Wrestling with the challenge of evil

Where is God when evil seems to triumph? How can we pray, what can we pray when God seems powerless? Theologians have struggled with these questions for centuries, but there are no neat answers.

During his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew , Jesus taught,

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.

artwork photographed by Dr. Aletha

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Practice of Prayer

by Margaret Guenther

Writing in The Practice of Prayer, Episcopal priest Margaret Guenther says

“I have great respect for evil and become uncomfortable when we trivialize and try to domesticate it, or even turn it into entertainment via mediocre movies. Most simply put, it is manifested in consistent, conscious choices made in diametrical oposition to the God of love.

Where is God when evil seems to triumph? How can we pray, what can we pray when God seems powerless? Theologians have struggled with these questions for centuries, but there are no neat answers.

Ultimately, we are left with Job, baffled yet willing to let God be God. (Job, a Bible character who suffered multiple undeserved tragedies.-blogger’s note)

The question of evil will not go away that simply. We are supposed to be praying and, quite possibly wrestling as well- with our questions, with our doubts, with God. ”

Evil, whether in the actions of an individual or in the behavior of whole nations, is a challenge to our prayer.

Margaret Guenther

This quote is based on a book from an affiliate link.

exploring faith, hope, and love

Thanks for joining me to consider the Lord’s Prayer and Ms. Guenther’s teaching. I hope to share more from her so please come back. I invite you to

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                              Dr. Aletha 

"faith, hope, love" each word written on a card, strung on a line with clothes pins
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Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  

 

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at

Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

You can read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me fund this blog.

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book
Martin Luther King Jr.

sharing the dream of HEALTH equality

Thank you for joining me to remember the late Dr. King.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Choosing the road to life and wellness

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, ESV
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Road Not Taken

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

“The Road Not Taken” was originally published in The Atlantic in 1915 along with two other poems from Frost. It is now widely considered to be one of the most popular works of American literature.

“Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of everything from coffee mugs to refrigerator magnets to graduation speeches, that it’s almost possible to forget the poem is actually a poem. “The Road Not Taken” has been used in advertisements for Mentos, Nicorette, the multibillion-dollar insurance company AIG, and the job-search Web site Monster.com, which deployed the poem during Super Bowl XXXIV to great success.”

What does the poem mean?

The poem’s meaning has been extensively dissected, discussed, and debated; most assign a deep meaning about life, choices, regrets, what-ifs, etc.

(This and several others in this post are affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission to fund this blog if you make a purchase through it.)

So I was surprised to read that Frost himself didn’t take the poem nearly as seriously as everyone else has. He claimed that he wrote it as a joke for a friend.

At poetryfoundation.org , Katherine Robinson wrote,

“Soon after writing the poem in 1915, Frost griped to Edward Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.” However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.”

As his joke unfolds, Frost creates a multiplicity of meanings, never quite allowing one to supplant the other. When Frost sent the poem to Thomas, Thomas initially failed to realize that the poem was (mockingly) about him. Instead, he believed it was a serious reflection on the need for decisive action. (He would not be alone in that assessment.) “

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 7?

This scripture is part of the Sermon on the Mount attributed to Jesus (I’ve written other posts about these verses from Matthew chapters 5-7.) It also is widely known and quoted, as well as other verses like the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes.

The overall message of the Sermon is anything but a joke; Jesus makes bold and daring statements in this passage, which explains why it is so widely quoted and taught on. One famous preacher, Oswald Chambers used it often enough that his wife included several selections when she published a collection of his sermons as a daily devotional know as My Utmost for His Highest.

In a devotional titled “All Noble Things are Difficult” for July 7th, he wrote

“The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome.

God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops.”

It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.”

Oswald Chambers

Milksops. That’s not a word we hear often; I looked it up and it means exactly what it sounds like. What happens when you dip bread into milk? It gets soggy and falls apart. So a milksop is ” a person who is indecisive and lacks courage.

Choices, choices, choices

Despite Frost’s assertion that his poem was a joke, multiple commentaries dissect it extensively and assign all kinds of meaning to it, suggesting that we do believe that our choices matter in life, whether relationships, finances, education, or health.

Doctors and other health professionals now believe that lifestyle is one of the chief determinants of health and emphasize preventing and even treating illness with nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, healthy habits, and stress management.

Consider the Foundation

Whether you’re building a house, a career, a family, or your health, what you build on matters too. Jesus concluded his sermon with a building lesson.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27, ESV

Reading these verses reminds me of the rain storms we endured in Oklahoma this past spring leading to extensive flooding causing loss of homes and businesses; other parts of the country suffered the same, and now we’re watching coastal areas deal with devastating hurricanes. We’re pretty helpless to defend our property against the ravages of nature. That doesn’t have to be the case with our health if we build well. To paraphrase Oswald Chambers, “It is necessary to make an effort to be healthy.”

The Legacy of Oswald and Biddy Chambers

Here’s the story of Oswald Chambers and his wife Biddy. After his death, she collected writings from his lectures and talks into books and the well known devotional mentioned above. In the introduction she wrote,

it is sent out with the prayer that day by day the messages may continue to bring the life and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

Biddy Chambers

exploring faith, hope, and love

Thanks for joining me to explore poetry and scripture; my hope is that this prompts you to further explore on your own. Here are some other posts from this series

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

Opportunities to do good Living and giving lavishly

Why pray The Lord’s Prayer

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Faith, Love, Hope

Learn more about Lifestyle Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine

“Lifestyle medicine (LM) involves the use of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of risky substance use, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the chronic disease that’s all too prevalent,”

Daily Audio Bible-now read and listen to the Bible in 1 year

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s putting his love of the daily reading of Scripture on to the page. In this collection of 365 readings, you’ll be surprised by how often what you read in the Bible will be a mirror into your own heart and motives.

It’s not too early to think about adding more faith, hope, and love to your life next year. One way I do so is reading the Bible.

The Bible is long and sometimes complicated, so reading every chapter in a year is daunting. But Brian Hardin and his crew from Daily Audio Bible have made it doable.

Brian Hardin, creator of Daily Audio Bible, reads from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day of the year. His daughter China reads from the Chronological Bible every day. (That’s the order the events occurred, rather than the way the books in the Bible are arranged.)

And there are versions available for kids and teens, and in multiple languages including Spanish, French, Arabic, and Japanese.

How to listen

Accessing the DAB is easy – and FREE.

And that’s not all

Now there is another option- a daily devotional book to read along with the daily Bible readings.

The One Year Adventure with the God of Your Story by Brian Hardin

This is an affiliate link, used to earn a commission from sales made through it. The funds go to support the expense of publishing this blog.

The daily devotional entries parallel the readings that Brian does each day.

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s putting his love of the daily reading of Scripture on to the page. In this collection of 365 readings, you’ll be surprised by how often what you read in the Bible will be a mirror into your own heart and motives.

Amazon

I’ve already purchased a copy of the devotional so I’ll be ready on January 1. But I skipped ahead a little to share with you a quote from the January 5 entry, when Brian introduces the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. It’s one of my favorite passages of scripture and I’ve shared several blog posts using verses from it.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus began to teach one of his foundational messages known as the Sermon on the Mount. This disruptive message describes a world that we long for but have no idea how to achieve-which may be the point.

 Jesus spoke of the countless blessings (the Beatitudes) for those who reach the end of their own strength and ability only to find God there. We are happiest when we depend on God for everything we are and everything we will ever be

Brian Hardin

sharing faith, hope, and love next year

So whether you buy Brian’s book or not, I hope you will follow along with me at the Daily Audio Bible. It will only cost you a little time but I think you will find it a worthwhile investment.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

The Daily Audio Bible is supported by donations and sales of products on the website. This blog gains no financial benefit from them and DAB did not compensate me for this blog post.

Some posts from the Sermon on the Mount on this blog

Overcoming the dream killers

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Find out why.

Joseph and his dream

“Jacob’s son Joseph was now seventeen years old, and he loved Joseph more than any of his other children, because Joseph was born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob gave him a special gift—a brightly colored coat.

His brothers of course noticed their father’s partiality, and consequently hated Joseph; they couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

(Joseph had two dreams in which  he became so powerful that his brothers bowed down before him.)

“And they hated him both for the dream and for his cocky attitude.”

(One day Joseph’s father sent him to his brothers who were watching the flocks of sheep. He told Joseph to come back and tell him how they were getting along.)

“But when they saw him coming, recognizing him in the distance, they decided to kill him.

The dream killers

“Here comes that master-dreamer,” they exclaimed. “Come on, let’s kill him and toss him into a well and tell Father that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what will become of all his dreams!”

So when Joseph got there, they pulled off his brightly colored robe, and threw him into an empty well—there was no water in it. Then they sat down for supper.”

(But then they decided it wasn’t a good idea to kill him; after all, he was their brother. So they decided to sell him to some traders instead.)

And they took Joseph to Egypt Genesis 37:28
graphic compliments of A little Perspective

“So when the traders came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver, and they took him along to Egypt.

Then the brothers killed a goat and spattered its blood on Joseph’s coat, and took the coat to their father and asked him to identify it.

“We found this in the field,” they told him. “Is it Joseph’s coat or not?”

Their father recognized it at once.

“Yes,” he sobbed, “it is my son’s coat. A wild animal has eaten him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.”

Then Jacob tore his garments and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son in deepest mourning for many weeks. His family all tried to comfort him, but it was no use.”

Genesis 37 Living Bible (TLB)

Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

(This post contains several affiliate links, links which help keep this blog running.)

Overcoming the dream killers-Watercress Words.com

The coat of many colors

I listened to this story on the Daily Audio Bible recently .(I hope you’re listening too.) Older versions of the Bible translate the “brightly colored coat” as “a coat of many colors”, or as songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber called it “the amazing technicolor dreamcoat”.

Country singer Dolly Parton had a “coat of many colors” as a child in rural Tennessee. Her mother made it out of rags; the family was poor and couldn’t afford to buy her a new coat.

When her mother gave it to her, she told Dolly the story of Joseph, and Dolly was proud to wear her coat too. But when she went to school, her friends weren’t so impressed and made fun of her. But she knew better; she knew that the love that was sewn into her coat was more important than the price.

The joke was definitely on them since she grew up to become successful, rich, and famous. Not only that, she is generous. She established

a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

Imagination Library with Dolly Parton
display at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Branson Missouri

On the web site she writes

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

I know this is true, because it happened that way for me. My dream of becoming a doctor began and grew from books I borrowed from my local library and I believe every child should have that opportunity.

Like Joseph’s brothers and Dolly’s schoolmates, other people may mock and try to kill your dreams. Don’t let them. Out of our dreams come life changing experiences for us, and for those that we have a chance to help later on. And if someone- a parent, teacher, neighbor, coach-has encouraged your dream, thank them. They have given you a priceless gift.

Her experience inspired Dolly to write a song about her coat, a song she says is her favorite among the many songs she has written and recorded.

statue of a white horse with colorful design on his back
a “colt” of many colors at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner attraction in Branson Missouri

I invite you to listen to it here. I think you will understand why it is her favorite and why it reached number 4 on the country music charts in 1971.

If you want to know what happened to Joseph after he arrived in Egypt, you can read the rest of the story in Genesis, or watch

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Learn more about Joseph

Tammy Doil  wrote about Lessons that can be learned from the life of Joseph on her blog  Creative K Kids. Her post was from a lesson she taught for the children’s program at her church. The take-away was

” having faith in God means staying positive even when bad things happen to you.” 

Tammy Doil

The points in the lesson are aimed at children but we adults need them too.  She includes  instructions for a related craft project for children (or even adults) to do. Here is a link to the post.

Teaching children about the faith of Joseph

Tammy also hosts a weekly link-up you may enjoy-

Thouhtful Thursdays-link up your Thoughtful posts every Thursday

Thoughtful Thursdays .

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

And don’t let anyone kill your dreams.

resources

These are affiliate links you may find helpful and which help fund this blog with a commission when a purchase is made using them.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Canadian Cast Recording)Andrew Lloyd Webber, Donny Osmond & “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” 1992 Canadian Cast

Coat of Many Colors-Dolly Parton

234x180 Zoobooks Home Page 300x250

Get ready for Advent now

George Frideric Handel used this scripture from Isaiah in his famous work, Messiah, first performed in 1742, and which millions of people have heard or even sang since then. The entire lyrics of Messiah are derived from scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments that describe the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. (Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.) In 2019 Advent starts on December 1.

So, what is Christmas?

Christmas is both a secular and religious holiday. For those who observe it’s spiritual significance, Christmas is celebrated as the day the infant Jesus Christ was born (although Biblical scholars doubt that December 25 is exactly the correct day.)

Christians celebrate the season with a rich tradition of church services which feature Bible readings about Jesus’ birth and special music. And almost 300 years ago, a musician combined these traditions to create one of the most well known and often performed works of music.

"For unto us a son is given" baby lying in a manger
quote from Isaiah 9:6; graphic from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, affiliate link

Handel’s Messiah

George Frideric Handel used this scripture from Isaiah in his famous work, Messiah, first performed in 1742, and which  millions of people have heard or even sang since then. The entire lyrics of Messiah are derived from scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments that describe the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

Handel’s father  was a barber-surgeon. Barber-surgeons were physicians in medieval Europe, who as the name suggests performed surgery, often treating wounds from war injuries. Eventually, surgery and barbery became separate occupations.

Christmas manger display
photo by Dr. Aletha of a Nativity display at my church

Read another post on this blog to learn more about Handel and Messiah; did you know it wasn’t written for Christmas?

Resources for Advent- from Cokesbury

these are affiliate links which may pay a commission to help support this blog

Find the perfect Advent calendar for now and years to come at Cokesbury. Valid 10/28-11/22. Shop Now! Start planning now for a meaningful Advent season at Cokesbury. Offer Valid 9/1-11/30. Shop Now! Christmas 2019 at Cokesbury.com. Shop Now!

sharing the HEART of Advent

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Family Advent Activities

by Carol at Comfort Spring

I found this helpful post about Advent activities at Sunday’s Best LinkUp. I hope you will check it out.

Who is “bold as a lion” ?

You can experience the Bible with YouVersion -A free Bible on your phone, tablet, and computer. YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible that brings God’s Word into your daily life.

the righteous are bold as lions
Proverbs 28:1 NIV (photographed at the Art Institute of Chicago)

You can experience the Bible with  YouVersion -A free Bible on your phone, tablet, and computer. YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible that brings God’s Word into your daily life. (These are affiliate links, which may pay a commission to this blog.)

“On more than 350 million devices around the world, people are reading, listening to, watching, and sharing the Bible using the #1 rated Bible App—completely free. Over 1,000 Bible versions, in hundreds of languages. Hundreds of Reading Plans, in over 40 languages. Add your own Verse Images, highlights, bookmarks, and public or private notes. “

Learn more here.

Also available, the Bible App for Kids

Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 , NIV

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

sharing faith, hope, and love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

                              Dr. Aletha 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.