Friday, October 6, 2017

Welcome Autumn!

There is so much pain and sorrow in this life. . .  this past week has shown clear evidence of that.  But, there is also so much beauty.  As a "romantic realist" I know that we must live in this world of pain and tragedy... but at the same time we can still find exquisite beauty.   Whether it is in the faces of people who are suffering or who are trying to alleviate the suffering... or in the prayers lifted before the throne of God on behalf of those who are suffering... or in the beauty of God's creation and plan unfolding yet again in the changing of the seasons... or in the faces of your own family and friends who bring light, love, and laughter to your life... there is beauty in midst of pain and there is light in the darkness.

After some weeks away with family (and also currently recovering from a nasty cold), I am ready to embrace the beauty that Autumn brings. The HOPE that I have does not come from government to give me things, law enforcement to protect me, or even from the love of my family.  My Hope is the LORD, the Maker of  heaven and earth.

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare NOT trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name!
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand."
- Edward Mote 

Hebrews 6:19-20 
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, 
firm and secure. 
It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,  
where our forerunner, Jesus, 
has entered on our behalf. 
He has become a high priest forever, 
in the order of Melchizedek."

As always with my original scripture images, you are free to use this graphic by right clicking and copying or saving.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Home with the Father and His Dad

Riley is healed and whole, safe in the arms of Jesus and greeted by his earthly father and a grandmother he never met.  Just five days ago we celebrated Riley's life with a beautiful memorial service. Those of you who have prayed for our family may wish to view the short video his mom made with pictures and hear the message given by his dad's brother.

Here: http://reconcilercec.org/Sermons/riley-granberry/

We are just beginning to fully realize all that has happened, and yet the peace of God truly does pass all understanding. We have not "lost" Riley, for we know exactly where he is! For Riley's mom, the days ahead will be difficult. . .  no husband, no eldest son. Thankfully, she is surrounded by loved ones and an amazing community of faith.  Their church has gathered around them like nothing I have ever seen.  Though they don't have their dad, the little brothers have men who really, really love them.  For me. . .  I have to think that the boys may be wondering, "First my dad, then my brother. . .  am I next?"  They will really need those in the family and the faith community to come around them and hold them up.  God has a much bigger plan than we can possibly know.  As incredibly hard as this road has been, it has not been without purpose.  Thousands have been touched by Jonathan's and Riley's testimonies of faith and assurance that the Lord of all the universe had them in the palm of His hand.

While giong through this devastation/rejoicing, we are of course witnessing the devastation in our country from hurricane Harvey.  It is almost impossible to get my mind around that much water... it is utterly heartbreaking.  It is also heartening to see people working and helping and loving their neighbors.  God has a plan even in those situations.  We may not know what it is until we see Jesus face to face... but then we will know fully.

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Clinging to hope...

So sorry for the lack of communication about Riley... several of you have asked about him privately. (You know who you are and that means the world to me!)  Really, there is nothing new to report.  After two weeks in the hospital where his condition did not improve, his mom chose to take him home to die unless the Lord answers our prayers for a miracle of healing.  My step-father spent a good deal of time with him yesterday and said that his communication was at a minimum, with "yes" "no" and "I don't know."  When he asked him what his name was, he said, "I don't know." It is heartbreaking and yet the family still continues to be so thankful that there is a sense of the nearness of the Lord's presence as they walk this difficult valley.  Clinging to these words and taking hold of the sure and steadfast hope, "In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil..."


Psalm 23
(beautiful words of truth for dark times)

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. 
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Trust His Heart

These are lyrics to a song that has been playing in my head today...

Trust His Heart
by Babbie Mason

All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don't see 
How they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth

Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don't see Him,
Remember you're never alone

He sees the master plan
And he holds our future in His hand,
So don't live as those who have no hope,
All our hope is found in Him

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand
Trust His Heart

(Apparently the lyrics above are based on a C.H. Spurgeon quote.)

I got news this morning that breaks my heart. . .  the heartbreak in my step-father's family is overwhelming.  My step nephew (whose father passed away last July) has been bravely battling brain tumors for 18 months. This week he has been experiencing headaches, disorientation, forgetfulness, lack of motor control. . .  and now his mom has been told by doctors that she should call hospice.  She has looked at her son fighting this dreadful disease, and she knows just how tired of fighting he is. . .  she has walked with him (as she did with her husband) every step of the way.  I don't know how she is holding it together (she is, at least for now).  I don't know how my stepfather is holding it together (he's not.)  His wife also passed away from cancer at 36.  Then his son at 43.  Now he sees his grandson slipping away at 13. . .  and then there are the 3 younger brothers who lost their dad last year and now face losing their brother.  

So, I just have to say. . .  I DON'T understand how this family can be asked endure so much suffering. I don't understand God's purpose in this.  But, I have to continue to place my trust and faith in Him. He is too wise to be mistaken.  He is too good to be unkind. I must continue to trust His heart. Even when it is hard and doesn't make sense. . .  trust.  Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. . .  more than once. . .  we continue to trust. He is with us. He will never leave nor forsake us.  

This is one of my favorite pics of the six of them, as it perfectly captures their family pre-cancer... happy and so creative... the Waldos.  Two artist/graphic designer parents and four high-energy boys! (The dad who passed away last summer is the big guy in the back, the 13 y-o is right beside him to the right.)

Would you lift up this precious family in the coming days?  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th!

I hope, for those of you who are a US citizens, that you are having a happy 4th surrounded by family and friends! I am very thankful for the freedoms we have in this nation, including the ability to live, work, and worship as we choose.  Our nation is so far from perfect, but at least for now we are able to still do these without fear of retribution.  Our family celebrated yesterday with my husband grilling out (accompanied by potato salad, stuffed eggs, and homemade Butterfinger ice cream) and ending the day with fireworks in our neighborhood.

video 

Today (the actual 4th) we are just watching historical movies and eating leftovers!  What a great blessing it is to have been born here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  May I never take it for granted. And I do pray for God to continue to bless America because, ultimately, freedom can only come from knowing Him.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back...


I thought I would share these baby animals I did (in Prismacolor) for my sweet baby nephew one year ago. It is really hard for me to believe that he is about to be one year old!  I don't get to see him nearly often enough.

Well, my eyes have had a pretty good day today.  But, Tuesday and Wednesday... not so much!  After feeling great on Monday once the bandage lens was removed (I suppose the numbing drops they put in probably gave me a false sense of "everything's great"), the pain and sensitivity returned with a vengeance on Tuesday.  Yesterday (Wednesday) was not much better, but today has been a pretty good day.  I kept a diary with the first surgery, so I should have realized that I was not quite out of the woods with the pain on Monday.  I also probably overdid it reading everything I could on the computer.  Ups and downs with this kind of thing are to be expected.  I am still very thankful it is done and am sure that once the healing is complete, I'll be seeing much better.

I have a blogging friend, Cheryl, who is also going through some real challenges with her eyes.  She had surgery on them today.  If you think of her, would you please say a prayer for her healing.  It is amazing how we can take something for granted (eyes, teeth, etc.) until they begin to fail us.  Then we know JUST how valuable they are.  When it hurts just to blink, well ... just think of how many times you blink!

Along with the surgery, I have found that I am quite allergic to the cleansing wipes they use before various procedures.  After having broken out at the dentist after oral surgery, the eye doctor after eye surgery, and even a very bad rash down my forearm after having blood drawn at my yearly endocrinologist visit (photo at right from that), I finally narrowed it down to the brand of wipes they were using to cleanse my arm before drawing the blood.  The eye doctor and the oral surgeon all used the same ones.  Now, trying to convince your doctor not to wipe down a machine with that wipe before you stick your forehead and chin on it, well that is another thing, not to mention not wiping down your face with it before surgery.  Today I have this same rash on my forehead, chin, eyebrows, undereye area, and even my eyelids!  Hopefully it won't last long, but boy is it uncomfortable!

As always with my original scripture images, you are free to use this graphic by right clicking and copying or saving.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world. I have enjoyed catching up with a number of you this week! And if you're having a holiday over the coming week, I hope you have a wonderful and safe one!

Monday, June 26, 2017

New eyes... and God's goodness

I don't think I have shared about my eye condition with you here, but I have a corneal condition called Salzmann's Nodular Degeneration.  This is a pretty a rare condition for which they cannot really pinpoint a cause, but what it means in practical terms is that I have little white deposits or tissues all over my corneas.  They actually float as well as spread and grow larger over time.  Ten years ago I had surgery to remove them, which was really painful and tough to recover from.  It made me not want to have the surgery again.  However, I finally got to a place with my vision -- particularly with the detailed artwork I do and the computer work -- that I knew it was (past) TIME. 

Because of the white circular tissues/scarring, I was seeing hazes and four, six, eight images/halos of what I was looking at. One morning I wake up being able to see okay, and the next not very well at all, then the next day fine. Knowing it was time to address this, I decided to have the surgeries done one at a time so that if anything went wrong I would still have one (not very) good eye.  I just had my second of the two surgeries this past Tuesday, and I must say that in 10 years they certainly have improved the recovery process.

I am still recovering sight-wise, but the pain management is much better now than 10 years ago. I also had my husband videotape the surgery -- I won't share it here, as it is really difficult to watch.  Amazing to see the doctor working on my eye with those tools and not be able to feel it. He painstakingly removed every bit of scar tissue on my eye. It was pretty rough the day after the surgery, as I was in a LOT of pain.  I was able to manage with 3-4 ibuprofen every 4 hours.  But the next day I was much better - no ibuprofen needed - and the next even better.   For these surgeries, I was fitted with a "bandage" lens which protected my eye after the surgery and was especially helpful when I needed to blink. This "bandage lens" was not used after the surgerical scraping 10 years ago, and every time I blinked it felt as if I were scraping my eyeball with sand.  These kinds of improvements in tools and technology are amazing to me, and I am truly thankful.  

I went back today for the doctor to remove the recovery lens, and I am seeing okay.  I can see really well now in the first eye that he worked on. (Otherwise, I wouldn't have gone back for the second surgery!) So, I pray/believe it will only be a matter of time before I am seeing really well in the second eye. One amazing improvement with the new surgeries is in the type of "bandage" contact lens they used for my healing process. It is called an amniolens and was developed by a Christian doctor who believed that there was a way to develop a process for more rapid and full healing using young tissues, but who was not willing to use fetal tissue.  Through much research and experimentation, he discovered that the amniotic membrane of the placenta has many of the same healing properties that stem cells from fetal tissue would.  This is harvested from the placenta after birth and freeze dried for use in many types of healing for eye tissues.  You can learn more about that here:

"Ming Wang vs. Science vs. Faith" — Film Competition sponsored by The Veritas Forum from Veritas [1] on Vimeo.

I am thankful to God for science and those who persevere in hope of helping people through new discoveries.  Part of Dr. Wang's story is in the film "God's Not Dead."  I am constantly amazed that though I have this condition, God knows how intricately he has crafted my eye and has given me hope through this new discovery that my eyes will heal and in some ways be in even better shape than before.  And, I am seeing well enough to use the computer again... and hope to soon be holding a paintbrush or pencil and doing some new artwork.  Hope all of you are well.  Now that I can read, I'll be making the rounds!! 😊👁👁🙂

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

milestones in life

What a great month it has been! (unfortunately, it has left little time/energy for blogging!) As a pastor’s wife, and worship leader, the Palm Sunday/Easter season carry a lot of responsibility.  It fills me with joy to know that HE LIVES not just on Resurrection Day, but EVERY day.  As a board member of our art association (but thankfully no longer president!), we have made it through another Spring Show without major incident or cancellation.  It was a gorgeous weather day, even though the sales were down quite a bit this year.

20160416_113935

Another new website is up and this one is for a local chef who is starting his own restaurant!

ChefPeoplesCateringCafe

I just love getting to birth new babies like this one.  If you ever think it is too late for you to try a new thing, let this inspire you.  This man has been a chef for years always working for others… but he has always dreamed of having a restaurant of his own.  At 60+ years-old, he is now seeing that dream come true!!  So exciting to be a small part of that.

And this happened last weekend…

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Another tremendous milestone in our lives …our middle son graduated from College with Summa Cum Laude honors!  We couldn’t have been prouder of his hard work and attention to excellence.  He wants to teach on the college level, so he has quite a bit of school ahead of him – next on the docket is his master’s degree and then doctoral thesis after that.  A lot of prayer went into homeschooling him and his brother and sister. God has answered every prayer above and beyond what we could’ve asked or thought.  We are grateful for all the blessings in our lives!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A little post-Easter, pre-Easter reflecting...

I have been meditating on and mulling over exactly what Good Friday is and means in our lives today. And I cannot escape the fact that the CROSS is the great equalizer. We are all equal at the foot of the cross. We are all sinners. We all deserve to be up on that cross. Jesus knew that about us... He knew how despicable we are, and He willingly went to the cross and took our place. Every. One. Of. Us. All we have to do is acknowledge we need saving and accept His sacrifice freely. That's it... so easy anyone can attain it. The great equalizer. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)


(As always with my original scripture images, feel free to use this graphic!)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ireland, Home Away from Home...

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon

Well, that is certainly true where Ireland and Northern Ireland are concerned.  I am determined to get back there someday to revisit that part of myself. In the meantime, I am delighted to continue sharing our journey with you here.  After that wonderful first day in Ireland sightseeing, we ended back at the Kilmore Presbyterian Church just outside Crossgar to get ready for Bible Club.  Very much like Bible School here in the states, we were in charge of conducting all the activities for the group of children, which -- when they heard that Americans had come to their town -- grew steadily each night. The girls did a skit each night, which were called sketches over there because "skit" is a naughty word, we sang songs with hand motions, had Bible lessons, memorized a verse for the week also using hand motions, played games, and had wonderful snacks! Just before dinner and Bible Club, we were taken to our respective homes for the week.  The girls stayed with families, and the three moms stayed in a lovely guest/vacation house on one family's property very near the church.  

Guest house (where we stayed):

Main house:

The view of the surrounding lands: 😍💕



Can you just imagine being here for a week?  We had all the comforts of home inside the guest house, including a Keurig (because as much as we love the Irish tea, it's always great to have that cup of morning coffee when you are averaging 3-5 hours of sleep at night) which the owners' daughter brought over for us from her own home for the week!  Now that is Irish hospitality!!

Kitchen/eating area (pre Keurig arrival):

Lovely and comfy den area:


We even had towel animals on our beds when we arrived, just like at Disney! I dubbed mine the bluebird of happiness. 💙



Such nice accommodations... even the bathroom was impeccably clean! I was happy to see that, as it had now been almost 48 hours without a shower. 😲 Once settled into our new home, it was back to the church for dinner and Bible Club.  


And we were treated to Traditional Irish Stew!!  Reportedly, it takes over 24 hours to make the authentic stew.  I LOVED it!

This was where we ate a lovely tea (dinner) each night before Bible Club.



Language, a side note:
You would assume that because we all spoke English, that language would not have been an issue.  And for the most part you'd be right... but there are those English words that we both use that have vastly different meanings:
  • "skit" being the naughty word there... while here it just means a short, live play 
  • "pants" here are trousers, but there they are underwear ...you can imagine the uproarious laughter that ensued each time one of our girls said, "I need to go put on some pants..." the children wondering quizzically, "Why are they not wearing their underwear?"
  • "biscuits" to us in the states are hot, doughy, savory bread that we butter and eat primarily for breakfast... there biscuits are cookies which they generally have with tea 
  • "tea" in the states generally refers to a drink which is consumed both hot and cold (and very sweet if you're from the South)... and while they do have hot tea to drink there, when they say we're going to have tea, they are referring to their large meal usually consumed late in the afternoon (4 to 5 pm-ish) which will include the hot drink, but also consists of delicious homemade foods, along with many and varied sweets (both homemade and bought) and in our experience, usually including Pavlova and "biscuits"
 
The girls preparing for the skit:

The church activity hall, where all the action happened:

After settling in for the night, we tried to sleep because we knew the next morning we would "hit the ground running" as they say. And so we did, after coffee and showers we were whisked away in our minibus -- at the speed of light -- to a local primary school where the girls would be performing and sharing testimonies.  



Of course, the artist in me just loved the games and things painted on the pavement outside:

Here is one of the pieces the girls performed (their first performance of the trip -- by the end they had performed in over 20 locations!) They learned how to perform in every size space, large and small, with all six dancers to as little as two dancers because they were to perform in two places at the same time. This is choreographed to a piece called "Gratitude" by Nichole Nordeman... beautiful lyrics you can read here.

ballet at primary school in Ireland from Christi Bunn on Vimeo.

And in the image below, my daughter is getting to share a bit of her testimony with the children in relation to what the song means to her.

 

The Lord provided many opportunities for us to minister over the two weeks we were there, and we were filled with gratitude for His goodness to us through those to whom we were ministering.  Right after this performance the girls changed into sightseeing clothes, and we were again whisked away in our minibus to new adventures (which I will share with you in the next trip post.) 😊

To view all Ireland trip posts click the image:

http://charmandgracecottage.blogspot.com/search/label/Ireland

Friday, March 17, 2017

I'm handing you no blarney....

Back to that time I was actually in Ireland (this is a long one, so take a deep breath and dive in... I hope you'll find it worth it!) ...when I left off in the last post, we had just put our toes into the Irish Sea at Newcastle.  After we had a lovely walk through town where we got coffee and ice cream, we re-boarded the minibus and sped (and I do mean that quite literally) toward our home for the week near Crossgar, Northern Ireland.  On the way to Crossgar, we just happened to pass another ancient ruin, Dundrum Castle.




Our ballerinas stopped to pose for us under this gorgeous flower-filled arch leading up to the castle!  We truly had entered a fairlyland!


It's clear from the photo above why they chose this spot for the castle.  It's atop a hill with a lovely river to one side and rolling mountains on the other.


The above picture (you can click on it to enlarge in a slideshow) gives you a bit of perspective as to how large the ruins are because you can see them in relation to how small the people in the photo are.


 That's my daughter standing on the steps... again pinching ourselves that we were breathing the air of the stunningly gorgeous Emerald Isle!


Above is the amazing view from the other side of the castle with the Mourne Mountains in the background.

Then we were off to another lovely spot, and an appropriate one for me to share with you today.  Right on the way to our home for the week was the lovely town of Downpatrick, which should give you a hint as to its namesake!


We saw the beautiful Downpatrick Cathedral rising toward the sky at the end of the street (above) as we approached it.  It sat atop a hill, so it was easy to spot.  As we neared, we could really see the beautiful architecture.



Above, outside the rear of the cathedral, you can see a minibus like the one in which we traveled the Northern Ireland countryside, much too fast.  We had wonderful drivers, but I will never understand how they travel at the speeds they do around winding roads with barely two lanes (and in many spots one lane) with giant hedgerows on either side (i.e. no "shoulder" to pull over lest you meet an oncoming vehicle.) I never got used to it the entire trip!


As you can see in the photo above, this is the legendary burial place of St. Patrick. 



"One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all..."






(Below) The beautiful view from the top of the drumlin (click the link to learn what that is) is an appropriate one for such an inspirational spot.


So much is made of St. Patrick's Day in our country, but so few really understand who he was and what he really did.  It is SO not about wearing green and drinking alcohol as so many do these days.  This man was taken as a captive to Ireland, sold into slavery there, and then after escaping to France and gaining his freedom, decided to return so that he could share Christ with those who had enslaved him. Legend has it that he used the shamrock to teach of the Holy Trinity. His was truly an amazing story of faith, obedience, and unconditional love, and yes it does deserve to be celebrated. So, happy St. Patrick's day to you my friends! ☘


The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today through
God's strength to pilot me, God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to see before me,
God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me, God's host to secure me –
against snares of devils,
against temptations and vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me
ill, afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd...
Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

For the next post in my Ireland Trip Report, CLICK HERE.


To view all Ireland trip posts click the image:

http://charmandgracecottage.blogspot.com/search/label/Ireland

Monday, March 13, 2017

This little fellow and his mama and family are on my heart....

Image may contain: 3 people, eyeglasses and closeup

Take one look at these precious faces (right).  They have been through some of the hardest things this past year and a half.  On the left is Riley, the oldest of four brothers, who was diagnosed with brain cancer two Christmases ago... unbelievably, (unless you lived it) on that same day his dad found out his colon cancer which had been "successfully" surgically removed twelve months before was not only back, but stage 4.

This past July, Riley lost his dad after a short and miserable fight of 6 months.  He watched him suffer but believe until the very end that God would heal him.  His dad IS healed and whole now, but not the way he believed.  Over this past year Riley has been bravely receiving various treatments for his own cancer. The past two MRIs showed a slight reduction in the size of the tumors.  Yet, after he had been experiencing numbness in his legs and pain in his tailbone recently, this week they have discovered tumors in his brain on the other side and a new one on his spine. He is my step-nephew.  His mom is in the middle and next-oldest brother Ethan on the right. His mom is the picture of grace under fire. I cannot imagine how she continues to put one foot in front of the other, except that you have to when it's your child and your husband.

Riley will start his radiation treatments today.
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Riley's grandfather married my mom 15 years ago, after being a widower for 20 years following his wife's (Riley's dad's mom) death at age 36 when his boys were still in elementary and jr. high school.  So, my stepfather has lost his wife at 36 and his son at 43 to cancer and is now watching his grandson of 13 years battle it.  It is completely heartbreaking... really too much for one person to bear.  My mother is the only grandmother (on their dad's side) that these boys have known, and believe me -- she has been "all in" as their step-grandmother.  The four boys have spent numerous nights and weekends at Papa and Nonnie's house since they were babies.  And their dad really considered and even called my mother "Mom" up until his death last July.

Because of the busy nature of both our families, as a step-sister who doesn't live close and given the busyness of caring for my own family, I have not personally spent a lot of time with these precious ones.  But I keep up through my mom, and as a way to help people know how to pray and support them, I created a website chronicling their journeys: www.gberryjourney.com. I would really appreciate it if you would lift them all in prayer as the Lord leads you to.  It is a heavy burden, too much to bear alone... but the prayers and support of the family of God have at times literally and figuratively carried this family over the past 15 months.  We are grateful.