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Never Too Late For Love

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
December 4, 2020 1:00 am

Never Too Late For Love

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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December 4, 2020 1:00 am

What does it look like when God compels a couple to adopt a twenty-year-old? When the possibility of a biological child was gone, God opened the eyes of bestselling author and counselor, Holley Gerth, and her husband, Mark, to the world of someone, who needed their love, as much as they longed to give it.

Show Notes and Resources

Lovelle Gerth-Myers website.

Confessions of an Adoptive Parent.

A Mother of Thousands.

Walking Through Infertility.

Longing for Motherhood.

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adopting an adult infertility

After being married for five years. Mark and Holly Gerth decided to start a family except they soon realized it wasn't going to happen the way they thought it would. They dealt with infertility for years. Currently on LI times. It was like where are you and I lied why why are you answering other people's prayers and not mine or am I wrong in my asking for something that's actually not for I think a lot of it was so I wasn't afraid to tell God like today.

I'm not damn sad today and completely confused because I just found out another person is. This is family life today hosts are David and Wilson on Bob being find us on my family life Mark and Holly Gerth's story of infertility is a story with a surprising twist at the end will hear about today. Stay with us and welcome to family life today. Thanks for joining us.

Go tell you guys I am really interested in hearing the story were about to hear today. We sat down and were talking to our guest. Our new friends Mark and Holly Gerth and they started telling us this story and we said we gotta do this after I will get you on the radio and have you tell your story so we don't know the details anymore than our list. I know I'm excited to, and before we introduce these friends to our listers.

We need the pause here and just remind family like today listers we've got now less than four weeks to go before the end of the year.

While this this is a significant season for us at family life we want to remind you of our financial needs. Headed into year end and ask you to be a part of helping meet our need and making a donation at family life today they went in and I were speaking a couple years ago it, we can remember in Hershey Pennsylvania smelled like chocolate only and I'll never forget a guy running up to me right before the last session I had met them all weekend long story short, he runs up to me. I'm on the stage. Get ready to speak and he says hey you need to jump off the stage right now and rip up my divorce papers and the stories along one that I just say this, I did jump off stage and I heard his story and it was basically were at the end we came to this just to check a box.

Somebody paid our way. I thought this is a waste of time and God showed up and he saved our marriage, and tomorrow we're supposed to get divorced but today were gonna go home and we can make this thing work and I just thought what a story while I get chills just remembering that because it was this great couple and they were so excited because they had never heard biblical truths about marriage and he started putting it into action. Even that day. I too have had people come winning, to me, rip up papers right in front of me. These divorce papers. I'm telling you this makes a difference in marriages. It's made a difference in our marriage and we want to keep giving these timeless truths to family and here's what I don't think you the listener understands and this guy doesn't know this that moment doesn't happen in his marriage without partners who financially support family life. He has no idea that we can do conferences like that we can't do family life today radio like were doing right now some of you say their marriage because your defect said he has no idea.

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We really really need you. It's been as we all know what a year and it's a moment for you to say okay God I want to give only give generously. I want to give to a ministry that makes a difference. There are thousands of stories like the one I just told you, and again they don't happen without you. So I'm inviting you to join us make a difference.

Give generously. At year-end, and watch what got us and think about this. Whatever you're able to do whatever the amount is it's gonna be matched dollar for dollar because we had some friends of the ministry hopes that we will match every donation up to a total of $2 million. So that's a huge opportunity for us your donation. Whether it's $25 or $250 or $2500 or more than that. It's gonna be matched dollar for dollar. Until that $2 million is drained from that fund. So when you give a gift today know that it's can be matched and know that were to say thank you by sending you to thank you gifts a flash drive that includes more than 100. The top 100+ family life today programs from the last 28 years programs with Dennis and Barbara Rainey with Avon and Wilson with guests.

We've had programs about marriage, about parenting, about extended family relationships. By the way, that's a great Christmas. It is a memory I guess.

Yeah, it really is and you're gonna get one of the best marriage books out this year. The magazine will send you my book and the flash drive is a thank you gift when you donate today go to family life to make a donation or call one 800 F as in family L as in life and on the word today and donate over the phone. Thank you in advance for whatever you're able to do, and on behalf of people who are going rip up their divorce papers this coming year. Thank you for the investment in their legacy. We appreciate that okay let me introduce our friends Mark and Holly Gerth market Holly. Welcome to family life today thinking you know where this is Mark's first ever interview as it is called life of service and it's just a conversation but you guys were sharing with us as we were getting to know them and by the way they live in Northwest Arkansas. Holly is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author.

She's written a brand-new book that were to talk about sometime later on family life today called the powerful purpose of introverts.

Mark is involved in real estate. They are the parents of a 27-year-old daughter who and here's here's the punchline right in the beginning who you adopted when she was 20.

Okay so let's go all the way back and and the Holly you guys got married and your your goal. Your desire was to have biological kids right yes we thought we know how this works for you and I have kids and were you thinking big family small family did it matter to you to a 30 yes I would. You're thinking that many college college.

At what point in in your marriage did you start to go. I don't know the this is working the way it's supposed to work well. We are about five years in Huntley thought it came time to start a family and month after month, just nothing happened and then about a year and half in. I got pregnant and we lost the baby at six weeks and then we need to skin get pregnant again and that went on for about a decade and so that was not the story that we would have written it was hard and painful. I did a lot of ugly crying in bathroom and has been cut my foot in the world was going on when spraying every time I would drive by a pastor full of pregnant cows.

I would yell at them out the window though it was a hard journey your life and that when you yell out the window the house. I haven't heard that Fred happens in Arkansas. I take it out on the line. Yeah, that's where I found it very hard.

I grew up in Texas you.

You went to the doctors unsure and said what's wrong did they have Holly do they have an answer for you.

Eventually they said probably PC OS which is pretty common, which meant that I likely didn't ovulate, which obviously I did once because I got pregnant, but that was the best they could figure out.

There wasn't anything really conclusive.

We just knew there wasn't a baby coming. So how did you get your mind and heart around like there had to be craving in morning and did you come to a point where you thought okay this is just our story. Yeah, I remember after we had our miscarriage. We went our small group and I thought, I'm not can tell and act like everything's fine. It is going to get through this and it came to prayer request time and I couldn't hold it to cancer and I'd sorta grown up thinking I just had to be fine to make God look good and it wasn't okay to not be okay and that night when I said I'm not okay or not okay this is what's going on.

I sort of waited for the rebukes then you just need to have more faith or whatever was coming and instead they just wrap their arms around us and said we love you and will walk through this with you and not really gave me permission to embrace that the hottest was really painful in heart and so there was a lot of grieving and then over time in a way, I still fully can't explain.

I felt like God started to heal my heart.

In particular, when the I felt like he took me to the third chapter of Genesis where Eve is called the mother of all living and I felt like he said Holly every woman as a mother because every woman breaks life into the world in some way and I was doing that, by birthing box and I even my first big book that came out my small group had at a book shower for me is a site how to not have a baby shower so this book is your baby at something and I wish our and so I sort of thought will maybe that's the ending of our story is that I'm in birth books, but obviously that wasn't a mark when you're sitting there that night at the small group then Holly offers that is a prayer request or you think laws, going over to glad eventually that she did.

She is like a wave of shoulders yeah stuff friends of friends motor close to the inherently carry that burden with you Holly. I want to ask you about in those 10 years, all the people who would come and say so when you guys to start a family or don't you guys know how this works or all that stuff that people are well-meaning when they do it but they don't recognize it's a it's a dagger every time somebody says something like that. Yeah it's hard it's very hard. I had a lot of people say things to me like what in the world. One person said I just needed to quit my job and drop out of grad school. Nine. Be less stress and could have a baby and I want to punch you right now that I came to understand that really what they were saying whatever words I used was I love you and I'm sorry that you're hurting and I hope you get what you really want. And so it was hard. I won't say I never got irritated or frustrated or took something to heart when I probably should've let it go. But over time I came to understand people just don't know what to say and they're trying to say this and they're just really bad job and so that help to look at it through that perspective that takes a lot of grace and maturity on your part. That's the spirit generated response that doesn't come from the flesh no is my flesh again wanted to throw a punch everyone right so you comfort one another during that time was that difficult time for your marriage is difficult to think rationally about us closer together in our Saturday morning breakfasts would talk and stuff like that so is pretty cool that you had that Saturday morning breakfasts you know I mean it sounds like autistic know that was a moment each week where you could connect rights. It's a date night but it's it's a date morning but was that where you process some of that. Yeah, a lot of times we just sit down and say okay you know how are you doing this week. Are you feeling what's going on and how are we gonna get through this together. So did I know a lot of couples this isn't their story and it's totally understandable, but it did feel like we were always on the same team and that if one person was really struggling other person would come to step in and be the support and then we flip so did you talk about adoption in those early years we did but we just never felt like where God was leading us, you know, and I think I even question that a little because on the surface. It's like that such a good thing to do. So many people we know are doing it like why when we just do that but every time we try to go down that path. It just felt like that's not where were supposed to end up at least not the typical way. What about in vitro or any of the other extraordinary measures that can be taken for fertility. Yeah, we did take medication for little bit hopefully help me that after that point again. We just felt like I was saying don't go any further down this road and I just kept thinking about the story of Sarah and Hagar and I just felt like if I go any farther down this road, it's going to be my Hagar and I don't believe that is true for everyone. I think every single family story is different so someone listening chose to go further down that path, and God led you then great.

It just I knew in my heart. We knew in our hearts we felt like were not supposed to pursue this anymore mark the idea that you weren't going to be a biological father. Coming to grips with that reality was that hard for you.

Love is hardest for me as it was for Holly from the micro emotional person was kind of separate or different room and shut the door.

Yeah, but I'm in for her was one order so you were more focused on how do I help her through this journey, then whatever your own level of pain might be yes and Holly for you.

The reality of the this is over. This is not happen was that hard to to embrace and say this is this is my life.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, looking back, it's easy to talk about. It is now been a long time since I was in that place, but in the moment. It was it was heartbreaking and difficult, and it was hard because all my friends were getting pregnant and I felt left behind. I mean you don't think about all the different dimensions that it impacts from your friendships to what you dream about for your future.

And so it was just God bringing me to that place of healing. You know that I talked about that really helped. And then I did like I just had this piece and people would say how are you doing, I'd say I have a peace about it and they look at me like yeah yeah Sunday school answer gets her flannel board and I would say no.

It's the kind of peace that comes after your like I have fought through this thing.

I have the scars to prove it isn't that kind of peace. But God is done something that I could never do on my own. What did your conversation sound like with God. In those days they depend on the day. Yeah. I mean, early on, a lot of times it was like what in the world are you thinking, where are you and a lot why why are you answering other people's prayers and not mine. I was confused about that or am I wrong in my asking for something that's actually I'm not supposed to be asking for. I think a lot of it was just confusion and I think there's a trust underneath. But I also I wasn't afraid to tell God like today on my today.

I'm sad today and completely confused because I just found out another person. Is anyone have a baby and I just sort of processed all those emotions with them and that was a gift, but there was an all-night Sunday school pressured by any means was it ever a crisis of faith. Is there a God, you know there wasn't an I don't want to say to anyone who's listening who's gone through that I that other moments in my life where I've had what it felt like a crisis of faith, but for whatever reason and not journey no. I just felt his presence with us in a way that I can't explain. I felt like the story was still being written. Do you remember a time where you felt like ball weight. I'm content yeah I do. I got to that is like if this is it, then I'm good thing I'm in a keep writing we are birthing businesses together were both entrepreneurs. We are bringing things into the world together were parents just doesn't look like the world tells me that it has to look and I think we would've been okay if that had been at the end I think we would've been okay so tell us how you met the young woman who is today your daughter yet. So one evening I watched like a 2020 special about foster kids who age out of the system and I just thought that is not okay like what you mean they turn 18 and they kick you out and they say have a nice life like who lock these people down the aisle, who's in a rock their babies season help them figure out their careers is really apparent longer as adults. Most the time than we do, even as kids and if this was one of those things I cannot stop thinking about and so people would ask us. Have you thought about adoption and eventually I said yes but if we adopt were adopting a 20 hurl and sell that would make people look at us like we are crazy, but eventually one of my friends. I will do you know about saving grace, and it turned out that there is a transitional living home for foster girls who age out of the system, or would otherwise be homeless being built in our town, so I emailed the founder out of the blue and said I have this crazy dream of adopting a 20-year-old.

She's like I was crazy dream of building this transitional home and so we got together for a conversation. I still remember sitting on these ice chest in this living room that was still under construction.

Just sharing like our God sized dreams and then Mike got busy my posting really took off and was kind of in the back of my mind, but it was several more years and then Becky, the founder invited us to a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of some of the girls and we went and Lavelle, who is now her daughter was there so we met her that night. It wasn't any big deal wasn't like the heavens parted and we knew right away, but all the girls actually got one of my books which I realize other day that title of the book she got was called opening the door to your God sized during class and Lavelle started reading my book and loved it and texted me found my number somehow in that's how it started and I said can we have lunch sometime.

She was like okay so I went over there and had lunch with her and I remember at the end she said you have kids and I give her the short version and she said well you can just be my mom and so that was kind of started. Then she met Mark in over the next few months. It just became clear that she was our daughter. She was supposed to be part of our family tell us her story. So the short version is, she was in and out of foster care.

She was homeless before she went to saving grace.

And she just did not have parents in any kind of real sense and so she like us to kind of been like okay this is my story.

I'm gonna figure out how to make peace with that. She was really just in survival mode.

When we met her, but she always still like we did had that longing inside that maybe this isn't the end of my story. Maybe God is in and do something else and so she's a remarkable young woman, resilient and brave, has a huge heart which you would think after all she'd been through should be in total lockdown, but it just became clear to to all of us that we are supposed be feeling about her faith journey. How did she come to faith. She not been a Christian very long when we met her. She came to faith when she was 18 and so that was a big part of her story to.

She says she became a believer when she was homeless in the backseat of the car where she was sleeping and so yeah she was new to faith relatively new to faith and figuring that out to and so always I like bringing in a marker you like in on this from the very beginning when I saw the guy founder Bernard daughter. I was you know it was like okay Mr. Bruce goes over that I was open to it yet.

I was like as a huge change for we were comfortable were yeah you know comfort you'll always be comfortable. I can think is a is a husband or be part of me going. I kinda like just have an us and not having somebody else to have to share with you real cross, selective rituals to bring growing do and you know we've been blessed and we can share what we have with other people in your Lavelle jumped a long time to be most people and if you guys have conversations like this could be difficult or messy. Well we knew it was enemy difficult in messy because when we first met Lavelle she was a brick wall when it came to letting people in. She had really hardened herself in a way she needed to in order to survive. And so it wasn't just that we met and she instantly lettuce and it took a long time for her to believe that we actually wanted to be in her life. She ran 1/2 marathon. Not long after we met her and we went and we waited for her at the finish line.

We cheered Iran into finished and she was like firing here you like to cheer for you and she's like why, but why not because we want to support you.

But why like she can wrap her mind around.

She's never had that she never had that she never had someone cheering her on. In my I mean, she had still talk about teachers in different people God strategically place in her life so I wouldn't say, not at all, but not people who'd said where here's in this parental kind of capacity potentially and so it took a while for her to let us in, and that was challenging was her moment when you you know you look back. Where will hear here's the day or the moment where it seems like she really does believe and trust us think that happened the one night we were we were in bed. Lavelle will actually spend some time with us and she went down for the short time she was there to come home later run asleep and she spells Mike's on Florence makes rockets and starter.

She thought would kick her out next morning. It's happened or before so having relatives which broker when were baking sheets for capital dishes and stuff so see times or what I thought of to come in our our icemaker is cranky. So did made noise got all her so I went out to check on her just to make sure she was okay and she was on the kitchen floor frozen like I was like what is going on and she thought we would kick her out for something like that because that's what she had experience and I broke my heart because I thought she does.

She still doesn't believe yet that we just love her and then years later a family dinner.

We had this huge casserole dish and you know it's class and if you had them just right. They just shatter and so it's shattered all over that same kitchen floor. It's that we all got down on our knees and we are cleaning up that when it happened. I watched her to see what is she can and do because it felt so similar, and she threw back her head and last I was like where there where there if she can break that pain and not question our love. We have come a long way. At what point did the two of you decide we need to do more than just cheer her on. We need to give her our name and maker part of our family. Yeah it's so strange because it wasn't like a one time thing you know you think it's a black and white yes or no or in or out. We just kept spending time together and it just felt like it happen really naturally and then we decided because she is about to get married, and there are some other complications. We decided changing her name was going to be the next step and so we went to the courthouse and had her last name changed ours and so we called that birthday is August 28 we celebrated every year like a birthday. Our granddaughter was born on birthday so cool, so that was like God saying you thought my timing was off the whole time I had it down to the exact day and I'm thinking birthday is 820 and Romans all things work together for good for those who love God, who are the called according to his purpose. So there's there's that to add into the girth a miracle when she became a girth went when you went to her and said we want to adopt you. What you say. Well, she, you know, it felt very like two-sided you know that we decided together we are going to be a family and so I love that that it was so it's felt mutual. The whole time.

I think that's different when you have a little kiddo. They don't have the capacity as much to engage that when you've got it by now 21-year-old Cieslak I want to do this. Let's cease using you as well yeah and so that was really beautiful to.

It didn't feel like we are rescuing her and if that was the case she was rescuing us at the same time and gleaming. Well, I think that we never saw her as someone like who needed us. I knew she'd be all right.

She's incredibly resilient she would've found a way forward and we would've been all right, but it felt like we chose each other that we chose. Being a family.

How is your life different with her being in your family different more active now it's encouraging you enjoyed endorsement of time.

Sandra Jones and I will be a little careful here because anytime we talked about adoption on family life today.

There can be this romantic heroic. You do this and everybody is happy and they all cheer and they all live happily ever after, but it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes you don't know what is behind the curtain when when you make this choice. It's a painful choice for a lot of parents to make when you make this choice you're saying for better for worse, for richer, for boards almost like a marriage about you women with your eyes open to the fact that there might be some hard moments on the other side of this journey. Yeah, it's interesting that you say marriage vow because we actually finalize the adoption like the new birth certificate. Part this year and we got assigned a random court date and it was our 20th wedding anniversary is like God, you did it again like that's the day both of my people became legally mine forever so so you're daughter was howled on your 20th wedding of 27 okay, I'm just trying to make an apology. Yes it was. It was we had a hard year last year felt like we kinda did her teenage years and last may not. This may but the one before we had a knockdown drag out fight any way to stated interviews about how I'm an introvert and I yelled and pounded the table and said words I don't always say and we finished and I was like I've wrecked this like I've completely wrecked this and she looked at me and she's like I feel so loved and I was like when the war holds that it was like she needed to know I was that engage that like I could be so mad at her and still love her. At the same time because I don't think she'd still ever experience that she had never had that she'd experienced us choosing not to be angry and loving her, but she did not experience mom never gets mad at anything is furious at me and pounding the table and she still loves me, she felt like a true daughter yeah she's like y'all are all in and so that was a turning point for us and that was seven years and almost so it hasn't all been challenging but yes, of course, and if Lavelle were sitting here, she would tell you things that we've done that have made her crazy. You know because you get these people in your life when you're already grown-up and you got your own way of doing things and thinking about things and she's an extreme extrovert, were both introverts every you can't bring a bunch of people together and just expected to all. It's like a crockpot to take some time. Give it time and it is like a marriage to that of linen would be easier I think to walk away. Yeah now she's not my biological daughter were really mad right now, we've now seen the worst side of better and worse and it's not working out. We made a mistake and you said I'm staying but it's I'm staying on. I can be quiet and she said I feel love is beautiful, the whole year. I would pray about it and I would pick sure this tetherball set in my childhood backyard you have, there's the pole enters the ball and I felt like God said just be the pole beautiful, like sometimes she's can be wrapped so tight around you to feel like you cannot breathe sometimes teasing me so far out you know where she is or what she's doing and just be the pole and that's what I did. I told her that she knows that now. On the other side of it that I was supposed to be here pole and so that's that's what we did know there there are two things that I think are your stories remarkable.

Two things that are to take away from me first. Like you said, there are kids everyday aging out of the foster care system with no safety net and we have to think together as the church about how we help and that doesn't mean we got to adopt everybody but it does mean that we have to be. We have to be engaged in this these are human beings in need and it's what Jesus would move us toward.

So I know there are churches.

I know there are programs in cities doing these kinds of transitional houses, churches can help support that individuals can help support that this is something we need to be alert to and need to be drawn to and how you want to say thank you for obeying and listening to the Holy Spirit's knowledge. When you watch the 20/20 segment because I was a Holy Spirit can opening your heart a little bit and sometimes we can shut that door that you are open to walking into it and that's really the second thing that comes to mind as I hear your story is not everybody is called to adopt a 20-year-old what some people may have never thought of that. Yeah, and it may be that I I've talked to people over the years will listen to family life today and they said there was that one program where you guys were talking about this and I've never thought about it and got my heart. I think there are some parts be important right now and some couples were to have some hard conversation.

Some wives are to hold her husband slightly. He's not going elsewhere. What were you listening to today but she's gonna say I wonder if this is something maybe you know that I'm 18 or 19-year-old was out doing life on their own and maybe it's not adoption but maybe it is stepping into their lives and saying working will be the safety net for you will be the pole. That's right. And let you see a different kind of life you now think about having seen what family dinner looks like Intel she had been with us and she would say. Well let me just watch you like me let me in your house and you let me watch you and that it's powerful and I would say for her because I don't want it to sound like it was all us doing the hard work because she has done the hard work of keeping her heart open of making choices like going the saving grace. She is now.

She finished college. She's now getting a Masters degree in counseling. She has taken in an 18-year-old who just aged out of the foster system and is helping her finish high school this year so we have a 19-year-old grantor math is all off in our family that she's paying it forward even and that is her heartbeat if she were sitting here, she would say kids in the foster system and aging out. They just need one person to say you matter I see you I hear you. You have a place in someone's life and that she would say it concerns mentorship just do whatever you can do if you can have a kid every house for dinner once a month, then that's impactful and so just start with whatever is possible and then if God has more he will make that happen, and how make it clear to everyone involved. It felt like we didn't do anything as strange as that sounds, I would say in a way Lavelle would say the same. It felt like we just kept taking the next small step because what does Gary think like if you told me this is your story and how it's going and I would been like what, but now it makes complete sense to me. It feels completely normal to we did this in so someone's listening and it's hesitant I'd say just do the next small step and don't worry about the rest.

God will take quite a good birthday like seriously. Here are the four words that are echoing in my head from the other Romans chapter 12 overcome evil with good. That's what you guys have done. You stepped in with good in the midst of evil circumstances that Lavelle had lived with all her life, and you overcame the evil in her life with the good that you brought bless you guys. Thanks for sharing your story and I will make sure our listeners know on our We have resources available to help you if you're struggling with infertility. There are resources to help you through that.

If you are thinking about adoption. There are resources available for that as well go to family life to and look at the articles the books the links to past family life to programs that you can listen to as podcasts.

Again, our website is family life to a quick reminder we mentioned this earlier today but we are hoping to hear from many of our family life to the listeners during the month of December.

This is a critical month for ministries like ours and we are hoping to take full advantage of a matching gift that's been made available to million-dollar matching gift fund every time you make a donation here in the month of December. Whatever donation you make will be matched dollar for dollar until we get to that $2 million fund. These funds are what will determine what family life is able to do in the year ahead. So if you're a regular family life to a listener and you can make a urine contribution. Maybe you can do a little extra this year.

Since there are some who can't do anything. Think about that.

If you would. And when you make a donation. In addition to your donation being matched. We have a couple of thank you gifts we want to send you my book. Love, like you mean it is one of those gifts, and a flash drive that has more than 100 of the best family like today radio programs of all time will send those out to you upon request.

When you make a donation or when you call one 800 FL today and we look forward to hearing from you and we hope you have a great weekend.

Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend and I hope you can join us on Monday when working to talk to our friend Nancy Guthrie about how God does some of his best work in us and through us when we are completely empty. Got nothing left. I think a lot of us are feeling that way this year especially Hope you can tune in for that I want to thank our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson about the pain. Have a great week and will see you Monday for another edition of family life today. Family life to day is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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