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The two boys were painstakingly specific in their color choice. You simply can’t give your dad a pink rose bush for Father’s Day. The boys circled the pallets of “Knock Out Roses” like vultures, searching for “the perfect red, big and beautiful rose bush.

Way to go guys!

It was only Tuesday, several days before dad’s big day.

A rose bush is a creative gift choice.

They were buying their gift, with their money.

Way to go, mom! Good training.

That’s good training, but picking out a great gift for dad is only one point in cultivating honor in the hearts of children. ( PLEASE don't stop reading this if you don't have children at home. It's a great article and a strong prayer point for you to pray for someone you know.

Cultivation

Why is it that weeds flourish and select seedling have to be labourously cultivated?

Honor is one of those choice trees that you strategically plant to anchor your landscape.

It is planted as a focal point.

It must be nutured.

Watered.

Fertilized.

Honor?

It's an old fashioned word, but it's not out dated. Still you  have to roll it around in your mouth to taste it…discern it…savor it!

We get it when we see it in noun form-- honest people living with integrity.

But explaining the verb "honor" is even tougher.

To give honor.

Valuing or esteeming someone.

Deference or "respectful submission or yielding to the judgment, opinion, will, etc., of another." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/deference />

But honor, like the American chestnut has experienced a catastrophic attack.

Maybe you are too young to have seen the Smokey Mountains  in their hey day! (I'm way too young.) Or maybe you haven't heard of the plight of the American Chestnut. By 1940 four billion American chestnut trees were killed by a fungus blight. By 1950 95% of all American chestnut trees were affected. While it is extremely rare to see even a single scrawny chestnut sapling now, at one time, one third of all the trees in the Smokey Mountains were American Chestnut.

This fast growing, beauty  (especially in the Fall) was the big-boy of the Smokey Mountains.  A mature tree trunk measured 9-10 feet in diameter. Foresters considered them the best hardwood timber in America. Its lumber was straight grained, durable and rot resistant. The tannic acid from the bark was used in tanning leather. The yummy, sweet nuts inside rotund purses bristling with long, burr-like spines, were coaxed open by the gnarly fingers of cold Fall frosts. Mammas with their brood of children, as well as street peddlers filled burlap sacks will fat nuts for roasting. The bears and the squirrels depended on them as their major food source. Many of these animals died as a result of the demise of this valuable American treasure.

American Chestnut.JPG
"American Chestnut" by Original uploader was Peatcher at de.wikipedia - Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

What does the fungus do to the tree?

“The fungus forms open sore-like cankers on the tree's trunk and branches, cutting off nutrients from the soil. Soil microorganisms protect the tree's roots, so the chestnut sprouts again and again where the long-dead trunk stood.”   [1] Source accessed 6/11/2014 http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/dff10-chestnut.htm

The American Chestnut Foundation explains, “The American chestnut tree is not extinct or even technically endangered. There are still millions of sprouts throughout its native range, mostly in forest areas.” [2] Source accessed 6/11/2014  http://www.acf.org/FAQ.php

But the article continues , “They are effectively extinct.”

The new trees are not producing nuts, or reproductive seeds, which are essential for reforestation.

Honor is like the American chestnut.

Nobody wants to claim that it is extinct, but we are not seeing it reproduced in our culture.

There are benefits that come with cultivating honor.

People are valued above things.

Sacrifice and serving is celebrated, not endured.

Love means more than only sexual gratification.

Males are not bashed and females are not smashed.

But honor doesn’t grow wild.

It’s not a volunteer crop, like a wild onion.

Honor must be cultivated.

And the best garden is the home garden.

Where children are taught to honor their father and mother.

Often the reason children do not honor their teachers, police officers and people in authority is they have not been taught to honor their parents.

This is not condemnation.

It is a call to recognize the problem so we can find and execute the cure.

While I realize the canker sores that have attacked the tree of honor is painful and destructive, we must treat the tree and not the fruit from that tree.

And since it's almost Father's Day, I want to give wives some specific suggestions that will help you to

Cultivate Honor in your home by starting with you.

How do you treat your husband? ( Please don't make excuses or allowances. Just think about your attitude.)

You may have a handle on this one and if you do, great.

But even if your husband isn't perfect….he still deserves honor.

Honor is esteeming them as valuable. When things or people are valuable, you treat them differently.

1. Model honor to your children.

He doesn’t have to be a perfect dad to deserve respect.

Respect his role as father.

2. Don’t speak disparagingly about your husband.

Not to them.

Not to your friends.

Not to your family. (This does not include abuse.)

3. Encourage him.

Brag on his strengths and successes.

Be sure your compliments are sincere. It's not enough to think them. Say them to him and about him. And say them often!! (Wayne, loved this one.)

Let your children hear you brag on him.

Talk with your children about his strengths,

How hard he works,

how good he is at his job,

or woodworking,

or cleaning the kitchen.

How gentle he was when they were a baby.

His patience with them when he taught them to hit a ball. (I know you get where I'm going.)

Celebrate their dad with them.

Compliment improvements and best efforts.

4. Focus, deliberately focus, on the good and not the bad.

5. Don’t make him the buffoon of your jokes.

Sorry. I didn't mean to scream at you, but this is important. I hate male bashing of any kind, but I absolutely refuse to dishonor my husband with it.

6. Don’t roll your eyes behind his back, when you disagree.

7. Fight in private.

Learn how to fight fair. And practice it.

I didn't come from a culture that honored men. I saw first hand the ravages that come with a blighted, painful mindset of dishonor.

But there is a cure or at least a remedy.

The discovery of hypovirulence

They don't know where it came from, but Scientist discovered a virus growing on the fungus that weakened the fungus just enough for the tree to grow bark around the canker, so the tree could heal.

I am convinced that cultivating honor in your home is God's good plan for you and your children.

Wives HONOR begins with you.

Don't let your husband be a man without honor!

 

If you need help. Ask God to help you.

Also, please pray for someone that is struggling with honoring their husband.

 

And too the men reading this post, Be a honorable man. We need you more than you realize!

And dads, Happy Fathers Day. I hope you are given a gift of honor.

[1] http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/dff10-chestnut.htm

[2] http://www.acf.org/FAQ.php Accessed June 11, 2014.

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run your race with purpose

You will never hear me say, "Please, let me run". But that's what I read in the story of Absalom’s coup in Scripture.

And I've heard my daughter-in-law, Jenny, say it in response to my wanting to give her a break away from the children. I suggested shopping. She suggested running.

Maybe, I noticed the two runners, although they were only minor characters in the story, because Jenny and her dad, Jim Popma, had just completed the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 4th. Jenny’s took first 4th place in her age group in her first marathon.

Jim ranked 2nd in his age group, which qualified him for the Boston Marathon. Second place!

Congratulations Jim and Jenny! You amaze me and baffle me!

My stop at 2 Samuel 18 took me to the scene of

Two runners:

Ahimaaz the son of Zadok the priest

and the Cushite

Two runners. One finish line.

But before we watch the race,

let’s visit a broken hearted father as he deals with the rebellion of his proud, ambitious son that will stop at absolutely nothing to seize his father's throne.

 

King David is rendered almost senseless. Wise advisors help him escape and insist that he remain safely in Mahanaim while his army faces Absalom’s insurrection under the command of the capable and zealous General Joab.

 

King David stood at the gate as the three regiments of soldiers left for battle. Everyone heard the pain in his voice as he utters one final instruction, "Treat the young man Absalom gently for my sake." (2 Samuel 18:5)

Absalom’s insurgence cost twenty thousand men their lives that day. In the thick of the battle Absalom tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great oak, his head (KJV says hair) got caught. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. (What a scene that must have been!)

Absalom’s crowning glory becomes his noose, as he dangles from the branches by his thick hair. (Do you think the soldiers laughed?) Joab and his men killed Absalom, buried him and piled stones on the grave. With the blast of his trumpet, Joab gathered his victorious army.

All that was left now was for someone to carry the news to King David. Joab gave that responsibility to one of his men, a Cushite. He took off running to deliver the message with the expedience that was due.

 

But Ahimaaz wanted to go. Joab explained that the news would not be good news in the ears of a grieving father. He reminded him that there would be no compensation, no reward for running this time. Even worse, there was that time a messagener lost his life for the news he carried (2 Samuel 1)

When Ahimaaz persisted, Joab relented. Ahimaaz took a shortcut and out ran the Cushite arriving first. 

28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, "All is well!" He bowed low with his face to the ground and said, "Blessed be the LORD your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against you."

29 "What about young Absalom?" the king demanded. "Is he all right?" Ahimaaz replied, "When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn't know what was happening." (2 Samuel 18:28,29 NLT)

 

Ahimaaz, you didn’t tell the truth!

I realize that... running with that message was worse than running with scissors.

 

Then why did you go?

cause you like to run?

you love the competition?

you wanted an audience with the king?

 

But, you failed the king.

You only ran for your personal aggrandizement!

And what about you, children's ministry leader?

Are you just out for a run or you carrying a message?

Why are you in Children's Ministry?

I mean the real reason?

Are you entertaining or sustaining?

Sometimes we earn the name "baby sitter" because that's what we do!

 

Children are facing real problems! They need real answers. God's got them. We must carry the message that connects them with hope--with Jesus.

 

I understand the value of etertainment, but we can't step aside like Ahimaaz and let someone else deliver truth. That's our job as parents and children's ministry leaders. 

That's our job!

 

Yes, let's laugh with kids! Let's have games and fun...but deliver the message!

Yes, there are stop signs in Scripture.

And there are truths that are hard to live out.

But kids need TRUTH!

 

The Cushite ran with purpose.

He ran with a message and delivered it.

It was a message that would gouge the very heart of the king, but the servant delivered it.

 

That had to have been more dangerous than running with scissors.

But it didn't stop him! 

Two runners crossed the same finish line, but they had different goals!

 

And Parents!

Your goal is higher than just raising happy kids!

You are preparing them for eternity.

Your goal is to help them know God.

The same finish line, but a different goal!

 

It requires the heart of a Marathoner to run this race.

what hindered you from running your race

Endurance.

Faithfulness.

Pain.

Loss.

Faith.

It’s not enough to just run.

Don't you just love Jim's sweat band!

And they don't even look like they finished a marathon.

In ministry, it’s not enough to only enjoy a good run.

We must run with the message of TRUTH and deliver it faithfully.

 

Paul writes to the Galatian believers, You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? Galatians 5:7

.

Run your race well. 

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Granny, just plain Granny, was a character we all, staff and kids alike, loved. I was in charge of the children's ministry and Shirley was the pianist, lover of kids and my  partner in everything that went on in Children's Ministry. Shirley decided to stretch herself by developing a grandma costumed character. Granny was the old-fashioned variety, not at all like the modern Granny I envision myself being. (Don't laugh! I'm a hip Nana! That's what everyone said after that picture someone posted of me Sunday!)

She wore what my mama's generation called a house dress. It buttoned down the front and hung below the knees. Her shoes were out-dated high tops. She dressed sorta like Vicki Lawrence's Mama character. But instead of being critical and demeaning, she was warm and loving.

When she was on the schedule to tell a story, I announced, "Oh, there's Granny!"  as I selected one of the children to open the door and help her into the class. My intention was to encourage respect and good etiquette, but to them, it was a special treat. Granny entered the room slowly and deliberately, leaning heavily on her cane and then lowered herself into an awaiting rocking chair at the front.

The first time our special Granny entered the room, I was surprised how the children responded. Almost as if on cue, the children moved down front and gathered around her rocking chair. They moved in close, politely, even quietly. Sitting on the floor, they hung on every word. The subsequent weeks weren't always so quiet, but Granny could calm them almost instantly. That picture of kids of all ages sitting at Granny's feet while they listened to Granny's stories is a treasured memory.

She loved those children and they knew it.

They wanted to come close.

Granny, aka Shirley, saw it in their faces…in their eyes. They loved her and they wanted to hear what she had to say. No one encouraged them to move, that was never our intention, however, they simply responded to her by moving close.

That's the power of an effective costumed character.

 

That's what Mary did, the Mary in the Bible. Jesus was at their house. Actually, it was Martha's house, but she and their brother Lazrus lived there too. Martha was cooking, which she always seemed to be doing.

Martha, I know the feeling! ...but unlike me you weren't known as the smoke alarm queen. The other day I put some chicken in the crock  pot on high, when I got home I had chicken jerky on the bone. It was rock hard and I'm not exaggerating. Sorry....

But Mary moved close as she heard Jesus talking.

I'm not sure she actually intended to melt onto the floor at His feet, but somehow that's where she ended up. I wonder if she was still mindlessly holding the dish rag as she lowered herself to be near Jesus.

There was just something about Him.

  • His life changing words.
  • The power and authority that He spoke them with.
  • His love.
  • His miracles.

Without being coerced, she simply sat at His feet.

Mary sat at Jesus feet to learn, to heal, to worship. It was a position of moving close.It wasn't a position of fear…she wasn't under His feet…she was at His feet.

  • It wasn't a defeated position
  • nor a cowering position

No. At His feet was a place to

  • learn
  • heal
  • worship

There is no doubt she was

curious
hopeful
engaged

It was a place

she could see Him

...hear Him

she wouldn't be distracted

she could watch His facial expressions
she could feel His touch.

She seems to be drawn there naturally, like the children were to Granny.

And that's where Martha, busy, energetic, accomplished Martha found her--sitting at Jesus feet. While she had been stirring the cook pot, turning the bread and bringing water. Greeting guests. Smiling as if she didn't have a hundred things to do before they sat down to eat. If all the disciples were there with Jesus, then she had a huge, hungry bunch of men waiting for something to eat. And her job, was to prepare hearty, great tasting food and serve it in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. And it was especially overwhelming, when she realized her help was sitting idle while she worked.

Shierking her duties?

  • her guests?

  • their needs?

But Jesus had a different view of the situation than Martha.

He always sees the heart of the matter.

Jesus saw
A hungry heart Luke 10:39
A hurting heart John 11:32 
A worshipful heart John 12:3

The way Jesus saw it...

Mary was very busy. She was simply choosing to come close.

She was taking care of the one thing that really mattered the most. The vital thing and He would not deprive her of the one thing that mattered the most. Mary recognized the one thing, so she positioned herself accordingly.

Martha didn't see it at first,

so Jesus helped her see.
He helped her recognize the one thing with the greatest value of all- His presence. I love the wording that is used in the NLT, "My dear Martha,"

He didn't condemn.

Or ridicule. He didn't devalue her or her gift of serving. He simply used the teachable moment to helped Martha see, what we, yes, I'm a Martha too. What we Martha's almost never see is the ONE  THING that is most important.
And that one thing...drum roll please...is positioning ourselves at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, like the kids in our children's church did Granny.

While it doesn't have to be a physical position of sitting on the floor.

It must be a deliberate positioning of the heart.
A position that moves us away from distractions,
away from routines
and even productivity.
A position at the feet of Jesus,
all the way to a intimate place of learning,
healing
and worshipping Jesus.

It's not easy for a Martha.

There are always things to do. Places to go. And the world needs us Marthas.  We get so much done.

But none of that matters if we don't have Jesus at the center of what we do.

Whether we are a Martha or a Mary or a Lazarus, we have responsibilities and talents that we are assigned to use for Him. Yet, our work, our fun, our endless "To Do List" should never prevent us from the ONE THING- Jesus; that really matters. Life has a way of piling up. Problems can accumulate making us want to just run away and hide someplace safe. Instead, position yourself regularly and strategically at the feet of Jesus to learn, to heal to worship.

We never outgrow our need of Him.

We were made for connection.
Worship and prayer IS that vital connection point.

You can miss it!

Martha was a good woman, a special woman, but she almost missed God's best. She almost missed it, while she was doing good things.  But she didn't!

You can miss it, but please don't.

The message of this story is not to stop serving, just let Jesus be the core from which all your serving flows.
Position yourself
to learn,
to heal and
to worship Jesus.
Then allow His life to flow into everything else you do.
That's how He designed life to be lived.

Into your ministry...so kids can come close too!

I can tell you for sure, this week has been a week that this Martha, aka Pat Holland, is choosing to come close to learn, to heal, to worship, because I am so aware Jesus really is the ONE THING, of all things, that really matters.
Don't forget. You know someone that needs this post. So please share it.
God bless you. I'm praying for you. I pray for all the people that read my posts.
And please pray for me...if you do I know my posts will get better! Man, would I love that. It can be scary to be on this side of the keyboard.
Thank you for reading and passing it on!
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Every profession has tools that are unique and specific to their trade.

Carpenters have hammers.

Dentists have drills.

 

 

But then, so do carpenters. Please Dr. Dentist,  don't ever ever get the drills confused. That thought makes me shutter.

 

(My dentist office called while I was writing this post.

Do you think that's a warning to double check his tool tray?)

 

 

Accountants have software.

Lawyers have courtrooms and laws.

Children's Ministry leaders have…

 

What are the tools that make us effective in children's ministry?  

Vital tools for every children's ministry leader.

Or the tools that make our job easier?

Media. 

Music.

Games.

Stories.

Visuals. 

 

 

Sure, they're great tools that would definitely hit the "Top Ten Essentials List" of most children's ministry leaders. Yet there are other tools in our tool box that should be on our essential list, but they don't make it out of the tool box as frequently as they should. Maybe you've even forgotten about them!

 

 

Let's stir around in the tool box again.

Maybe they've fallen to the bottom. 

 

 

Let's drag them out and talk about some not so popular tools that every children ministry leader needs.

Oh, there's a vital one. (I'm looking over your shoulder as you stir in your tool box!) And we do talk about that tool, a lot! Buttt, the tough part is actually using it more skillfully.
It's the big tool there, yeah, that one- the love tool.
Not the glossy, glitzy kind that winds up in a staged photograph of a smiling child and his adoring teacher. (Those pictures give me the heebee jeebees!)

But the hard kind.

 

 

The love that is demonstrated with consistencence,  forgiveness and patience.

 

 

It's the glue kind that keeps us serving…giving…teaching when kids are disrespectful and angry.

 

Geniune love, that flows from God's heart into yours, when you are totally bankrupt of love of your own.

 

 

It's the tool that coaxes open hard hearts and clamped, parched lips to sip the life giving water of Scripture. Without love you won't stay in children's ministry long.

 

 

Yes, it's an important tool,

but you can't afford to ignore the other tools either.

 

 

Let's take another look. I won't have to explain them, but I do want to remind you of what they can accomplish in the heart of a child. It's like looking through your grandpa's tool box, running your fingers gently over a rough file or smoothing plane. You don't need a course on how to use them, just time to watch grandpa demonstrate it for you. 

 

 

The tool of listening.

Hearing what they are really saying.
Looking in their eyes.
Asking questions.
Nodding.
Repeating. 
Do you realize the value you are communicating when you simply listen. 

 

 

The tool of commitment.

Committed to growth.
Commitment to be there-on time-prepared.
The commitment to have a message from God, not just a good object lesson or visual. He still talks to kids and one of the way He talks to them is through Children's Ministry Leaders.

 

 

The tool of honor.

They won't respect you if you don't earn their respect.

As you honor them by setting boundaries that they can understand. Boundaries that keep them safe and enable them to enjoy the service while respecting others.
Honoring their limitations.
Honoring their needs.
Talking and ministering to them, not at them.
Honoring them by giving them someone to follow, goals that they can reach toward. Age appropriate goals, yet without dumbing it down to make them worthless and trite. 

 

 

The tool of discernment.

Seeing that goes beyond the surface, all the way to the root of the situation.
Seeing the real thorn, beneath the symptoms.

 

 

The tool of prayer.

  • Prayer that invites God to partner with you in ministry.
  • Prayer prepares your heart.
  • Prayer prepares the children's hearts.
  • Prayer makes a tremendous difference in your ministry. Don't neglect this vital tool.

 

 

More vital tools:

Connection Tool

where you connect with the heart of your listener

Kindness Tool

Big Events Tool

Camps and campouts

Retreats

Revivals

Campaigns

Vision Tool

Seeing their talents; and what they can become.

Helping them see their talents and gifts

Involvement Tool

Involving them in something they can believe in.

 

 

 

OK! You get the idea.

What are some tools in your toolbox that you think other Children's Ministry leaders would benefit from using?

 

 

uTrain Around the House Visuals
Like I mentioned at the beginning, visuals are a great tool in your tool box.
And if you are looking for some great ideas to help you use visuals more effectively and jump start your personal creativity then check out Visuals Around the House training DVD.

 

 

See the article on ideas for using visuals and more info on visuals from around your house. 

 

And CATCH IT while it's ON SALE. Reg. 14.99  Now 11.99

 

It goes off sale April Fools day! Be wise get it on sale.

 

 

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Posted by on in Teaching God's Word

It's the time of year that we think about those special people in our lives...

  • husbands
  • wives
  • children
  • best friends

We want them to feel the love!

We think about heart health...
  • proper exercise
  • eating healthy
  • lowering our chloresteral

We want to be around for the ones we love to continue feeling the love!

We cut out hearts.
Quote silly rhymes.
Buy chocolates.
Read conversation hearts.
And wear something red.
All that thinking about special people and great hearts makes me think of children's ministry leaders.

I checked the calendar..

did you realize there's no day for these special people that serve in children's ministry? 
There's Groundhog's Day. Really? That's one holiday that I've NEVER understood!
Sweetest Day. What is that?
And Boss's Day.
Lot's of great days...
like Veterans Day
and Columbus Day...
But not a single day to celebrate some of the most important people in the world-

Children's Ministry Leaders!

Not just the Children's Ministry Leaders with an office and a door with their name on it, but also the ones
that don't always wear the title, but they wear the hat and carry the responsibility on their hearts. Responsibilities that takes them to their knees and opens their wallets to resource their passion.
Sometimes it's a great ministry to be included in and sometimes it's not!
Sometimes, it's just plain tough. Sometimes ya feel like ya know your stuff, and sometimes you feel totally stupid. And very few of us have found a way to convert sticky hugs into a currency that will pay the light bill. 
Order in the classroom can feel more like organizing grasshoppers. Sometimes you have their attention and sometimes you don't.
Sometimes they love ya and sometimes, ...well, it would seem...not so much!
Sometimes you love them and then...
that's another subject for another post.

Sometimes they wanna pray and sometimes they wanna play! That's just how kids are.

Sometimes they wander and sometimes we wonder if we're in the right ministry.

The role of these mighty men and women of God is often reduced to the title "baby sitter." It is considered the "toliet bowl" ministry by many people in many churches. 
While we unload a trunk load of visuals and props to make the lesson come alive, we watch people meandering and laughing--fellowshipping.

Often we feel:

Hidden?
Forgotten?
Under valued?
Under resourced?
Misunderstood?

Sometimes by people, but never by God.

God saw a giant killer, a king...when everyone else saw only a mere hillbilly shepherd boy, called David.

God sees different than we do!

He places high value on hidden people
  • in trenches
  • shaping lives
  • teaching truths
  • loving
  • giving
  • serving
People like you. I want to say thank you from the depths of my heart. Thank you for loving God most of all. Thank you for allowing the overflow of that love to lavish onto boys and girls.
But not just loving them, that a great place to start, but it fails to meet their greatest need. And you understand that better than anyone---ANYONE! You've seen enough tragedy to understand their greatest need is Jesus.

And you love them enough to sacrifice.

To share The Truth-JESUS.
To Teach Truth.
To live Truth.
To demonstrate Truth!

You are persistent, when they wiggle.

You find a key, when the door to their heart seems locked.
You love, when they act like porcupines. And sometimes you've had some painful quills to prove that fact.
You give, and teach and serve when others have more important things to do...because you have discovered that shaping the heart of a child is always better than repairing the heart of a broken adult.
Thank you! I hope you feel the love. But more important I hope you feel God's love. And more than just feel it I pray that you are rooted and grounded in that love so you can experience all the fullness of God.
We all need to feel the love.

 

Check out my blog post links on the Olympic Torch. (Both links are on the Olympic Torch, but different aspects.)

The first podcast  link  on Dragging the Past Through the Door or the podcast on the Olympic Torch. 

And please don't forget.

If you liked this post. Help me. Help a friend.  Pass it on!

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