves them and gave His Son to prove it
9. To trust in the unlimited understanding of God
10. To place their hope in God regardless of their circumstances
11. To earnestly love God and others
12. To reflect godly character and integrity in all they do

These 12 things are the essence of Faith Feedings…12 principles to nourish your child’s spiritual development. Each of these is an extract from the book I have written to cultivate the conscience of the next generation for faith in God. They will frame and establish faith in your home.

These 12 things are also the essence of Christmas. They are Twelve Gifts that only be grasped through the Gift of God’s Son in the form of the Christ-child. This Christmas I pray that God will richly bless your family with a legacy of faith!

I invite you into my passion to change the faith landscape of our homes.  Join in! Let’s stop the bleeding that is draining faith from our families and leading out children further away from God.

Let Justice flow like a river; righteousness like a never failing stream. Amos 5:24

OPP (opportunity for action): Purpose to pray The 12 Things I desire for our Children on a regular basis. Commit them to memory and heart speak them to the Lord when you awaken in the night. Adorn you child’s Growing Robe with these 12 Gifts of Christmas. They are gifts to last a life-time…even into eternity!

Give the gift of Faith this Christmas. Faith Feedings is available to purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Feedings-Principles-Spiritual-Development/dp/1940269520/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448914097&sr=8-1&keywords=faith+feedings

 Faith Feedings is also available  at http://christianbook.com

I Pledge Allegiance…

 

It seems that my tidy list of Christmas Blog reflections has been interrupted by terror on the home-front. My All I Want for Christmas theme has been overshadowed by considerations of allegiance and unthinkable encroachment on the land of the free.

The words, I Pledge Allegiance…, came to the fore-front for me on December 5th during my early morning meeting with the Lord. The Bible passage scheduled for me that day was Philippians 2:5-11. Verses 6-11 are oft quoted ones and are invaluable for understanding the Nature and Character of Jesus Christ. On this morning, however, it was verse 5 that got my attention: Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. In deep humility and outrageous courage, I share my Journal entry for that day with you.

“The word attitude grabs me. How could my attitude be the same as the One who offered up everything for the sake of my eternal life? I have such a long way to go. But, praise God, I am on the way. My attitude is growing toward Jesus, not away from Him. It is allegiance that makes the difference. Allegiance rules attitude. The word allegiance stands out to me today because of the recent murder of innocents on the west coast of the American mainland. The female (wife) of the couple pledged her allegiance to the rule of terror just before spraying a room with bullets that ended life on this earth for fourteen and permanently scarred twenty-one others. To this end, the man and the woman offered themselves up to their misplaced allegiance. O God of abounding Love and Truth, I offer myself up to Jesus. Enable me to have the attitude of Christ who offered all He had and is for me.”

“We call it radicalization. They call it allegiance.
We call it violence. The Bible calls it murder.
We call it hatred. God calls it evil.
We call it unforgivable. Jesus calls it crucified.”

On second thought, All I want for Christmas stands. All I Want for Christmas is radical faith in an allegiance-worthy God. It is what I want for you as well!

Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory the Father (Philippians 2:9-11)

OPP (opportunity for action): Nurture your child’s spiritual development by introducing God’s radical love for them in the form of the Gift of the Christ-child. At this time of year there are numerous opportunities for giving…from food and warm clothing for the needy to the Salvation Army bell ringer at the storefronts. Aid them in finding ways to be givers rather than getters this Christmas. Pray in your home for comfort for those who lost their beloved and covering on our Nation for the sake of His Beloved.

A Sense of ADVENTure

 

Your sense of adventure defines your approach to life. Do you live on the edge of the next new thing to try and to master? Or are you one who holds back in the safe and unchallenged places of life? Are you a risk taker or a safe player? Your sense of ADVENTure defines your approach to Christmas. Do you bask in the wonder of God’s gift to the world in the person of His Son? Do you sell short the true meaning of Christmas and miss the essence of God’s love in it? Are you a joyful participant or an overwhelmed overseer of gifts, decorations and groceries? Believe me, I know of what I speak!

Advent is the season of spiritual preparation that leads to an event too great to fathom in the human mind and too wondrous to capture in the human heart. Advent anticipates the adventure of a life time. It clears the pathway for a journey that exceeds climbing the highest mountain or diving in the deepest sea. Advent takes us beyond the world’s woes to a place of love and peace that the world knows not. May God in His goodness increase our sense of ADVENTure.

There is sadness in a world that chooses an atheist as the Grand Marshall of a Christmas parade. There is shallowness in the availability of an Advent Calendar with a toy on the twenty-fifth day. There is hopelessness in a “Happy Holidays” greeting and the banning of manger scenes in public places. But take heart! God is with us in it all. Therein lies the true beauty of Advent. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means God with us (Matthew 1:22-23; Isaiah 7:14).

It takes a whole lot of ADVENTure to fully grasp the Biblical truth that a child conceived by God’s Holy Spirit and born to a virgin would be called Immanuel and live with us. Advent is about seeking God in all of His fullness so that we can fully receive the gift of His Son, the Christ-child. .

You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord… Jeremiah 29:13

May God stir in you a sense of ADVENTure so that you might find Jesus in a new way. Be prepared to be God-awed this Christmas.

OPP (opportunity for action): Connect the Christmas dots in your family. Supplement your Advent candles and calendars with the reading of the Christmas story as told by Matthew and Luke (Matthew 1 !-14, Luke 1:1-20). Teach your children the concept of giving to Jesus by gifting to others. Bring Jesus into the moment in your homes this Christmas. If you do not ADVENT your child’s Christmas, who will?
Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn. Psalm 22:30-31.

Grandma Adalene’s THANKSGIVING Menu

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Grandma Adalene could prepare a Thanksgiving meal with the best of them. With a Pennsylvania Dutch flair and liberal use of butter and brown sugar she served up her menu—from fruit cup to stuffing and sweet potatoed to apple pie. This matriarch of our family gathered us for Thanksgiving in style. I am thankful for all the ways my Grandmother served her family with love and dedication, More than all else, however, I am grateful for the faith print my Grandmother has had on my life. She ushered the presence of God into my life. As a child I shared many faith meals with Grandma—like Bible memory, playing and singing hymns, and walking arm and arm to Sunday evening church. And so to honor Grandma Adalene I have prepared a seven course Thanksgiving menu for you.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Come into his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues to all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe… Hebrews 12:28

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

I thank God in all my remembrance of you…being confident of this,
that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1: 3,6

I vividly recall taking Grandma with the family to a beach vacation when she was in her late eighties. About midway through the 60 mile journey to the Jersey Shore from our home, she broke her silence. I could tell along the way from watching her in my rear-view mirror that she was looking out the window at the clear blue sky. Suddenly she began, The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1). Grandma Adalene’s faith was rooted in the greatness and power of her Creator. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the faith legacy of my precious Grandmother.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Now there is a daily Thanksgiving Dinner we do not want to miss!

OPP (opportunity for action) Bring God into the moment of your Thanksgiving. Specifically, ask this question at your dinner table: What or whom do you want to thank God for today? I still remember the answer to that question from my grandchildren a year ago. You can also put “Thanksgiving to God” verses on a card and ask your family members to read them. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of food; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. Psalm 63:5

Shelter In Place

 

The term Shelter in Place did not echo from the mountains of Central Pennsylvania when I was raised in the valley. It was not sounded in the years of schooling for my children. Sadly, however, Shelter in Place is a “must know” concept in the era of my grandchildren. It is noteworthy to me that I stated that my next blog would be called Shelter in Place two days before the terror invasion in Paris. How timely. My oft repeated words are fitting: The Lord knows!

The police directive to Shelter in Place is a warning that violence is at hand. Our increasingly volatile world demands such caution to be exercised. Shelter in Place signifies the imminent possibility of danger and the need for finding refuge from those who would willfully snuff out human life. While it is true that this public safety alert is new to our present realm, it is not a new message for God. He has been bidding His created to Shelter in Place since the beginning of time on earth. God is our Shelter. The psalmist knew God as his shelter: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2)

God is our Divine Protector. Everyday, all day, all night dangers and risks loom around us. They can be as apparent as gun violence and as secretive as a lurking disease. Our need for God’s protection and presence comes to us in our homes, our travel, our schools, our public places and even in the need to shield our personal identity.

As a young mother, I vividly recall the nights when my physician husband was called out at all hours of the night. Every time, I had to make a choice either to be fitful with concern for his safety or to trust God with my husband. I knew he was fatigued and stressed about what he might find when he reached the hospital. I knew he was traveling into a characteristically unsafe area. And I didn’t want to even think about life without him. Thank God I knew something greater than all my fears and nighttime thoughts. I had committed a Bible verse to memory: On my bed, I remember you; I think of you in the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:6-7). I Sheltered in Place in the Lord.
Reflect during the next seven days on the times when you need God’s covering and refuge. Listen for God as He bids you to Shelter in Place in Him. Days and nights of travail are sure to be on the horizon for each one of us. Trust in the One who has your eternal back. I earnestly pray that you will never hear the shout Shelter in Place on this earth. Even more, I pray that you will Shelter in Place in Him daily. Let us sing together in the shadow of (his) wings—remembering always that the Lord knows!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

OPP (opportunity for action): Teach your children how to live in the presence of God. Allay their fears and concerns by incrementally exposing them to the precepts of the Bible. Start with Hebrews 13:6 The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Help them commit it to memory—T L i m h, I w n b a-f (The Scripture Code…unlocking spiritual wealth by DeeDee Cass). Make God known as a shelter and refuge in your home. Compile your own list of scriptures that build your faith and give you confidence before the Lord. Let your family observe you as you Shelter in Place.
Recommended reading and memorization: Psalm 91

Suffer Not the Children

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Matthew 19:13-14

Perhaps, it is the picture emblazoned in my mind of the the toddler immigrant who washed ashore on a Turkish beach. Perhaps, it is the disregard for the value of life on the Oregon college campus. Perhaps, it is the image of the twenty-five Russian children who met their earthly end in the Sinai Desert. Perhaps, it is the thought of nine year old Tyshawn Lee who was murdered by a Chicago gang or the silent six year old, Jeremy Mardis, who was riddled with police bullets while riding shotgun with his dad. Whatever, the PERHAPS, I shout to the Lord, Suffer Not the Children. And what is more, I exhort you to shout with me. Let us rise from our slumber and voice our prayer of outrage. Let us prevail upon God’s grace and mercy. Let us bypass cultural and societal fixes and surpass all humanitarian causes and efforts. The Bible says, Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always (1 Chronicles 16:11). Indeed, let us wholeheartedly seek the Lord on behalf of our young. He is our only Hope! O Sovereign and compassionate God, Suffer Not the Children!

As a wife, mother, grandmother and woman of faith, I recently compiled a list entitled 12 Things I Desire for our Children. These 12 Things…are the essence of Faith Feedings…12 principles to nurture you child’s spiritual development. The process of identifying these 12 things and committing them to writing has brought clarity to my passion for securing the conscience of the next generation for faith in God. They have become my prayer to our Heavenly Father for the sake a heritage of faith in our families.

It is in my heart to compile a new list. It will be called: 12 Concerns Mothers have for their Children. I need your help. What concerns you regarding your children matters to me and it matters to God. So tell me…What concerns cross your mind as you tuck your children into bed or put them on the school bus? What are you thinking as they enter college, the military, or the work force? From what worldly ills do you wish to shield them? What frames your Suffer Not the Children prayer? Regrettably, words like danger, disease, terror, bullying, addiction, eating disorders, trafficking, and immorality are plaguing the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of our families. Would you join me in clarifying our deepest concerns for our children before the Lord so that with one heart and mind we can seek God’s grace and mercy on behalf of the young in our midst. O Faithful and Merciful God—Suffer Not the Children!

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
Psalm 138:8 NKJV

OPP (opportunity for action): Share your mother’s heart concerns with me by either responding to this blog with a comment or emailing me privately at deedeecass@gmail.com. Just a word or a phrase is sufficient. Please note that I respect your privacy. In addition, please Forward this blog and Share it with your Facebook friends. Let us deliver our Suffer Not the Children request to God’s throne of grace as a multitude of Mothers and Grandmothers interceding for the children of America and the world. For nothing is impossible with God ( Luke 1:37).

!2 Things I Desire for our Children    http://deedeecass.com/ministry-reflections

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