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Fueling Motherhood Through Spiritual Discipline

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 17, 2023 2:00 am

Fueling Motherhood Through Spiritual Discipline

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 17, 2023 2:00 am

As a mom of seven, Heidi St. John explains why you as a mom need to stay spiritually disciplined in your relationship with the Lord. She looks at ways to place your confidence in God, especially when you just want to give up on parenting. She discusses how you can be more intentional in your mothering and why it’s best to press into God’s love, grace, and mercy. With relatable stories, practical tips, and inspiring encouragement, you’ll be motivated to connect with God on a daily basis.


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When his wife became pregnant with their fourth child, Greg panicked, but a Focus on the Family counselor put everything into perspective. He said, the first thing you need to realize is kids are a blessing. They're all a blessing. They're gifts from God. The second thing he said was kids value relationships, not stuff. I'm Jim Daly. Let's give more families hope.

Any gift you send will be doubled at slash gift. Moms need to know that every day is a new opportunity for God to show His grace and His mercy, and it's everywhere. It's everywhere. Have you had a win today? Thank the Lord for it. Are you struggling? Are you discouraged? Turn on the praise music and let the lover of your soul actually love your soul, that part of you that's going to live forever.

We need to be able to feel how near he is. Well, that's Heidi St. John, and she joins us today on Focus on the Family. Thank you for being along. I'm John Fuller, and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. Let me say, moms that are listening and watching, we see you. You are doing such an important job in raising that next generation. You don't get enough credit.

You don't get a big paycheck. But I think it is the most important contribution that any human being, I don't care what gender you are, that you're making. And I think we need to support you as best as we can. And we're going to do that today to talk about Moms Strong. I love the movements that are occurring in the U.S. right now. You see these mama bears stepping up saying, no way, you're not going to do this to my children.

Hopefully dads are coming alongside now and saying, yeah, I'm with her. But it seems to be growing. You know, people are finally kind of putting their foot down saying we're done. Enough is enough.

Whether it's public school or just about any facet of the culture right now, they are pushing far too far. And finally, people are responding and we're saying no. Well, we have a lot of encouragement for you in the day to day work as a mom that you do. And we've got Heidi St. John with us here to help us. She's known as the busy mom and she is a busy person. She's offering reassurance and hope. Heidi runs Moms Strong International, which is an online ministry for women. And she and her husband Jay have seven children, four grandchildren, and she's a popular speaker and author. And her book, Moms Strong 365, a daily devotional to encourage and empower everyday moms is the basis for our conversation. Get a copy from us here at the ministry.

The details are in the show notes. Heidi, welcome to Focus. Well, hey, it's nice to be back.

Yeah, it's always good to talk with you. You've been a mom, like I'm really telling you this, you've been a mom for a little while and you have created this ministry Moms Strong. What does it mean to be Moms Strong? You know, I think we're looking at a different generation of mothers and they are being asked questions that previous generations weren't being asked.

What's an example of that? So we didn't realize, so my oldest daughter's in her 30s now and I have a, my youngest is 12, so we're still like kind of in the 30 to 12. That's quite a spread of age.

Yes, it is. Jay and I are coming up on our 34th anniversary here. But I am raising my 12 year old daughter in a much different world than I raised my 31 year old, 32 year old daughters in. I'm having to answer questions from her that I would have never even considered asking when our 30 year olds were in our home. And so I think a lot of moms feel blindsided by it.

They feel like they're having a hard time answering the questions. And so I like to point moms back to truth. The truth never changes, right? The Bible says that the grass will wither and the flower will fade, but the word of God will stand forever. And so I want to point moms back to the word of God to say, listen, the shifting sand of the culture, and we feel it now, it's hard to maintain your balance in it.

That may be happening, but God's word is an anchor and we can hold on to it. And so I'm pointing moms back to the truth every day and we're tackling really tough questions. The questions that the culture asking, we're talking about sex and gender. We're talking about what it means to raise children in a culture that has largely abandoned the Judeo-Christian values that the country was founded on.

And I think as these moms are entering into the culture right now in the midst of really is a hurricane, a cultural hurricane. I am trying to study them by saying, hey, the Bible remains the same. God remains the same.

Jesus still says peace be still. You know, you think of that mom strong idea. I like the idea in the book. You tell your good, bad and ugly stories, which are really great. You had a morning back when it was feeling like, oh, yeah, mom's strong. Right. But you had had a late night with the kids. You didn't want to get up when you got up. The kids were arguing. Something happened that morning.

What what happened? I think I realized that I had gotten up and done the one thing I'm always telling moms. I had refused to do the one thing that I always tell moms to do, which is start your day if you can ahead of your children.

Right. And so I know for the mom who's listening to this right now, who has a newborn baby and she's been up all night. Just plug your ears because I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to the mom who has had you know, she doesn't have a nursing or an infant that she's taking care of in the middle of the night. But you wake up in the morning and I feel like, you know, as a homeschool mom, especially, you know, I'm telling you what?

My feet hit the floor in the morning and I'm all crockpots in curriculum until my husband comes home from work. And if I don't spend just a little bit of time centering my own soul, we can get what I call soul burn. It's like, you know, moms tend to send their kids out to the pool and they slather sunscreen on everybody but themselves. And then who ends up getting burned?

It's the mom who does. Because right. I remember to put sunscreen on the five little kids.

But then I went out to watch them by the pool and forgot I need sunscreen also. And the word of God is like sunscreen for your day. Right.

The word of God is what centers us. It's what. And I like to tell the Lord, you know, Father, I don't know what's going to happen today. But I can already tell you I'm frustrated. I'm discouraged. I'm pretty angry.

It's eight o'clock in the morning and my kids are fighting and they just spilled, you know, fruit loops all over the floor for the third morning in a row after I said, please don't open that until I come downstairs. And the Lord says, peace be still. I feel like for me, it's been a reminder every day. And I'm always amazed at how God speaks to my heart.

And he wants to do that. I mean, you guys have had this experience, right, where you read a passage that you've read before, but God shows you something new about it. The Bible says that it's living. Right.

It's active, sharper than any two edged sword. And so we can open the Bible and say, Father, point my heart in the right direction. That's why I wrote a three hundred sixty five day devotional.

It's just five minutes with the Lord in the morning to say, hey, Father, put my heart on the right track. Because I know my kids are going to try to derail me. I thought you said to you, put the fruit loops higher up in the cupboard. I didn't say that. I just wasn't listening. That's funny. You walked into motherhood thinking your confidence was pretty high, maybe unshakable.

What changed that? Kids. Right. You manage marriage pretty well. You kind of pat yourself on the back. We're doing a good job. And then kids come along.

You're going, what has happened to me? Each one of our kids are different, right? It's so easy to read a parenting book and think, oh, if I just follow this, this, this and this and my kid will turn out like this. And the angels will sing.

Yes. But we know because we've raised a lot of children between the three of us and they're grown now, most of them. And we recognize that what worked for child number one may not work for child number three. And I started asking the Lord when our fifth child arrived, I started asking the Lord to help me understand the currency of each of my children. And so I would be able to speak to that child, whether it was a correction that was necessary or speaking love to that child. I want to be able to speak in a way that they can hear me because I can speak in the same tone of voice to my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter is not going to understand different personalities and it's OK. Yeah. And I think motherhood.

I love to tell moms, listen, if mother hasn't driven you to your knees yet, you're doing it wrong. You know, because it's meant to I think it's sanctifying. Right. God's using these beautiful children that he gives us that really belong to him. And he said, I'm going to loan these children to you for a while and you're going to get to teach them and train them. And while we teach and train our children, the Lord of Heaven's armies wants to teach and train us.

Yeah. Motherhood is what I think God uses to show us where we're weak and then come back to him and say, all right, wow. You know, I love to tell moms who are on the precipice of homeschooling, you want to find out how completely wicked you are?

Homeschool your children. You know, you're going to know inside of five minutes. How patient you are, how much joy you have.

That's right. And then you go back to then you go back to the word. Where do we get our strength? The joy of the Lord is our strength. And it doesn't mean I mean, I certainly don't want to come across as I've never had a bad day. And if anybody's written or read anything that I've ever written, they know that I'm very honest about my struggles as a mother, particularly when it came to anxiety. I came into motherhood with a lot of anxiety because of childhood trauma and all kinds of things. And I really had to learn to set my expectation of motherhood aside and ask the Lord to write the story.

Well, and I hear that, but that was the next question I was going to ask you, because so many moms particularly struggle between that confidence in the Lord, the right thing to do, fear not, be anxious for nothing, all those right scriptures. But they're anxious. They fear quite a bit. They catastrophize something. They take it to the nth degree.

You know, he didn't come home at curfew. He's going to be an ax murderer, captain anxiety, able to leap to the worst conclusion in a single bound. Yeah, I think that is a unique characteristic to some women. I'm sure some fathers have that as well, but I really have seen it in moms. So describe that and how how does a mom unwind that to have that confidence in the Lord and to trust that, you know, her kids are actually in his hands? Well, I think it's important to say, I think we're going to struggle with that until we go to heaven. And it's OK. And it's OK.

It's OK. The disciples, right, in the midst of a storm, they have Jesus on the boat with them. Sleeping. And he's asleep because he trusts, he understands, right? He's like, listen, this is in the Lord's hands. And so I think it's OK to say, Lord, bring your worry to the Lord. You know, when our first daughter went off to college, I was like, oh, for goodness sake, you know, what's going to happen?

When when the kids start dating and they start they bring home the guy that you're like, oh, no, no, no, no. I was praying, but I don't think I was praying for that one. I don't think so. You know, I think we recognize that the struggle is common to man. Right. And that we're going to struggle with it until we go to heaven and to continue to go back to the Lord.

I think moms tend to beat themselves up. Well, I thought I would have a handle on this by now. But I think as we mature, at least this has been true in my life, as we mature, we start to realize how little control we had in the first place. You know, and the whole time from the moment that that baby was conceived until that child leaves home and until the child goes home to be with the Lord. Really, they belong to the Lord.

And so it's a constant surrender, isn't it? Heidi, you had a funny story in the book and the stories are good because moms listening can relate to these. You I think you were frustrated about the dinner table and you decided, you know, I'm going to create something different.

Play a little jazz music in the background, give the kids some stimulus. And it didn't go so well. And you ran out of the house and sat in the car, if I remember. Fill in the blanks on that.

What was going on? Well, I think in, you know, every mom has an ideal in her head of what she wants the day to go like. Or maybe we have an idea of what it's going to look like to raise our children. And for our family, sitting around the dinner table was very, very important because we're pulled in 100 different directions. And Jay and I, my husband's a musician, a very gifted guitar player. In fact, when I met him, he was in a Christian rock and roll band. So music in our family is very important. And how did your mom and dad feel about that? Oh, man, you know, my mom was like, go with that guy.

He's he's the best one you brought home so far. She was right. So we have a high we place a high value on dinner and music in our home. And so I lit candles that night. I thought we're going to have a fantastic evening. I made something different. And I sit everybody down. There's probably I think we had six kids at the time.

We sit down around the dinner table and the first one takes a bite goes, I don't like it, which of course is a chain reaction. And I think I'm sitting there thinking, listen, Linda, I just spent, you know, six hours of my day, I've dimmed the lights, the candles are lit. My husband was trying to encourage me because I think he could tell at that point, like, oh, dear, there's about to be Mount Vesuvius, bad things are going to happen.

Expectations on that. That's really I mean, you just nailed it, Jen. It was the expectation rate that I had that everything was going to go fine. And I did what I often did when this happened. I went out in the car and just, you know, just sat there.

Just try to let the voices in my head stop talking to me. And my husband in later on that evening was like, Heidi, where do you think we went wrong? And I was like having children. That's what we went wrong when we had children.

And we had this opportunity to just talk it out and realize that the expectation that I had for the evening wasn't necessarily a realistic expectation. But what I felt the worst about that evening was I had blown up at my children. And I don't think there's a mom on the planet that can't relate to that. You know, I blew up at my kids. I can't remember what I said, but I'm sure I couldn't write it in a book. And I remember just feeling so defeated that night and my husband coming back to me and saying, hey, let's start over again tomorrow. And I think moms need to hear that.

It's OK. Right. You know, I look back at my children and they're growing up now. And what I find so fascinating about the whole thing is a lot of those things they don't actually remember.

Grace covers so much of it. And I've become the butt of a lot of jokes at our Thanksgiving table now. There was the time that I spanked the wrong child and now they all laugh about it. Thanksgiving, you know, pass the turkey. Remember when mom spanked summer and it was really Sydney?

And I'm like, wait, you know, I'm looking at my kids. I don't know how you wiggled out of that one. Well, it's just so fun to watch because the Lord's redeeming it. Yeah.

Right. All of those mistakes, all those bad days. That's why I tell moms a bad day doesn't make a bad mom.

Keep coming back. God's got good things for you. But in a practical way, that recalibrating for the mom. I like that idea.

Your husband did a great job. Let's just start over tomorrow. That's good.

But are there some more practical ways for her to catch herself emotionally before she beats herself up too much? Well, I think we've got to talk about what's happening. For me, friendships were really important. You've got to have a friend, a girlfriend. You've got to have a friend that you can call up and say, hey, listen, you know, I need a mocha with sprinkles. Do boys normally act this way? That was at home called Jean, maybe.

Is this really the way boys behave? Call a friend. You've got to have that phone a friend. I am a huge fan and I'm going to just keep saying it. We have to be real about the ups and downs of the journey, because I think if we're not real, then the expectations continue not to be met. Moms tend to spiral into depression and discouragement. She feels like, hey, I'm alone in this. But if you're just honest and say, hey, you know what? Dinnertime didn't go very well today. I screamed at my kids. I'm having a hard time in my marriage.

Whatever it is, you're going to find very quickly that there are other women who are going to come alongside you and say, hey, I've been there too. Yeah. I like the concept as you've been talking. I'm just thinking of a graph. You know, so many things we graph. The stock market, as an example.

You don't expect hitting it every day. What you want to see is a general trend upward. And then what becomes important is what's the goal?

So with our children, I mean, it's to raise them in a healthy spiritual environment to maturity so they can manage the tears of this world and the enemy. And if that's your graph, you're going to have a bad day. So you're going to see a market slump on that day. You're going to lose 300 points. Yeah. But hopefully 100 points, hopefully over 18 years, you're seeing that graph continue to go up into that healthy zone. I like that concept because, again, you can you can swirl out on a bad day.

A single bad day defines who you are. And I don't think that's what the Lord intends at all. No, it isn't. And I think it's important for parents to know. I think both moms and dads need to understand this. When you blow it with your kids, go back and make it right.

Yeah. When you say the thing that you wish you hadn't said, when you compare your child for the 400th time to the sibling, that is easier maybe than that child is. Never.

Never. We want to go back and make it right. And I think sometimes in the apology, in the going back, there's actually more work that is done to strengthen the relationship than would have happened if you had not made the mistake in the first place and gone back and corrected it. There's years ago when I think we had six, I was probably our sixth baby, brand new one. And the kids have the whole youth group over because I was like, absolutely have the youth group. I can do it all. Well, I couldn't do it all. And I'd asked the kids to be quiet, which was a really stupid request of a bunch of 15 and 16-year-old kids who were making cookies in the kitchen. And after the third time of going out into the kitchen and telling those kids to be quiet, I lost my cool in front of everybody.

And I mean, I'm the leader of the homeschool cooperative, the whole thing. And I was just like, get out of my kitchen. You know, the baby's asleep and the whole thing. And I went back and got in bed and Jay was like, how'd that go for you? Be quiet.

We don't want to talk about it. And I just heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit go down and make it right. If you're going to yell at your kid in front of their friends, you need to go down and make it right in front of their friends. And so, man, I put my bathrobe back on. I took my towel between my legs and I walked downstairs and knocked on the door. And I said, hey, Savannah, open the door. You know, she now they've hidden like in the reaches of the house.

You know, get away from the crazy mother. I looked at all those kids. I was like, hey, can we just keep this between ourselves? You know, they're like, oh, sure, sure. Mrs. St. John will absolutely do that. And I looked at Savannah and I said, listen, when I was a young mom, I thought, you know, the highest aspiration I had was that you would have all your friends over here and the youth group would come over.

And we'd have a ping pong table and air hockey and everyone would want to hang out at our house. I didn't realize I was going to get older and get cranky and get tired. And I said, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I embarrassed you. I'm sorry. This is in front of her in front of her friends. I said, I'm sorry.

I apologize. Looked at my 13 year old who's like, you know, 13. The world is coming in around her. I said the same thing to her. And then I looked across the room and one of their best friends was sitting on the floor and she was crying.

The 16 year old girl, one of seven homeschooled kid whose parents are in the middle of a divorce. And now I just feel like garbage because I'm like, I made this kid cry. So I went over there and I said, sweetheart, please. I am so sorry, except please accept my apology. And she said, oh, she said, Aunt Heidi, you don't understand. I would give anything to hear my mom apologize just one time.

Wow. And I'll tell you, in that moment, I knew why the Lord had asked me to go down and apologize and make it right. She need to hear it as much as my own children did. And so moms need to understand God will use your failures. He'll use everything. We bring it to him. And our heart is to say, Lord, I want to follow you.

It's amazing what God will do. It's such a tender story, really. I remember apologizing to Trent. He's probably like five or six. And he was in the bunk bed and he, of course, was the oldest.

So he had the top bunk. Yeah. So we were kind of eyeball to eyeball. And I said, I just, you know, Trent, I want to say I'm sorry. I didn't manage that well.

And he smiled and looked at me and I'm going, OK, what's coming? He goes, I didn't know parents had to apologize this week. I said, of course we do. We make mistakes just like you're modeling that for him. Hey, Romans 12 to tells us to not be conformed to this world. It's a great scripture referenced frequently.

What are some ways moms can stay true to that and embrace that? Well, I just wonder what's I mean, it's easier to think of it the opposite way right now, because there are so many ways that we are conforming to the world. Right. And again, guilt. Yeah, it's really true. And I think, you know, always coming back, we want to model the savior.

Right. So how did he walk on this earth? How did he treat the center?

You know, what did he say to the women at the well? And I think we recognize that God wants to extend forgiveness to us. And I want our kids to see him that way because they're going to make mistakes. And so I think one thing that we want to do as mothers and as fathers, too.

I mean, I know there's going to be dads listening to this, too. And I think it's so important to pray for your kids by name. Pray for your children. Ask the Lord. Each one of our children is different. I'll tell you what, my prayer times are getting longer and longer because my kids are getting married now. Right. So I've got, you know, in-laws and I've got grandchildren and to say, Lord, I'm going to lay Savannah before you today.

And her husband, Ryan and Noah and Wesley and Juniper and Thatcher helped them to be successful today in raising these children to love and follow you. And we're constantly taking it back to the Lord because it's so easy. The enemy likes to come in like a thief. And the first place he does, it's the battle of the mind. Right.

That's where these seeds are planted. And so we ask the Lord, Lord, help my mind be conformed to your heart for me. So if I make a mistake today, I want to hear your forgiveness. I want to hear your conviction, the gentle conviction of the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that there's a very big difference between the enemy and the voice of the Holy Spirit when we sin, because we all sin.

Right. But the enemy, that voice of conviction will always push you down. Look what a mess up you are. Wow, you screwed up today. You're never going to fix that. Your kids are never going to forgive you.

You said this, but you did that. Accusatory, that's the accuser of our souls, right? The accuser of the brethren, which is the enemy. But the voice of the Holy Spirit, just like what I was just saying when I yelled at those kids and the Lord said, go down and apologize. The voice of the Holy Spirit will lift us up. That's the voice we want to listen to. If you're listening to a voice that's pushing you down, that's the accuser. The voice of the Holy Spirit is a strong voice, but it's a gentle voice. And he's going to say, I love you.

Walk with me. You can do better than this. Right. It's the same way that we want to parent our children. That's the way the Holy Spirit parents us.

Yeah. Heidi, you mentioned your childhood. I'm sure that brings a lot to bear on your feelings of insecurity, especially getting married. The first child.

Can I be enough? I had a similar orphan kind of background. So being a dad for the first time, I had all those insecurities, too. But in that context, and I think, again, I don't mean to be stereotypical here, but so many women struggle with knowing the love of God for them. They always look to themselves first. Men, we have too big of an ego.

We point to the other person. You know, that's his problem. But women have an incredible capacity to say, what did I do wrong?

How come my child is doing this? It must be me. Fathers go, it must be you. You don't look at ourselves. And that's our problem. But speak to that woman that doesn't that struggles to feel the love of God for her, that he really he loves her amazingly. But she doesn't feel that.

You know, you're right. When I went into motherhood, I told you a few minutes ago, I was pretty broken in many ways, physically, emotionally, spiritually. And when I was just about to give birth to our first daughter, we went to childbirth classes. You know, those are the ones where they lie to you and they tell if you breathe a certain way, it won't hurt. Yeah, we were attending together, so I know that.

Help her to learn how to breathe. Right. Oh, OK. Oh, all right.

I want to do that. Right. Let me see how that works with my next headache.

You're breathing too fast. Be quiet. Exactly. So Jay and I have gone to these series of classes. You know, we've learned to put the diaper on the little baby doll and done all the things on the very last day of the class. I'm everyone had left and I'm sitting there and I mean, I have just this ginormous belly sitting on my lap. My husband is with me.

We know the lady who's teaching the classes. She was a dear friend from church. And I just started crying. And all of these insecurities I'm going to do to my children. What my dad did to me.

I'm not going to be able to measure up. I don't know what I'm doing. And all of a sudden, all I could hear was the voice of the enemy. And no, I came over to me and she said, why are you crying? She said, you're going to be fine. She thought I was scared of childbirth. Well, I was too naive to be scared of childbirth. I had never had a baby. That came later. And I said, no, I said, I I don't think I can be a good mother.

I don't know how to be a good mother. And she said, oh, you don't understand how loved you are. She put her hands on my I could cry thinking about she put her hands on my belly and I could feel Savannah, who's now this beautiful 32 old mother of four.

Right. She put her hands on my belly and I could feel Savannah kicking. And she said, God's doing something new. He's doing something new.

He wants you to know he loves you and everything that's going to transpire in the life of this child is going to show you who he is and how much he loves you. You're new. You're new. You're not the person that the enemy is telling you you are. You're not this person that's ridden with shame over the things that have happened to you as a young girl.

I want to do something new. What a beautiful message from Heidi St. John today on Focus on the Family. And I hope as a mom, you've been refreshed and encouraged by the conversation. Heidi has such a great way of connecting with moms, of course, having seven kids.

She knows what she's talking about. It's always nice to know there's someone in the trenches with you. And here at Focus on the Family, we're walking alongside you too. We're here to help you through parenting struggles and offer direction and tips on how you can be a strong leader and guide your family. We have lots of great resources, one of those being Heidi's fantastic devotional, Mom Strong 365, a daily devotional to encourage and empower everyday moms.

And you can get that right from us. Yeah, it's full of biblical wisdom and inspiring thoughts to help you as a mom better understand your essential work for the kingdom as you're raising your children. And as this year is quickly coming to an end, it's a great time to pick up a new devotional to kick off 2024. And when you donate today, a gift of any amount, we'll send you a copy as our way of saying thank you for supporting the ministry of Focus on the Family. We have thousands of people reaching out to us by phone, mail, and email, and they are in need of help. Couples with broken marriages, parents struggling with their kids, and many other difficult situations. You can come alongside those facing challenges and give families hope through your support of Focus on the Family.

So it's a win-win. You give generously to help others and get a copy of Heidi's wonderful devotional. Donate today and get your copy of the book Mom Strong 365.

We've got all the details in the show notes. And of course you can always give us a call if you'd like to donate over the phone or have any questions. Our number is 800-232-6459.

That's 800, the letter A in the word family. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy some time with your church family as well. Join us on Monday. We'll hear from Dr. Kathy Cook as she shares ways to instill character in your child's life. We celebrate a transformed heart relying on the Holy Spirit, which means we better be praying for our kids. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ. Your marriage can be redeemed, even if the fights seem constant, even if there's been an affair, even if you haven't felt close in years. No matter how deep the wounds are, you can take a step toward healing them with a Hope Restored marriage intensive. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face challenges together. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-17 05:50:21 / 2023-11-17 06:03:45 / 13

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