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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What About Me?




I am often surprised.

As I read Scripture, I'm especially surprised by how people responded to John the Baptizer.

I don't know if this is right or not, but I've always envisioned John with hairy legs sticking out from a furry camel suit, long, dark hair flying in every direction, piercing eyes blazing with the fire of God. I'm pretty sure his appearance was super-intimidating, but it's his words that make me shudder, even now. 

I've been around a few camels. I even rode a camel once and thought it was fun. I didn't think the camel smelled good, though. I don't know about camel suits, but I doubt they were aesthetically pleasing. I'm not sure John was, either.

On the day that surprises me, John was dressed in his camel hair outfit with the big leather belt wrapped around him. Hair going in every direction. Eyes boring into people's souls. Words slashing through the air faster than a bevy of swords. (The Leanna Paraphrase coming up is from Luke 3:7-14)

"You brood of vipers..."

"The ax is laid at the root of the trees..." 

The multitudes were shocked. "What are we to do?"

"Give away your extra tunic." 

As if giving away your extra clothes was not bad enough, the tax collectors said, "What about us? What should we do?"

"Don't collect anything extra."

I don't know if John needed a security team for crowd control or if they had come to see for themselves, but there were soldiers in the crowd that day, too. Just to be sure you understand, these were not romantic, tenderhearted guys. 

Roman soldiers were the toughest of the tough, the first century version of our marines. They had great leeway in their interactions with the populace. They could falsely accuse someone, then demand a bribe, and be assured of getting it. They could double fines and skim the extra. 

It was so common as to be expected that the soldiers had free reign and limited consequences. If they wanted more money than they were paid, they could demand and receive it. And they did.

Maybe they thought that giving up a tunic or collecting less money were tasks for the average man. Maybe John's talk of the wrath of God had put them in a repentant frame of mind. Maybe the Holy Spirit was at work. 

Regardless, the soldiers were as bold as lions. These men wanted soldier-sized tasks to do for God. "What about us? What are we to do?" the soldiers asked. 

Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?..." (Luke 3:14 NASB)

Isn't that a great question? They weren't just hearers. It seems they wanted to be doers, too. 

There was no doubt that John would have instructions for them, and that his instructions would be tough, but they didn't want to be left out. If the Kingdom of God was at hand, they wanted to do what it took to be a part.

I wonder sometimes if I am as willing to be a part of the Kingdom of God. If I am as willing to ask, "Give me a task for you, Lord. Send me. Allow me. What about me?"

Today, let's ask God for a task to do for Him. "What about me? What do I need to do in order to please you, God?"

The Kingdom of God is closer than it's ever been. Time is short. If we're going to serve our Lord, it's time to do it, so start today.
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: When Our Hearts Are Revealed
Here's the link to the trafficking post: The Heartbreak of Human Trafficking
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD

#Christian

Monday, August 29, 2016

When Our Hearts are Revealed



There are passages in the Bible that shock me every time I read them. One of those is in Luke 4.

"and they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way." (Luke 4:29, 30 NASB)

Jesus stood up and taught in the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town. 

People were impressed from the start, and commented on what a great job He was doing. 

He continued by saying that a prophet is not welcome in His own town and no miracles could happen there. When they realized Jesus was talking about their town, the praise turned to rage in an instant, and the men of Nazareth rose up to kill Him.

The men chased Jesus out of the city and to the edge of a hill, where they planned to shove Him down the cliff. Despite all the pushing and shoving, Jesus managed to quietly move through their midst and walk away. 

He was right from the beginning. No miracles would happen in Nazareth.

My surprise is not because their praised turned to rage so quickly, but that they were "in church" when it happened. 

The people in the synagogue looked like they belonged there. 

They had done everything that outwardly indicated they were godly. They were in the synagogue at the appropriate time, and they participated in prayer and studying the Scripture just as if they "meant it". 

Their hearts, however, were not fixed on God at all. They were full of pride, greed, anger, and murder. Their god-fixation was not even skin-deep.

I wonder what our hearts would reveal if Jesus confronted us in church today they way He confronted the men of Nazareth? Are our hearts focused on Christ or our own desires? Do we listen to the Scripture and teaching, or sit quietly while we compose to-do lists in our heads?

Today, let's pray that we would see our hearts the way Jesus sees them and it would trigger a desire to change. 

Let's pray that our hearts would be so ready for Jesus that He would not only be welcome, but that we would be receptive to whatever miracle He wants to perform.

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Here's how you can pray for me:  I'm starting a new mission prayer project today. I'll write about it once it unfolds, but it's fairly involved and will take multiple people working together to accomplish it. IF it goes well, it will provide much greater prayer support for missionaries. 
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Power of Telling: Healing Body and Soul
Here's the link to the trafficking post: The Heartbreak of Human Trafficking

Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD
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#Jesus 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Power of Telling: Healing Body and Soul



The woman had been sick for years. She'd tried cure after cure, only to find that all they offered was a lighter pocketbook. Her family and everyone who loved her had given up hope. 

Healing would not come by mere human hands. That was obvious from the fortune that had been spent trying to be healed. 

She might be down to her last hope, but she wasn't ready to give up. Not quite yet.


Jesus had raised the dead, given sight to the blind, and wholeness to the lame. Jesus was not just a man. He was filled with the power of God. He was God made flesh. 


Jesus could heal her; she was sure of it. 

It was her intent to escape notice. This woman who had spent the last twelve years unclean because of her hemorrhaging must have planned her move so carefully. She would slip into the crowd, move up behind Jesus, touch His fringe, receive healing, and slip away. 

No one would ever know. Even if she accidentally touched them in the crowd, even if she made them unclean by her touch, they wouldn't have to know, would they? She had suffered enough, and she wanted to try. 

When she touched the fringe, a wave of blazing heat moved through her. She knew something had happened. She knew she was healed. No doubt about it. She wanted to shout for joy, but she had been unclean so long that she knew better. She would slip away as quickly as possible. 

Then, Jesus spoke. 

"Who touched Me?" He asked. Her heart began to sink. What would happen now? She knew she was healed. Would He take it away? Would those she brushed against turn on her because she had touched them? 


She shook like an autumnal leaf as she fell at the feet of Jesus. "Me. It was me," she confessed. 


When she looked up, those eyes full of compassion and love met hers. She lifted her head and began to speak. 


A hush fell over the crowd as she told her story for all to hear. She spoke of her illness, all the failed attempts at healing, her hope that Jesus could make her whole, and the miracle of healing she had experienced. She told it all, and everyone heard her. 


Her body was healed when she touched that fringe, but in that instant of telling, her spirit was healed as well.  At the feet of Jesus there was no condemnation. All she found there was an outpouring of grace, mercy, and love. She had told a crowd about her healing. After that, she could tell anyone. Everyone. 

When hope and help were gone, all that remained was Jesus. 

It turned out that He was all she needed. 

Are you in a weary place, desperate for circumstances to change? Does your life look great on the outside but feel terrible on the inside? Have you found material success without spiritual peace?

Take your need to Jesus and let Him do what only He can do, in whatever way He sees fit. With a heart filled with gratitude, tell your story of grace to all who will listen. 


But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." (Luke 8:46-48 NASB)

Photo above is of sunrise over the Sea of Galilee. I imagine her healing was like the dawn of a new day.
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Heartbreak of Human Trafficking

Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 


Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD
#Jesus 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Heartbreak of Human Trafficking



Last Saturday night at the Salad Supper, one of the ladies talked about the problem of sexual abuse and how often she saw it's wounds in the women to whom she ministers in the jail ministry. Our conversation wandered on a bit from there to the problem of human trafficking.

Some of the things I heard frightened me and broke my heart. I wanted to do something to help, but the doing required more knowledge. I've read more than I wanted to know about human trafficking this week.

Here's some of what I've learned:
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing activity of organized crime world-wide. 

- Human trafficking is a $32-150 billion industry. (estimates vary widely)

- The average victim of trafficking is 12 years old. 

- 100,000-300,000 children are at risk of being trafficked each year.

- The average cost of human trafficking is ~ $90,000/person.

- The Polaris website estimates that 68% of trafficking involves forced labor. 26% of victims are children and 55% are women and girls.

- Trafficking involves more than prostitution. It includes forced marriages, labor trafficking, trafficking for organ trade, forced sex acts and performances, and child sex tourism

- Worldwide, according to Wikipedia, 2 million children are trapped in trafficking of child sex tourism. (I was stunned to hear that people schedule vacations in order to have sex with children. Fishing trips to the Amazon in Brazil. Trips to Thailand. You can include any brand of perversion if you wish.)

- Sex trafficking victim numbers vary widely, but there are at least 4.5 million victims worldwide.

- Interpol rescued 2,700 victims of sex trafficking in July 2016 alone.

- In Israel, six people were recently arrested for running a trafficking ring in which their victims were speech and hearing-impaired people kidnapped from the Ukraine and forced to beg.

- According to the FBI, 750,000 predators are online at any given time, trolling in 40,000 public chat rooms. During a 10 week investigation, offers to pay for webcam sex performances were made to undercover officers from 20,000 different internet users.

- According to Wikipedia, 10,000 prostitutes (many of whom were victims of sexual trafficking) were brought from out-of-state to Miami for Superbowl 2010. The weekend of the Superbowl is one of the most profitable of the year for sexual traffickers. 

I did a Google search for "prostitution in Tupelo MS" and found a few news reports of arrests for prostitution over the last few years. It certainly didn't look like the problem you might imagine in a big city, but it wasn't non-existent in this area, either. Whether there is an organized structure to it or not, prostitution exists at some level in our area. 

If you're like me, you want to help. The first step in making a difference is to be informed. There are imbedded links above, as well as specific links below. The first link below will help you learn to identify a victim of human trafficking. 

It's also important to understand who is at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking. According to safesupportivelearning.ed.gov (accessed 8/26/16) 


"Possible risk factors associated with child trafficking include the following:
  • lack of personal safety
  • isolation
  • emotional distress
  • homelessness
  • poverty
  • family dysfunction
  • substance abuse
  • mental illness
  • learning disabilities
  • developmental delay
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • promotion of sexual exploitation by family members or peers
  • lack of social support" 
The risks for human trafficking are similar, no matter your age or gender. Those who are weak and unable to defend themselves are always at risk of falling prey to those who are stronger. (Here's the link to an article that discusses the risk factors in more detail.

It's easy to look at the facts and decide it's a problem for law enforcement officers, and it is. The reality, though, is that it will take all of us to make a difference. 

Internet pornography is highly addictive, and is one of the reasons the trafficking industry has expanded to such an incredible degree. People who use pornography find that, like a drug addict, they need more to achieve the same result. Deeper levels, worsened forms. 

If you dabble in pornography, confess your sin, repent, seek help if needed, and stop. (I was shocked to learn that a small but significant percentage of pornography users are women.) 

Get an internet filter.

If you know someone who uses pornography, urge them to get the help they need in order to stop.

Learn what to look for in trafficking victims and those who are at risk.(The link is below) There is a 1-800 number for victims of trafficking to call for help. I do not recommend trying to get between a victim and the trafficker. That's a job for law enforcement.) You can call the 1-800 number to report a suspected trafficking situation, as well as call 911. 

Volunteer. You can make a bigger difference than you realize by volunteering to help with the jail ministry. You might be the one who helps a person trapped in a terrible lifestyle to break free by the power of God.

Consider volunteering with organizations that serve at-risk youth. Prevention is always better than trying to extract someone after the fact.

Most important, don't underestimate the power in prayer, both individually and corporately. We serve a God who hears and responds when we pray. He cares about the women and children who are victims. He will not turn a deaf ear to our pleas. He will not fail to move.

Now that we're informed, we can begin by praying with insight. Today, let's start by making a commitment to do exactly that.

1) Pray for traffickers to be exposed and stopped.

2) Pray for those who are victims to be recognized, freed, and receive the help they desperately need.

3) Pray for at-risk women and children to receive help in advance that keeps them out of the hands of traffickers.

4) Ask God if you should volunteer with your church or other organization to help those victims who are incarcerated. (Expect a yes on that.)

5) Pray for law enforcement officers to recognize victims and get them the help and protection they need.

6) Many of the victims are held in bondage because of drug addiction, so pray for them to have a desire to be sober and clean. 

7) Pray that victims will find the freedom and healing only Christ can give.

8) Join me in praying that those who have taken, or are taking, a child-sex-trafficking vacation will be caught and arrested before they can traumatize a child, and that the children involved will be rescued.

9) When SuperBowl weekend rolls around, pray that those who are being victimized can be rescued. Pray for the law enforcement officers who are investigating human trafficking to be wise and recognize every instance. I'm praying that the next SuperBowl weekend will be the least profitable weekend for traffickers ever.

10) Pray about volunteering with at-risk youth and welcoming them into your home. (You can expect a yes on that prayer, too.) The organizations working with troubled and at-risk children and adults appreciate your donations, but they need your time equally as much. Volunteers are always in short supply. 

Be the one who loves those in need, just as they are, and demonstrates the love of Jesus to them. 

There is a worldwide problem, but boys and girls, men and women in our area are at risk of falling victim to traffickers, too. Sometimes, they are victimized. 

We can make a difference, if we will. 

When I wonder what Jesus would do about this problem, the answer is clear. 

He'd roll up His sleeves and wade into the fray. 

He'd stand up for those who need Him most.

He'd love with abandon, and invite them to follow Him. 

That's how Jesus loved me, and He revolutionized my life. The people in at-risk situations need the love of Jesus every bit as much as I did. If we are willing to lead them to Christ and help disciple them, He can revolutionize their lives as much as He did mine. 

In fact, that's exactly what He wants to do... and He's depending upon us. Let's be the ones who love like Jesus, give like Jesus, and rescue like Jesus.

Frank Pollard once quoted a poem by C. T. Studd. One line has stuck in my mind for decades.

"Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell.
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell."

When I heard those words, I thought Dr. Pollard said, "rescue ship". I wanted to be a rescue ship, too. There are plenty of people living within a yard of hell. Let's run the rescue ship (or rescue shop) that brings them to the safety of Jesus.

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." 
2 Peter 3:9 nasb

Here's a link to help you learn to identify a victim of trafficking.
Here's a link to the MS Attorney General's brochure on Human Trafficking.
Here's a link to the MS Attorney General's list of resources
Here's a link to the MS Human Trafficking Act of 2013. It provides for a relief fund for victims and forfeiture of assets for those convicted of trafficking.
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photo above courtesy of freeimages.com

Here's a link to yesterday's post: Salad Supper Sweetness
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 

Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD
#humantrafficking

Friday, August 26, 2016

Salad Supper Sweetness


Last Saturday night was the long-awaited Hosea Saturday Salad Supper. I'm still savoring the sweetness of the evening.

The plan began to unfold when I wrote "THE END" on the Hosea study. My friend, Edith Wilhite, who is always ready for fun, suggested we have a party to celebrate. Saturday night, we finally did.

I had no idea how many people to expect, so I prayed that God would send the perfect number of people. He did. Literally. I laughed when I realized He had sent seven, which is (in Biblical numerology) the number of perfection. 

I'd planned to share a little Bible study, but it wasn't necessary. We taught ourselves as we shared what God had done, how He was moving, where He was leading. My leadership was superfluous because the Holy Spirit gave us all the leadership we needed. 

We ate. We laughed. We were silly. Serious. Impassioned. Determined. Joyful. Victorious.

Not everyone was acquainted before that evening, but everyone was family once they arrived. Deeply loved. Completely accepted.

We were the body of Christ at its best, and it was beautiful.

After everyone left, I sank into my big green chair and the dogs piled into my lap. I closed my eyes and savored the time we'd just had together. I chatted with the Lord about it, of course. "What a sweet night, Lord. We were family. I loved it." 

That Still, Small Voice in my heart whispered the sweetest thing. "You weren't just family. You were the church."

In case you've wondered, that's how "church" is supposed to be. Believers who may be different on the outside but are united by the Holy Spirit on the inside. Mutual respect. Deep love. Great joy. Celebrating the works of God in the lives of one another.

It's not all about having fun together, of course, but it should definitely be a part of our time together.

Something else happened last Saturday night, and I've been processing it all week. Some of the women knew about a problem that touches our area. I'd heard rumblings, but I hadn't heard a report from someone who knew more than rumors. That night, I did. 

When the church gets together and someone shares a need, we don't just talk about it. We don't just wish each other well. We ask God what to do. That's what I've done.

The issue is human trafficking. The problem worldwide is bigger than I thought. (Check back tomorrow to read more and find out how you can help.)

As I listened to those ladies talk about how our Lord was using them in the Kingdom of God, I couldn't help but wonder how different our world would be if we were all as involved. What if everyone in the body of Christ stepped up, reached out, did their part? How much suffering could be alleviated? How many broken lives could be made whole by the power of Christ?

We'll never know unless we all do what God has uniquely designed each of us to do. Today, let's ask ourselves two big questions.

What has God equipped me to do?
What will I do about it?

None of us can do all the things that are needed in this world, but we can all do one thing. Ask God what your "one thing" is and begin, today, to do it. 

We can make a difference, by the power of God, if we will.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23 esv

"and He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Luke 10:2 esv
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Don't forget to share this blog post. If I've done my part well, those shares will help send the truth of God to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Answered Prayer I'd Forgotten I'd Prayed
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis M.D.

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#DailyDevotional #Jesus












Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Answered Prayer I'd Forgotten I'd Prayed



I was going through the unpublished drafts in my blog file today, and found something I'd written two years ago. 

At the time, I was worn out from the practice of medicine and had taken some time off. I'd go back to medicine after Christmas, I thought, when I had done some of the things I'd planned. It would work out perfectly. 

God must have laughed.

Looking back, even I'm laughing at the plans I made. I wanted to expand my little publishing company. Write and publish the two books I'd been pondering. Build tiny cabins on my farm and rent them out. Start an agritourism business. Go back into a different kind of medical practice.

As I pondered my future, there were so many things I wanted to do that I finally did the only thing that made sense. I asked the Lord to clarify my "next step". 

It seemed like ages passed as I waited for God to make my path clear. As I prayed, the only answer I received was "safe pastures". More than one time I asked God what kind of answer that was. I needed something I could recognize.

In the meantime, I looked at my own pastures and did what needed to be done. Weed eating. Watering. Mowing. Building raised beds. Gardening. And, of course, writing.

I began to wonder whether He'd told me what to do and I'd missed it. It didn't seem like it at the time, but now I know that those months were actually spent resting in safe pastures. He was training me as an effective writer and digital communicator. He was expanding my reach. 

So much time had passed, that I had forgotten all about the prayer for "next steps". When I read those words today, they were like a lightning bolt from heaven. 

I instantly remembered one Sunday a few months ago when our pastor announced the new sermon series. Next Steps. That day, we'd all bowed our heads and asked God for our next step.

That day, God answered my prayer from two years earlier with such clarity I'm still astounded. 

Of course, God knew the plan all along, but He had some fine-tuning to do first. If He'd told me back then that my next step was at Global Outreach, (especially doing a combination of intercessory prayer and digital outreach) I'd have balked. 

"Who would want to do work like that?" I'd have asked Him. 

Today, I know the answer to my own question. The one who's called to it is the one who will do it (even if it seems like too hard a job), because obedience matters.

If you're in a transition place, maybe you're asking the same question. "What's the next step?" 

Take a lesson from my experience. While you wait, do whatever God places before you. Be faithful. Keep seeking. At just the right time, He'll surprise you with the beauty of His plan and the breadth of His orchestration. You'll find out the same truth I learned. 

God's plan is worth the wait.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and nor for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Lou's Grave Garden
Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis M.D.

#Faith #Christian



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lou's Grave Garden



Ole Lou was a big dog. I didn't realize quite how big until I started digging the hole to bury him. After I'd dug as much as I could dig, and had a hole that seemed enormous, Sam took a turn. When Ryan came home, he looked at the grave, shook his head, and picked up a shovel. He kept at it until the work was done.

After Lou died, I wrapped him in a sheet, and lowered him into the hole we'd all worked to dig. There wasn't an inch of extra room. I filled it in and mounded the dirt on top, just like Sam told me to do.

The red dirt piled high has left a raw, ugly scar in the backyard that jars me every time I see it.

I've given considerable thought to beautifying the spot and making a kind of memorial to the dog we loved for fifteen years. Ryan and Lou grew up together. He was a much-loved part of our family, and stayed as cheerful as ever to the very last. 

I wanted to plant something over his grave, but the summer heat was too hot for new shrubs. At last, I made my plan. I'd plant zinnas now, and put a re-blooming azalea there in the fall. It would be a kind of grave-garden.

My seeds arrived in the mail one day last week. When I plant those seeds just under the surface of the ground, I don't have to worry about what will grow. Zinna seeds grow zinnas. Every single time.

That's what happens when we plant seeds. Watermelon seeds always grow watermelons. Spinach seeds always grow spinach. Flower seeds always grow flowers. 

In that same way, the choices we make on a daily basis are like seeds sown in the garden of life. We have the option, every day, to sow seeds of righteousness or seeds of idolatry and futility. The choices we make, in lifestyle, in actions, and attitudes, will bear fruit consistent with those choices. 

It's vitally important for us to sow wise and godly choices every day, for those seeds of choice bear fruit both now and in the hereafter. 

Worldly choices bring worldly rewards, but that isn't the kind of yield that carries over into eternity in the way we'd hope. It's only the seeds of righteousness that yield both a beautiful life now and joy in the hereafter.

Today, let's take a look at the harvest from our choices and make sure we're bearing fruit that yields an eternal reward.

"and the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Matthew 13:23 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Stinky Hearts and Circling Vultures

Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List 
Here's the link to my Global Outreach page: Leanna Hollis MD
#Heaven