Monthly Archives: October 2012

Not a Haunted House, Just a Weird One!

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Front of the house.

Since today is Halloween, I thought I’d write about the house that I grew up in and all of its craziness. It was a nice house in a really nice neighborhood but we had some weird things happen in that house!!  One night a drunk guy drove through our yard.  Our neighbor across the street died in his house and no one knew he was dead for a few days.  A fatal accident occurred right in front of our house.  Someone stole my purse from inside my sister’s car.  We ended up getting it back because a lady found it at the park and the only thing missing from it was a small Bible.  We lived close to the lake and we had several water moccasins pay us visits.  My dad’s van, which was parked about 20 feet from our front door, was stolen from our driveway.  I still remember opening the front door and saying “Uh, Dad where’s your van?”

Perhaps the strangest thing that ever happened in that house happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old and it involves a few classic cases of good ol’ misunderstanding.  It was a Sunday morning and we were getting ready for church.  My Dad was out of town preaching.  Mom was downstairs in her bedroom.  My brother, Brian was upstairs in his room.  My sister, Jana was upstairs in the shower and I was downstairs in a bathroom that was close to the kitchen.  I remember it so well.  The whole house started to shake violently (which is very disconcerting when you’re using the bathroom).  There was an extremely loud BOOM and I was terrified.  I didn’t know what was happening.  Was this an earthquake?  In Texas?  Did a bomb just land right outside the

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Me, looking good, right in front of where the car hit.

bathroom door?  Was this the Lord coming back and the trumpet player was perhaps a little rusty?  What was happening?  I anxiously opened up the bathroom door and turned the corner.  That is when I saw IT!  There was a BMW in our kitchen.  Yes, you read that right, a BMW in our kitchen.  I looked into the living room and saw my mom lying on the floor covering her head with her hands.  I shakily said “Mom…” she started screaming, “AMBER, GET DOWN, THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US, THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US, GET DOWN AND COVER YOUR HEAD!” Because I suppose that if someone had been shooting at us my hands would serve as great protection from a bullet to the brain.  Anyway, I said, “Mom…no one is shooting at us, there’s a car in the kitchen.”  She slowly lifted and turned her head and saw the car that had busted through the windows and bricks and took out our kitchen table.  Within seconds my brother was barreling down the stairs in his skivvies with a pistol in his hand ready to defeat the terrorists that he thought were intruding our home.  During all of this, we all kind of forgot that Jana was still in the shower.  She had obviously heard the commotion too and thought that burglars were breaking in at 8am and that if she got out she would have to fight them naked.   I guess she weighed the options, should she get out of the shower and see if her family is ok or should she stay in the shower for about 45 minutes petrified the entire time, she opted for the 45 minutes (thanks, sis!)

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The side of the house where the car hit.

My mom calmed my brother and assured him that there were no terrorists.  Mom, who had just gotten out of the shower herself, got out the phone book to try and look up the neighbors phone number because even though there was a car in the kitchen and a huge gaping hole in our house, she apparently was not dressed appropriately to walk next door and tell our neighbors “We have always admired your BMW and thank you for giving it to us, but this was not the way we imagined it.  Maybe next time you could try just leaving it in our driveway with a big red bow on top, like on Christmas commercials.”   We knew that this was our neighbor’s car.  Their back driveway faced our kitchen and well, we recognized the car.  I was staring at the car and the massive hole in the house along with my brother (Jana was still in the shower) and mom, with the old school phone book in hand, said “hell!” well at least that’s what I thought she said.  I turned around about to cry because I thought I had just heard my Mom say a bad word.  I shouted, “Mom, I know you’re upset but we shouldn’t say bad words!”  Mom looked at me a little confused and then said with a grin, “No, Amber, I said ‘Hale’ that is their last name, I was trying to remember their last name to look up their phone number.”  She called them and told them what had happened.  It just so happened that he could take his keys out of the ignition without putting his car in park.  The car had rolled down their driveway, gaining momentum, and crashed into our house.  Our neighbor made a mad dash to the hardware store and within an hour or so, he had a tarp and had made a temporary patch for the wall.

You never expect something like this to happen, but when it does it makes for a great story on a blog years later.

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Taken yesterday inside my old house.

Well, the house got fixed and looked all pretty again, for a while at least.  I’m not sure if you’re going to believe this, but it is 100% true.  A few years later there was another loud BOOM, the house shook again, but don’t worry, it wasn’t a BMW it was a Mercedes!!  (Seriously dude, if you can’t remember to put your car in park, buy cheaper cars!) The same neighbor, who had traded in his Bimmer for a Mercedes did the same exact thing again!  I was beginning to think that our house had magnets in it and was drawing the cars to it.  My dad jokingly told our neighbor that he was going to attach a bungee cord to his cars so that when they started rolling backwards down his hill, they would fling back and hit his house.  This time my mom didn’t call them.  Their garage door was open and so she walked into their garage and knocked on the back door.  When he opened the door, he was a little irritated that someone was coming in through his garage.  My mom started to speak but before she could even get the words out, he saw the car, the house, the bricks, the ruins and he took off to the hardware store once again.

I told you that some really weird things happened in that house.  I mean how many people can say that a car has crashed into their house, and how many can say that it’s happened TWICE?

I went to the old house yesterday to take some pictures of the outside of the house and the lady who lives there now invited me in and I took a walk down memory lane!  I also found out that the Hales still live next door but I saw no evidence of another crash and I couldn’t bring myself to tell this sweet lady about the day a car/burglars/terrorists/bomb came into her house.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Oh, and by the way, Jana did finally get out of the shower!

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A panoramic view of the path the cars took. Neighbors house is on the left, ours on the right.

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First World Problems

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First World Problems!

“My satellite went out at the best part of the show!”

“Facebook switched me over to timeline, ugh.”

“I’m not due for a cell phone upgrade for 2 more months, so I have to wait to get the iPhone 5!”

“I burnt dinner, and now we have to go out to eat.”

These are all some examples of First World Problems.  I have been to several Third World countries.  I’ve seen women using brooms to sweep their dirt floors.  I’ve had chickens walk in and out of a hut that I was in while talking about the Lord (I was talking about the Lord, not the chickens-all though now that sounds less exciting!) I’ve seen children walk around in rough terrain without shoes on their feet or with shoes that were obviously way too small. I’ve seen other children who are missing essential items of clothing.  We have so much to be thankful for in the United States of America.  I read a statistic the other day that stated that if you make at least $35,000 a year you are among the wealthiest 1% in the world.  There are also so many things that we have in this great country that are not given nearly as easily as a cell phone upgrade.  These are things that people have gone to war over, things like our freedom of religion and our freedom of speech!  We have been given these things, among others, not as a right but as a liberty!

We have been given so much and the Bible tells us in Luke 12:48 that to whom much is given much is required!  One first world problem that I have heard from some during this election season is “I don’t like either presidential candidate so I am just not going to vote!”  WHAT, are you kidding me?  American troops have served in other countries, helping to free those countries from socialism, communism and dictatorship.  America has helped other countries and given them the liberty to vote for a leader for their country.  Here in America, women & minorities struggled and fought hard to gain the liberty to vote.  Voting for a presidential candidate is not our given right, it is our protected liberty!

If you do not vote in this election…you do not have the right complain about any laws passed, gas prices, wars, abortions, senate hearings, presidential statements, congressional hearings, Obamacare, health care, welfare, etc. for the next four years.

 

If you do not know who to vote for, let me help you out with this issue.  As a Christian I encourage you to:

1.     Vote for the presidential candidate who respects the sanctity of life.
2.     Vote for the presidential candidate who will fight to protect the Biblical definition of marriage.
3.     Vote for the presidential candidate who will stand and protect Israel.
4.     Vote for the presidential candidate who will keep our country and our borders safe!
5.     Vote for the presidential candidate who will protect our freedoms and liberties, particularly our     freedom of religion!

(You’ll notice, this is a five point plan!)

I have heard people say that the reason that they are not voting in this election is because they cannot support either candidate because of his religious affiliation.  Let me just say, we are electing a President not a Pastor!  This is not someone that you are going to hear preach every Sunday, this is someone who will lead our Nation, and those two things are drastically different!

“If you recommend a mechanic to a friend, and he is a Jew, you are not endorsing Judaism. You are endorsing a mechanic. If you recommend a plumber to a friend, and he is a Catholic, you are not endorsing Catholicism. You are endorsing a plumber. If you support a presidential candidate that is a Mormon, you are not endorsing Mormonism. You are endorsing a presidential candidate! We are not electing a Pastor or Spiritual Leader. We are electing a President and Commander in Chief!!” – My sister, Jana Hooten

My dad and me in front of the Presidential Palace

In 2008, my dad’s ministry took a mission trip to Vietnam.  While we were there, we visited the Presidential Palace.  The Palace has many stairs and because my dad is in a wheelchair, we took the elevator.  When we were nearing the end of the tour, my Dad asked our tour guide while on the elevator “Are you a communist?”  I almost fell over, because to me that sounds like an insult, but to them it’s like saying, “Are you a republican or democrat?” Well, this sweet Vietnamese woman, who spoke great English, replied to my dad, “Yes, I am, but I do not like it!”  My dad went on talking with her and he gave her one of his tracts.  She quickly stuffed it into her pocket so that no one else could see it, and she thanked him.  We later found out that she probably felt somewhat comfortable having this conversation on the elevator, because it’s the one place in the Presidential Palace that is not monitored with video and microphones.  Ladies and Gentlemen, her statement about communism was such an honest statement.  She was stuck in a place with very limited rights and freedoms.

This is a very important election, for sure the most important in my lifetime, and I’ve heard my parents say that it’s by far the most important in their lifetimes!  We have a choice to make.  However, as Christians, as we make this choice we also have a hope to hold on to and that hope is in Jesus!  He is greater than any president, more powerful than any ruler and higher than any earthly king. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Today, I went and voted.  I exercised my freedom as an American citizen.  To my friends in the military, active duty & veterans, I say thank you for fighting for my freedom & liberty!

 

Cars, Dressers & Sin, Oh My!

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I love a good deal.  I have seen my dad make some great deals before, particularly with cars.  Going and watching my dad buy a car is actually quite entertaining.  When he first goes into the dealership, you can see the car salesmen almost feel sorry for him.  My dad is in a wheelchair because he lost his legs fighting for America in the small country of Vietnam.  When people first see him they see someone who is handicapped.  I can testify, that he’s not nearly as handicapped as he looks.

Me and My Pops at the Taj Mahal

When he goes into the dealership, at first he almost looks uninterested and like he would rather be anywhere else in the world than in that showroom.  Then when a salesman approaches him that’s when all bets are off and he gets down to business.  Within seconds, the salesman knows that he never should have felt sorry for him in the first place.  I have literally seen my dad write down a figure on a piece of paper, fold the said paper and slide it across the table to the salesman.  He does not hand it to them, he slides it, usually with two fingers.  The salesman picks up the paper and writes a different figure and trying to keep up, he slides it back across the table to my dad.  There are no words spoken during this paper sliding transaction.  You can almost picture a man in the shadows looking like he just stepped out of the Matrix, with a dark suit and tie holding a briefcase, wearing sunglasses and packing heat somewhere on his person.

When I was in college, I needed a new dresser for a new apartment that I had just moved into and I was determined to call my dad and tell him that I got a great deal.  I went shopping and could not find a particularly good deal.  So, I thought I would try out eBay.  Scrolling through, I finally found it, The. Perfect. Dresser.  It had plenty of drawers and it was really pretty and it would match my furniture that I already had.  Up until that time, I had not done a lot of dealings on eBay, but I thought how hard could it be.  If dad can make the paper sliding work for him, I can make eBay work for me!  The ad said that this dresser had free shipping (cha-ching) and the cost for the dresser was only $14.95, that’s right $14.95!  I was stoked (yes, I just said stoked!).  I was so excited about this great deal.  I read the ad from top to bottom, all the fine print included.  I was convinced that I had just found the best deal ever on eBay.

I checked the tracking number and I knew when it would be delivered, so I was sure to be home.  It finally came, but not quite in the way that I expected.  I opened my door and in my mailbox was a large padded envelope.  I opened the envelope to see the contents and what I found took my great deal of excitement and slammed it to the ground.  I had not bought a dresser; I had bought detailed plans on how to build the dresser.  I was so disappointed and upset.  I did not get what I was promised and I did not get what I was expecting.  I thought I was going to be able to call my parents and tell them about this great deal that I had found but instead the old adage “it’s too good to be true” came into play.

What I had been promised was not what I got.  How many times does this happen in our lives with sin?  We think that our sin will give us what we want, and in fact it does just the opposite.  Now don’t get me wrong, sin can be fun!  The Bible tells us that sin is fun for a season and that sin is a fleeting pleasure (Hebrews 11:25).   But when that season is over, all you’re left with are broken promises.

Looking back to Genesis we find the very first sin ever committed, Eve eating the fruit.  God told Adam (and we assume that Adam told Eve) that there was one tree in the Garden of Eden that they were not to eat of.  Imagine, she is in a garden, she’s surrounded by trees, she could have eaten fruit from any one of the other trees, but she was tempted by Satan himself to disobey God and to eat of the one tree that she and Adam were not to eat of.  Satan told Eve that if she would eat of this tree, that she could be like a god.  Satan is always sneaky and he’s always offering things that he cannot deliver.

If we allow ourselves to imagine us in Eve’s position, this all makes sense.  At first glance, it doesn’t.  Satan came to Eve in the form of a snake.  Now, I’m a woman and I hate snakes, and if one ever starts talking to me, get out of the way because I’m bolting out of there.  But for Eve, a snake was nothing to be scared of.  Why?  Because sin had not entered into the world yet, therefore there was nothing to fear.  I doubt that Eve knew was it was even like to feel the emotion of fear, I mean come on, if they were able to walk around naked with no fear, surely nothing scared them.  Perhaps all the animals in the Garden of Eden spoke.  When we look at this story in the book of Genesis, Eve does not seem alarmed that a snake is speaking to her.  So, she listened to what the serpent had to say.  He promised her things that she wanted.  He promised her things that she craved.  He told her that if she would just grab one piece of fruit and take even just one bite that she could be equal with God and again this makes sense.  She listened.  She grabbed.  She bit.  And she knew.  And we cannot completely throw Eve under the bus alone on this one.  The Bible tells us that Adam her husband was with her and that he too ate of the forbidden tree.  Their eyes were opened and they knew that they had just paid money for plans on how to build a dresser.  They did not in any way get what they had been promised.

This is exactly how sin works.  You may get what you want, but in doing so, you may lose what you have.  Sin will always promise things that it cannot deliver!

Isaiah 55:8-9
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Whelmed

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Have you ever told someone that they are whelming you or that the situation is too whelming?  It’s not over or under, it’s just whelming.  How can we be overwhelmed or underwhelmed but we can’t be just whelmed?  My fun challenge to all of you today is to use the word “whelmed” in a sentence.  Don’t explain what you mean by it or why you’re using it, just say it and then walk away and drop a mic if you can. (Someone seriously needs to invent a sarcastic font!)

Usually, when someone says they’re overwhelmed they are feeling low and down.  They feel like there’s not enough time in the day and they’re probably not going to be able to get done all that they need to get done.  Rarely does someone tell you that they’re overwhelmed and then go on to explain that they’re just loved too much and too deeply and that they can hardly handle all of that love.  I suppose it could happen, but let’s be honest we would all probably want to slap that person!

However, when I really think about it I am loved so much and so deeply by the Creator of the Universe!  When you get right down to it, that is overwhelming.  For a long time in my life I was just whelmed by God’s love.  Perhaps I was even underwhelmed by it, although, as a Christian, you are never suppose to admit such a travesty.  I just got so used to it and I had turned it into something that it’s not.  The Bible tells us that through God’s love we are more than conquerors! (See Scripture below)

For a long time I had convinced myself that I had to be good enough for God.  I heard a quote by Jon Acuff that addresses this exact thing “God is not going to be handcuffed by our failures just as he won’t be set free by our victories.”

God is a loving and forgiving God.  If you think that your failures are too big for God to handle, you have to understand that nothing is too big for Him to handle!  Have you ever thought about the fact that our “stuff” never overwhelms God? A friend of mine, Evangelist David Ring who has cerebral palsy, says it this way, “God never says oops!”

Let’s all take some time today to think about God’s love for us and I challenge you (yes, this is the second challenge, but this one is a little more serious) to allow yourself to be overwhelmed by it.  Let it sink in that the Creator of this universe calls you and me His friend, that in and of itself is overwhelming.  God is greater than any failures, and He’s greater than any struggles.  He’s greater than any doctor, He’s bigger than any marriage, He’s more powerful than any politician.  Friends, I’m tired of just being whelmed by God, he is truly wonderfully overwhelming!
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Romans 8:31-37 ESV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Up on the Rooftop

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I read a blog posting recently that talked about the current events going on in our world and in our country.  This blog was very well written and it had a lot of truth in it, however woven throughout the truth were lies and truths that had been twisted. The woman who wrote this blog (who is a Christian) wrote about her childhood and how her family lived in an area that had tornadoes quite often.  During these storms, they would have to make their way down to the basement to seek shelter and protection.  She drew the analogy and stated that while the storm of politics, controversy, same sex marriage, etc. loomed overhead she was heading down to the basement and all were invited to join her.

I do not understand this mentality. Christianity is under attack in America today and if you can’t see that perhaps you’ve been living in a basement too long and have not come outside to see the real world.

Basements are many times comfortable.  When I was a kid we had some family friends who had a huge basement.  There were plenty of places to sit and nap, a pool table, a soda fountain machine, a dartboard, a huge TV and a lot more.  It was a lot of fun down in that basement and the only problem that you ever had down there was if you scratched on the eight ball.  It almost didn’t seem like real life down in that basement.  You could drop your concerns at the door and just have a great time.  Well, this in fact is not like real life unless you just choose to sit back, not take a stand for anything and not get involved in the issues that are facing our country today.

We have to love people with the love of Jesus but just telling people that God loves them and never introducing them to the fact that Jesus was sent to this world to die on a cross for our SINS is a disgrace.  It’s comparable to a preacher always preaching about God’s love and Heaven and never telling his congregation about God’s judgment and a very real place called Hell.

ImageChristians, I suggest that rather than ducking down into the basement we get up on the rooftop and take a stand.  Now, the rooftop might not be for everyone.  It’s scary up there.  There’s no comfortable seating on the rooftop.  You could fall off the rooftop fairly easily.  You’re out in the open and there’s nowhere to hide up on the rooftop.  You have to climb a pretty sketchy ladder to get on the rooftop and you can only go up one at a time.  Once you’re there, everyone can see you. You have to be bold up on the rooftop; it’s not time to be timid.  If you want comfort, if you want crowds, if you want to hide then head down to the basement.

The rooftop is also not a place to be mean and it’s not a place of fighting.  If you fight up there you’ll pull a Humpty Dumpty and fall right off.  It’s a place to proclaim the truth and a place to proclaim the love of Jesus and yes, the two can & should go hand in hand.

Things are heating up in America and it is time for Christians to take a bold stand. The ladder is waiting, climb the rungs and join me up on the rooftop.

John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
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Click the link for a great clip from John McArthur
http://www.gty.org/Blog/B121001

Crushed Dreams

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Crushed Dreams

When I was about 12 years old I suddenly got a strong desire to ride a jet ski.  The desire to ride one quickly turned into a strong desire to buy one.  So, as usual I came up with a plan.  I had a lot of plans when I was a kid but this one was going to work, I was sure of it!

My dad’s ministry employed about 10 people at the time.  My parents also owned a lawn company that employed about 20 people (that’s 30 total, yes, I am great at math).  All of these people, plus visitors were going in and out of the same building.  We had a coke machine (yes, it sold more than Coca-Cola but in Texas everything is a coke and then you specify what kind of coke you want, i.e. Diet Coke, Mt. Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc.) so I put signs on trash cans and labeled them “Amber Michelle Lee’s Jet Ski Crisis Fund” other wise known as “AMLJSCF”- catchy, I know.  Looking back on this, the fact that I used the word crisis is pretty comical, this is First World Problems at it’s finest!

So, little by little I got coke cans.  I would crush them, often times getting left over coke on me, which was really gross, and put them in trash bags.  I was meticulous with it.  I made sure that everyone’s cans went into the proper trash bins.

I finally had collected about 5 giant trash bags full of crushed cans and I asked my dad to take me to the recycling machine.  We put all of these trash bags in the back of his SUV and we went to the machine.  We were both pretty excited to see the outcome.  As we were on our way there, I could just picture myself out on the lake zipping around on my beautiful new jet ski!

Could it really be, were my jet ski dreams about to come true?

My dad offered to help me put the cans into the machine, but I told him that I wanted to do it myself because I felt accomplished but mainly because it was kind of cool to see the machine “eat” the cans.  Can after can, bag after bag, went into the machine and my excitement was building like you can’t even imagine.  I could almost hear the water from the lake calling my name.  The bags were emptying and I reached down and pulled out the very last can.  I pushed “finished” on the machine and I waited to see just how many hundreds of dollars I was about to receive.  Would it be possible for me and my dad to leave the machine and drive straight to the jet ski store (is that even a place)?  The last can was in…the button was pushed…my dreams lay in the balance….and then I got it…are you ready…one dollar and ten cents. That’s right, $1.10.  No matter how you write it, it’s not a lot of money.

I was crushed to say the least!  My dad was crushed for me.  I got back into the car and tried not to cry but my efforts were futile and the tears came.  I remember saying to my dad “it was my dream to have a jet ski.”  I am sure in this moment my dad probably wanted to laugh a little bit, but he didn’t.

Just a few short months later (the Amber Michelle Lee Jet Ski Crisis Fund had been terminated by this point) my dad came home with not one but, two new yellow jet skis!  I couldn’t believe it.  My dreams had come true just not in the way that I imagined.  It hadn’t occurred to me that all I had to do was to go to my father with my dreams, give it some time and let him figure it all out.

You see, it was impossible for me, as a child, to earn enough money to buy two jet skis, what with recycling rates and all!  My dad did what seemed to be the impossible, but for him the jet skis were more achievable because he was a grown man with a paying job!  What dreams do you have in your life?  Have they been crushed like a coke can (see what I did there)?  Do they seem impossible to achieve?  When was the last time that you took those crushed dreams to your Heavenly Father, gave it some time and let him sort them out?  While he’s sorting them out, he may need you to do some work to make your dreams a reality, but if they are truly your dreams you will do whatever you need to do so see them come to fruition.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26

For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:37

Dreams