The African christian woman: struggles and victories!

 

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Hi guys! This month, I thought it would be interesting to get views from a few ladies on what it means to be an African Christian woman. Each christian has a unique journey but I’d like to believe the African woman has interesting obstacles and stepping stones during her journey that must be shared.

I start with my take on what this journey entails, you will find a lot of differences and similarities between my blog entry and those of my sisters in Christ Sonia, Melisa and Bridget…If you are African and you are christian you will want to read this!

 

Precious

She is an African woman. She is a Christian African woman. This woman’s path is intricate and her journey complex. At times, she takes pride in her appearance; dark skin and rather peculiar but unique hair strands. Other times, she succumbs to the pressures of Western ideals which have been perpetuated so as to envelope the whole world as the “new normal”. Her journey as a Christian is a conundrum to say the least! Juxtapose Christianity and cultural beliefs, you get a soupy mixture that is harsh on the palate and hard to swallow. Her culture is multifaceted and hard to understand, yet understand it she must. Her culture and society as a whole place so much pressure on the woman, to live up, to show up, to face up! This culture has moulded a female figurine which ticks certain boxes as she grows older. Aged 15 –  able to cook check!…25 – married check!…30 –  children check..40 check!…If she gets to 40 with even just one box unchecked, stares and whispers abound! There are cultural expectations that must be met. Her Christian beliefs however tell her that God pilots everything and ticks each box in the right season as life unfolds. Even so, she struggles with the cultural and Christian ingredients that are forcibly mixed and though inferior, must somehow still excite the palate. The African woman has innumerable battles she has fought. She has won some and lost some. She is a work in progress. She is strong, she is witty, she is weak and she is vulnerable. Trying to understand her in her totality would be an exercise in futility. She is bound and she is free! She has struggles but she is victorious!!

Sonia

Being a Christian African woman in 2017 means that you are finally seriously pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus, and seeking to live life the way He tells you while still having to struggle with cultural norms placed upon you by virtue of being African and a woman. It means searching relentlessly to understand who God says you are and not what the black African culture or the Western culture has dictated to you for thousands of years. It means choosing to remain feminine and loving yet assured despite the temptation to assert yourself and get what you want forcefully because of all the injustice you and your maternal ancestors have endured for decades. It means an internal battle to remain loving, selfless and compassionate without losing yourself in the process or becoming a doormat. It means returning to God’s definition of woman as He originally intended.

Bridget

Being a christian african woman in 2017 means learning to trust God and allowing God to build my character. I have always thought I have it all together, I like to be in control and try to calculate how things will turn out- It gets frustrating when things don’t work out the way I want them too.  this year has shown me that I have flaws and they are not pretty and I have to work on them. It’s been a painful yet growing experience. 2017 has shown me that I have to learn who to let God be on control and learn to trust him. I am not sure what that really entails but I’m a work in progress.

Melisa

I thought and rethought of the words to write regarding being a Christian woman without sounding like I am glossing over the real journey of being a woman in the Lord, in fact just being a Christian . What does it mean to be a Christian woman in 2017? To answer this question I need to start by saying to be a Christian you need to fully realise that you cannot do it in and of yourself, but that you need Christ to be your compass. Realising that you are fallen and you need a saviour and that in the absence of grace your life, in fact your very existence is meaningless. In 2017, well as each year unfolds you realise how easy it is to write off the world as one that is perishing and the biggest temptation is to compromise. Being bombarded daily with the opinions of a world that tries to convince you that your pursuit of a Saviour is no different from people who believe in the ‘spaghetti monster’ to be a deity makes it immensely difficult to share your faith because the world for some reason has convinced us that it matters what everyone else thinks. We try our hardest to tip-toe around many issues because ‘heaven forbid’ if we ruffle some feathers or say anything that might make it seem as though we are intolerant. In my personal journey I have often found myself asking God, ‘Can’t I just mind my own business, love you and serve you in this upsetting the world?’ Perhaps, this might make people question my standing but I find being a Christian woman, while my faith is a personal choice, confessing it publicly is not such an issue but sharing my beliefs is a difficult task that I often find myself shying from speaking out and later when I get home I am filled with regret realising that the word of God actually says do not worry about the adversity you will experience remembering that the world hated Him first. It is in those moments that you realise God, never gave a second thought to giving Christ His son as a ransom for you and I and so I say to myself, then why do I and why should I?

 

Each woman’s story is different YET there are similar threads woven into each of them. I hope you found this insightful.  Do you relate with some of these stories? Do you have struggles and victories? Gleam of Dawn would like to hear from you as we continue on the quest to find out who we really are and where we are going as African sisters! Have hope. Be inspired. Share the Light!

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Identity matters: Know who you are! (Part 1)

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What is the world going to think now? What must I do to convince them otherwise? Are you spending most of your time trying to please God or people? If you are worried about the latter then you may very well spend the rest of your life trying to achieve that goal. It is a futile exercise! People are so different. If you aim to please everyone then you may seriously need to go back to the drawing board because in one way or the other, you are being pretentious.

“If you are busy pleasing everyone, you are not being true to yourself”
― Jocelyn Murray

While I would like to talk about pleasing people extensively, that’s not what I feel I should talk about right now. I really felt it was necessary to talk about our Identity as women.

Identity matters! As an African woman there are certain things that cannot totally be divorced from in our lives.  We all have different roles that we play when we are with different individuals. I am a wife, a sister, a friend, and a daughter…I am also an African.

Identity doesn’t just occur in a vacuum. It’s a construction, one that you are working on with each passing day. In constructing your identity it is important to know why you are here in the first place and what you aim to achieve in your lifetime.

Know who you are, once you find your purpose it becomes easier to live fulfilling life. When you know who you are, where you have come from and where you are going you will find satisfaction and fulfilment in the things you do.

The main reason why we don’t always find satisfaction and fulfilment is because we have misplaced our identities.

From the time you were conceived, God identified YOU as his OWN.

Are we on the same page with God or are we identifying with God only when it is convenient for us? I find it interesting that sometimes we speak about God only when it is convenient or when the crowd allows.  Identity matters affect us all. In knowing who you are it is important to remember we are his own. There is nothing mediocre about God. I am not mediocre nor are you…

Here are a few nuggets relating to our identity as women that can help us embrace our God given identity.

Fitting in vs Being set apart

Being a woman is an identity that is wonderful but is has its challenges. It is easy to wonder how you will fit in a gathering or society and in trying to fit in you may become so fixated on adjusting your identity in order to influence what others ultimately think of you. I WANT THEM TO LIKE ME. While this is true, pleasing people is sometimes incongruent with what God wants. When this happens, choose to please God. We must be cognisant of the fact that while it is impossible to  please everyone, we can still serve Christ through our conversations with others. You cannot minister to others without conversing with them…Biblically, a Christian identity calls for you to be caring, nurturing and selfless. The bible also says we should work with our hands, live a quiet life and mind our own business. Help us Lord!!!

Confidence vs Arrogance

Have confidence in yourself and in Christ. As women, our identity in Christ should make us realise that there is no need to be unnecessarily apologetic. If you get a raise at work, give thanks to God and stand tall. If you feel good in what you are wearing, stand tall and have confidence in yourself. Unfortunately, Christianity is often associated with poverty and suffering.  While meekness and humility are traits of a true Christian, feeling sorry for yourself is not a true marker of a child of the most high God.

We don’t serve a substandard God. He is the most High. Arrogance on the other hand is what will make you think you are better than everyone else. Arrogance will make you look down on everyone else. There is nothing Godly about arrogance and all it comes with. While a Christian should go through some challenges to grow, the word says we shall be lenders and not borrowers. Heads and not tails, we are above and not beneath.

Looking Good vs Looking Flamboyant

Lastly, your image should exude your femininity.  I am not talking about vanity here or walking around making everyone else feel small. Jacob bought his son Joseph a coat of many colours…was this flamboyance or what? I think not, he was just a proud father who wanted to make his son feel appreciated and loved.  Clothes matter, they do not define you but they certainly play a role in your identity. Looking good can be done inexpensively! Take the time to look good because you are God’s OWN.

~Gleam of Dawn~

Taah

You are not meant to be perfect, you are meant to be whole…

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“We are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole.  I would be sitting here and lying if I said that my life has always been beautiful and there were no downs and deep valleys or places that were dark. It’s not bad to have down moments because they snap you right back into shape, you are human and you shouldn’t have to have a perfect life”- Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle couldn’t have worded it any better!

Trying to maintain a façade of perfection is exhausting because it’s a perpetual LIE. This is not to say life is all doom and gloom; life is pretty darn amazing but each beautiful thing has its thorns.

So many people have gone through some serious challenges for them to be where they are today.

Bringing it closer home, most of us growing up dreamt of having a perfect house, perfect spouse, perfect children with a perfect white picket fence and a perfect ‘little’ life.  Now that I look back, if I could say something to a younger version of me, I would probably say…have dreams but don’t get caught up in the “reality” of TVNothing is ever picture perfect. A catchy saying goes, “No sweat, no sweet”. Jesus had to bleed and die to make us Conquerors and Victors. The creator of the Universe had to make himself the ultimate sacrifice life in order that we be saved.

Going back to that white picket fence I alluded to earlier, and here is where it gets tough, you are going to have to chop some trees and buy an axe (hypothetically speaking) before you put it up around your yard. Question is, are you willing to do the work and are you willing to accept the fact that you will even have to go through some ditches and valleys as you try to build your tomorrow, it being all encompassing (life acquisitions, self-discovery, fulfilment, self-actualisation and so on and so on)?

There is something about perfection that is so appealing. It seems apparent in the lives of others when they seem to have it all figured out and simply breeze through life. Guess this is why many of our younger selves looked at life through rose tinted windows. We expected to waltz into the perfect life that we had transferred straight from our television sets onto the mental projections of our futures.

I would have to echo what someone once said… “ If people are portraying perfection then they probably are not telling the whole truth”.  Nothing and no one is picture perfect; we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God – Romans 3 vs 23. I am no exception, nor are you.

Television is television and pictures are pictures…reality is quite a different ball-game altogether. Don’t aspire to live a “perfect little life” because there is no such thing.  Aspire instead to live a wholesome life that is fulfilling regardless of the pitfalls met along the way. The only one that can fill you up and make you whole is the very source of life. He who drinks from the source of life will never thirst again-John 4 vs 14.

Reality must never be substituted with façades. One is real and one simply isn’t.  Don’t try to be the perfect blameless Christian who does everything right and makes the right move all the time…Be who you are and never be ashamed. Only aspire to be better and God will guide you through the trying times in your life. He who has started a good work in you will see it through to completion-Phillipianns 1:6.

We are constantly in the process of being perfected and sanctified…expect some pit stops along the way and remember that you will certainly pass through a valley every now and again. When this happens, be glad because God is working in your life. He is pruning the overgrown branches in your life and constantly transforming you into better versions of YOU. Expect life to be LIFE but through it all remain true and give Glory to GOD for he is good!

~Gleam of Dawn~

Taah

 

DO IT! DO IT NOW!!!

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It’s exciting to be back after a few months of battling with writer’s block. I really wanted to write and post something but if I must be brutally honest…I simply find it hard to pen my thoughts if I have to scrounge around for content. Gleam of dawn is a platform  that was purposefully created to speak to someone somewhere from the heart. Sharing the light, giving hope and inspiring others.

As I was preparing to go to bed one day…it dawned on me that I had to talk about Planning… Doing… Failing…Doing… Done! The proof is never in what could have been done. It’s always in that ready set pudding.

Fellow gleams, good to have you back. I’m sure you have some dreams for the year. Some have written resolutions and some have simply given up on writing those because they never come around to achieving their goals. Preaching to the choir anyone? Well that’s exactly why this piece is for you. You thought you could and then you tried but then you failed…you thought it was easier to give up but then hope whispered one more try! In 2017 I challenge you to do what you have been dreaming about doing for years but have been shelving because it seems so unachievable. If it was so unachievable how did others achieve it? A penny for your thoughts.

Five things to remember as you, me and everyone in between shift our mindsets and attitudes in the direction of achieving our innermost dreams.

1. Be accountable for your actions

When you leave things for tomorrow, you fail to make the most of the irreplaceable time you have. Writing what you want to do down helps you to remain accountable to you. If you want to succeed and climb that mount everest it is really up to you. It really is that simple except it’s that hard! This is why motivational speakers are hired again and again. People get pumped up when a speaker comes but they forget  to APPLY the well woven advice that got them fired up after a few days of dealing with LIFE. Write your dreams and go after them. Pursue the ladder of progress and though and it might be by painful effort through self denial…You will get there! Maybe not immediately but Definitely. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

2. Pain and failure are pavers to self-actualisation

We have all experienced pain and disappointment. Perhaps 2016 was a painful year, perhaps you failed at something. Well…failure or pain can never be divorced from the medley of life. When pain does come remember you need to know pain to understand joy. Blood had to be shed by Jesus Christ for us to obtain the ultimate price..eternal life! Everyone born of a woman has experienced pain but not everyone will go the distance when the road gets rough. You can do go the extra mile and you can do it now! If God is for you nothing and no one can be against you -Romans 8 vs 31. What the enemy has intended for evil can be turned around for good. You have to believe this!

3. Face your fears

Have u ever been crippled by your fears? I know I have but those that I turn to for sound advice all echo the same sentiments. We have all been scared but fear should not stop you from reaching your full potential. Our greatest adviser the holy spirit is that voice of hope that tells you that you can slay the beast ahead of you.  We construct most of our fears in our mind but Jesus simply tells us not to worry because this enemy will stall your progress. If you are afraid or if u have ever been afraid like me, we must meditate on the promises of God. God loves us and wants you to go for the hold this year. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love- 1 John 4:18

4. God has the final say

When you decide to put matters solely into your hands, the results can be catastrophic and that’s no understatement.  I am talking Tsunami’s, El nino’s- the whole nine yards. I’ve been reminded of this so many times.  Everything I have tried to do by myself has failed and what you learn is that you are not in control of your life-GOD IS- God wants you to be great and your responsibility is to do your best but if you fail to reach your goal after doing everything then trust in God and lean not on your understanding. It is all part of his master plan. He always has the best in store for us.

~Gleam of Dawn~

Taah

I NEED THIS ONE THING!

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So you are begging God for this one thing. You have been working on your faith but it’s not really where it’s supposed to be. You are aware of this BUT if God comes through for you with this ONE thing, this ONE relationship, this ONE assignment, this ONE trial then your faith in him will be renewed.

*SIGH* I’ve been there have you?

Looking around, the world we live in is full of chaos and sin, there is always something to pray about. The problem is that we so called christians is that we can get so caught up in asking God to come through. Getting into a transactional relationship will not please God. In other words, you don’t need to pray to God so that he can give you this or that. Instead, going to church or praying to God should be done because of LOVE. Love does not expect anything in return so even when he does not give you the one thing that you had been fasting for, you still trust him and most importantly you still thank him because you know he has plans to prosper you and not to harm you.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

GRATITUDE is what is expected of us from God. Instead of focusing on that ONE thing that God needs to do, it is essential to focus on the MANY things that God has done for you in the past and even in this moment. Mankind can get so engrossed with needs that need to be met now now and now! If you are reading this, you are probably blessed to have electricity or whatever gadget you might be using to access the internet. You have probably been blessed with the basic amenities of life. Instead of moving at lightning speed to fulfil the next level of your hierarchy of needs that are essential for you to self-actualise…Take the time to thank God.

What makes God move is not your constant requests. God moves when you sing songs of praise and gratitude because he has brought you this far.

Thank God today, thank him for yesterday, thank him for today, trust him with your tomorrow.

Take the time make a list of the things that you have prayed for and he has delivered time and time again. A famous song says count your blessings; name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Many would have very much wished to be doing what you are doing today but some are constrained to hospital beds and some did not live to see the day.

Look around you, God has been faithful to you and he deserves your praise.

He already knows your One thing but instead of focusing on your One thing, give him One thing. PRAISE!

Psalm 146:2 “I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

 

~Gleam Of Dawn~

Taah

When the sandstorms of tribulation blind you-HE SEES

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David, a man after God’s own heart, Job, the man who knew what it meant to persevere and Joseph, the dreamer who paid a huge price for sharing his dreams all claimed victory but only after experiencing defeat. They ran into some trouble.

God never promised a life void of trouble, in fact the Lord unequivocally says “In this life you will have troubles of many kinds…” (John 16:33). The Lord ran into some troubles of his own, he was persecuted, betrayed and people spat on him but He overcame.

Here are a few lessons from David the Psalmist, a man God says is a man after my own heart. David wasn’t perfect but through it all David held onto God.

I find it interesting that when David wrote Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He wasn’t lying in green pastures; he was a fugitive that was running away from King Saul. David goes on to say “My cup runneth over”…but was his cup running over?? Literally, far from it, he was in a cave BUT David looked past his physical needs when he wrote this. In his heart, he had an abundance of Joy, an abundance of peace. God had quenched the thirsting in his soul.

Almost all of David’s Songs are written during this time; David expressed Joy in a Cave. THAT’S PROFOUND! We could learn a thing or two from David.

God is still God nomatter what you face good or bad. The hardships that befall you are orchestrated conveniently to make you dependent on God. The experiences you face are never ever fruitless! Come rain come sunshine, God is a faithful God, if he brings you to it he will bring you through it. Many times we forget where God brought us from, right down in the miry clay is where you were but Human minds forget! The minute trouble knocks at the door is the minute you blame God for the trials in life.

A life void of trouble is not a blessing because without trials you would take so many things that you have for granted.

Instead of blaming God, hold on to the one who has your name inscribed on the palm of his hand. THAT’S LOVE.

Like David the Psalmist says “I will life up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help, my help cometh from the Lord. The Lord which made heaven and earth. He said he will not suffer thy foot, thy foot to be moved the Lord which keepeth thee, He will not slumber nor sleep…”

God is always there for you he spares not a moment to take a break from all our prayers, instead of looking at the fact that you are going through trouble… shift your focus to God because he is there for you. Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, HE KNEW YOU. He knew you then, he knows you now and he knows your tomorrow because HE IS IN CONTROL. Nothing and no one can be against you. God never slumbers nor sleeps, God hasn’t failed you yet and he never will!

Great is HIS faithfulness, all we have needed HIS hand hath provided. He is in control!

Gleam Of Dawn

~Taah~

Beggar on a Beach of Gold

 

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We are in April :)…I hope you are all well and your 2016 resolutions are coming to fruition. This month I thought to tackle a topic that many write about, dream about and worry about…This topic is a conundrum that we go to great lengths to understand…HAPPINESS!

Why in the world is it so difficult to be truly happy? Some pretend to be happy, some appear happy but aren’t, some don’t appear happy but actually are, some appear miserable but are indeed happy.

Human beings tend to quantify happiness, the term is often associated with earthly acquisitions but that’s not what happiness is all about OR IS IT?

A story is told about a woman and her gardener. The gardener lived by her cottage with his wife. This woman had all the possessions money could buy, cars, a huge house, gadgets and then some! Her children had left to start their own lives and she hardly spent time with her husband. Out of sheer boredom she would often look outside and observe the birds and insects in her yard. As she did this, she couldn’t help but notice that her gardener did his work cheerfully. She also noticed something rather peculiar, (peculiar to her that is). Every day after work her gardener would go and purchase a coke and bread He would share the bread and coke with his wife; they would sit by their cottage porch and laugh about anything and everything.

In her mind, this woman had more reason to bask in the rays of happiness but for one reason or another she wasn’t feeling its warmth.

She ‘seemingly’ had everything. Yet still…here she was.

After some time, the puzzled woman gathered up some courage to confront her gardener, she wanted to know why he seemed to be so happy with his life.  When asked, his response was that the greatest gift he had been given in this journey of life was life itself. As long as he woke up alive and well, he had all the reason to be happy. He was grateful for his wife and the little he had. It wasn’t about acquisitions for him. When we juxtapose the two lives from the story… we see that Happiness really boils down to attitude, more specifically gratitude for what God has blessed you with; however big or small.

 Life is a social construction, from birth children are taught that to be happy and successful, one must become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or an accountant, among other things. So the idea that to be happy one needs to have this or that becomes a construct that is woven into the fabric of our lives. Without a car or without a massive house it then becomes impossible to achieve true happiness in our eyes”.

Success and Happiness are words so easily misunderstood.

 We are all born with a void that can only be filled by our creator. Earthly possessions will provide momentary satisfaction but they will not give happiness. You can find yourself begging God for more, you forget to look at the gold you are sitting on , don’t take your blessings for granted. Someone is praying for the blessings you so easily overlook.

There is so much to be thankful for, look around. Whatever else you feel you need, GOD is!

“Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” Psalm 144:15.

Gleam of Dawn

~Taah~

I have ‘I’ ssues…

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Sitting in a chair at a conference where my friend had taken me, I glanced at the sermon title on the screen in front of us. I have ‘I’ssues, the ‘I’ purposefully written in an uppercase letter. ‘I’ have Issues, I thought. Some serious ones at that!!!

After the praise and worship session, the preacher began…Here are a few things I learnt that I thought to share…

Going back to the garden of Eden, the reason why we all have issues is because of what transpired in Genesis Chapter 3:1 reads, The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made

To say I don’t like serpents would be an understatement. Those creatures terrify me, everything about them makes me cringe!They are crafty and cunning. Snakes don’t spare a moment to blink (in reality they actually don’t blink),  not a moment is lost! The serpent Lucifer does the same when it comes your Issues, he will constantly prey on your weakness and he will discourage and tempt you in a form and shape tailor made to suit you. If your weakness is stealing, he will make sure that friend of yours drops some money or leaves his wallet at an opportune time for you to grab a buck or two.

He knows what your Issues are and will tempt you right where it stings!!

Eve started to have Issues in the garden of Eden, she developed a curious mind. She wanted everything. Nothing ever good comes when we become like Eve and we want what is not ours. She was not only curious and discontented but she started to doubt whether there would be negative repercussions in eating the forbidden fruit. She Doubted God.

Issues germinate and thrive when you DOUBT God and what he can do in your life Doubt is the number one tool that the serpent uses to destroy the relationship we have with God. He makes you wonder whether you are good enough, whether you have a purpose in this life and whether you are going anywhere with your life. Before you know it…You have some serious Issues that refrain you from realising your worth as a daughter or son of the most High God.

Even before you were born, God set you apart from everything and anyone else, there will never be another you and your purpose in life is uniquely crafted for you.

When Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, it tasted good. Sinning can provide some ‘benefits’ which you may enjoy…momentarily. Unfortunately, the problem with s ‘I’ n is that I becomes the center of your life. What I need, What I want and what I feel takes precedence before God’s will for your life.

I am not sure what your Issues are, but we all have our fair share of horrendous Issues. Some are possessed by their possessions, some have insecurities, some are dealing with discontentment and some tend to judge.

We all know our Issues…

As humans, we were born into sin. Nobody can say he/she has not s‘I’nned or put his/her needs before Gods. Even still, no problem is too big for God and none of your Issues are too big for him. To think we can rely on an earthly fix to conceal or deal with them would be a futile exercise…

We cannot do it on our own. We can never escape the devils snares relying on our own strength. If we rely on ourselves, we will hit a brick wall sooner or later then the cycle starts again. Philippians 4 vs 13 states that we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength. Christ conquered the world and all the issues that come along with it.

Whatever Issues you may have, God will redeem you, if you let him. As Christians, let us take the time to tell our SAVIOUR what our Issues are. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just. He will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness-I John 1:9. Be Blessed.

~Gleam of Dawn~

Taah