The Daughter I Haven’t Met


too late and too soon

Three years ago I became a mother again.  At long last, we got the referral letter for our Chinese adoption.  That meant it was finally time for us to be matched with a child who needed a family.  We’d been waiting five long years for this email.  But it came too late.

For reasons I am only beginning to understand, it was clear that with us was not the best place for this precious girl to be.  She would have been somewhere between 6 months and a year old.  She would have been small for her age after spending her first months in an orphanage and she’d have had dark, almond shaped eyes and shiny black hair cropped short.  We would have scurried home from the airport where I’d read the email to wait for our adoption agency to send more about her.  On the drive home, we’d have called our families and posted a barely coherent announcement followed by many exclamation points. We would have devoured grainy photographs and eagerly read reports of her development and health when we got there. And then, six weeks later, we would have gone to China to bring her home.  It would have been early September by then.

As it was, none of these things happened.  I read the email and quickly put my phone away, the loss and regret a solid thing in my chest.  I didn’t tell a soul for days.  I couldn’t make myself form the words. Our family and friends, for the most part, had stopped asking questions.  They must have known by now that too many things were broken and falling apart for us to bring a child into our family.  Some of them had probably forgotten we ever planned to adopt.

But we didn’t forget.  She had a name.  A few actually.  Originally, we were going to call her Camille Rose.  Then, one day during a walk, I was inspired to go with an original inclination and name her Camilla after one of my favorite characters from That Hideous Strength.  Either way, we’d call her Milly or Cam when she was young.  We planned to keep her Chinese name as well as one more connection point to her history.  We’d seek as many of those as we could for her.

My mother gave me an ornate box for adoption keepsakes for Christmas the year we told everyone we were planning to adopt.  I filled it with a journal, a picture book, and other treasures.  Torey and I bought her first outfit together—a dark denim top adorned with silky roses that came with matching bloomers.  An intricately carved teak cabinet in her room was filled with books, clothes, bedding (both for a crib and a ‘big girl’ bed), and gifts from her sister, aunt Lauren, and several friends.  Her walls were painted pale green.  I bought her a monogrammed teddy bear Christmas stocking that matched ours. Friends gave me a necklace engraved with her name.  I’d read a whole shelf of books about attachment and adoption and planned on reading many more.  My wonderful older daughter spent her entire senior year in high school researching and writing a thesis about international adoption that she dedicated to her sister.  In the midst of all these preparations, the wait for Chinese adoptions which had been about eighteen months become two years and longer and longer and longer and…

myth and reality

Still, she was real.  She was prayed for and loved.  I remember one Christmas, as all my extended family sat in my living room after roasting marshmallows, suddenly being struck with the idea that someone was missing.  I scanned the room and counted bodies.  Had someone stepped out to make a call or take a walk or go to the bathroom?  Finally, I realized I was looking for her—things were incomplete without little Camilla with us.  Another time I dreamed I saw a figure dressed in red coming down the dim hallway toward our bedroom.  It didn’t feel like a dream.  Camilla couldn’t sleep or had had a bad dream or needed a drink of water.  I turned to lift her up and hold her.  But, of course, she wasn’t there.

As the years passed, she started to feel like a myth.  Even then we didn’t give up.  Kyle wanted to father a daughter who had been abandoned but now had a family who loved her and a place to call home forever.  I wanted to be a mother who would pour love and grace and a passion for life into a child who only needed a chance.  I couldn’t wait to see who she was meant to be begin to unfold.

But with excruciating inevitability, she slipped away from us.  A couple of years after we received our official “Log in Date” from the Chinese government, all hell broke loose in our lives.  And kept breaking.  For years.  I hoped against hope that everything was going to work out.  This little girl had been a part of our family; a part of me since 2006.  It felt like the world’s longest and most agonizing pregnancy.

I have truly loved seeing my friends bringing their children home from China, Haiti, and various African countries. And it was one of my best days when my godson arrived home from Memphis, Tennessee with his parents. But all these things have also been a reminder that my daughter isn’t with us. That there is a hole in my heart.

Through betrayals, a death threat, a house fire, and various other calamities, our lives continued to be upended in ways we didn’t understand and couldn’t have predicted.  We were ravaged—God allowed nearly everything we’d poured our lived into to be destroyed or taken away.  We are only now beginning to pick up the pieces and understand what we are to do in this new chapter.

giving her back

By the time I received the email that would have been our first step to finally bring her home, it was clear we weren’t in a place to be the best parents for a girl who needed extra love and care.  We were still too devastated ourselves.  So God asked us all—and asked me in particular—to give her back to him.  He somehow gave me the strength to say, “she’s not mine; she’s yours” and mean it.  I think it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  It doesn’t seem good or right or fair.  But more than I want to mother another daughter, I want her to have a family that is ready to love her abundantly well.

I still miss her although the shocks of pain are less frequent now.  And I know that it is for the best—her best—that she is with another family.  I pray she is strong and well and surrounded by siblings and pets and all the love she can handle.  I pray her new family has the wisdom to help her through the hard days and walk with her when she feels the indescribable lack that comes with being separated from her biological family.  That they’ll laugh with her and cry with her and do everything they can to help her grow into a strong and whole woman.  I hope they’ll cut the crusts off her sandwiches, make sure she doesn’t have too much TV or computer time, that they’ll be patient when she is a grumpy teenager.  I pray they’ll drive her to the middle school dance and take her out for ice cream after.  I hope they’ll help her set up her college dorm room and be ready whenever it’s time to meet the man she thinks she might love. I pray they’ll love her until they are old and gray and surrounded by her kids.

And me?  I will never forget her. I will pray for her and the many girls like her when God brings her to mind. I will keep on loving my precious Torey and continue to be a spiritual mother to others as God leads me. And someday in a new world, I’ll turn around and find her standing there.  We’ll hug like we’re family and start catching up on a lifetime apart.


A Rose Is A Rose


I love that issues of modesty and shame and sexuality have been stirred up for discussion recently. It’s well deserved attention. But I’ve been surprised by the passionate–and sometimes disturbingly defensive–responses to these articles.

All the talk of selfies and bathing suits and hem lines (and even darker recurring question of whether things like date rape is maybe really the victim’s fault) made me wonder how my daughter felt about her experience growing up as a southern church-going woman who’d spent most of her teens wearing a private school uniform.

An abuse survivor myself, I spent a lot of time and prayer making sure Torey was safe and protected as she grew up. We talked about sexuality from an early age and how it was best expressed within a committed relationship. We talked about modesty. A lot.

During her early teen years, this conversation often got hung up (get it?) on one or two items that were in style but that her dad and I weren’t comfortable with her wearing. Of course, all the other girls’ moms let them wear it, whatever ‘it’ was. The denim micro mini was my absolute nemesis. I simply couldn’t convince my sweet daughter that a wardrobe malfunction was a near certainty in that thing.

I don’t regret fighting for her modesty, but I wish I’d emphasized that it’s actually a good thing that she is a physical and sexual being more–that she didn’t need to be ashamed of her femininity. I wish I could go back to that American Eagle dressing room (with that ridiculous skirt). I’d tell her she’s original and special and doesn’t need to dress like a clone. Instead of being frustrated and in a hurry to leave, I’d take that thirteen year old face in my hands and remind her that I know she feels awkward and ugly and unlovable but that it’s not true–that she’s more amazing than she could possibly imagine. I wish we’d talked more over the years about how to carry herself, dress, and simply be in a way that celebrates who she is. Don’t get me wrong, we did discuss these things. But I see now not nearly enough.


What’s worse is that she was receiving messages I had no idea about. I’m not talking about photoshopped magazines with impossibly perfect bodies. That was covered. I showed her what Barbie’s ridiculous proportions would be in real life. I’m not even referring to the terrifyingly easy access to pornography introduced at increasingly young ages to both boys and girls. This is also deeply troubling but it wasn’t a taboo subject in our home.

No, the communication I’m talking about came from church youth groups, camps, and weekend retreats. If I’d known she was being told these things, I would have countered the messages. I would have confronted foolish and misguided youth leaders. But I simply didn’t know it was happening. And Torey, for her part, understandably assumed that if I was dropping her off at these gatherings, I both knew and approved of all the content.

The object lesson that best captures what I’m talking about is apparently a common one involving a rose. A perfect rose is held up to be observed and then passed around a circle. The kids are encouraged to touch the petals, feeling how soft they are and smelling their perfume. When it’s made the rounds, the leader holds up the now bruised and mangled flower and compares the damaged petals to a young woman who’s been with multiple partners. It’s apparently always focused on the females of the group because, as everyone knows, women are temptresses and men are helpless against their wiles, bearing no responsibility for their choices. Such nonsense is (I hope) never explicitly articulated but it is loudly implied when co-ed discussions of this nature are aimed at women only.

As absolutely infuriating as I find all this, I understand what they are trying to communicate. Sexually is tender and precious and a young woman’s (and young man’s) body should be set apart until they are ready for a relationship that works best when they have more maturity and life experience. I get it.

But the problem is that this isn’t the only message that comes through. It’s not even the loudest one. The first problem is that women are singled out for responsibility in an issue that, by definition, includes two people. And what if a young girl hears this and has already been intimate? What if, God forbid, it was non-consensual? The heartbreaking reality is that it’s nearly certain most groups will contain victims of sexual violence. As the mother of a daughter, I’m emphasizing women but here but recognize that men are also sadly vulnerable to such abuse.

Where is the space for grace or for restoration in this object lesson? Once a rose is damaged, it can’t be undone. Thankfully, our bodies and spirits and emotions are much more resilient. And what about mercy and forgiveness and second chances? Jesus allowed a former prostitute to anoint his feet with perfume and led those who were about to execute the woman caught in adultery to put down their stones. He actually has a lot to teach us about how to treat women–it’s no accident that he was the first rabbi known to accept female followers.

Made To Be Delightful

Modesty is really important. Clothing should leave something to the imagination and to make it possible to sit, stand, and move comfortably. It should communicate both self-respect and concern for others.

But the other message is just as crucial. A woman needs to feel free to embrace her own unique beauty and femininity. Her body is fearfully and wonderfully made and she should be encouraged to celebrate it rather than be shamed for having it. And the same is true for men–their bodies and sexuality aren’t gross or dirty, either. (Unless they are teenage boys who haven’t learned to care about hygiene. In which case, they should take a shower and use lots of deodorant immediately. Which has nothing to do with their sexuality but is a very needed public service announcement.)

That all being the case, a woman should dress in ways that make her feel good about herself. And while she shouldn’t share the most intimate parts of herself with any old person (in words, deeds, or attire), she also shouldn’t hide her light under a bushel. After all, a rose isn’t meant to be shoved into the back of a closet. It’s meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. It is made to be delightful.

And Torey? She’s living on her own now with a master’s degree, a husband, a job at a non-profit, and more friends than she can count. Miraculously, she made it through the dumb things people taught her and her parents’ many mistakes relatively unscathed. She is smart and funny and modest and beautiful inside and out. I couldn’t be prouder of her. And I love that she has a great sense of style. A girl after my own heart, she would never pass up a chance to visit Anthropologie’s sale room. She’s in good company–we come from a family of bright and classy women who are truly ladies.

I hope it’s clear to my wonderful daughter and all the other amazing women in my life that they can and should enjoy being in their own skin. I hope they know they are lovely and valuable and exactly who they were meant to be. And I hope you do, too.

The Parisian Spirit

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I went to Paris expecting beautiful art, food, and history.  Of course, I wasn’t disappointed; Paris is a magical city and I love it.  I hope my visit was the first of many.

What I didn’t expect was a spiritual experience.  Everything I’ve read and heard prepared me for churches and cathedrals that were nothing more than museums. I know that statistically speaking Europe is more post-Christian than the US.  But many of the churches Jenny and I entered were far more than beautiful monuments to the past.  They may have been full of dead men’s bones (literally) but there was no denying the life there.

The architecture of a cathedral does its work well.  Entering from the bright and noisy streets, the churches are dark and cool and quiet. The church leaders clearly take maintaining a sense of separateness seriously even when they sometimes resort to having attendants whisper ‘Shhhh!’ like grumpy librarians.  But I got the feeling it’s because they know their churches are more than landmarks to check off from a travel guide.  The good news is that the reminders turn out to be mostly superfluous; the experience of entering such ancient places of worship naturally evoked a sense of reverence from most.

Everything seems to whisper, ‘holy’ as you enter.  The stained glass transforms sunlight into breathtaking colors and patterns.  The soaring walls invite your gaze up.  The metaphor is simple and it works—thoughts that were focused on tired feet or the next delicious meal or problems from home seem to turn heavenward of their own accord.  The idea of generations of worshippers over countless centuries combined with a sense of God’s Spirit brought me to tears in nearly every church we entered.  Talk about a cloud of witnesses.  I felt like I could almost touch them.

And the people weren’t simply there to either curate/maintain or tour a historical site.  In every single church, we encountered genuine worshippers.  They had to tune out picture snapping tourists like me.  Sadly, they sometimes had to navigate around keepsake vending machines that pressed pennies into likenesses of the church (who decided those were ok?!).  And at the Sacre Coeur, they had to run the gauntlet of tourist shops, street performers, overflowing trash cans, and guys aggressively trying to sell woven bracelets or bottles of Heineken.  But the sacred somehow peacefully lived among the daily.

On Palm Sunday, the three men who entered the Eglise Saint Germain des Prés (the oldest church in Paris) with me held their branches and knelt in worship as they passed the threshold.  There was something really right about the ceremony of it.  It made me feel kind of homesick.  I loved that for the rest of the day, I passed people in cafes or soaking up the sun parks whose bundle of branches signified they’d been to worship that morning.  In that same church, a very old woman—in her 80s I’d guess—sat praying before a statue of Jesus holding rosary beads for the entire time I was there.  I found myself wishing I could sit at her feet and soak up her wisdom.  If only I spoke French.  And in every church it was like this.  Visitors swirled around people who were there to pray or serve.  Behind glass enclosed meeting rooms, priests counseled parishioners—latticed confession booths gathered dust in the corners or had been removed.  Posters announced service and mission projects both locally and abroad.  And others encouraged locals to gather in community. Maybe things were different because we were there during the Lent season.  Whatever the reason, I had the sense I was connecting with something missing.

These were the last things I expected—signs of living, breathing places of worship.  And all in churches and cathedrals built by who knows how many people working together often over hundreds of years.  It was overwhelming.  Can you imagine giving the best of your life’s energy to create something you’d never enjoy?

I left Paris with a deep sense of thanksgiving for generations that gave more than I can imagine to preserve the faith for me and every worshipper I know.  I am glad God called them and I’m more convinced than ever that I want to learn from the faith practices of the past rather than reject them unexamined.  I think this experience was one more way God is underscoring the lesson in humility and teachability he’s been guiding me in.  It makes me blush to think that I actually believed I didn’t need anything much beyond my Bible and my own discernment to figure out how to live a life for God, live in community, and guide a church in ways that honored him.  How arrogant to think I didn’t have much to learn from those who had gone before me.  That isn’t Christian theology but it is very American thinking.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying I want to undo the reformation (at least not most of it).  But I am left more committed than ever to learn as much as I can from those who went before me.  And I know that’s a good thing.

Check out an iphone video of some beautiful church music here.

[PS I have lots more to tell you about Paris.  Stuff like a champagne tour led by a guy named Trong, dancing in a WWII jazz club in a cave, jumping out of a metro car and traipsing through a dirty tunnel back to the station, and frites—lots and lots of frites.]

A Belated Goodbye

In early 2003, Kyle and I met with the leadership of a new church.  We talked with them about our mutual love for Jesus and convictions about what a local body of Christ should be.  Soon after that night, we were thrilled to begin pouring into The Austin Stone.  Kyle began serving as an elder, I was teaching, mentoring, and working on the website, and Torey was graciously filling the role of the only ‘youth’ in the church with as much of the requisite middle school awkwardness as she could manage.  We had a lot of fun especially in those crazy earliest days.

There are many things to love about The Stone.  The worship draws people to honor Christ.  The Word is passionately preached and a sincere desire to faithfully convey its teachings is evident.  People are being sent to proclaim the Gospel all over the world.  Others are reaching out to the city by mentoring, serving, and living among the needy.  We were honored to be a part of what God was doing during our time there and know His work continues in our absence.

All of us who were part of the foundation of The Stone wanted God to form a different kind of church through us.  We were committed to things like all believers being equipped and empowered to use their gifts, to being a church planting church, to having elders as shepherds rather than being staff led, and to living in community because we saw these things in the Scriptures.  We also valued plurality in leadership and shared servanthood among staff and laity, men and women, married and unmarried, young and old, seminary trained and self-taught.  We wanted God to build a church that looked more like a family. Over the years, we realized that while everyone agreed on these values, we had a very different vision of what the result should look like.  And we also saw some of those values drift and be replaced by other goals in the face of the very rapid growth that God allowed.  Some of this drift was necessary and helpful and some has been less so.

It is hard to believe it was two years ago that Kyle resigned from service on our family’s behalf.  It was a decision made with heavy hearts but with confidence and peace that it was the right thing to do.  But one thing that has always saddened me is that I didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye myself to the many people I loved and served alongside during our time at The Stone. I have had a few years now to think and pray and process while living through the season of storms God has allowed.  And while I have more peace and a little more understanding, that sadness remains.

And that’s why I’m writing–to extend a belated and heartfelt farewell.  Please know that my family and I loved you all as well as we could but certainly not as well as was possible.  Speaking for myself, I know I have a lot of growing left to do.  There are many things I would do differently if I could go back in time with more grace and maturity and truth.

I bless my brothers and sisters at the Austin Stone and pray that God will move in greater and deeper ways within you and among the Body of Christ at large in this city. I pray that we will all be able to echo Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians to one another, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27).

With great love,

Being In India

India is stark contrast. New Delhi is magical and peaceful and funny and deeply sad all at the same time. I loved it and I couldn’t wait to leave.

I’ve never seen anything like it but it was familiar.  My friend Robyn who spent several years as principal of a school in the Dominican Republic said it well: poverty looks the same wherever it is.  There are similar ingenious ways of making things work when you can’t buy something new.  There are similar smells where running water and garbage collection systems are rare extravagances.  Where electricity for things like refrigerating food is a luxury.

Ash from garbage fires covered every surface and left the air with a constant haze.  Standing outside one of the Good Samaritan campuses (Madanpur Khadar), there were two huge smoke stacks pumping more pollution into the air every day.  We learned near the end of the week it was smoke from a gas factory.  Most floors are tile for the very practical purpose of allowing the constantly accumulating dust and dirt to be more easily swept clean.  There were stray dogs with mournful eyes and beggars with blank ones everywhere.

And yet India is a wonderful place.  The color and life are hauntingly beautiful–the flowers and fabrics are gorgeous and the food is spicy and interesting and delicious.  The people are lovely.  Most have honey colored skin, dark eyes, and glossy hair.  I love their manner of greeting with its small bow and hands clasped in prayer.  I love the meaning behind Namaste—the divine in me honors the divine in you.  I love the respect of the other and the hint of understanding that we are all made in God’s image contained in that simple word.  Such a great sentiment, isn’t it?  What if, instead of a curt ‘hey,’ we westerners had such a ubiquitous way of remembering every single person we encounter is a precious and eternal being?  Of course, Indians don’t seem to have an easier time actually living out that understanding than we do.

It is heartbreakingly understandable that some are mistrustful or angered at the sight of Westerners like me parading through their poor communities.  I wish I could tell them in perfect Hindi, “It’s ok.  We’re not like the rest.”  And I hope to God it’s true.  I hope we are not there—I hope I am not there—to do ‘poverty tourism’ or put a spiritual or philanthropic stamp on a narcissistic desire to see new places and feel better about our own lives.

It was such a joy to be serving with a part of the Body of Christ again after being disconnected for so long.  I had the chance to pray with Laura and others over a woman oppressed by a demon.  Later that week, she found us to tell us she’d eaten and slept well for the first time in ages.  I got to tell a little of my story to a group of staff at the school as they sat neatly separated by gender.  At the invitation of the school’s founder, I got to tell students and parents (separately) about the importance of waiting until they have finished growing and completed their education to get married and begin having children.  I got to tell them about how daughters are just as valuable as sons.  I got to tell parents about how important it is to talk with their kids about sex and intimacy and marriage.  If you know me I hope you’re smiling.  I was actually asked to talk with them about these things by people who had no idea how passionate I am about health and wholeness in these areas.  God is generous.  Best of all, I got to see others use their gifts and talents and skills.  There is such beauty in watching people show love and compassion in the unique ways they are meant to do.

I am unspeakably grateful I got to be there.  I am glad to see the hope and future being offered to kids like Asha and Nikhil and Ashish through Auntie’s legacy.  It was a joy to witness and I look forward to doing my part to see it continue.  In the meantime, I hope to keep learning the lessons India and the people of the Good Samaritan School have to offer me.


Lenten Prayer

I downloaded an lenten devotional to my phone.  It is full of prayers and scriptures for every day of lent.  It has been such a great practice for me.  Today’s prayer was especially truth-filled and apt.  I’ve prayed it several times already today and wanted to share it with you:

“Lord, you have told us to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors, as Christ prayed for his tormentors from the cross.  And so we dare to pray:

Lord, have mercy.

Give peace to those who have destroyed our peace…

Grant love to those who have refused us love…

Protect from injury those who have done us injury…

Grant success to those who have competed with us to our loss…

Give prosperity to those who have taken what was ours….

You know, O Lord, how hard we find it to forgive those who have offended us.  Yet you ask us to forgive without restrictions.  Make us capable, Lord, of the love you ask of us, for alone we cannot do what you have asked.  Help us through Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Meeting Nikhil

meeting nikhil

In a lot of ways, Nikhil is exactly what I expected him to be.  On his sponsor card, he is cute kid with a huge smile and is described as “excellent in his studies,” “well behaved,” and, my favorite, having a “heart to respect his teachers.”  You can tell from his picture that he not likely to talk your ear off.  There is a sweetness in his expression that makes you imagine a kind and introspective boy who doesn’t do a lot of rough housing.

On our first day at Madanpur Khader, I didn’t see Nikhil.  It was on our second visit to third grade class that I spotted him. I got to tell the children that if God clothes the flowers with more splendor than a king that he’ll surely provide everything we need.  We were making tissue paper flowers as a reminder.  As I knelt to help some children near the front of the room, I heard one of the people on my team say his name.  Looking up, I couldn’t miss him—beanie pulled down to his eyebrows and sitting next to a taller girl, working intently on his flower.

I made my way over and explained that I was his friend from America and asked if he remembered getting my letter.  He didn’t J.  He kept glancing shyly at his seatmates who were much more ready to talk with me than he was.  I explained that I was going to visit him at home in a few days and asked if that was ok.  With his eyes glued to his flower, he nodded.  I learned that his favorite color is yellow and that he isn’t an only child like it says on his card and that he actually has two sisters.

A few days later, we were back at Madanpur Khader to do a skit with the kids.  When Nikhil’s class filed out, I called his name and said hello.  It was one of the highlights of my week when I got a real smile in return.  I also got to see he was never far from his best friend when they weren’t seated in the classroom.  It was so sweet to see them walk arm in arm together.

Later that day, I got to visit his home.  It was like much like the others in the community.  One room with a huge wooden slab that served as couch, dining table, and family bed and concrete walls. Nikhil’s home was a great example of the crazy juxtapositions that come up in developing nations and among the poorest of the poor—their family of five lives in a single room without running water but had a computer that was logged onto facebook when we were there.

It was wonderful to meet his gentle mother and two precious older sisters.  His mother seemed as shy as Nikhil even if there hadn’t been a language barrier between us.  His two older sisters were much more outgoing.  I was excited to hear that they are both students as well.  His oldest sister is actually studying the same subject as my college aged daughter.  She insisted on a picture with just the two of us before we left.

I really underestimated what it would mean to meet Nikhil.  Don’t get me wrong–I expected it to be really neat to be introduced to a flesh and blood person.  But it was more than that. I think the main thing that changed for me after meeting Nikhil is considering and praying for him not merely as an individual but as a son, a brother, and a friend.  I feel a connection to him and to his siblings my previous information told me didn’t exist.  I want him to grow up to realize all the promise of his gentle spirit and studious nature in a deeper way.  I want his sisters to lead change for their nation and for women in particular as they pursue their careers. I want Nikhil’s life and work and marriage and children to be forever changed because of the excellent education and kindness he received from the Good Samaritan School.  I want his family to meet a God who loves them more than they can imagine.  And for my part, I definitely want to visit him and his family again!

PS Find out more and get involved at

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