Category: Resources (page 1 of 12)

Soul Food Friday

Happy Friday Friends! Hope it’s been a good week for you! Husband John has been out of town so it’s been quiet around here. As an extrovert I’ve been striking up conversations with any stranger I meet. If you have a cute dog, or a baby, or basically are breathing and glance my way, watch out! Hope you enjoy the soul food buffet this weekend.

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Soul Food to say Good-bye to 2017

Ok, can we all just agree that we’re kind of happy to see 2017 go?

We’re hoping 2018 will be a kinder, gentler, more high-minded year. We’d like to expect better of ourselves and others. We’d like to read more stories of honesty, integrity, and service. Grace and truth in equal measure.

My prayer is that Love will be the loudest voice we’ll hear.

We don’t want to live in denial of the challenges, but just for today, I thought maybe a little inspiration, a few laughs and joy were in order.

Want a great, feel-good movie? We went to see The Greatest Showman and loved it!! Downloading the soundtrack.

And for a laugh…Some of the best text conversations of the year:

Smile.

An oldie, but such a goodie!! A-MAZING!

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press ontoward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Here’s to 2018! 

Towards the Making of a More Relaxed Christmas 2018

It’s the 28th of December as I write this. I’m guessing both you and I are both feeling a bit “over” – overfed, overtired, over-partied, over-drawn – after weeks of celebrating. Am I right?

Most of us are looking forward to taking down our Christmas tree for a fresh start, and simultaneously feeling sad for the passing of this holy time.

Some of you are thinking “coulda/shoulda/woulda” regarding some of the choices you made this Advent. Maybe you said too many “yes’s” or were totally unorganized. Maybe you over-spent, or were too tired to be present in the moments. Our dream is to be present to God and to others especially during this holy season, so what are we going to do about it?

At our church, every week we do a little post-service eval, asking what went well and what we could do better. I’m thinking that if we do that and give a little forethought, Christmas 2018 can be even better than 2018. So here are a few suggestions.

And let me just say, if you are a man reading this and thinking, “Not my thing”, think again. One of the best gifts you can give your wife if you’re married is your partnership in this season. Step up men!

December 2017 /January 2018 

Have a conversation today. Evaluate Christmas 2017. Discuss these questions:

  • What worked well for Christmas 2017? What are we thankful for?
  • If we were going to choose one word to characterize Christmas 2017, what would it be?
  • What mistakes do we want to avoid for Christmas 2018?

The putzy stuff I hate to do, but this helps:

  • LABEL EVERYTHING as you put it away. Attach pictures of how you decorated to your storage boxes. Buy a storage box and label it 2018.
  • Buy candles, ornaments, ribbon, and goodie bags at post-holiday sales. Put these together and label “Hostess gifts”

  • I LOVE making things, but when November rolls around I feel too pressured to get creative. This January I’m looking at some of the DIY gifts I have pinned and am committing to actually doing them during our cold Minnesota winter.
  • Write on your calendar for December, 2018 which cookies you absolutely loved this year and want to commit to baking next year.
  • Record which menus worked this year – for an Open House, for easy family dinners, for whatever.
  • Update your Christmas card list now.
  • Did you have a great idea for a gift or an activity? Write it down on your calendar – December 2018.

Throughout 2018

  • If you have trips or family gatherings planned for 2018, write in reminders on those dates – TAKE FAMILY PHOTOs for Christmas cards!
  • Keep a gift chart of people, ideas and budget through the year..

November 2018

  • Buy or order your Christmas cards before Thanksgiving if possible.
  • I know not everyone can do this, but I block off the 5 days after Thanksgiving to focus on prepping for Christmas – getting decorations up over time so I can be relaxed. We make a point of coming home from visiting relatives at least a day early to miss the crazy crowds driving/flying home and to give ourselves some time to get grounded before the rush of the holidays starts.
  • If you’re married and have kids at home, sit down with your calendars and see if there is one day you can both take off and work together on shopping (grocery or gift). Enjoy a lunch date!

December 2018

Talk about expectations with your family. What are the things each person is MOST looking forward to and what are they apprehensive about?

Gift ideas

  • A lot of Christmas gifts can’t be anticipated or bought way ahead, but one that everyone loves that you can do in November is to create photo books for family members. If you do this on Shutterfly you can add to save and add to your project throughout the year too.

  • One of the best gift ideas I heard this year was from a grandmother who is a voracious reader and has a huge library of books. She chose one of her books to give each of her kids and grandkids with a note saying why she thought they’d like it. My mom has given me similar gifts that are precious to me – classics we loved, my grandfather’s Bible and my grandmother’s scrap book (100 years old!)

  • For busy mom friends this year I made them the main course of a dinner they could freeze and pop in the oven on a busy day when they didn’t want to cook.

  • Time is our most precious commodity. It may sound like a cop-out, but giving a “date” with someone to take them to a movie and dinner is a precious gift.

 

  • I love it when friends use their gifts and talents to create something special. My friend Sharon, who runs a creative communications team called Open Book,  made these prints to give.

  • And my friend Cara, who has started Rooted by Design, a flower arranging business made these lovely gifts for each of her friends (in a votive holder that can be reused!).

  • Looking for a gift for neighbors or hostess gifts? Make a big batch of ONE thing and put it in the bags you got after Christmas last year. Attach a tiny ornament. Three of the things I have given in the past are homemade granola, or “Christmas crack” snack mix, or quick bread in inexpensive ceramic loaf pans (I got red ones for about $2.00 a piece at Michaels)

 

  • Do you know someone who is grieving? This one is tricky because everyone what is helpful to one might be hurtful to another. The first Christmas after my brother died, my sister-in-law didn’t have the will or energy to decorate herself, but friends snuck over and hung a wreath on her door. You also might give an ornament that reminds you of the person who died, with a note sharing a memory. 

Those are a few of my ideas. What would you add? Please share in comments!

5 Mistakes I Made as a Hostess Last Night

I love gathering people – around our table, in our yard, throughout our house…whatever…

I do it a lot, but I’m a lifelong learner who still makes LOTS of mistakes!  Entertaining may not be your jam, but most people have to host something sometime.

Last night we had a small open house for some leaders in our church. I thought it might help if I shared some mistakes I made that you can avoid.

Things I did wrong last night:

  1. I tried too many new recipes. I love trying new recipes! With a large group of guests is not always the best time. I usually try to make sure I have at least one sure-fire winner and let myself try one new recipe. Last night there were 3. Not good.

 

2. I had too many hot things that needed to come out of the oven at the same time – last minute. The goal is PEOPLE time – “There you are!” time.

 

3. I put drink station in too congested area.  This is hard in our house – it’s an ongoing challenge, but I’ll keep experimenting.

 

4. Forgot to pray for guests. This is one of my absolute go-to’s – to stop and think about who is coming and their specific gifts and needs and pray for them. But yesterday I forgot. #fail.

 

5. Missed personal conversations with two guests. It’s hard to balance meaningful conversations with guests which may go long and keep you from circulating, and fly-by conversations that feel obligatory and too surfacy. I try really hard to engage meaningfully, but last night after folks left, I realized there were two people I hadn’t talked to at all! Ugh.

 

Things I did right:

1. Asked for help (people – especially introverts – love to be put to work!) Have people take plastic off plates, pull cider out of fridge…

 

2. Did as much as possible the day before. Labled serving pieces. Get out what you need, and think through how much room is needed for each option.

 

3. Made one easy, no-fail option. And here it is: Cut bacon slices into thirds. Wrap one piece of bacon around a “Lil Smokie” sausage and secure it with a toothpick. Dump all in a heavy plastic freezer bag. Shake in a bunch of brown sugar. Shake bag to coat and leave in fridge til ready to cook. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes. Can keep warm and serve in batches.

I’d love to hear from YOU!! What have you done as a host that we all can learn from?

 

You’re Invited to Sit With Jesus This Advent

It’s 6 a.m. I sit in the dark, looking out the window of Starbucks at the twinkly white lights and a few snowflakes lazily dancing their way to the ground. It’s only the beginning of November, but if I’m not careful my mind can hopscotch right over Thanksgiving and land on thoughts of   goals for  stress about Christmas.

It’s coming. And we want sososososo much for it to be all about Jesus being born in us, meeting us on dark starry nights, overshadowing the chaos of the world with His peace that passes all understanding.

The Christmas our Katy was almost 2 years old, one day she took me by the hand and dragged me over to our manger scene that was set up by the fireplace hearth. (bottom left corner of the picture).

She pulled me down to sit in front of baby Jesus.

“Sit. Stay. Watch.” she commanded.

Ahhh such a precious invitation!

I believe Jesus will meet us anywhere we seek Him (yes, even in line waiting to see “Santa” in the mall), but He’s a gentleman and won’t barge in where He’s not welcome. As we approach the start of Advent, maybe we could respond to His invitation to sit with Him.

In June my friend Heather and I dreamed up a little project and prayed it would help people to meet with Jesus – really meet with Him, instead of reading a devotional with second-hand thoughts about Him. It was a “first effort,” and we’ve been working on creating an even better resource for Advent.

We want to get our new Advent Devotional Cards in your hands to help you press into Jesus this season.

Each card has a verse on one side, like the one above. On the flip side there is a longer reference if you want to read more in context and then a couple of simple invitations of ways to talk to Jesus about the verses. There’s white space if you want to draw or write your thoughts.

Here’s what I promise you:

They are simple.

They will invite you to look at, listen to, talk with Jesus.

They are portable and can be used in a variety of ways:

  • At your desk at work.
  • In the car.
  • Around the dinner table with older kids.
  • As scripture memory cards on your fridge.

“How can I get them?” you ask!

  • At Church. If you live in the Minneapolis area, you can buy these Advent cards at Pathway Bookstore at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina. This way you can avoid mailing costs!
  • In Person. If you are going to be at an event where I’m speaking, I will bring some with me that you can buy for $17 🙂
  • On Line. If you live elsewhere you can order the cards by clicking on the sidebar for $20 (which includes tax and mailing) and we’ll send them to you asap! For bulk purchases (3 or more), contact us for shipping costs. (you can preorder today)

And if you’d be so kind…. If you receive these as a gift, we would love it if you might post a picture of yourself using them on social media with any (or all!) of these tags:

#adventdevotional

#shareadventdevo

@lauracrosby

@inspired.desire.co

Thanks so much and have a blessed Advent!

Soul Food for Darker Days

It’s here – the darker season. We’ve turned the clocks back. The days are shorter, colder, cloudier.

Halloween is over, but Thanksgiving isn’t here yet.

We don’t have the lovely snow of winter to distract us and the gray days can make us feel a little Eyore-ish.

via GIPHY

Hang in there! You’re gonna be ok.

Music

Last Sunday was All Saints Day, when we as a church remember the “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us. At our church we have a time of reflection and prayer as we scroll through pictures of those who have died this past year on the screens. This is a song that our worship leader, Heather Moen sang. It was beautiful and comforting.

Recipe

Ironically, I was set to post a soup recipe, when I re-read this delightful quote in Shauna’s Bread and Wine that is just perfect:

“Soup is cold-weather-dark-sky food. Soup is peasant food – odds and ends, bits and pieces, a way to stretch a piece of meat or a handful of rice… Soup is the wool sweater, not the little black dress. It’s the cardigan with elbow patches, not the pressed shirt and tie.”

This soup recipe isn’t from her, but is a favorite from Martha Stewart.

Pumpkin Mushroom Soup (I know mushrooms aren’t everyone’s jam, but my husband loves them!)

4 TB butter

1 TB (or less) curry powder

1 lb mushrooms sliced

1 lg onion chopped

1/3 cup flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 #1 cans pumpkin

5 TB honey

salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in lg. pot. Add curry powder and cook 1 min. Add mushrooms & option and sauté.

Stir in flour and cook 3 min.

Sitr in chicken broth and pumpkin

Brind to boil and simmer 20 minutes.

Sitr in honey and simmer 10 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Can garnish with sour cream.

Makes 10 generous servings.

Movies

I wrote a post awhile ago about wanting to hear/see the better stories…the ones that inspire us to something higher. There are three movies based on true stories that I have loved lately. Take a look:

Victoria and Abdul

Marshall

Goodbye Christopher Robin

And my movie maven friend, Heather, also recommended this one. I read the book and am going to see the movie today:

Same Kind of Different as Me

What have you seen or read lately that has been uplifting? Share in comments?

Have a great weekend!

Soul Food for a Fall Weekend

This has been a week of joy-filled experiences and rich, soul-strengthening conversations with dear friends, here in MN and in D.C.  where we traveled for a World Vision board meeting.

Today I am overwhelmed at the wonder of God and His sustaining presence even when the world is in a bad way. I’ve been doing a study of Job using the First 5 app which I highly recommend. (You can do any of their previous studies too.) Maybe my tiny dose of optimism is partially the result of this verse:

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:1-3

And few other things to share this week:

Made me laugh…

A creative idea from my friend Kathy Burleson who leads Community Bible Study leaders…

She filled this to-go cup with tea, hot chocolate, and other goodies for under $2 a piece. Such a fun, visual reminder of the importance of soul care. I don’t want to just look at this as a gimmick, but truly sit at Jesus’ feet before anything else.

A quote I like…

 

What I’m reading…

My friends and I went to hear Brené last week when she was in town at the beginning of her book tour on Braving the Wilderness, and I have been thinking about her words ever since. It was a powerful evening – what an effective communicator! She addresses how “sorted” and divisive our culture has become.  Although some reviewers dislike some of the political overtones, I thought it was particularly timely and convicting.

I feel there are really valuable insights in this book. My only note to those who are considering reading this is that it is not a “Christian” book and I took issue with Brown where she seems to orient everything in reference to self, not God.

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world.” Brené Brown

Lastly, one of my go-to Fall recipes…

Carrot Bars

4  eggs well beaten

2 cups sugar

2 ts. soda

2 ts. cinnamon

1 ts. salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I know, I know…and yes, you can try cutting it down, but I can’t guarantee results)

2 1/2 cups flour

3 small (4 1/2 oz. jars of baby food carrots

I spray pam on a jelly roll pan and pour the batter in. Bake @350 for 20-30 minutes.

You can frost with canned frosting, but scratch is easy and so much better:

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 oz. cream cheese

2 ts. vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

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How do we Change the Story of Racism in America?

I vividly remember the day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. April 4th, 1968.  Not because I was horrified. Because it interrupted my t.v. program.

My younger brothers and I were watching T.V. in the small den at the back of our suburban house when our program was interrupted by the news. We were ticked! What in the world could be more important than Bozo’s Circus? As we goofed around, loudly moaned and complained about Walter Cronkite, my mother stepped in front of the T.V. With tears running down her face. She spoke to the three of us who were shaken to see our mom so impassioned, her voice raised in anger.

“STOP IT! RIGHT NOW! A great man who has been courageously fighting for everyone in America to be treated with dignity has been shot! This is a terrible day for our country and we need to pay attention!”

I haven’t posted any thoughts on the recent events in Charlottesville, or the angry, divisive rhetoric in our country because frankly, anything I write seems too little, and in my mind, too obvious…too easy. After all, who am I, as a white, privileged American, to think I have  anything helpful to say??

My thought process goes, “Writing something on social media is empty courage. What will it accomplish? It will only be read by those who agree with me. And I can’t possibly have any tiny understanding of the situation.”

Talk is cheap, right?

But then I am reminded by my friend Todd, of the MLK quote, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

Privilege means we have the freedom NOT to think about this if we don’t want to. But if we turn away,  we participate in the sin of indifference. Privilege when it comes to race, is unearned access and the freedom to ignore what is uncomfortable. I don’t want that to be me.

“The stories we own…we get to write the ending. We as a country need to own the story of white supremacy.” Brené Brown

In order to own this story, we need to start somewhere. Here are a few of my ideas. Please add your own in the comments!

  • Build relationships

This can be a challenge because most of us live in our homogenous bubbles. For John and I it has meant reaching out and building a relationship with a local Imam, Asad Zaman. Recently, when a mosque here in the twin cities was bombed, it was John who our friend reached out to be the voice of a peacemaker to Christians at a subsequent rally.

The question I keep asking myself is “Where can I be involved in a community with people different than me?”

  • Read up – here are a few resources that have been helpful to me.

The Sin of Indifference  – an article by Ruth Hayley Barton

Small Great Things – a novel by Jodi Picoult about an African American nurse and a white supremacist father whose child dies in her care. This book helped me better understand white privilege.

Just Mercy – I’m halfway through this book that is accurately described as “A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.”

  • Choose humility. Listen, and listen more to the oppressed. Listen longer than is comfortable.

 

  • Name it. Yes, there are situations that are a matter of perspective. There are times to agree to disagree, but when anyone, created in the image of God, is abused, is treated with anything less than the utmost respect, is the victim of injustice and hate, it must be named as evil. Unacceptable. Period.

“I want a white nationalist to feel uncomfortable in my church. I want him to feel like ”’Ooh, this is not a place where I can express white supremacy freely. Where I know it’s looked upon as sin and not looked upon as just a political difference.’” – LeCrae

  • Pray

Here’s a place to start.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”

I know my understanding is woefully limited. I confess I have often avoided the uncomfortable conversations that are necessary for healing. I acknowledge I have benefitted from white privilege in many ways I’m sure I’m ignorant of. I ask forgiveness from my brothers and sisters of other races. I want to do better.

These are just a few of my thoughts. What would you add?

 

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Summer Soul Food

Hey Friends,

I know I’ve been MIA on the blog recently, but I’m guessing you’re out seizing summer joy and don’t mind a little less in your “in box”! As a result, this is a looooong post!

I’ve been prioritizing speaking, prepping a new set of devo cards, and another writing project I only recently have had the courage to call a “manuscript”. Yikes it’s scary to say that, and yet I also feel total peace regarding what happens with it. If God can use it “out there” I trust it will get published. If He has other plans I’m fine with that. I’m thankful for friends and mentors who have been coaching me along in this process!

 

Speaking of needing each other… John and I always do a lot of hosting in the summertime because our back yard provides a great space for gathering folks. We have had a big tent I told you about before, but it’s so old it started to leak when there was rain, and since rain was predicted last week when we were hosting 32, we bought another tent. Here was the problem. It was a LOT more complicated to set up than our previous one (I am so thankful for a husband with infinite patience!).

 

It was super hot with one million percent humidity as we struggled to get it set up. At one point I asked John what time it was, and he said, “No worries, they’re not coming tip 6:30.” Imagine the look on our faces when we had just finished the job and were sweating like pigs and our guests walked around the corner of our house at 6:00!

Anyway, one of the benefits of hosting a lot of potlucks is GOOD RECIPES! My friend Michelle brought this amazing salad and was gracious enough to give me the recipe, so I thought I’d pass it along. It is delightfully different!

Wheat Berry and Fruit Salad

1 Cup wheat berries

Dressing:

3 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs water

1 ½ Tbs cider vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp each salt & pepper

¼ Cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1 large apple cut bite size

1 Cup seedless grapes halved

½ Cup diced cheddar

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.

Add wheat berries; reduce heat, cover and cook for

45-55 minutes until tender. Drain well.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk oil, water, vinegar, mustard, salt

& pepper. Add dried cranberries and warm wheat berries.

Toss to coat. Let stand 10 minutes, tossing occasionally,

for flavors to absorb and wheat berries to cool. (If you want

to make ahead and serve cold, cover and refrigerate up to

1 day).

3. Add remaining ingredients to bowl; toss to mix and coat.

Serves 4   (Can be served on a bed of lettuce.)

I preached at CPC on Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000 a couple weeks ago, and I wish I had thought to use this video! With Jesus everybody’s welcome, nobody’s perfect, and anything can happen!

 

I’ve been reading a lot this summer, but I really hate to review books because I think personal taste, values, your current season of life, and circumstances can skew how you feel about a book.

However, my talented friend Steve Wiens has a new book coming out August 22nd called “Whole”.  

The description of this new book is: “For Christians who lament the brokenness in themselves, their neighbors, and the world around them, Whole offers a rallying cry to pursue wholeness together.”

I think Steve’s strength is in the questions he asks – the 5 questions of restoration he addresses in the first half of the book, and the discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this a read that would be good for group discussion.  Steve models a commitment to self-reflection and vulnerable sharing throughout which will encourage others in your small group.

If you like considering the different meanings behind the original Hebrew text, looking for new connections, you will like this book.  If you like contemporary retelling of ancient stories that highlight the movement from brokenness to wholeness, you will like this book.

If you are into spy novels, I recommend this complicated, intriguing book, ” I am Pilgrim: A Thriller”. It’s excellent, but be forewarned…there is some graphic violence and the pieces don’t start to come together til about page 245. I can’t imagine the time that went into researching this book!

One last thing…I’ve been doing more on Instagram, and recently posted this quote. I have several friends who are in very, very hard places where it seems their thoughts and prayers kept spinning in a circle of despair. Can anyone else relate?

I’ll close with part of a blessing from Suzie Larson:

May you be honest with God about the hurts in your heart. May you discern the difference between grief and self-pity. May you be okay with not always being okay. God will one day wipe away every tear from your eyes, but until then, He wants to help you walk this journey with peace in your heart and assurance in your soul. He is with you.

 

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When Everyone is Looking For You

Yesterday I was shopping, cleaning, cooking – preparing for family who would arrive from out-of-town for a week-long visit. I multi-tasked, prepping everything along with all the regular “stuff” of life like meetings and writing assignments.

Creating time and space to connect with friends or family takes discipline and intentionality, but as we sat with dessert on the patio last night, I thought, how sweet the rewards.

It’s easy to go on “auto-pilot” with relationships, especially with Jesus who is so…polite. He never pushes His way in. Never demands time with us. He waits for us to come to Him.

Last week I introduced some devotional cards a friend and I have created around this theme, “Come”.

This morning, here’s the card I sat with.

If you are a mom of toddlers, or a boss, or a planning an event, I know you can relate to these words!

This verse comes after a very full 24 hours of ministry. Jesus gets up early and goes off alone to pray.

In Mark1 there are three places Jesus uses the word “Come” – each of them very different in context, but each of them speak to me of a reason why it was so important for Him, in the midst of crazy busy, to be alone with His Father. Here are three reasons for us to come to Him too:

  1. Imitate and Model

In Mark 1:17 Jesus calls the disciples, “Come follow me.”

Jesus invited (and invites) people to follow Him, but even He needed to be replenished in order to continue to lead.

People are watching us. They are following us. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul writes, “So imitate me, watch my ways, follow my example, just as I, too, always seek to imitate the Anointed One.”

2. Power up

In Mark 1:25 Jesus defies evil, casting out a demon, saying with confidence, “Be quiet! Come out of him.”

When we spend time with Jesus we are reminded that this same authority that gave Him power, lives in us through His Holy Spirit. We may be weak, but “greater is He who is in [us] than he who is in the world.”

3. Remember

In Mark 1:38 When the disciples find Jesus He says they will all head to some nearby villages for Him to preach because “That is why I have come.”

Time alone with the Lord grounds us and reminds us of our purpose. As I read God’s Word He tells me again who I am and whose I am.

Which of these do you need most this morning?

Do you know a graduate or a friend who might like a month’s worth of cards inviting them to  come away with Jesus?

 

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