AFTER YOU: Pursuing God; Preferring Others

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:34-39) Over the summer months, our emphasis will be – “After You: Pursuing God; Preferring Others” with the above scripture as our reference. Pastor Steve has explained that After You has a dual meaning: After God (pursuing Him) and after others (putting others before ourselves – doing away with the narcissistic attitude). As I’ve meditated on the above scripture the last few weeks, one thought keeps coming back to me: how many times do we have a belief that one commandment is greater than the other? Or that it is only one and not the other? We can feel there is a conflict between pursuing God and serving others – just like they need to be segregated from one another. We can see one as “spiritual” and the other not. Yet, the Word says we need both – they are equally important. In fact, the Ten Commandments are divided with the first four dealing with our relationship with God and the last six, our relationship with others. My mind goes to the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus had come to their house for dinner and while Martha was running around getting the preparations done, Mary sat at His feet, listening to and loving on Him. Many times, we see Martha as the “unspiritual” one because she was only worried about dinner preparations. However, in reality, both women were serving Christ – “Mary entertained His divinity and Martha hosted His humanity (from Tommy Tenny’s book Chasing God, Serving Man). This year, it seems there has been a renewed focus in our church on growing in Christ – becoming passionate about Him. As a church body, we are continuing in that direction and with it, we will be learning how it includes loving and serving others (and ultimately seeing their lives changed through Christ). I encourage each of us to do a spiritual inventory. Are we doing both – pursuing God and preferring others? ~Lori~

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May 2013 Newsletter

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30

 

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to share this scripture with a few people – each facing different challenges and yet, the scripture fit so well in each circumstance.

 

This week, this seems to be the scripture where God has me personally. I think there are a couple of reasons for this – 1. I’m tired after the big services we have had over the last several months. 2. Even with the stirring and passion I’ve experienced, there have been times lately, with the busyness, that I haven’t really been seeking Him like I had been previously.

 

The Holy Spirit, in His gentle way, has been pulling me back and reminding me, it’s time to wait on the Lord; time to allow Him to renew my strength physically, emotionally and spiritually through just being with Him.  In waiting on Him through His Word and times of intimate prayer, He will renew (re-ignite or rekindle) that passion in me.

 

As I have been pondering this one verse, the part that says, “they shall mount up on wings like eagles…” has taken on a new meaning to me. Yes, I totally understand the teaching of how when eagles fly, they find the wind current and allow it to hold them up so they don’t have to struggle so hard to fly.

 

However, the revelation I have begun to receive for this particular verse is when the eagle soars above the earth, his perspective is so much different than when he was on the ground.  He is seeing things differently than before; he is rising above the situation and getting a clearer picture.

 

But I must first take time to wait upon the Lord before I can mount up on wings as eagles.

 

For months now, you’ve heard me talk about practicing the presence of God during the week – not just on Sundays.  I pray that never becomes a cliché, so easily said but not really lived, even in my life.

 

My deepest prayer for our team is that we are taking time to wait on Him and be in His presence; that we aren’t so wrapped up in the busyness of our lives that we think we can come in on Sunday mornings and just rely on our talent to usher others into His presence. That just seems cheap. Will you join me in taking time to wait on the Lord?

 

I want to leave you with words from the song, Waiting Here for You: “You’re everything You’ve promised, Your faithfulness is true.  We’re desperate for Your presence, all we need is You. Waiting here for You…”

 *  *  *

SAYING GOODBYE

As most of you know, Kelin Field is heading off to school in Chicago in June.  While we are excited for him, we are sad for us.  He will truly leave a big hole in our department and church that will be hard to fill.

 

The Production Department will hold a going away luncheon for him after church on May 5th.  Tina is coordinating this meal and will be contacting you about what is needed.

 

*  *  *

FELLOWSHIP

 For months, we have worked hard and now it’s time to play!  On Saturday, June 1st, we will have a cookout at Tim Funk’s lake in Elkville.  As a way of saying thank you for all of your hard work, all of the food will be provided – we just need you to show up and have fun! Be sure to save the date on your calendar.

 

Invitations will be going out soon with directions. We will ask you to RSVP so we will know how to plan.

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April 2013 Newsletter

As I write this, we have just had our Resurrection Sunday service with the theme, “Set the Captives Free!” If you were there, you know it was a powerful service – with the presence of God being tangible.  I have to say this service ranks as one of my all-time favorites!

 

Many of you put in countless hours to ensure this message was communicated clearly in a dramatic way.  THANK YOU so much for your dedication.  I truly believe many seeds were planted and lives were changed.

 

This month is also a busy one for our church and department. Our theme for April is Outreach…and boy, this is what we are doing!

 

On April 10th at 7:00 pm, CLC will host the Watoto Children’s Choir. Our hope is to pack the house for this night.  Please help us get the word out.

 

On April 20th, the Christian Life Center Production Department is hosting a Unity in Worship event.  We will have a band and choir made up of many local churches, leading us in Black Gospel and Contemporary style worship.

 

When Steve asked me to plan an event last year for this spring, I mainly put it on the calendar out of obedience to my pastor.  But in January, I felt God begin to give me a real vision for that night and since that time, the excitement for it has been building.  I know there is something good in store on April 20th.

 

While much work has gone into this service, it won’t successful unless our entire team is a part of it – singers, instrumentalists and tech personnel. We also need support by those not involved in the above to be a part of the congregation. Just as with the Watoto Children’s Choir, we want to have a full house and can’t do this without our CLC family’s support.

 

Our first rehearsal is April 11th at 6 pm.  If you would like to be in the choir, please let me know so I can get you a CD.

 

We also have in the works an opportunity to take a team to one of the area prisons to minister to the inmates. As soon as we have more information on this, I will pass along.

 

Why do we do outreach? With each of these events, we are reaching out beyond the walls of CLC.  Watoto Children’s Choir – we are reaching Africa.  Unity in Worship – we are worshiping with other Believers and tearing down walls that have separated us.  And ministering at the prison – we are truly touching those who aren’t free.

 

Please make plans to be a part of these great events!

 

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March 2013 Newsletter by Lori Burchell

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to…proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” (Isaiah 61:1 selected)

 

♫ There is power in the name of Jesus

♫ There is power in the name of Jesus

♫ There is power in the name of Jesus

♫ To break every chain, break ever chain, break every chain

 

On March 31st, we will be celebrating Resurrection Sunday with the theme: Setting the Captives Free.

 

Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we can now come into personal relationship with God, the Father. He took the keys of death and the grave; we have freedom and deliverance because of His finished work on the cross:

 

I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave! (Revelation 1:8)

 

In preparation for this service, we will be doing many new songs.  Our hope is to teach them to the congregation all through the month and then on Resurrection Sunday, people will be able to enter fully into worship without the distraction of learning a new song.

 

Because of all of this new music, it is important that all scheduled instrumentalists, vocalists and sound people attend rehearsals in March – including Wednesday nights at 8:00 pm. and also to not be late on Sunday mornings – 7:30 am.  People are waiting on the other side of our obedience.

 

We will be handing out CDs and chord sheets of all the new music.  We will also have a Resurrection Sunday rehearsal schedule put together shortly.

 

We believe there will be many in attendance that day who have not come into a personal relationship with Jesus or fellow Believers who are being held captive by different bondages. I ask you to begin praying with me that people will be set free through the mighty name of Jesus.

 

New Songs:

Nothing is Impossible – by Planetshakers

Victory – by Gateway Worship

The Anthem – by Planetshakers

All Things New – by Elevation Worship

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February 2013 Newsletter by Lori Burchell

When as the last time you felt passionate about something…anything?  You know – an intense emotion or an extreme desire toward someone or something?

 

I have to say, it has been a long time since I have been passionate about anything.  It seems just going through and getting through life was my main goal. Even my walk with Christ was more mechanical than anything.  I knew how to be a Christian, but did not have a strong emotion or extreme desire in my relationship with Christ.

 

However, in the last couple of months, all of that has changed.  What was once automatic has now become intentional; what was dry is now like a river overflowing its banks.  As Jeremiah wrote: it’s like fire shut up in my bones!  So what caused this significant change?  Where did the passion come from?

 

I believe it began while preparing a message for another church from the book of Joel where God commanded the people who had dulled senses to “wake up!”  I know the more I studied that and even shared it at CLC, the more the Spirit turned the spotlight on my life that I was no longer “on fire;” I had become dull.  I knew I needed to begin pursuing God more through His Word and prayer (let me say, I read my bible and prayed every day – but it was more out of my need to check it off my to do list) and to simply ask Him to rekindle that passion in me.

 

Out of one of my prayer times, I felt God began to give me direction for our team this year.  Part of that vision was we are to pursue the presence of God like never before – to be passionate about God.

 

Our Production Small Group on Wednesday nights has been studying out of II Samuel 6 and I Chronicles 13, 14, and 15 where King David longed to bring the Ark of the Covenant (the presence of God) back to Jerusalem.  While he had seen many victories in his life and was now king over Israel, there was one thing he wanted more than anything – the very presence of God.  He wouldn’t be happy unless he brought it back. Talk about being passionate!

 

I know many of you have heard me talk about this a lot lately, but my heart’s desire for our team and church, is that none of us would settle in being emotionless in our Christian walk – but that all of us would have a fervent walk with Christ. I pray that we would all long for an encounter with God where each of our lives would be transformed radically!

 

Would you join me in praying for this passion to be birthed in each of us?  Will you become intentional in seeking God like never before?

 

I believe as we do this, we will bring that passion into our services and lead the congregation into the Presence of God – into the Holy of Holies.

 

*  *  *

Important Dates to Mark on Your Calendar:

 

February 9th, 6 pm, Dinner Theater – The Case of the Missing Bride

 

March 31st – Resurrection Sunday

 

April 10th – Watoto Children’s Choir

 

April 20th – Unity in Worship Event

 

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January 2013

As I am writing this, Christmas is only a few days away.  There is excitement in the air over the presents that will be opened.  What do these beautifully wrapped gifts hold?  There is such an expectation of good things.

 

I have this excitement right now – except instead of presents, I’m excited over presence – His presence.  In fact, if you’ve had a conversation with me recently, you’ve heard me describe the expectation that I am experiencing.  It just seems to be bubbling inside of me – just like a kid at Christmas!

 

As I have thought and prayed about direction for our department over the last few weeks, I have felt a stirring inside of me of such great things that God is going to do in this coming year.  I believe we have had just a taste of this in some of our recent services.  You know what I mean – where the very air becomes electrified with the presence and glory of God.

 

I am someone who enjoys crossing things off of my to-do lists.  Just get it done and move on is how I function. But I’m tired of doing this where our church body is concerned.  This year, I want us to be intentional about every activity, service, worship set, and drama – not to do anything unless it is a fully prepared sacrifice seeking His will as a team.

 

In the book of Revelation, you see the message the Spirit of God gave to various churches about their works.  In chapter 2, He writes, “I know your deeds, your hard work…yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”  To another church in chapter 3, He admonishes, “you have the reputation of being alive – but you are dead.”  In 2013, I want to make it a priority to not just talk about returning to our first love – reviving our passion for God and His presence – but to begin pursuing it as individuals and as a team.

 

Many of us have heard the statement: “we can’t lead where we haven’t been.”  I believe this is true for our department.  Our team has a huge responsibility in all of our services (in fact, I believe we will be held accountable before God for what we did with what was given to us). If we haven’t been practicing the presence of God in our own quiet time, how do we expect to do this on Sunday mornings?  On the worship team or not, our hearts’ desire should be to pursue worship as a lifestyle in the spirit of Romans 12.  The Word tells us to draw near to God (pursue Him) and He will draw near to us. (James 4:8)

 

The direction for our team this year is to go deeper spiritually and relationally, begin mentoring the next generation, and pursuing excellence through training (again having a prepared offering).

 

Yes, we have had just a taste of the good things God has in store for our body but let me tell you, there is MORE, so much more.  Are you excited?!

 

Lori

 * * *

TRAINING FOR INSTRUMENTALISTS:

 

Calling all instrumentalists!  On Saturday, January 26th at noon, we will be offering an over the top training session with Dustin Griffith (formerly with City Serenade) and his worship band.   They will also be leading us in a time of worship.

 

It is STRONGLY encouraged for all instrumentalists and Worship Leaders to attend.  In November’s newsletter, I wrote:

 

Many times, when something comes naturally, it’s easy to be content and never develop the talent to its fullest potential.  Or sometimes, we may feel we’re good enough; what else can be learned?

 

While we have a team of exceptional musicians and singers, there is always room for improvement.  Lessons, listening to quality musicians, being open to new or different techniques and simply rehearsing at home can always help grow the natural ability that was put in us.

 

This training session will give us what we need to continue developing our musicianship.  Our youth band will also be attending and we need to set a great example to them by being here ourselves.  This is another part of mentoring and training up the next generation of musicians.

 

The training should be done around 4:00 p.m.  We can then all go out for pizza or something afterwards.  Please make plans to attend.

 

Other dates to put on your calendar:

 

February 9th – Dinner Theater / Sweetheart Banquet

 

March 31st – Resurrection Sunday

 

April 10th – Watoto Children’s Choir. For information: www.watoto.com

 

April 20th – Unity in Worship Event

 

June 13th, 14th, 15th – Conference in Nashville, Tennessee – for all areas of Production

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! December is such a busy month in the life of an active church.  For the Production Department at Christian Life Center, it is no different.  Here are the happenings for which we are preparing:

 

December 9th: Children’s Christmas Musical – Christmyth Busters.

December 16th: One of our special Christmas services.  Theme: My Deliverer is Coming.

December 23rd: Christmas Service.  Theme: He Is Here!

 Not to mention the Appalachia trip on December 14th and 15th!

Because of all of these activities, we need all hands on deck to make each service a success.  For those singing on the 16th and 23rd, we ask that you learn your music and be at the few rehearsals we have planned.

Can you help with set design and decoration for the Children’s Christmas Musical?  If so, then please talk to Cindy Watson.

For our other services, we need help in decorating the stage.  Tina has some great ideas that will require many people. If you can help, please talk to her. Working together getting the stage ready can be a great time of fellowship as well as work!

While December is busy and, yes at times, overwhelming, let’s not get so bogged down in the busyness that we lose sight of the true meaning of this season.  I encourage you to take time during this month to read and meditate on the story of the coming of our Lord and Savior (Luke 2 is a good reading).  Maybe think about how life would be different if God wouldn’t have made a way for us to have a personal relationship with Himself through Jesus.

In the hurriedness, don’t neglect your personal time of worship, prayer and Scripture. Remember to pray for these special services that people will have a life changing experience with God.

None of these services can be successful without you.  I am so thankful for a team that is dedicated to giving an excellent offering to our church and more importantly to the Lord. I pray your Christmas will be blessed and full of peace.

Lori Burchell

 

 

 

 

 

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A Thankful Heart

This month, as we observe what many call the only true Christian holiday of Thanksgiving, I would like to share this devotional from Ann Shorb, www.ccesonline.com

 

A Thankful Heart

Psalm 68:19

Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

 

Psalm 68 is an interesting passage. It was intended to be used in worship by Israel as a song of victory and deliverance. It recounts the many difficulties they endured and speaks of them being afflicted, oppressed, helpless, sinful, and exposed to hurt and pain; yet this Psalm recalls that God provided for His people in the tough wilderness wanderings and in the days of bountiful blessing in the Promised Land of Canaan. In both the good times and the bad, God blessed them and cared for them. In this passage, His people recognize that and thank Him for it.

 

Often in the bad times our eyesight gets foggy and we fail to recognize God’s hand of blessing. We focus on the negatives and let them pull us down. At times we may not even see any positives in our situation, but my friend, God always gives blessings even though they may not be readily seen.

 

I encourage you to deliberately find things to be thankful for every day of the year. See God’s hand at work in your life and praise Him. Remember that daily He gives multiple blessings. Matthew Henry the great Bible commentator said, “So many, so weighty are the gifts of God’s bounty, that He may be truly said to load us with them.” Yes, face life’s difficulties, but focus on the load of blessings that surround you and thank God for them. Remember, a thankful heart is a joyful heart!

*  *  *

 Developing our Gifts

 

Proverbs 18:16 tells us: A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.  While I’m sure this scripture refers to giving a gift or present, I believe it also can mean the gifts and talents that God has given each one of us.

 

What are you doing to grow the gifts God has given to you?  Many times, when something comes naturally, it’s easy to be content and never develop the talent to its fullest potential.  Or sometimes, we may feel we’re good enough; what can I learn?

 

While we have a team of exceptional musicians and singers, there is always room for improvement.  Lessons, listening to quality musicians, being open to new or different techniques and simply rehearsing at home can always help grow the natural ability that was put in us.

 

The Scripture says, our gift will make room for us.  No telling what doors could open, just by continuing to develop our talents.

 

*  *  *

 WELCOME TO THE TEAM:

 

We want to welcome Elijah Pennock to the Worship Team!

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His Train Filled the Temple

“I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord…’ Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled…” (Isaiah 6:1-4 NLT)

Over the last several months, I have had many conversations with individuals all saying the same thing: “I am desperate for God.”  Some have worded it as, “I want my passion back.”   Then I have heard declarations, “there is something stirring – what’s going on?”

With God, there is no coincidence.  I don’t believe all of these individuals “just happen” to all have the same heart cry. I truly believe God is stirring in all of us a desire to move past the mechanics of worship to an encounter with Him.

I have shared with you the mission statement I feel God has given to our team – all areas of production, including music, lights, sound, power point, drama, greeters and ushers – “To provide an atmosphere that allows people to have a life changing experience with God.”  So when I read the following blog, I just had to share it because it echoes my heart:

“What makes worship is when I set the atmosphere of my spirit properly to allow God to manifest His presence in such a way that His glory fills the place and things begin to happen.”  Pastor Kraig Pullam, “I Need a Worship Experience”

Are you with me?  Do you long to have God to manifest His presence in such a way that His glory fills the place and things begin to happen?

Where does this begin?  Does it start when I show up for rehearsal or for service?  No, it begins in our time alone with God.  We can’t just show up and try to manufacture His glory.  Or as I’ve heard Pastor Steve say on many occasions: we shouldn’t offer a “false fire.”

As leaders and members of every area of the Production team, we have a huge responsibility to be praying over our church and our services.  If we truly are desirous of His presence, I believe it starts with us all crying out to Him throughout the week – not just on Sundays.  (I wish I could truly communicate through this newsletter how important I feel this is for our team and church.  My heart is heavy because of the intensity of this message.)

In the Scripture above, we see Isaiah wasn’t in a corporate worship service; nobody was singing for him – he was all by himself. He had set his own atmosphere in the year King Uzziah died; he saw the Lord.

As the angels proclaimed, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord,” the very foundations began to shake!  Something began to happen as the Glory of God filled the place; things couldn’t remain the same.

The blog I quoted above goes on to say: “I don’t know about you but I need the Glory of God in my life; I need an encounter from God in my life so that the revelation of God can be released and so that I can be changed…when you truly, really, genuinely and authentically encounter the GLORY something HAPPENS!”

(Remember the last part of our mission statement: “a life changing experience with God”)

I will leave you with some questions that I am asking of myself.

Will I begin to actively pursue the presence of God in my alone time?  Will I cry out for a renewed passion for God? Will I take my responsibility seriously to pray over our Christian Life Center and our services?

Lori Burchell

  Continue reading

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Vision

If you have known me for any length of time, you know I have taught and written on the subjects of “Change” and “Obedience.”  Usually, I go to Genesis 12 where God directs Abram to leave everything he’s ever known and go somewhere he’s never gone.  God didn’t give him the full details of where he was going; God just said, Abram, if you will obey me, make this change, I will bless you more than you can even imagine [Lori’s paraphrase].

So why do I refer to this story so much in my teachings?  Because honestly, change is something that is hard for me.  I’m always amazed at others who step out on faith and do what God is telling them without questioning Him.

However, over the last several months, and really the last year and a half, I have experienced HUGE changes in my life – and most of these have been a faith journey for me. Has each step been easy?  No.  But has it increased my trust in God?  Absolutely.  There is a peace in knowing I don’t have to figure out every detail – all I have to do is what God is asking me – He will take care of the rest.

Starting in September, we will be implementing some changes – doing things differently than in the past.  For some, you will be excited over new territory.  For others, you may think, “but we’ve always done it this way – why do we need to change?”.  All I ask is that you give these changes a chance.

The first that will affect most of us: starting in September, we will suspend the Wednesday night services except the first Wednesday of each month through November. Instead, the church is launching Community Life Groups.

The Production Department will have a small group that will meet Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.  If you are not already involved in a small group on Wednesdays, you are expected to be a part of our group.

Why? First of all, building authentic relationships is very important. As we have been instructed over the last year or so, we need to go beyond surface deep in our relationships with one another. Secondly, we will use this time to give instruction in each area of production: music, lighting, sound, power point, drama, etc.  For us to be on the same page, we need to show up.

Then rehearsal will be 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. for those who are stage the next Sunday.  If at all possible, I would like the sound, lighting and power point people to stay for rehearsal – to “rehearse” your gifts with us.  Those who are in another small group on Wednesday nights can arrive at rehearsal when your small group time is over.

Also in September, we will be changing the order to our Sunday morning services.  I have shared with some of you the mission statement that I strongly feel God gave me for our team: “To provide an atmosphere that allows people to have a life changing encounter with God.”

One way I feel we can provide that atmosphere is to cut down on the distractions between worship and the Word.  So this will be our order of service, at least through September, then we can come back and evaluate its effectiveness.

1.             Open up service with music – not with the Service Leader starting us off. During the intro or between songs, the Worship Leader will pray or exhort with Scripture. We will do two or three upbeat songs.

2.             The Service Leader will then come up, welcoming everyone, taking up offering and making announcements.  For a Family Service, if there are baby dedications or baptisms, we do these at this point.

3.             The Worship Team, who has remained on stage, will do one or two more songs – more reflective.  For a Family Service, we would take communion at the end of this.

4.             The Service Leader will then transition by introducing the speaker. If we have a guest speaker, I would like to see if we could do a video introduction giving their bio information.

4.             Message

5.             At 11:20, one instrumentalist will underscore, but when the Prayer Ministers are called forward, all instrumentalists will begin playing softly.  This will allow an inviting atmosphere for individuals to come forward for prayer.  After one song, then the Worship Leader will begin singing with the band.  End on an upbeat song, as people are leaving.

At the end of September, we will be inviting people to join our team – all areas of production. For those interested in being a part, there will be an application and interview process.

So are we doing change just for change sake or simply because we can? No.  There is a purpose in these changes (reread if you didn’t catch those earlier).

I appreciate each of you and your desire and willingness to be on our team.  Thank you for keeping a positive attitude as we do things differently.  And thank you for giving your best so that others can be blessed. –

Lori Burchell

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