On Forgiveness

Happy Sunday My Friends! Hope you have been enjoying this super weekend weather. This quote recently appeared in my readings. It seems to appear whenever the forgiveness held for others in my heart is at a low point and I must once again begin the healing process of letting go of my hurt and anger and searching for the beauty in the source of my agitation. Even those we have difficult relationships with, have beauty and goodness in their hearts and souls and when we search for those gifts, it is easier to forgive their shortcomings.

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Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.
— St. Theresa of Calcutta

We have all experienced relationships in our lives where we were very close with someone only to lose them. The relationship may have been romantic, business related or a friendship where bonds are so very deep one feels a degree of love for the other person. Many times, these relationships end as one person hurts the other so deeply the pain seems insurmountable. It seems the more we love at times, the more likely we are to be hurt, and although everything in our pain screams out for justice, for vengeance, for retribution, we are called to turn the other cheek, forgive and somehow try to forget just as Jesus did during His Passion and as He does each time we approach Him in Reconciliation.

As you can imagine this is a tall order for the moms and children who call Joseph’s House home. Their stories of abuse, neglect and injury by those who are family and those they love the most, are excruciatingly difficult for them to share and for others to hear. There are times when the overwhelming pain and loneliness in their lives cause them to react in fits of anger, in relapses and in making poor choices. What these moms and their little ones have come to learn is Joseph’s House is there for them when these setbacks occur, to be the family they have never had and the loved ones who will forgive, forget, support and nurture them back to health, whether they are living with us or part of our extended family.

Our work at Joseph’s House is difficult, time-consuming and labor intensive as we strive to instill in these precious children of Jesus hearts stoked in forgiveness rather than hearts consumed by anger and vengeance. For all of us, forgiveness may ebb and flow and at times need to be renewed, refreshed and rebuilt. When we forgive faithfully we learn there is great joy and freedom in it as the mercy it spreads will bring us closer to Jesus and bring peace to our hearts. After all, who on earth ever had more to forgive and forget than Jesus? Certainly not you or me. Who are you overdue to forgive today?  Forgiveness embraced and practiced faithfully is a virtue that will lead us to Heaven, while bringing peace to our hearts. Let’s not waste any time!  This is a prayer to help you forgive. 

God Bless You My Friends,

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

 

 

 

Would You Give Control to God?

Happy Monday My Friends,

It was a busy weekend for Joseph’s House! A fundraiser in Phoenix sponsored by Sheila Dion and her Lilla Rose business along with Jodi Frawley from Mary Kay and Tammy Lynch owner and operator of State Street Café was a blessing in many ways in meeting new people and receiving much needed items from our wish list.  

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We also had  kickoffs of four baby bottle drives where our Junior Auxiliary student board took center stage speaking on behalf of Joseph’s House. Many thanks to Madison Prowak and Mairead McIntyre the co-founders of our Joseph’s House Junior Auxiliary board for speaking, along with Erin Byres who recently joined. It’s a great blessing to hear the praises of Joseph’s House being sung through our young people and these most generous business people in our area. They make our future and the futures of our moms and babies look bright!

Are you prepared for Lent? Have you thought about doing anything different this year or are you thinking of the great sacrifice of fasting from chocolate and coffee again? Would you consider giving up control, pride and ego for Lent? Those were the sacrifices of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for us. Have you ever thought about what Jesus gave up for you? He gave up His life & withstood the most grueling death known to man for us. Would you do that for a total stranger, for someone who spit on you? How about what His Mother Mary gave up for you? She lived for 33 years knowing and allowing Her Son to suffer and die so the gates of Heaven might be opened for you and me.  Would you give up your child so someone who slanders you or hates you could go to Heaven? How about Joseph? Joseph abstained from the procreative portion of his marriage his entire life. Is there anyone you would do that for? Would you even abstain for your spouse?  The sacrifices of Jesus, Mary and Joseph did not last 40 days, their Lents lasted their entire lives.  Think we can last for 40 days? Have you decided on more than chocolate and coffee yet?  

Here is a question, what could you relinquish control of for 40 days? Could you turn every decision you make over to Jesus for 40 days? Would you trust Him to run your business, to run your family, to run your entire life?  Would you consult Him before traveling, purchasing, turning on Netflix or playing on your tablet?  Jesus, Mary and Joseph did all of that and more, can we?  It sure would be life changing if we could!

One thing to consider to help in relinquishing control, is adding extra prayer to your life. If you really want the prayer to bring you closer to Jesus and humble your spirit, as well as enrich your heart, mind and soul, be sure the prayer includes meditating on the Passion of Our Lord. One way to do this is by saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet (which takes five minutes) while contemplating the mysteries from the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary. This combination of meditating on the Rosary while saying the Chaplet is powerful and easy. It is a great way to get through chopping vegetables, folding laundry, cleaning bathrooms and floors, driving to work or to get to sleep at night. It will bring you closer to Jesus and make it easier to relinquish control of your life to Him during Lent and each and every day of the year.

Another long, lost devotion that takes just a few minutes more, are the Stations of the Cross. Although you may not be able to get to a church to say the Stations daily during Lent there are many pocket handbooks you can pick up or you can do them right from your computer. 

I have already begun my Lenten sacrifices as a sort of warm up for the upcoming season. These few days are a primer and give me a little extra faith to bite the bullet and give it all to God. The extra days also give a little buffer should I mess up, which will probably happen sooner rather than later. I will pray for you this Lent my friends and ask you to pray for me and to pray especially for the moms and babies of Joseph’s House. God bless you this Lenten season!

Love & Prayers

Kitty

The Lost Sheep

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This morning I had to call out a loved one on something. I hadn’t planned on it and after I did it, wasn’t sure I did the right thing. However, my spiritual director let me know it was the right thing to do and Our Lord showered blessings on a couple of his lost sheep through the use of my overactive mouth. I spoke calmly and with love wanting this most special person to understand sometimes we have to say "no" to everyone else, even our closest friends and family, when we are listening to God. My words could have alienated this person, but instead they produced a change of heart that made this person do something he had been saying "no" to for weeks. He made the decision to do the hard thing and please God rather than friends and acquaintances who feel he is indispensable. I have never been prouder and yet so deeply humbled, to witness clumsy words gifted by the Holy Spirit used as instruments to change someone’s direction, someone’s heart and hopefully someone’s soul.

There is not a shepard other than Jesus who would leave 99 sheep alone to fend off enemies, while in search of one sheep lost. We are called to do the same. We are called to find the lost sheep and carry him home on our shoulders so he is as safe as all the others. We have to trust God will provide for the 99 left behind as we step out in love to do as Jesus would do. My loved one did something totally spontaneous today, and although he may not realize it, by changing his direction and doing the right thing, he trusted God to take care of those friends and acquaintances he left behind.

This brings me to the moms and children of Joseph’s House. We have 8 just now with 11 children and 3 more on the way. Most of them have little to no understanding that God wants to be their best friend. They are the lost sheep God is calling through their pain and despair. They may even be called through guilt, as I believe my loved one was this morning. Guilt, pain, suffering and despair can and will be used by Our Lord as a plaintive cry for attention, for a bidding to come to Him, so another lost sheep might be found.

God’s ways are not our ways. They are not always logical and although they may be thought foolish by even the most brilliant minds, they are always the right ways because they are His ways. With discernment built through a one on one relationship with Our Lord,  (click on teal lettering to follow link to Ignation discernment guide) everyone can be sure the Holy Spirit will show them God’s way for their lives.

At Joseph’s House we pave a path for our moms leading them to a relationship with God so they are able to discern His way, His plan, for their life.  We provide the teaching allowing a light to be lit in their souls which serves as a beacon to Jesus the Good Shepard should they become lost, so he might find them and carry them on His shoulders returning them safely to the flock. The Angels rejoice in Heaven each time a lost soul returns to Christ. Our prayer is God will continue allowing Joseph’s House to be an instrument to change the directions, the hearts and hopefully the souls of all who come to call us home, and the Angels will rejoice in Heaven each time we welcome them into our family. There is not anything that would make us prouder or humble us more. 

God Bless you my friends,  
Love & Prayers,  
Kitty

Patience & Love, Always Softens Hearts

Happy Glorious Sunday My Friends,

Our newest Joseph's House family member!

Our newest Joseph's House family member!

I will begin with a quote from one of our Joseph’s House Alumni to all her Facebook friends on Tuesday morning.  She posted a quote and wrote "I just heard the best quote and honestly it’s why I am here today."

It’s not about how hard you’ve been hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

This young alumni mom’s post continued on to say, "Joseph’s House girls keep this in mind because you are worth it, you are worth every happiness you could ever dream or imagine!!! (and now my favorite part) Don’t let the bad in your life make you, let it build you into something great!”

And that’s just the beginning, there’s been more great quotes from alumni this week.

Thank you so very much, I love you and am beyond grateful for finding Joseph’s House and you giving me the strength to move back home.

And then just last evening, after a very difficult day, this,

You guys are amazing, thank you again, I really appreciate everything you have done for us.

You should all know not everyone leaves Joseph’s House under perfect circumstances. We have had to ask moms to leave a number of times because there can be a point where, without  their cooperation, we can no longer be of service to them. The last quote above was from one of those moms.  When she left nearly two years ago, we were not among her favorite people. She was at a standstill after spending nearly 18 months with us & was very unhappy with us when she left. Once out on her own however, she blossomed, she matured, she remembered some of what she had taken in while with us and completed her CNA. She now has a great job where she works nights at a wonderful senior center and is beloved by her patients and co-workers. She has reconciled with family and is supporting herself and her kids with their assistance. She has matured in ways I could have never imagined.  As you can probably surmise from last night’s quote, she has also reconciled with us, her Joseph’s House family. We are blessed!

Every time we have had a most difficult departure as we did yesterday, we have been graced by these young moms coming back to thank us, to apologize to us and to reconcile with us. I believe the reason for this is because we always treat them with respect and always in love and kindness. It can be difficult for staff when obscenities are being hurled at them as a young mom departs, but the lack of response to their anger on our part and the fact we return anger with patience and love, always softens hearts and usually diffuses intense situations. In this regard we give thanks and praise for all those who work with us for their gentle hearts that model the behaviors we pray all our moms always remember. One of the biggest lessons we all try to teach and model in our home, is that one does not have to respond emotionally to each and every situation or feeling they encounter.

We try to direct moms to DECIDE how they will react to unexpected situations & feelings. When they figure out what a groundbreaking change decision making is, versus reacting to feelings, a major shift occurs. Along with the quiet and calm exposed to them through rational decision making, an opening is created in their hearts where God can enter and show them a plan for their lives they had never before contemplated. Learning this decision making skill and securing the control needed to insure it, is a huge hurdle for most all of them as they have been immersed in drama since their conceptions in the wombs of their mothers. They have encountered it (drama) since their births, in their families, their living situations and in their everyday culture. We are blessed to have witnessed the change rational decision making provides in many of our moms and to behold the growth and maturity it yields. It is quite simply a monumental experience that helps provide the joy that is the foundation of our work.

Joseph’s House is always about forgiveness, no matter the sins of their pasts or the levels of betrayal. We are about teaching and modeling a way of life which is much like a foreign language to many. This means our work with these moms and their children, to truly succeed, needs to continue after their departure. We accomplish this through our Exodus program and by keeping in touch with as many of our moms as possible, so they come to understand they are loved by us always as they are loved though eternity by their Heavenly Father. We will always be there to continue teaching them, encourage them and support them in any way possible because that’s what family does, it is what Jesus does. We ask for your prayers for a very young mom and her little one who left us yesterday. She is not loving us at the moment as we love her, but our prayer is that very soon her lapsed love for her Joseph's House family will fill her heart once again. We will be waiting for her return home and to her family with open arms!

God Bless you my friends,

Love and prayers,

Kitty                                              

Sowing Seeds of Truth

Happy Sunday My Friends,

Another beautiful sunny Sunday in Syracuse! Hope you get outdoors to enjoy. Our home continues to be very busy. We are home to 8 moms 12 children, most of them toddlers, and have three little ones on the way. You might think it would be chaotic, however we are well staffed with volunteers, (we can always use a few more) and staff to take care of all these little rascals during the day while moms are busy at work, in school and in learning programs. All of our moms are out and about during the day extending their education and embracing opportunities that give them hope for an improved future caring for themselves and their children.

Some of our children greeting visitors at our daycare entrance.

Some of our children greeting visitors at our daycare entrance.

This past week our Life Skills program enjoyed a first! One of our former residents returned to present to our current moms all she has learned through her Joseph House experience, and speak about what living independently with multiple children has taught her. She spoke of everything from finances and saving money, to how to successfully extricate one’s self and stay away from abusive relationships. Our moms were transfixed by this success story and given much hope they may soon be living the same successful life as this Exodus mom. There is not anything more rewarding than witnessing our moms learning from peers who once resided in the same rooms they now occupy.  As you can imagine, this experience is quite a milestone in our Joseph’s House history. Our hope for the future includes many more alumni returning to share their stories in our life skills program, and perhaps one day, even as members of our staff! As everyone at Joseph’s House is well aware, All things are possible with God!

Speaking of Life Skills once again we were taken aback by the wisdom being infused into the minds of these young women through our home. I mentioned a week or two ago our moms’ interest being piqued by the Rosary, Our Blessed Mother, Her apparitions and stories of the Saints. St. Louis de Monforte, St. Maximillian Kobe, St. John Paul II, and St. Theresa of Calcutta, all have written the shortest way to Jesus, is through Mary, so the notion that Mary would lasso in these young women is not surprising. Simply put, as mentioned many times before, Mary, The Good Mother will always deposit us, Her Children, at the feet of Jesus. To see the wisdom of these most glorious saints unfold first-hand in our chapel is a gift beyond measure. This recurring gift presents itself each week as our moms begin to ask questions of leaders and staff, only to have them answered beautifully by their very own peers. Their heartfelt responses come with a light in their eyes and a radiance to their faces that only presents itself when the soul is being infused with truth, with hope and with love. We hear in their answers they have learned God will always give them what they need, sometimes even more than they need, though He may not give them what they want, simply because what they want is not what is best for them and He has something better in mind!

The hearts, minds and souls of these young moms and their children are the fertile soil where seeds are being planted for their future and the future of all those their lives may touch. Joseph’s House is there for them to teach them now and forever, if they should want or need us that long. We are family, always there with a soft shoulder and warm heart. Our expectations are high, but high expectations teach these moms how very capable they are and give them a blue print for raising their own most capable children in the future. 

The chaos in today’s world, in our country, in families and in the homes of many is the result of the restless hearts of people seeking truth. At Joseph’s House seeds of truth are being planted in the freshly tilled soil of hearts, minds and souls of young women. Young women born in the chaos, once without hope, once filled with despair, who now light up at the mention of  the Name of Jesus. Our prayer for our home, for all families, our country and our world is the truth learned in our home founded in God, will be passed far and wide, from generation to generation, so all will feel the tug of Jesus in their hearts, hear the voice of Jesus when He calls, and one day soon will all light up at the mention of His Most Holy Name, Jesus. 

God Bless you my friends and thank you for assisting in planting the seeds that continue to change lives two generations at a time!

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Here I am Lord

Happy Sunday Everyone!

What a glorious day! I know it’s cold but the sun, the pure white snow, the crunch of footsteps, and the  crisp, clean air that clears our heads and fogs up our glasses, are on my list of favorite things. On top of all of that, special birthday gifts appeared in each reading gifted today from the Liturgy of the Hours, in Morning Prayer and in inspirational quotes received from saints in my inbox. Then there was today’s responsorial psalm “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Psalm 40:2,4,7-8,8-9,10

As if all of those blessings were not enough, there was the first reading today from Samuel, one of my favorites, 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19.  Samuel knew he was being called in the middle of the night, he just didn’t know who was calling until Eli clued him in. As Father Dunn said earlier in the week when this reading appeared, “Eli, a man of God, was slipping a little if it took 3 interruptions before he understood who was calling Samuel.” Sounds as if Eli gives us all a little hope!

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How long did it take you to hear the call? How did you hear it? Did Our Lord call you in the night as He did Samuel?  God was calling me my whole life, however since I am rather dense, obstinate and did not have an Eli in my life, I never heard Him until the gut-wrenching 2 AM phone call saying “There has been an accident.”

Five years ago today, Maria, Barry, Leah and I were on the road going to Spring Valley, New York to check out Good Counsel Homes. We were traveling to see if the idea of Joseph’s House was possible. I can remember thinking how unbelievable it was the 2 AM wake-up call received in 2004 had resulted in meeting these most special people 9 years later. I can remember thinking tragedy had resulted in blessings, and prayers were being answered through a promise made to God at the very lowest point of my life. I remember wondering, “Why are you so good to me Lord?”  “What is your plan my Lord?”  and “Thank you dear Lord for answering my prayers by sending these magnificent people into my life.” And the big question, “Do you really want a Joseph’s House, Lord?”

My prayer each morning and evening since the 2 AM  phone call in 2004 has been, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

I will leave you with the words from one of my favorite hymns named Here I am Lord. I promise you, better yet Our Lord promises you, if you give your free will back to God, surrender yourself to Him completely, give Him total responsibility for every aspect of your life, the joy, even through struggles and tears, will be nearly unbearable to contain and you will be singing this refrain to yourself HOPING HE WILLS to awaken you from sleep each and every night.

God Bless you my friends!

Love and Prayers,

Kitty

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.

I who made the stars and night
I will make the darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

I the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people’s pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone
Fill their hearts with love alone
I will speak my word to them
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord
If you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.

The Faith of the Magi

Happy Sunday My Friends and Feast Of The Epiphany!

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This is one of my favorite feast days. I am simply fascinated by the Magi, these three kings from the Far East who traveled to visit the newborn Jesus by following the Star of Bethlehem.  These men were kings who left their kingdoms and traveled, some say for at least nine months, others say for up to two years, because they understood something unprecedented was to occur. They came bearing gifts for a newborn king they understood was greater than themselves. They were Gentiles, pagans, astronomers, uneducated in the ways of the Old Testament, and yet they knew to follow The Star. Could it be they were searching for what was missing in their lives? Was there a void their power, riches, & vast empires could not fill?  How were they able to leave their homes, families, kingdoms to go on a journey following a star? Did they go even those others close to them believed they were a little nuts? Perhaps they were simply fascinated with the story they saw unfolding in the heavens. The heavens created by Almighty God.

And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
— Genesis 1;16-18

Like the Samaritan woman at the well and the Roman soldier who came to Jesus to ask healing for his daughter, these three Kings although they were not of Jewish heritage, were given the grace of faith. They were given an inkling in their hearts and souls that made them open to encountering the truth. The inkling grew and became a light, a light to follow and to guide them, a light changing the history of the world as it shone over the manger where the Truth was born, Christ the King. These three foreign kings and the humble shepherds tending sheep near Bethlehem were the chosen to be infused with knowledge, understanding and wisdom through the voices of angels and the light of a star. A knowledge, understanding and wisdom highly educated Jewish Sadducee, Pharisees and philosophers awaiting the Messiah, were not given.

It is quite apparent Our Lord uses people who are unworthy, uneducated, wide-eyed, naive innocents to do miraculous works.  One simply needs to be seeking truth. The Magi were seeking. They were, with all their wealth and power, wide eyed innocents looking for someone and something greater than themselves. Searching for the answer to what seemed to be missing in their lives by following the light in the sky that was the Star of Bethlehem. There are many lights one can follow leading one to Jesus. It may be the light in the eye of a friend or it may be a light turning on in our minds when we hear the truth spoken for the first time. The light may be made apparent through the Word of God heard at mass or read at home. The light may appear in the compassionate smile of someone we don’t know and yet somehow know cares. The light may even be made apparent when we hear a lie spoken against truth, the truth we somehow inherently know is Jesus Christ Our Lord.

On this day, I give thanks once again for the Magi, for their faith in following the star that led them to The Holy Family. For the wisdom given to them in not reporting back to Herod as instructed. I thank God for their courage in traveling the distance, the long distance by following the most magnificent light given to them, The Star of Bethlehem. The light which led them to behold the majesty of the babe in the manger, the majesty of the Holy Family, the majesty of Christ the King.

The light in your life may not be as bright as the Bethlehem Star, but it has the power to transform the lives of all those you encounter however it may shine through you. Never be afraid, always step out in faith and become a saint for our Lord as did Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, the three Kings who adored Christ. For a fascinating documentary proving the existence of the Star of Bethlehem scientifically as well as scripturally, see the video below.

God Bless you my friends,

Love & Prayers,

Kitty

Feast of the Holy Innocents

This lovely wreath was a gift from the daycare staff at Joseph's House. The green felt wreath is constructed from the hand prints of the children born and saved through the mission of Joseph's House. These hand prints not only represent the children now with us but also represent the more than 80 children who are part of our extended family, more than half of them born here, calling Joseph's House their first home. Joseph's House is truly a haven for the Innocent Children of God

This lovely wreath was a gift from the daycare staff at Joseph's House. The green felt wreath is constructed from the hand prints of the children born and saved through the mission of Joseph's House. These hand prints not only represent the children now with us but also represent the more than 80 children who are part of our extended family, more than half of them born here, calling Joseph's House their first home. Joseph's House is truly a haven for the Innocent Children of God

As many of you know, the 12 days between Christmas and the Epiphany (January 8th) are part of our Christmas season. When the secular world thinks Christmas is over, in our Christian world it is just beginning as we celebrate the very early days of the Christ Child and his devoted parents.

While the 25th of December is a feast of celebration with the birth of Jesus, today is a feast of martyrdom. Martyrdom unchosen, martyrdom committed through the sin of another. Today, December 28th, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Thousands of male children 2 years old and under were massacred by Herod the ruler of Jerusalem at the time of the birth of the Christ child. The wails of the mothers of these most innocent children could be heard for days.

A voice was heard in Ramah, Rachel weeping for her children and she would not be consoled since they were no more
— Matthew 2:18

Herod was a ruthless leader. He was proud, arrogant and selfish. His weakness however was manifested in his fear. Herod slaughtered these innocents for fear of losing his authority. He was fearful of losing his power, losing his riches, losing his place in society, losing his place in the hierarchy of the Roman Empire. He was fearful his legacy would be destroyed and his son would not succeed him. Herod was fearful of a new born baby. Fearful of the The Most Holy Innocence.

It is not any different today. Millions of young men and young women are fearful of their unborn children. Our culture has made them believe they should be afraid of being alienated by friends and family, afraid of being inconvenienced, afraid of the cost of raising this most precious gift, afraid of not being able to care for their own flesh and blood. This fear causes a new massacre, the massacre of innocence caused by abortion. Innocence once again lost due to fear. Martyrdom once again unchosen, martyrdom once again committed through the sin of others.

Fear is one of the greatest catalysts for sin. We are afraid to speak the truth because it may be offensive to those we love, those we admire, those we yearn to be close to the most. We are afraid to speak the truth because sometimes the truth hurts or makes us unpopular. We are afraid to speak up for what is morally correct for fear that we may not be politically correct. When we make decisions based of fear, the results are usually disastrous with horrendous repercussions in our own lives as well as the lives of others.

Worry, anxiety and fear show a lack of trust in God, and nothing is more hurtful to Him than knowing we do not trust Him. These problems are so hurtful to Our Lord, they are considered sinful and should be taken to the confessional.  This can be the first important step in a transformative process where we give all of our problems to our Lord and become patient and trustful enough to allow Him to take care of them. While this may not be easy, it is truly the answer to putting ourselves on the path where our fears are displaced by the hope and joy found in the love of Christ!

If only Herod had known, how different things might have been. God Bless you my friends!

Love and Prayers,

Kitty