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Dave & Ann Wilson: Parenting Kids When You’re Far From Perfect

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
May 12, 2022 10:00 pm

Dave & Ann Wilson: Parenting Kids When You’re Far From Perfect

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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May 12, 2022 10:00 pm

When it comes to raising kids -- what if perfection isn't the goal? Dave and Ann Wilson dive into the monumental task of parenting kids right here, right now.

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So, the most important job I'll ever have in my life is, guess what, and you too. Being a parent. Yeah, being a mom and a dad.

Yeah. I mean, I just found out after 30 years of leading this church that I can be replaced in a week. I mean, a new guy comes in and he's great and people love him and think, wow, who was the guy that used to be here? But let me tell you something, you can't replace me or you in our home. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. If we were gone and, you know, you got remarried or I did and, you know, our kids had a different dad, it still would never be their dad. It's that critical of a position. And yet, we often don't consider it the most important thing we're doing on our planet. It's so interesting that you say that because that's a weighty conversation that I feel as a parent, like, oh, no, that's true. That role that God has called us to is so important. And then I feel like, and I'm messing it up.

You know? Well, that's why we wrote the book No Perfect Parents, because we weren't perfect. And there aren't any perfect parents. There's only one perfect parent, and it's God. And so, you see, think about what we're trying to do as a parent, trying to raise, as we said earlier, warriors who take our legacy and change the world for good for the kingdom. Real critical passage that we mentioned earlier is Deuteronomy 6, which really lays out, you know, how to do this.

It's really a vision and a mission of what a parent is, but how actually to do it. And we mentioned before that it says, you know, hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

And then listen to this, parents. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise.

And so, you know, we miss this, but it's, we go right to, let's talk about them and let's sit and, you know, drive and talk. It's like, if it's not in us as parents first, you can't pass it on. So we got to start there to inspire parents to say, okay, what's happening to me because whatever's happening to me is going to be passed on to my legacy. And we're going to listen to a message, the second half of a message that we gave together at our church, Kensington.

We went back, we're done at our church now, but we went back just to do this special message on parenting with our parenting book, No Perfect Parents. You know, obviously, the key to this passage is you can't give away what you don't first possess. That's true. As a parent, it's true in any part of your life. But if you're hoping your kids will walk with God and you're not, guess what?

Good luck. That can definitely happen because the percentages are a lot higher if they see a mom and dad live in this. In fact, you want to know something? There's been studies done because a lot of kids that are involved in the church, involved in the youth group in high school, go off to college and walk away from God. In fact, it's a whole growing movement right now of kids walking away from evangelicalism because they grew up in great youth groups, mega churches, and they walk away.

You know what studies have found? The kids that don't walk away, guess what the difference is? Churches have better youth groups, have cooler music, have better speakers. No.

You know what it is? These kids that are involved in those youth groups go home to parents that are actually living it. The home is modeling what the church is teaching them. Those kids tend to stay walking with the Lord when they're adults compared to others. So man, if it isn't an overflow of you in your home, I can't tell you the number of people that have reached out to us on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter and found us and direct messaged us and said our kids have walked away from the faith.

And when you asked them about their walk, they were like, well, we sort of have as well. It's just that important. That's why Moses says these words.

It's like it starts here, impress them on yourself, and then impress them on your home. You're not going to talk and drive and pray and talk about Jesus if it's not in your life. Right. You know, I watched Ann. She'd be driving a car. She'd be like, let's just talk to God right now.

And our kids are in the backseat, and they're drinking a bottle, and she's praying and listening to worship music. It was not like we're trying to get this into our kids. This was the life she and I were living, and it just overflowed into them.

And we didn't do it perfectly. Our kids saw that. They knew it.

They didn't have to confess sin half the time in the car. Yeah. Lord, I'm sorry. There are a lot more than me, too.

You know? Probably. But then I have this thought. And even if you don't have kids, I had this thought. Has God given me anything? Have I spent enough time with God today that I have something to give someone else? Like that thought should happen every day. Like when you read God's Word, like, oh, this is so good.

And when something's so good, what do you want to do? You want to give it away. And so I had that thought like every day.

Did God give me? Of course. And so it says that God's Word is our food.

Have you been eating His food and ingesting what He has to say? Yeah. And so, you know, Ann and I tried to capture certain moments in the day—bedtime, drive time, dinner time. I mean, this sounds crazy. We decided dinner was really important for a family. So we had three boys playing sports. They were crazy.

Sometimes I was coaching over at Adams High School. We wouldn't get home to eight o'clock at night and we'd have dinner at eight o'clock as a family. Or nine o'clock. Sitting down. When they were in high school, it would be nine o'clock sometimes where we would sit down together.

They'd have some big snack, but there was that time just to say, hey, how was your day? What's going on? I think that's huge.

Yeah. I love—we've talked to some friends lately. They've had great ideas like Karen and John Ribbing. They would have one child ask a question every night to the family. Somebody was in charge of asking a question. And she said, sometimes the boys wouldn't be into it. And so they'd say, what's your favorite color?

Because they're just wanting to get over with. But she said that just brought this camaraderie and closeness to the family. And so it's really interesting to understand, obviously, in this training stage where they're still in your house, zero to 12, zero to 15, 16, is who are you and who are they? In other words, who are you as parents?

And then who are they? What has God uniquely made them to be? Because you want to tailor how you train and instruct them based on who they are. So many parents—and we had a temptation to do this—try to make our kids what we want them to be rather than stepping back. And I think every day a parent should step back and go, wow, you are so gifted by God. You're so unique in this way.

And it's totally different than the way we are. And that's a beautiful thing. One of the things we discovered early in our home was that this woman right here is a party animal. This is a joy-bringer laughter. It's just a laugh that brings joy. So we decided—she wrote a chapter in the book.

I think it's the best chapter. She wrote it, Chapter 8, called Make Your Home a Haven. And it was based on, this is who I am as a mom, so we want to create a home that's a magnet. What's a magnet? Joy is a magnet. Whenever you're around people that are happy, you're drawn to them.

It's just the way it is. If it's a fake happy, you're repelled by it. But if it's a real, genuine happiness that's from the heart, you're drawn to it. So she made our home a haven. Well, I love the scripture that says, the joy of the Lord is my strength.

No matter the circumstances, the joy of the Father can live in our hearts. And so—but I was comparing myself a lot as a young mom to Paula Andrews to Callie Nelson. I'm like, look at them.

They're amazing. These are other founders' wives. I think that Lindy was reading the Bible when she was four years old.

I'm like, how is this happening? Our kids were picking their noses and rubbing them under the table. But I remember going to God saying, I don't think I have what it takes for my kids. And I felt like—and I love that Callie said this to me—she said, Ann, I'm confident because God knows who I am and He knows the kids that are going to live under my roof, whether they're biological or not, even our adopted kids. I am supposed to raise those kids, so I have what it takes. And so then the question is, so God, how have you made me and what do you want me to offer our kids? And so joy was—I mean, Dave and I on the Enneagrams, we're both seven, so everything's like a party.

But I think God knew that, maybe knew that our kids needed that. And so, but joy, no matter who you are, your personality, you can bring joy and you can bring yourself into your home to make it a haven. Yeah, and so, again, we're going to go back to our bullseye. So the first word was train, and again, we just skimmed that. But the second word was train and launch. So a key word is launch means you're letting go. You're sending that child to the world toward that bullseye, hopefully to do what?

It's in the rest of our mission statement, which we'll get to. But this is sort of the teenage stage, okay? So it's like 12 up to maybe 17, 18, 19 years old. Or maybe you've got a teenager who's nine right now. They hit teenage years pretty early. But it's like at that stage, what we realize as parents is they're pulling away.

Am I right? They're pulling away. It's when they start saying things in middle school like, Dad, can you drop me off like a mile from school? I don't want anybody to see you with me, you know? And it's like, you're hurt, you're offended.

It's like, why don't you used to want to be around me, but they get to a point where they just want to be without you. Even I remember with your last child, you're trying to hold on and treasure all those moments. Our kids would always beg us, just lay down with me for a little bit before I go to sleep.

And so this one night, I just did that with Cody. I can't even remember how old he was, but I laid down. He goes, what are you doing?

I was laying down with you. He goes, get out of here, Mom. And I was like, I walk out into the hallway and I sit on the floor and I just start crying. Because I know that's part of it, but I also know like, oh, there's these eras that end. And the danger of those teenage years is feeling like they don't need me anymore. And so when they push you away, you just walk away. Can I tell you and remind you, even with teenagers that are grandkids, your teenagers need you to pursue them. They may be pushing you away, but then teenagers are always going back and forth like, I love you. I hate you. I love you. And so don't stop pursuing your teenagers or any of your kids. No matter how old, even your adult kids, don't stop pursuing them. Yeah.

It's really easy. And we've seen parents do this. They're pulling away. You think, oh, they don't want me around anymore, which in some ways they don't. But the truth is what Ann said, they long for still a relationship with you. And when we pull away because they pull away, that relationship tends to end. And so I think you need to be creative to figure out, how can I grab a moment with them? Because when you say, hey, let's go do something, you say, no, I'm going to hang with my buddies. But I remember our oldest CJ was a techie guy and I said, dude, you want to go to Best Buy? I'll buy you something.

He's in the car. It's just they have certain vents and you just want to grab those moments. And I had a tendency as well, when they started to pull away, to pull away. This is the time when we split it in the book. We said, parents of teenagers, pursue, pursue, pursue.

You've got to pursue them. I just talked to our granddaughter yesterday and she said, oh, I had my date with my dad today. And she said, we went to this restaurant and she said, and I could tell like it was one of the greatest things that she had done in a long time. We interviewed this guy who wrote a book, what's it called, Donuts, Donut Dates. And he said that every time he'd go out with his kids, he'd have a little date with his kids and he would take a journal and he would ask them questions. And every time the kids would give him an answer, he'd write it in their journal, this journal that he had. And now his kids are adults and this daughter said, when he would pull out his red journal and he'd write down what I'd say, I thought, I must be the most important person on the planet.

Isn't that sweet? Just that your dad would write down what you said. And all I got to say is, it's really easy to pull away the teenage years, pursue, pursue, pursue.

Because here's the truth. We put it in the book and we heard this decades ago before we were parents. Rules without relationship equals rebellion. If all you're doing is giving your teenagers rules and there's no relationship that you're pursuing and developing, it can lead to, I'm not going to be your rules because there's no relationship. It's just a dad or a mom giving me a bunch of rules.

Number one complaint of teenagers about their parents is they don't listen. And guess what? They're right. We don't. We just tell them.

And then the third one was model, model, model. Because what you say is not what they're going to do. What you do is what they're going to follow. So if you're not living it, guess what?

You got to be model. And so again, the teenagers, we just flew by them real quick. But they are, I think they were our favorite stage. They really were. It was.

But I have to give you this example. We had this, this is the beginning of Kensington. We had this big ice skating party we were going to. And it was like 25 friends of ours.

All the kids were there ice skating. And then we came inside to do a big potluck. So we come inside.

And our kids were 14, 12, and 9. Yeah. And so we're coming in the house and we're about to pray. And everybody's jammed in this house and all the food's laid out. And there's quiet because the prayer is starting.

And suddenly you hear someone say, this food looks like crap. And it's our son. It's our son that said it.

Our teenage son. I was like, you know, and I give him like this. I'm shocked. And I'm giving this evil eye like, oh, you are so dead.

But you're embarrassed because like, oh, we're the, it's the pastor's kid, of course. And so then the night goes on and we're leaving to go outside. And I said, hey, hon, can you put Cody on your back?

Because he only brought his ice skates. Can you carry him out to the car? And again, the room is quiet suddenly. And he says, I have to do everything in this family. And so I'm like, is that a teenager?

Oh my gosh. So we're going out to the car and, you know, as a mom, I am like right behind him, right on his heels. Like that was so disrespectful.

That was so rude. That was, you know, because I'm embarrassed of how it made us look. So we get to the car and he's bending down and he's trying to put Cody in the car. And I noticed this big snowdrift right here and I'm still like talking to him and he's kind of off balance. And I go forward and I just push him, nudge him with my shoulder and he falls in this snowbank. And then I get in the car and I lock all the doors to the car and he's banging on the car. He's like, let me in. I'm like, you don't deserve a ride home. And that's when Pastor Dave walks up to the car. He goes, what's going on? What is happening right now? And so then as a parent, you go through that and then I'm crying because I'm like, I am the worst parent.

And I turned to Dave. I said, I will never speak at Kensington in my life or do anything on parenting again. So that's just to show you.

So here we are, right? That's why it's called No Perfect Parents because we're not perfect parents. But I mean, those are the reality days of almost every day as a parent, especially of teenagers. But I will add one little thing and none of this is in the notes because it hit me Monday at Disney World. Monday morning we were on the Today Show and then we drove over with our grandson Cody and Jenna and Bryce and Autumn and went to Disney World.

He only knows Mickey Mouse so we went to Magic Kingdom and walked around there. And I'm just thinking the power of our words as parents, Proverbs 18 21 says, life and death is in the power of the tongue. You can speak life. You can speak death. We all know the reality of that.

We've heard death words maybe 30 years ago we've never forgotten. I was walking beside a dad in Disney World and he's got a 10-year-old maybe with him who obviously is frustrating him at this moment. I hear this dad say to his kid, I'm going to put a for sale sign around your neck and sell you right now. And I wanted to grab him and go, dude, the guy's going to go to counseling the rest of his life. What are you doing? You know, I didn't want to do it. Hey, we're just on the Today Show. I'm an author.

Let me. I was with another mom and she turns to her kids. She has two sons who are like 11 and 10 and she goes, you guys are the reason I have to drink every single night. I know we're all frustrated. We all feel the same things. But man, we need to guard our words. We're out of time. We're out of time.

I want to hit this last part really importantly because it's so critical. And you've got to decide what your bullseye is. But we decided to train and launch Let Them Go. And by the way, parents, you've got to let them go.

If you're still parenting them when they're 25 and 30 years old, and I understand there's different circumstances, they're adults. They have to go. And that is our job. Let them go. That doesn't mean we don't love them and be involved in their life. Anyway, that's a whole other thing.

But we said we're trying to train and launch L3 Warriors. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson on family life today. We'll get back to their message in just a minute. But first, I wanted to let you know about how you as just one family can make a difference. There is a community of people called family life partners who believe in our message and give financially every month. And thanks to really some generous champions who have come alongside us right now, if you sign up to give monthly, you not only will receive all the benefits of our partner program, but your donation will be matched dollar for dollar for the next 12 months to help strengthen families and their relationship with God and each other. That means if you give $25 a month, the impact is actually 50 a month.

If you give 50, it becomes 100 the math is very simple on this. So on top of that, when you give all this month as our thanks to you, we'll send you a bundle of resources including two books, one by Gary Thomas called lifelong love, and then one by Kristin Clark and Bethany Beal called not part of the plan. So become a monthly partner, have your gift doubled for a year, impact families for the glory of Jesus, and get a bundle of books.

Sounds pretty great to me. You can give right now at or by calling 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to Dave and Anne. When we look at what Jesus was trying to raise as a disciple, what does a disciple of God or Christ look like? We thought it really boiled down to, and there's much more than this, but three sort of core values. In fact, Jesus was once asked, what's the most important commandment?

Remember this teacher? And he said, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. He was quoting Deuteronomy 6 that we just talked about. And then he added, and to love your neighbor as yourself. So we decided the first core value of a disciple at Kensington was that they would love God and others. That's the first L, love God and others. The second one is that we are called to do life in community.

So we called that lock arms in community. Like, man, if you're a follower of Christ, you're going to love God and others. You can't do that alone. You can't do it in isolation. You've got to get connected with other people. That's why small groups here are critical. This is not a small group.

This doesn't work. One hour on Sunday is not going to change your life. But if you do life with other people, lock arms in community, that's going to change your life. And then the third L was live open-handedly. What's that mean? It's like we take our time, our talent, and our treasures that God has blessed us with. We don't hold on to them selfishly. We live open-handedly. We don't do this.

We do this. God wants us to use our time to bless others. God wants us to use our gifts to bless others.

God wants us to actually give our money away to the kingdom. So that's live open-handedly. So we decided as young parents, man, if our three boys, when they are men, love God and others, are locking arms in community and living open-handedly, we've succeeded. And by the way, don't judge how you did as a parent when they're teenagers. Don't evaluate when they're 20. I used to say, you know, evaluate when they're 25.

Now I have a 35-year-old, so I say evaluate when they're 36. But it's like, you don't do that. They're awesome. But it's like, you know, that was our target. I'm not saying that should be your target, but we decided, man, we've got to have something that we're trying. So here's the thing.

If you know what your target or bullseye is, then you step back from that and say, if that's what we're trying to hit, there's a strategy, there's an aim that helps us get there. And by the way, if we want our children to love God and others, we've got to expose them to others they don't even like. Mission trips and going to places in our own community that people look and act differently than us. We keep our kids away from that.

No, we need to do it. Ann went down to Detroit and picked up a drunk lady one day. I mean, there's so many stories of the things she did as a parent strategically to say, we need to, and I remember taking our kids on mission trips and they come back and they're like, nobody in the world lives like us.

I'm like, thank you. You finally realized not everybody even has a glass of water a day. It's just things like that expose your kids to help them, hopefully, and again, there's no guarantees. This doesn't mean, oh, we do this little thing, we get Dave and Ann's book. No, you just basically, the biggest thing I would say is get on your knees and pray and pray and pray.

And that's how I was going to end. I think one of the greatest things that Dave has done as a man and as a father and as a husband is he has taken every single Friday and fasted for our kids, starting it when CJ was born. So for 35 years, every Friday, he has fasted for our kids, their wives, our grandkids, our marriage, and sometimes you do that and you think, does God here, does this work? And I look at our lives, we have messed up so much, but the thing that we have seen is God's faithfulness in the midst of even the hard stuff. And I think so much of that has been like our pleas and our cries to God of being on our knees before him saying, God, we can't do it apart from you. And we don't want to do it apart from you because you're our source of life, you're a source of strength, and you're our hope. Our kids can't do it apart from him either. We're living in a culture that without God, it's scary.

And we can impact our culture through our own lives, through our walk with God by the light and the love that Jesus gives and the power that lives within us through his spirit. And as you can imagine, we've had really difficult, hard conversations with our adult kids about how we raise them. All this stuff sounds great. And then when you're a Wilson boy and you're raised in a home with this, there are some things we really missed. I really missed and made some big mistakes. In fact, the last chapter of the book is my top five parenting mistakes, hoping that parents will read it and not do what I did. And I've had hard conversations with my sons about where I blew it and let them down. So we're not sitting here acting like we are nowhere near perfect and our kids aren't and our family isn't. And we would also say, it's never too late. It's never too late to begin saying to our kids like, guys, I messed up or I have been messing up or I haven't seen you, I've been on my phone, I've been whatever. I need to start again and can you forgive me? Those are great words to say.

The rest of that mission statement was basically this, train and launch L3 warriors. All we're going to say is, we're in a spiritual battle. There's a war going on for our kids.

It's not physical. It's spiritual. And that's why I was on my knees, and we're on our knees still, who make a dent where they're sent.

And that was just this simple thought. Your legacy, and we're all leaving a legacy, single, parents, we're all leaving a legacy. The question is, what kind of legacy? And are we being intentional about that legacy?

And that's where they can make a dent wherever God takes them, wherever God sends them is they're going to make an impact. Some of you might remember this, and I'll close with this, that I was talking to a woman years ago about her legacy, and she was pretty excited to tell me about getting married in the 40s and having what she called four jacks and a queen, which meant four sons and a daughter. And her husband was an airline pilot, and they built this big home, a mansion in New York, New Jersey that looked in the city of New York as he flew out of New York. And she's telling me this great story, and then she said about year 25, it all ended.

I'm like, what do you mean? She goes, I started to suspect that my husband now, a captain with the airlines, was having an affair. And this was back in the late 50s, early 60s, so there's no way like surveillance cameras, she just made a phone call to the hotel where Captain Ralph often laid over on his trips to find out if she could find out if he's actually having an affair. And the woman that answered the phone, the hotel receptionist, said, yeah, Captain Ralph just checked in, he just went to his room with his wife, not knowing she was talking to his wife. And so when he came home, this woman, Janiece, confronted him only to find out this was one of many affairs. They ended up divorced in the early 60s when divorce was not that common. They moved to where her parents lived, because now she's a single mom with a seven-year-old boy and a five-and-a-half-year-old boy. And then she tells me that several months after the move, they find out the little youngest boy has leukemia and he dies.

And she's in tears, and I'm in tears. Because many of you know, some of you don't, Janiece was my mom. Captain Ralph was my dad. I was the seven-year-old boy that moved to Findlay, Ohio with my mom to be near her parents. And that was my legacy. And so I grew up with no dad and I become a dad, right? When Anne and I get married, I have boys. And I'm literally looking at that crib saying, I have no idea what to do. And you've never seen it.

And I've never seen it. And here's all I can tell you, God is the God of resurrection. He raises people from the dead. He raises His son from the dead. He raised our marriage from death. He can create a new legacy for you. I mean, what God has enabled us to do, and again, it's not perfect, but man, it is a different legacy.

The Wilson name carries a different value than what was handed to me. And I don't know what your legacy is. If it's a great one, continue it.

If it's not a great one, change it because you can make a difference. And some of you said, I've blown it so many times. I can't. Today's your day to start over. Right here, right now, you commit and you surrender and say, God, I can't do this.

And He goes, I know you can, but I can. Give me a chance and I will do something in you you could never do and it will impact the world. Father God, thank you for who you are. And Lord Jesus, I pray for the parents and the influencers.

And we all, in some ways, can influence somebody. So I pray, Lord Jesus, that you would do in us and through us something that glorifies you. Bring glory back to your name. And Lord, for parents that are really struggling right now, God, I pray for your comfort and your peace. And I pray for other families and parents to come alongside and walk together, lock arms together to follow you. And Father, I pray too for the single parents that are doing this alone. It's so hard and they're weary. I pray that you would provide and that you would make your presence so known to them that you're parenting alongside of them.

And those that are blended, Lord, they're just like trying to put these two families together. Will you give them wisdom and strength and perseverance to follow you, to trust you and to lay their lives and their families, all of us, in your hands? We love you so much and we pray in your name, Amen. We've been listening to a message that Ann and I gave at Kensington Church about our book, No Perfect Parents. Even listening to that now is just, it's almost emotional to think God has enabled us to change a legacy. I agree. And again, it's not perfect.

We would never say that, but to do the best we could with God's help to send warriors to the world, to take the gospel, to change the world. I'll never forget the first time we listened to Dennis and Barbara Rainey at our staff training for CREW, talking about what a godly marriage and legacy could look like. And I had never heard anything like it. And I just recall desiring that, like, I want that.

I want everything they're talking about. And it's amazing to me, especially coming from where we've come from in our past, no Christian upbringing, that God has been so gracious to answer those prayers. Yeah. And I would say to you, don't give up. And it's never too late. It's never too late. Get on your knees right now and ask God to do what he does.

We said it there. He resurrects dead things and he can do immeasurably more than anything you and I imagine or dream according to the power that is at work within us. That power is the power of God, the power of Jesus. The Holy Spirit can do a miracle and some of you want a miracle, ask him to work and change you and change your legacy.

He can and will do it. That's David Ann Wilson on Family Life Today. Now, if you know anyone who needs to hear today's message, you can share it from wherever you get your podcasts. And while you're there, it'd really help get the word out about family life today if you'd rate and review us. Now, coming up next week, Dave and Ann are going to be talking with Gary Thomas about how to have lasting intimacy, friendship and purpose in your marriage. And they'll also be talking with Jim Burns about how to live a life with serious fun and making each day count. Sounds good to me. I hope you have a great weekend where you're able to worship in your local church. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-19 07:14:46 / 2023-04-19 07:29:32 / 15

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