“NOOOOOO!” I scream, as an indoor waterfall gushes from the ceiling…
I’ve been hearing a strange background noise for the last 15 minutes. I’m sitting on our worn out couch, nursing another splitting migraine. It’s the weekend, and I’m trying to relax while surfing the internet in search of a new sofa. In the background, I hear a rushing sound. I think it might be coming from a video game being played in the basement, or the racetrack which sounds like rain when it slides along the slick hardwood floor.
The unfamiliar rushing noise continues, and I suddenly realize that no one is in the basement anymore. My 19-year-old son, Jake, recently walked past me to head upstairs; followed by his little sister. His twin brother, Nick, has gone to help my husband run an errand and buy some groceries. My husband, recently back from business in Mexico, is still getting over pneumonia. We are depleted from illness. We’re hoping to finally rest, relax, and do some online shopping for our brand new family space; the basement.
The basement. Just the word ties my neck muscles into a knot, making my head hurt even more. It’s been a source of contention for the last four years of our marriage, as well as a disappointment for our children; all of whom have patiently accepted the long wait. We’d promised to create extra space for practicing music, watching movies, and playing games with family and friends. Bad communication, medical issues, tough trials, and life itself; all delayed our plans for finishing the basement. With a little blood, a lot of sweat, and even more tears; we have finally accomplished this mighty feat, by the grace of God.
The basement. Is that rushing sound coming from the basement? I gingerly hold my pounding head and get up from the couch. Standing at the top of the stairs, the rushing sound becomes louder. Yet, it still doesn’t register… not until I see a tiny pool of water snaking its way around the bottom stair.
Suddenly I find myself, migraine and all, flying down the stairs like a freight train. My eyes are flitting everywhere, searching… looking… finding. “No… Noooo..NOOOOO!” Water is gushing, GUSHING from the ceiling right over the stage, right next to the expensive musical instruments.
Climbing back to the top of the stairs, I scream at the top of my lungs, “Jaaaaaaake!” He probably has his headphones on…. “JAAAAAKE! In seconds, I somehow manage to grab a plastic tote from the garage. I swiftly glide back downstairs to place the tote under the gushing water, and I dart back up the stairs again. I’m panting, hand over my heart, doubled over in pain. I’m going to vomit! I’m heaving, and breathing and suffocating all at once. Am I having a heart attack? My son is there immediately. His little sister is right behind him, and I scream:
“Thebasement’sfloodingapipeburstandIhave aplastictotecatchingthewaterweneedanotheroneinthebssementnooooowhyyyyy? GOD!”
I hear my son in the distance, even though he’s standing right in front of me. He’s calm. “Mom! MOM! Call Dad! Do you know how to turn the water off? Mom, calm down. Mom it’s ok, I’m here. My hero. I’m crying. I never cry. I’m crying really hard. I run down to the basement. The plastic tote is filling up with water. I quickly survey the damage. What can be saved? The waterfall from the vent is gushing full force onto the music stage where the guitars sit and the drum kit stands. I see the bass proudly standing next to the deluge; its red velvet case already soaked and filling with water.
In mere seconds, my mind flashes back to my husband teaching himself to play guitar after our twin toddlers were tucked in bed. I see our son Nick’s fingers flying fast as lightning over the strings of the baby blue electric guitar which belongs to his dad; but that we all know really belongs to Nick. I see Jake’s drumsticks, rolling like rhythmic thunder, all over his drums and cymbals, beating as fast as my heart is beating now. And lastly, I see my precious long-haired little girl, who at age nine, picked up the bass, only yesterday. It’s bigger than her skinny little self, and she had played it well; announcing decisively, that this was the instrument she wanted to play.
My family’s place, my family’s gear, my family’s music, my family in the worship band over the years… my family! My beloved family who has experienced so much trauma, tragedy, and injustices; even though we serve Jesus Christ. “GOD! NO! Why?”
Dismayed, I whisper, “No!” I don’t see my husband’s two favorite electric guitars, but I see their closed cases. One of them has water dripping onto it… “Goldie!” My husband’s beloved electric guitar. It was a sore spot at one time in our marriage, due to its outrageous price, having been purchased without the two of us discussing it. But it was also a time of my seeking God, and asking Him to grant me forgiveness towards my husband. For I knew I’d eventually see him playing that guitar for Jesus on the stage at church, where our two sons eventually joined him as members of the worship band.
I rescue Goldie, bringing it all the way up to the third floor, oblivious to the fact that the second floor is actually already a flood-safe zone. I lay the unharmed guitar across my bed, where it will stay high and dry. Seconds later, I speed like a race car; back down two flights of stairs, and then back up again with more instruments. I’m trying not to vomit, trying not to slip; reminding myself that I am 50 years old; with chronic stress and health issues, pain in my head and chest, and three screws in my lower back. I cannot afford to have a heart attack, and I can’t fall.
I’m back down in the basement. I’m crying, while removing soaking wet rugs and pillows, and throwing them outside the basement door where it’s getting muddy. I’m overwhelmed. In the meantime, my precious, sweet, oh so beautiful little girl calmly comes to me with the landline house phone. Where had I put my cell? I don’t know.
“Mom, call Dad!” Her voice is small but steady. She holds the phone in front of my face. I’m screaming, “Where are You, God?”
“Mom! What’s Daddy’s cell?” Her graceful, slim fingers are poised, ready to push the numbers for me. “It’s ok, Mom… Mom, it’s not that bad.” Her arm is around my waist. Her hug; comfort. We’ve taught her all of the phone numbers. She knows them, but usually she just clicks on Dad’s name in contacts. Instead, she’s holding the unfamiliar landline phone in her hand. My brain is moving 100 miles an hour, but I’m frozen.
Somehow I call my husband, and find that Jake’s already called him. I tried him earlier, but his phone was on speaker. Thinking it was his voice mail, I’d yelled into the receiver, in panic. Yet, somewhere, in the deep recess of my mind, I’d still known to first assure him we were all in one piece: “No one is hurt… the basement is flooding… come hooooome!” Later I’d find out that the reception was so bad, it still caused Nick to initially think his sister had been hurt. But he and my husband, Dave, had remained calm. They’d listened carefully, figured out no one was hurt, and headed home immediately to deal with the flood crisis.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Jake has made his way back down to the basement, after calling my husband and quickly figuring out how to turn off the entire water system. Later my husband will reassure me that the system is complicated, not something I would have known how to do without being shown.
“MOM!” It’s a deeper voice, a man’s voice; authoritative, but not disrespectful, nor disgusted. It’s Jake. “Mom! Stop it. Mom, I’ve turned the water off. I’ve switched out the totes. It’s gonna be okay. Mom, you have to calm down…for Abby… You’re scaring her!” I know it. I love my daughter with all my heart. Yet even with my hero there, and my tiny, young comforter; I still can’t stop cussing (still a stronghold from childhood) and screaming, and then I say the worst; “God hates us! WHY??” Now my daughter’s finally crying; “weeping,” Jake will later recall, as we discuss the tragic ruination of the whole bottom floor of our home. I feel terrible for my behavior, but all I know is I can’t stop crying from way deep inside, and I can’t stop it from coming out. It’s sorrow.
During the time I’ve been feeling lost, alone, and abandoned; I haven’t been on my own at all. In the chaos Jake has replaced a water-filled tote for an empty one. He’s wisely called his dad, and we are now frantically in action with brooms and towels. My daughter obediently brings another tote from the top third floor. I’ve instructed her to dump the contents regardless of what’s inside. In a couple minutes, she also shows up with a child’s plastic wading pool to catch the extra drops and overflow. Where did she get that? How did she find it so fast?
Dad is home! Dave. And my other calm, collective son, Nick. In spite of knowing my husband is going to lose his temper, I’m relieved. And then he loses it. And he says things I can’t write here, things that I’ve already said too; things that none of our children said, and that none of them should hear from us. He kicks the plastic tote. It flies across the room. And though I know exactly how he feels, I’m angry, and say, “That’s not helping. Start cleaning up like the rest of us have been doing!” This includes my other son, who has just arrived home, and has immediately stepped into high gear, by coming down with a broom before his feet even hit the wet, flooded floor.
I’m dry heaving outside in the frigid air. My head is pounding. I think I’m finally, actually, really going to have that heart attack. My feet are bare and freezing in the snow. I’m sobbing. I envision mold taking over as our house collapses and we’ve no choice but to abandon it. Fear, anxiety, guilt, and anger fill my chest; the spirits which lead to depression. These are the same things my husband felt as he surveyed the disaster. Later I will realize that I have had a panic attack. I’ll realize that the reaction of my husband and myself was not good, not good at all; but would be a normal reaction under the tragic circumstances; especially lately, after enduring so much overwhelming stress. God will reveal that we both felt abandoned, because we were each abandoned in different ways as children.
The immediate crisis has been dealt with, and we are dealing with the next stage. We are mopping, sweeping, and removing storage boxes, guitar pedals, furniture, and instruments. We toss pillows, couch cushions, soaking wet blankets, and throw rugs onto the cold, muddy ground outside. Some are too dirty and wet to save. I can’t believe I haven’t vomited. I run upstairs exhausted, and there he is. My knight. My husband, Dave, is on the phone, and he means business. He’s in control. “I need a plumber and a cleaning crew. Now. Today.” My breath comes back a little. I’m not alone. He’s taking care of this, he’s taking care of us, he’s taking care of me. He’s bringing in the right people to help. And the right people are both up and downstairs helping now; my people. I breathe again. My people are safe!
In two hours, the cleaning crew arrives. I feel like running outside and giving them a huge hug with homemade cookies. They rip out drywall and bring gigantic fans which make the wooden planks on our floor puff up like a balloon. The next day the great guys who finished our basement over those long months will be back. I’ll hear the familiar laughter and find it comforting. The insurance adjusters will come and take care of us too. We will find out it was a freak accident; an inside pipe that burst, even though it was built to withstand sub zero temperatures.
It’s evening. Our last job is hanging blankets and rugs to dry outside on the back deck. Exhausted, and coming out of the shock, we comfort ourselves through the numbness by ordering Mexican takeout, a family favorite. We now have two TVs in our living room which looks ridiculous. But we laugh and decide to set up the bigger one and watch a family movie. The foosball table we surprised our kids with on Christmas Day, is now in our kitchen bump out. So we play foosball on teams, and we yell and scream in the good way; because it’s fun. We pray, thanking God that the damage wasn’t greater. We thank God for not losing any sentimental or expensive items. We thank God for taking care of us. He was there the whole time, no matter what it looked like or what it felt like. He already had a plan in place for helping us through our disaster.
Later, I will understand that the panic attack came because of past trauma. My husband and I both have an inner child that freaked out, with a valid reason. And only now do I realize that our own three children did not react in the same way. At first I think it’s because they are level-headed. And though they are, I realize that they did not freak out, because they have never been abandoned; nor will they ever be. They have been brought up in a new heritage in Christ.
Later, I will bury my face in my daughter’s long, soft, sweet-smelling hair. I’ll ask her to forgive me when she looks at me wide-eyed and whispers, “Mom… you said God hates you.” She doesn’t say “us,” because she hasn’t been abandoned. I tell how I’m sorry, and how I’ve healed so much, but still need more healing from the past pain of childhood. She nods. She is wise beyond her years. She holds me. Oh, God is so here!
She will also tell me how she prayed for the water to stop and it did. She prayed, and I forgot! I thank her, and I cover her face with kisses. At first I feel terrible about my previous outburst, but then I remember that I have poured onto my daughter everything I know about Jesus. I’ve taken her to church, been her Sunday School teacher, and spent hours and hours praying with her and for her, and reading the Bible with her. I’ve watering her with my godly wisdom and watched her seed of faith grow tall as a tree. I now get to enjoy reaping the benefits of the gifts God has given to her; including mercy, wisdom, and compassion.
Now, still more healing must occur for both my husband and myself; as Jesus continues to heal the pain and suffering of abandonment. We are never alone, because we have Jesus; and God did not abandon us in our disaster. He never has, and he never will. He loves us. He loves me! Yes, it’s been a disaster, and it still isn’t all fixed, but God is greatly, and magnificently, in the details. God is going to bring something great from it; something better for us than if the disaster had never occurred at all. Because when bad things happen to godly people; the silver lining is that Jesus uses it for our good and for God’s glory. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:26 New International Version).
It’s like the song I learned about Jesus in Vacation Bible School, the song that got forgotten because of all the abandonment and rejection, both in my past, and out there in the world… “Oh How He Loves You and Me! “
No matter what you’re going through, God loves you! Run into His everlasting arms! 💙
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jer. 29:11 New Living Translation).
Prayer: Oh God, forgive me in Jesus’ name for not trusting You! Grow my faith and let me know without a doubt that you love me, really love ME! Not because you have to, but because you just do!
Choosing to trust God in our trials will reap us great benefits. It will help us as Christians; to continue healing, grow our faith, and develop a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ. Eventually we will get to the point where “Why God?” will instead become, “God, what do you want to teach me?” (Part 2: Disaster Series, coming soon.)
Related blog post: Spiritual Growth Through Suffering Adversity
Related poetry: We Have Nothing to Eat and No Shoes on Our Feet, Will You Lend Us a Hand When a Flood Drowns Our Street?
18 thoughts on “Where is God During a Day of Disaster? (Pt. 1 Disaster Series) day”
Thank you for sharing! How traumatic and unsettling, yet at the same time, what a picture of your amazing family coming together! When I was reading, the verse Jer 29:11 came to mind and then there it was! Also, you taught me about fear, anxiety, and such coming together to create depression – I had never understood it that way- so simple, and easier to understand, now. Thank you for sharing the raw, because it is here where God works amazing things. Love you! Let’s get together soon?
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Thank you for reading my story, Amy! I love that God brought Jeremiah 29:11 to your mind and then you found it here! What’s interesting is I had looked up other verses about disaster, yet none of them seemed to sum up what I wanted to say. When I saw that there was a version of Jeremiah which used the word disaster, I knew this was it! I love that verse! I know that you are no stranger to disaster and trials, and I’m so thankful to have a friend like you, who is proud to tell the world about the miracles Jesus has done in your life! I learned about depression from Pastor Mike, and it really opened my eyes and helped me heal through Jesus. This is why it’s so important to pass on the godly wisdom we are given. I can’t wait to get together… Let’s do this SOON! Love and blessings to your precious family, Amy; in Jesus’ name! 💙🙏🏼
Angela, oh my goodness—what an ordeal! I’m sorry. I love your honesty and how your default is trusting the Lord even if you panicked at first. Your sweet daughter and sons have learned about Jesus and the power of prayer from their mom 💜 What a blessing to see your daughter exercise her “own” faith. And your son was quite the man!
So glad the damage wasn’t worse.
Praying as you get your home back to normal.
Thanks fo sharing this… my sister just passed away from an injury in a horrible car accident that happened on Saturday and I found myself asking “God where are you when she needs you?”. Today they removed her organs for donation and I look forward to meeting those her organs helped in the future. God bless you!
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Oh Frankie, I have tears in my eyes. I am so so very sorry that you have lost your sister, and that you lost her so tragically. There is nothing that can compare to the death of a loved one, even if you know they are in Heaven. I will be praying for your aching hurt over missing her. I think it’s beautiful that you can already look forward to meeting those who will receive organ donations from your very own sister. Many people are not able to see that far in love. These receivers may even be people who do not know Jesus, yet can now have a chance to find him and receive eternal life, along with their lives on earth.
I want to let you know God is at work even connecting your heart wrenching message to me; which I’m so grateful you have written. My cousin just this week received a liver transplant. The donor was her friend’s mother who had chosen my cousin to receive the liver upon her death! She hadn’t even known about it! It was an amazing gift of love, and a precious way of passing on the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.
In addition, I read a fellow blogger’s post just yesterday, about a student of his who had gone missing. His name is Brandon Adams. He writes for singles, but his blogs are captivating for any Christian to read. He mentioned he had seen this past student one last time before she went missing. I wrote a reply to him only yesterday. I said I liked to think that if she was no longer on this earth, but now in the arms of Jesus, that many people had come to Christ because of the pain and suffering of her loss; and that one day they’d all reunite with Jesus.
I’m going to be praying for God to heal your pain and suffering. I’ll be praying with my family. When you feel ready, I have more on The Silver Lining about pain and suffering. Many of the links are in the Disaster article you read. A post I hope might bring you more comfort, is “Suffering Through Adversity:” https://angelaslittleattic.com/2018/03/09/how-suffering-adversity-leads-to-spiritual-growth/
If you do not have anyone to talk to such as a spiritual counselor or grief advisor, I know someone much greater and wiser than myself who can, and will be willing to help you. In time; I’d love to hear about your uniting with the recipients of your precious sister’s organ donations.
I’m brought to tears mourning your loss, blown away, honored, and greatly humbled; that you have taken the time to write and encourage me when you’re going through so much pain and suffering. Frankie, you’re in my prayers; I promise. God bless you and your family. May He comfort, heal, bless, and give you peace, and even joy; in the name of Jesus. 💙🙏🏼✝️
Thank you so much. It brought me comfort to read this and then the scripture at the end… it was perfect. I appreciate you replying and being so candid. I’ll definitely look into your other posts. While I can smile and laugh, it’s the down-time that gets me thinking and emotional. So, I need to read things like this during those times.
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I understand, it’s very very difficult when sadness overwhelms is, and even more so when it’s sorrow with grief. I know grief, although in a different way, and yes, being lifted through Jesus can help us through and eventually heal us so we can find our joy again. I just had to tell you that God is so in tune to our messages that I went to lunch with a friend today and she told me this story she had heard. She said that a person who was an organ donor had been in a tough situation. He was allowed to choose whether a dying patient in the hospital would receive the organ, or a prisoner serving a life sentence on death row. The organ donor chose the prisoner on death row, because the prisoner would have a chance to come to Jesus by receiving such a generous gift. I think I may have even heard this story long ago, and that the hospitalized patient was already a Christian, destined for Heaven, so the patient did not need the gift the way the prisoner did. Your beautiful sister is going to impact lives greatly for the Kingdom of God; no telling how many, as one person alone receiving a new organ, can impact millions just by sharing Jesus with one person! I pray this prayer with you that her life and death will bring many to Jesus; more than we could even count! Your sister must have been a very giving person, for the gift of organ donation can reach eternity! I’m continuing to pray for you in the name of Jesus. 🙏🏼
Dear Angela, How blessed to find you on Facebook and to read this post here. I was with you as I read through this disaster. I praise the Lord for seeing how He worked through it all with you and your family. I praise Him that since He found you, you know He will never forsake you. How blessed your children are to have you as their mother. I pray His continued blessings as He leads you through this wilderness. It is a beautiful, though difficult journey, home to be with Him, eternaly. 🙂
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Thank you, Frances! You are definitely accurate in describing this journey with Christ as both difficult and beautiful. It’s the way we become more molded to be like Jesus, and we go through beautiful and difficult things just like he did… but in the end, it is marvelous! Thank you for your blessings, and thank you for calling my children blessed to have me as their mother, especially when I’m broken and battered. I’m so thankful Jesus lives within me to make me beautiful for my children too! God bless you, and your family, in Jesus’ name! 💙
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Beautifully written. Raw and real. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you, Tina! It’s so good to hear from you, and I really appreciate the encouragement. Blessings to you and your family, in Jesus’ name! 💙
Wonderful write Angela Royse Pelleman..so blessed to read it! Touching, so real. so honey..God bless…sometimes our children teach us more at unexpected times.been experiencing that with my older son 12 years, Kaleb
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Oh, Rita! Thank you so much for your blessings, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you’ve dropped by to read and leave me a note. Hearing that you liked my story means so much because I admire you and I love your writing so much! Yes indeed we learn so much from our children! Isn’t it wonderful that God gives them to us in spite of our imperfections? He truly does love us; doesn’t He! I think when we humble ourselves to acknowledge that our children have taught us something, we can find comfort in the fact that we must be doing something righteous after all. And that is a beautiful thing! Thank you for being a good friend to me. I wish you didn’t live so far away! Love you. God bless your precious family, in Jesus’ name! 💙
The lessons we can learn from life’s drama! Musical lyrics seem to pop into my mind during seemingly end of the world events over the years. As I was reading your post, one of my favorite assuring songs by Casting Crowns came to mind:
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Your world’s not falling apart. It’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held.
The Lord indeed is gracious and knows where we are at. He is an ever present help. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world and bad things do happen which is never from Him. Looking at the incident l can see that it was good you were all in when it happened. That is worth a great thanksgiving.
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Bisi, praise God indeed! We are so thankful that this disaster did not happen when we were all away from home! It’s been trying but it’s made us really think about some important things and how to plan for the future according to God’s Will. Best of all, it has made us communicate better! God is there always, even when it doesn’t feel like it. In fact, during our hardest trials, He is closer than ever! Thank you for writing, and thank you for your encouragement! God bless you and your words for Jesus! 💙
Angela this was a really good read. It comes at a time when my son has been diagnosed with a heart defect. Hr has more scars already than a VietNam Vet from his previous surgeries. This year he will be met again by Dr Jonas of Childrens Hospital, Washington DC. He will likely undergo open heart surgery for the second time in his six year lifespan. Ad I grapple with reality, I am flooded with conflict, God, why?
In my mind I know the answer but in my heart I struggle with the almighty I am. We are fostering my granddaughter reeling from the change to our lives and now my son. How will we manage the 6 week recovery, how do we pay for parking and meals and…..
But Then God says I am. We cant fathom his depth of knowledge, his creation is beyond our imagination, how could he enter the body of finite man and undergo needless suffering for me.
Through I am, God, the.Lord Jesus Christ my son will heal.
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Greg, I am so very sorry to hear about the suffering your son continues to endure. It’s really hard to be sick ourselves, but it’s a whole different dimension when it comes to watching our children suffer. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I do know that the devil wants to destroy while God uses it to bring us closer to Him and grow us stronger in Christ. Sometimes the sickness even protects us from something worse! I know that’s hard to believe but I’ve experienced it myself. God WILL provide because He loves you! AND sometimes that is where He reveals Himself, in the miracle of the free parking pass, meals provided, etc..
Perhaps God is even connecting you to some help at this blog: I just thought of the Ronald McDonald house which could be highly beneficial providing shelter, food, and support for your family. Here is the link: https://rmhcdc.org/ronald-mcdonald-house/dc/. When my friend’s baby was ill, she stayed at the Ronald McDonald House down at Virginia Tech. It was really a nice welcoming set up; I visited and she was pleased. It feels like a home away from home. We walked there from the hospital. I live an hour from DC, so please let me know if you have questions about it or the surrounding areas. I will be praying for your family, including your granddaughter. I agree with you in prayer for your son’s healing. God healed my own son of an incurable disease and saved his life when he was three. He also saved both of my twin babies when they were born two and half months early. So I know God can do anything, and Jesus is a miracle maker! I’m praying for you! I’m glad to help any way I can! Here’s a post about some of the trials we have endured with illness: https://angelaslittleattic.com/2016/02/17/god-pulls-us-through-trials-of-suffering/ . There’s more under topics “suffering” and “Trials” and “”discouragement” on my home page. As difficult as it can be, God is there for you, and He really does want to do good for you, your son, and your family; which will glorify His name and bring you all closer in Christ. Oh dear brother in Christ, I so understand your overwhelming agony, but pull closer to God instead of falling into despair. Pray against the lies in Jesus’ name! The devil wants you to believe you’re isolated and forgotten, but God can bless you and your son through all of this! I pray you peace and comfort and healing in Jesus’ name! For encouragement tonight, read Romans 8. It will help you center on God’s truth and love for you in Jesus Christ! 💙🙏🏼✝️