Slowing Life Down

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A New Journey

A new journey will soon begin in our lives, one where we are deeply seeking to leave the fast paced world behind us and seek a slower life where we can connect with God’s beautiful creation on a daily basis.  We are both excited and nervous about what the future holds.  Yet, we know that God wants us to want less and seek him more.  So, we are on a mission to have and need less in our lives.  (FYI- Everything is for sale).  The next phase of our lives will be to let more of the worldly things go and seek God in his creation.  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” 1 Colossians 1:16.

Why?

Why?  Some people do ask us about our decision to explore God’s world.  We feel a deep calling to let the hustle and bustle of this world go and seek the beauty while we are able.  There will always be time to work and we will continue to world remotely as we can, but we know that this is the time for us to go.  We have watched God work over the past several months to ensure our decision is the right one.  We have followed the path God laid before us when we were young and we have been blessed. Our careers have been fulfilling, our children are grown and independent and moving on with their lives.  We are proud of the young women they have become and their hearts for the Lord.  We have followed the path God laid before us so long ago when we met back in 1986.  “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”  Acts 2:28.

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Peaceful/Slower Life

Today we feel a calling to a more peaceful life where we are in control of our destiny and day to day life.  Where we can seek the peace of God more diligently each and every day.  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  1 Timothy 2:1-2.  Although, we have made the decision to this by traveling either by water or land, each of us can slow down and live a life that is more focused on God and less on the worldly things of this world.  Dive into prayer and seek your Father.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

Closing Verse:  “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Challenge: Seek a slower more peaceful life and don’t miss out on God each and every day.

New Body…New Life

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Celebrating Life

This past weekend we laid my mother in law to rest.  The funeral was such a celebration of her life and I am thankful for friends and family who came together to celebrate her.  I can smile again thinking about her life and knowing that she has found a new home in heaven.  Last week I was mourning while watching the slow and painful stages of death. My heart was broken as I watched her through nine long days and I longed for her to find peace with her Father in heaven.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18.  I could only ask each day over and over -Why is she hanging on?  Others around us asked the same question or Who was she waiting on?  I am not sure and we may never know, but a friend did share that God would not take her home until her purpose was complete.  “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,” Job 14:5.  We may not know her final purpose yet, but I do believe there was a purpose in the last nine days of her life.  May God’s Will Be Done.

Party in Heaven

Last week I could only mourn her end and how heart wrenching it was to watch, but now I can celebrate her life and knowing that she is “partying” in heaven.  (We told her everyday that she was going to be late for her party).  I know that at her party she now is new and alive.  “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.  Her frail and worn body has been replaced with a heavenly body promised by God in 1 Corinthians 15:54, ” When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

God’s Promise

Scripture brings so many promises to believers of what God has done, is doing, and will do.  God provide the perfect sacrifice in his son Jesus Christ, so that through death we now can find life.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  While we walk through this earthly life longing for our home in heaven, God is preparing a place for us in his house.  John 14:1-3 provides us with this promise, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”   So I walk now more confident in my future and in the promises God has made because I have victory in Jesus – ““O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.  Death has no hold on me anymore because Christ conquered Death.  I fear not.  “And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”  Revelations 1:18.

Closing Verse:  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.

Challenge:  Walk each day in the faith that this earthly world is not your home.

 

Sometimes There Are No Words…

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Mourning

This week has been a hard week and I know that I have words to write but they are just not ready to come, so I wait on God just as I have done this past week.  I have waited for God to call my mother in law home and into his glory.  I pause to mourn the woman who brought my best friend and life partner into this world.  She went home this week, and I am so happy that she with her Lord and Savior.  Yet, I am sad that she is gone from this earth.  So, I must take a moment to celebrate and mourn her.

Sherry Benfield Long – June 5, 2018

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Closing Verse:  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Challenge:  Spend each day loving others and living life because it is far too short.  We will miss you Sherry.

MY MOM

As I mourn the passing of Sherry, today I celebrate my Mom and her birthday.  I am blessed to have a Mom who has taught and loved me into the woman I am today.  Thank you for all you have done!  Happy Birthday!

 

Time…Part 2

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Wasting Time

As I write this I am in one of those situations where I stop and think this thought:  (I am losing four hours of my life that I can not get back!). As I endure the slow passage of time, I write and ponder how much time I waste in my life.  “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”, Ephesians 5:16-17.  Sometimes I am responsible for my own loss of time.  My bad choices lead to wasting time when better use of my time was in order.  Then again, sometimes I am just stuck in a situation out of my control where my time gets wasted!  Both are frustrating, and I call to God to show me how to manage and control time better in my life.  Yet, no matter what I lean including scriptures like Romans 8:28, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

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Social Media (Connect to Part 1)

A few weeks ago I posted another blog on time where social media was a focus.  Since that post the conversations I have had about social media and wasting time have been quite eye opening for both myself and others.  I have found myself wasting time multiple times this way.  This piece really hit home for many people.  One discussion was about how social media effects our children and their time and learning.  Something to ponder.  “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2Timothy #:16.   What I can say is that I have become much more conscientious of my time and social media use.  I actually believe I am finding some more time in my life!  Here is my reminder put the phone down and live life a little more.

Time for Good

One definite change I learned from my first post is that God needed more time from my life, so I made some changes.  I am getting up earlier sometimes going to bed later, while reorganizing and restructuring my time.  Although, I still have to think specifically about my new routines until they become more habitual, yet I know I am headed in the right direction.  My time is turning more to good and God.  I must be conscientious and specific with my time, and planning some social media fasting in my future.  How About You?  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16.

Closing Verse:  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23.

Challenge:  How much time do you waste in a day?  How much time do you lose from your life?

#WatchGod

This past week my prayers have changed to ask the Lord to help this person through some struggles that have come into his/her life.  Although, the weekend brought fun times and family the struggle for the family was still there.  I know that he/she is leaning on the Lord and my prayers are that his arms are felt.  I pray for more smiles in the week to come.  I have finished up my 30 days but this person will find a permanent spot in my prayer life.  May God Bless!

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#ITSPERSONALl

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Personal

My family is a family of educators.  Our history is full of educators, but I will not bore you with all the extended details.  “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20.  I do want to share my direct line:

My Grandmother (Father’s Mother):  Swanee

My Father:  Alfred

Me:  Allie

My Daughter:  Hannah

We are a lineage of public educators and I can remember some of my parent’s struggles growing up, but I know there was nothing else my father should have been doing except loving students.  He  was a middle school physical education teacher, a coach, and an administrator at all levels.  People to this day continue to tell stories about his love for his job, other educators, and students.  I followed his footsteps as a high school English teacher and finally as a middle school school library media coordinator.  I found my passion!  I love this age!

Now, as I near the end of my career, I pass the passion torch to my daughter who chose a harder yet fulfilling path.  She loves her students deeply as she walks each day through the doors of a low performing school with low income students.  She loves and cares for sometimes their physical needs, sometimes their mental needs.  She celebrates their successes often and cries with them when they struggle.  So yes, Public Education is personal.

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#RedForEd

Last week the country watched a unified effort as North Carolina educators stood up for their students.  I am sad to see how others view educators.  I know the evening news shows the bad most of the time in education, but the majority of educators come to work and love their “kids”.

I have seen teachers:

  • Buy clothes and sew clothes for students
  • Buy formal wear
  • Buy food
  • Provide snacks, breakfast, and lunch money
  • Get students medical services
  • Tutor on their own time after school or at the public library
  • Buy school supplies not just for their classroom but individual students.
  • Be parent stand-ins
  • Travel to watch and support student’s passions

These are just a few of the things I know teachers have done for their students. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  Honestly, schools nor educators are financially able to meet the needs of some of our students.  I firmly believe the majority of educators want better for their students and classroom before themselves, but even educators deserve better.  Yet, why don’t we want better for students and their teachers.  ”

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11.

I pray our “elected leaders” in both parties are doing more than listening because as our family motto goes, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  Act for our students and the educators who love them.”

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,”  Proverbs 1:5.

My Favorite Teacher

Jesus was our great teacher.  “This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”” John 3:2.  His example is one I see in so many teachers.  Think about your favorite teacher, I know that when I compare mine to Christ, I see clearly God’s work.  When I think of some of the great teachers who touched my life, I remember characteristics such as service, discipline, loving, passionate, and caring.  All of these are characteristics of Jesus Christ, My Savior and Great Teacher.  Yes, I believe teachers are the some of the strongest people I know.

Closing Verse:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”  Matthew 28:19.

Challenge: Volunteer in your local school.  They really need you in the coming weeks.  Go and see God’s work.  There is nothing better than touching a child’s life.

#WatchGod

God continues to show his grace.  God continues to bless.  God continues to allow this person to shine.  My prayers continue for God to bless and show his love in this person’s life.

All Creatures Great and Small…

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Fear

Harley is a beggar because she is so afraid of missing a meal.  We have cared for her for 9 years now, yet each morning and afternoon she prepares to remind us to feed her.  Harley lives with the constant fear that she will not be fed, and no matter what I don’t think I will ever ease this fear.  Watching her fear and anxiety is a strong reminder that I need to believe that my Father in heaven will care for me and not be fearful of the future.  He will provide for my needs.  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4.

I experienced another example of fear this past week, and I am not sure who was more fearful the baby bluebirds, the babies parents, or me!  I came home from work to find our bluebird house on the ground practically upside down.  Apparently, one of the men mowing our yard hit the fence and caused the house to fall.  I knew baby birds had recently hatched because the Mommy and Daddy bluebirds had been working non-stop to feed their young.  “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26.

Caring

My husband found me in tears and jumped into action.  His caring not just for me but the babies was touching and appreciated as I struggled not to just fall apart.  His love for both reminded me of my Father who cares for me like the birds of the air.  ” He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.”  Psalm 147:9

After he put the house back up and even checked and knew the babies were alive, he consoled me while sharing the reality that the mom and dad might abandon the nest.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35.

Praying and Singing

I watch the rest of the evening only to see no activity.  I laid in bed that night thinking about the babies in the nest and knew that sometimes this is the cycle of life, but how lonely and frightened the little ones must be.  I prayed for the Lord to care for the babies.  ” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

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The next morning sitting on the back patio sipping my first cup of coffee, momma bluebird arrives to feed her babies.  Soon daddy bluebird follows and the chirping fills my heart.  All is right with the world again.  “Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. ”  Psalm 104:12.

Spread Your Wings

Two days later – early in the morning mommy and daddy bluebird are still hard at work, and the chirping is growing louder and stronger.  I know that they will soon be spreading their wings to fly.  “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31.

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I will be sad to see the babies go but happy that more bluebirds will soon fly and sing upon our earth.

Closing Verse: “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7.

Challenge:  Live your life knowing that God is in charge and will care for you just as he does the birds of the air.

#WatchGod

Another week and I continue to see smiles across the face of the person I am praying for daily.  I know that life is not great at times, but I can see areas where happiness and success are claiming her life.  Praise God!

Time…

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Importance of Time

“We all start out in life with one thing in common; We all have the same amount of time. It’s just a matter of what we do with it.”  This quote by Harvey Mackay has me thinking some about the importance of time and how I use my time.  Each day, week , and month, I find myself often wondering where time went, so I decided to analyze my time for one typical day.  Many of these items overlap but it is still eye-opening.  “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:16.

 

 

What I do? How much Time I spend?
Quiet Time with God 25 mins
Me Time 15 mins
Family (including screen time) 4 hrs 20 mins
Work without Screen Time 3 hrs and 45 mins
Work with Screen Time 12 hrs and 20 mins
Social Media 2 hrs and 10 mins
Exercise 50 mins

*All times are rounded off and generalized.

What do I see?  I work too much and spend too much time in front of a screen whether work or personal.  What I say is important just does not look that important in my life.  An obvious adjustment would be to disconnect from devices.  So my question to anyone reading this is how important is time and how should our time be distributed.  Take some time to analyze your day.

Social Media

Although, I can honestly say that I am not an overly active social media user.  I do spend time scrolling, some might call it “trolling”, social media.  Most of my online activity is on Twitter and blogging.  Otherwise I am just scrolling and viewing others.  Now that I type this it seems sad because it really is a waste of my time to scroll social media apps.  Could I do without it?  My immediate answer is yes!  “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”  James 4:14.

Taking the time to analyze how I use my time really makes me realize how using social media and/or other various apps can become an addiction.  I started thinking about my time after finding this video on Facebook of all places.  Yet, It has caused me to think about my time and what my mind and life could be without so much influence and addition.

 

This video causes me to wonder whether screen time is an idol in our society.  At what point does using social media and other apps move from productive to addictive and fall into idol status. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.

What Does the Bible Say About Time?

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.       
I need to use my time living life not watching it pass by…
Closing Verse:  “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12
Challenge:  I definitely want to challenge you to take on the challenge of becoming social media free for a determined amount of time.  I am definitely accepting the challenge from the video in June!
#WatchGod:  This week my prayers continue to provide a work environment where things are booming.  Viewing social media, how ironic!, I see this person is spending more time with friends and nature.  I pray this is a calling from God and he is speaking more deeply in his/her life.

Write Your Story

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Life’s Story

My most recent morning devotions have been about loving and building relationship with God while writing your story.  I do not mean pen to paper but writing a life story.  We all have one but how we tell it is what separates us from each other.  Some tell their story with addictions and lack of self-worth,  some based on their job and how others view their work, Some are depressed and lost, but I want to tell my story through my relationship with my Savior.  Even so it is much easier to type my story than to live it. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Following God’s Path

I stop to think about my Life Story.  Each month is a chapter that leads to each year which separates my life into sections.   Looking backwards at my story,  I can see God working and moving in my life just as I can see when I tried to take control of my life and not follow his path.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11.  It is obvious when I am following God’s plan and everything seems so smooth and then I grab the reins and muck everything up in my life.  Writing a living breathing story of relationship can be hard, but the reflection of this story is in a marriage.

Marriage: The Example

Marriage is ordained by God and he established the union as a reflection of Christ and his bride the church.  Christ who loves me unconditionally and sacrificed his life for me on the cross.  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25. Christ set the example not just for marriage but for the deeper relationship he calls me into with him.  My relationship with Christ must come first even before my marriage, but sets the example for my relationship within my marriage and how that portion of my Life Story should be written.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:4.

Closing Verse: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

Challenge: Write Your Life Story

#WatchGod – Week One Update

I began my challenge last week to pray for someone for 30 days.  God has been working this past week in this persons life especially in their job.  Their job is exploding and smiles are abundant.  Praise God!  I pray that God will work even more deeply in this person’s life. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4.

#WatchGod

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Loving Others

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34.  I am beginning a May Challenge that I read about recently,  and will be sharing my journey each week in my blog post.  I am sharing the challenge now hoping that readers will join me and share their experiences with me and others.  I want to hear what happens!  So……

Challenge

Here is the Challenge:

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Choosing Someone to Love

As a sidenote, I keep prayer cards one for each person that I pray for each day.  This is a tip I learned in a life group reading and discussing the book, A Praying Life by Paul L. Miller.  I feel lead to choose someone not on my prayer cards.  This might have been the greater challenge because I have a lot of prayer cards!

I looked around me at others who touch my life for that person that God was calling me towards.  That person who needed something, and then God place him/her in front of me.  “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24.

Challenge Begins

I begin my 30 days of prayer for this person today.  “Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  I can not wait to share what I see God doing in his/her life each week!  If you accept this challenge please share what God is doing through your prayer life for this person.  Join Me in #WatchGod.

Closing Verse:   1 John 4:19-21 “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

Challenge: Ask God to provide someone for you to spend 30 days praying for.  #WatchGod

Child of God

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I read this in my devotions written by Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 ministries.  I just added my name.  As you read today replace my name with yours.  You are a Child of God.

Allie, the forgiven child of God.” and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”  Romans 3:24.

Allie, the set-free child of God.1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2.

Allie, the accepted child of God.  “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:”  1 Corinthians 1:2.

Allie, the holy child of God.  “ And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”  1 Corinthians 1:30.

Allie, the made-new child of God.“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Allie, the loved child of God. ” even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love” Ephesians 1:4

Allie, the close child of God. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13.

Allie, the confident child of God.“in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” Ephesians 3:12.

Allie, the victorious child of God.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

I am Redeemed…

 

Closing Verse:  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” John 1:12.

Challenge:  Place your name in the statements above.  Search the scriptures.  You are a Child of God.