our family purpose statement

Was it really three whole months ago when I first read Organized Simplicity and went absolutely bonk-o with giddiness over it?? Here’s what I said on March 21 after I read the book:

Why I Love This Book In Two Short Sentences: You make a family purpose statement and then run all your junk/clutter/stuff/schedule, etc. through the filter of your family’s purpose. If it’s not helping you fulfill your purpose, say bye-bye.

I loved reading your comments on that post, because so many of you share my pitter-pat passion for de-cluttering. A couple people wanted to know about my family purpose statement (and wondered how active a role Gabe played in the process of creating it). I promised a post about that “soon.”

Is one-fourth of a year later “soon?”

On March 22, I wrote about our weekend of de-cluttering. The girls and I went on a rampage through our house, cleaning and purging like madwomen. We hadn’t really nailed down our purpose statement at that point, but we talked about what we want to spend the next 8-10 years doing and decided that a lot of our stuff was superfluous and would, in no way, help us achieve our dreams.

I don’t know that I blogged about it a ton after our garage sale in late April, but my journal over the next few weeks has lots and lots of stuff about living out our family’s purpose.

3.21.11–No thanks, Dave Ramsey. I cannot justify saving thousands and thousands of dollars when millions of children around the globe need rice and clean water TODAY. My God will supply my every need, my daily bread. I am so glad Gabe and I are of one mind on this one.

4.10.11–I have big dreams, Lord. And I so want to align them with yours. I want to see the world with our girls. I don’t want to live a normal American life in suburbia. My heart beats for Cambodia. (oooh–I have a t-shirt idea!)

4.20.11–Deuteronomy 15:10-11: Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God’s, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures. There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.

5.02.11–It’s time. This is it. It is time to get out of debt, organized, and ready to roll for the kingdom. Help me, Lord. I want to follow you.

5.03.11–Gabe and I chatted about our family purpose statement last night (bless his heart). Then the girls and I sang it.

On page 39 of Organized Simplicity, Tsh writes, “In the end, the goal is to have a clear, concise workable purpose statement that accurately reflects your priorities, your personality, and your vision for your family. You want it to be a timeless, easy-to-read, holistic statement that applies to everyone in the family. It will help you make decisions, feel confident about saying “no,” and be a bit better at focusing on the important instead of the urgent.”

So, after a few weeks of scribbling down ideas and adding/subtracting phrases, we came up with something we really like.

The Taviano Family Purpose Statement:

Love the world.

See the world.

Tell the world.


Fun, huh? It will take another whole post (maybe three) to explain all the things we’re thinking/dreaming/doing to line up our lives with that purpose. But here’s a smattering to get you thinking:

Daily reminding ourselves of these precious kiddos–how joyful they are with how little they have.

Redecorating the girls’ “office” with globe-turquoise walls and a globe/world map theme (all their idea, but goodness, their mama’s in heaven).

Writing an e-book to add to our Cambodia Fund.

Supporting ministries in Africa and Haiti and wherever else we can.

Planting our first “garden” and getting serious about recycling, talking about free trade and how our buying/living choices affect others around the globe.

Neighborhood outreach with our church (including meeting new friends at World Refugee Day last Saturday).

More about our Family Purpose Statement to come. And yes, because I tend to turn normal, everyday statements into song around the house, we put it to “music.” (If enough of you request it, I may post a little music video in the next few days)

Question(s) for you:

1. Do you have a family purpose statement? If so, I’d love to hear it.

2. If not, do you think it’s something you might consider? What kinds of things might it include?

51 thoughts on “our family purpose statement

  1. Pingback: simplicity! {4/40} | Marla Taviano

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  3. Danielle

    So…I love reading your blog…and am actually friends with Stephanie and Daniel (that’s how I found your blog)….and have never commented…but,
    It is super encouraging to read about how you and your family are looking at all of your resources..including your time and space and asking God to show you how He wants you to invest them in the kingdom…..I too want our family out of debt…but am not willing to wait until debt is paid off before we pour our time and resources (some of those being financial) into things that have eternal value.. (like people…the poor…those in need…etc).
    I am sure it isn’t the most popular thing in the world, but I love that you are willing to sacrifice, get creative and bring your kids alongside as you seek to show grace and mercy to a world that is in such desperate need of it! If you don’t have 6 months saved up….I think God can handle that…we are trusting Him for that…that’s for sure!

  4. Missy @ It's Almost Naptime

    1) I love this whole discussion

    2) I LOVE your mission statement. It’s simplicity is its beautiful brilliance.

    3) Ergo I love YOU. I loved you before but now I love you even more. That’s all it took.

    4) You know what. I sleep scheduled my kids. They were for the most part on 3 hour eating schedules, they napped a lot, and they all slept through the night by 4 months old. It worked well for us. So I kinda ‘baby wised”. But am I a babywise fanatic? No. If my kids were hungry, did I feed them? Um, yes. Am I one of those people whose infants ended up in the hospital from dehydration and they blamed Babywise? No. Because those people are STUPID. Good grief.

    I see Dave the same way. A $1000 emergency fund, maybe even $2000, just makes good sense. If the air conditioner blows, if the transmission blows, and it will, it will keep us from pulling out the credit card. But to store away $20-30,000 in a 3-6 month emergency fund? HAHAHHA! That just won’t work for our family. I mean, as if. That’s an entire Ethiopian adoption!! Or could feed a village in Cambodia for 100 years! (yea for hyperbole)

    I think Dave Ramsey is the same as Gary Ezzo (Babywise dude) or anyone else. You listen to him, you take away the obvious pearls of wisdom (like, debt is dumb and napping is good), and you tweak the rest to suit your real life.

    Automotons we are not.

  5. Don Corson

    In reading this thread, what comes to mind is Christians and drinking. My wife and I drink socially, and don’t have any issue with it. We have friends that were serious alcoholics in their past life, and can’t and won’t drink now. Who is right? Both of us. Our final judge is God, and he knows our hearts–he knows what we need, and he knows what we need to avoid.
    We have lots of friends who have had serious struggles with debt. I mean serious. People with good jobs and good income, and still carrying $30,000 and more in credit card debt. People like that NEED that DR message. Others (probably like you and Gabe) have been blessed with wisdom, and are free from the cult of consumerism that plagues our culture (inside and outside of the Church), so they don’t need that message.
    I think there is room in the Kingdom for all of us.

  6. Rod

    You probably know that I’m a big Dave Ramsey fan. We’ve been following the FPU plan for about three years, and it has helped us not only get our financial house in order but given us a more frugal approach to money in general. His advice to lay aside a fund of six months of income is quite biblical, IMO. Consider Joseph in Egypt. He headed up the country’s “emergency fund” plan, and, when times got tough’ he was able to not only feed the people of Egypt but others as well. Had he not obeyed God and created margin he would have been in no position to help save a nation and his own family. Creating margin is not not trusting God. Nor is the choice create margin OR feed the poor. I would suggest that it is wise and biblical to do both in the process. Then, when debt is gone and margin is built, your stewardship has put you in the position of not only being able to give more but has also allowed you and your family the freedom to not be tied to a particular job so you can pursue other opportunities without pay being a major factor.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks, Uncle Rod. I agree with much of what you said. Not sure I’m quite willing to throw all my eggs in the Joseph basket though. His was a very specific example of something God told him to do to save a nation. I’m more apt to follow Jesus’ words and the NT church’s example.

      I absolutely admire you and Jeannie for your approach to finances AND your heart for the poor (and actions that prove what’s in your heart).

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  8. whimzie

    I have that book on my nightstand to be read! Maybe I should move it on the stack.

    The mission statement is BRILLIANT! Love it muchly.

    I’m ignoring all the Dave Ramsey discussion for today if that’s okay. And not answering your questions except to say that we do not have one but maybe we will after I read the book! I think love would be in there somewhere. And together. Yeah, those two words will probably make the cut.

  9. Rhonda

    I LOVE your purpose statement. I’ve been reading “Orgainzed Simplicity” and have pondered a few things to myself but we haven’t come up with our statement yet. I’m finding it hard to put my thoughts and words into one concise statement. We’ll get ther though. Thanks for sharing yours.

  10. meghan@Spicy Magnolia

    I LOVE your family’s purpose statement! So much so, I kinda just want to copy it. πŸ™‚ I skimmed your post last night and came back to it today. But last night, I almost brought up the topic of a purpose statement with Matt at 11 p.m. and thought it wiser to wait until this evening. πŸ™‚ It’s a great thing to think about!

  11. Brooke

    no family purpose statement yet. actually fear that it would involve empire building so i sorta don’t bring up the topic.

    as for my DR $0.02 – Jay and I have had this discussion before. I think people get confused that because #1 he’s good with money & an example we could all learn from and #2 he’s a christian that means he’s a good Christian example that we should all learn from.

    I don’t want to put myself in God’s place and judge anyone – DR will give more than I ever have a chance too I’m willing to bet.

    I will say that most NT examples of charity are from the poor perspective. I *do* think God can use both sides. Praise Him that you are more than willing to accept the less comfortable way.

    I am sad sometimes that my agnostic husband will hamper the giving I can do, although whenver God places an alternative on my heart I resist. I fear that I’m using my darling love as a crutch.

    God wants me to give away most of my clothes. And stop buying new ones.

    I’m terrified!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Wow, Brooke. Thanks so much for sharing. I agree with what you said about the NT. Lots and lots of verses about not storing up treasure here on earth and giving to the poor. I want to live more like Jesus–what does that look like? Working on figuring that out.

      I so get using hubby as a crutch. Even though mine loves God with all his heart, I’ve done that MANY a time.

      Would love to hear how God told you to give away your clothes…

  12. Jen Hanson

    This is so great! I am so excited to see where God takes you five.

    Devin and I do not have a purpose statement, but both feel extremely stagnant right now. Perhaps a purpose statement of some kind would give us a little more focus and direction before/as we get caught up in to whirl of life with twins in tow.

    Also – please make a music video. Maybe Bethy can do the choreography for you. πŸ˜‰

  13. Jen Griffin

    Love this! I got side tracked on reading my book…BAD JEN! This is an especially good time to read it since I’m packing up my whole house!!

    LOVE the purpose statement. We are writing verses on the walls in our new house. I think that purpose statement might be AWESOME on your wall…I can’t afford the fancy verses and statements you can buy online for walls so I just put the verse or saying…in the font I love on an overhead projector sheet…then flash it up on the wall. (it’s not always easy to find an old projector) Then I just outline it all in pencil and paint it in. Just a thought.

    I’ve never thought about the Ramsey statement before like you mentioned it. I love how you changed it in your above comments to be “so you can love like no one else.” I think Mr. Ramsey may like it too!

    THanks again. I will start reading again. I got stuck in the book…

  14. Greg

    I want to be cautious about the anti-DR chatter as it relates to this topic.

    First, having an emergency fund is not synonymous with “hoarding”. DR approaches this from the perspective of the fact that the Bible instructs us to take care of our own household before giving to others. See 1 Tim. 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Farmers saved up their grain for summers of drought, and in like manner, I don’t think that it’s un-biblical for our households to have a
    (reasonable) cushion, as Katie stated earlier.

    Next, The week 13 lesson in FPU (step 7) is ALL about GIVING. Basically, the idea is to get your finances in order so that you’re in BETTER shape to give MORE. I know that he includes the “live like no one else so you can live like no one else” line quite often, but on his radio show he has expanded that to say “live like no one else so you can save like no one else, spend like no one else, and give like no one else.” He’s also very clear to state that there is no one correct recipe for how to save/spend/give…if you feel like to give 100% of your wealth, he’d be totally on board.

    I certainly appreciate your giving hearts and think that we/I have a lot to learn from that. But I also want to stick up for Dave here and make sure he’s not getting mischaracterized πŸ™‚

    1. Marla Taviano

      I don’t hate Dave Ramsey. I just have a burning passion for helping the poor, and I don’t want my desire for a “cushion” to get in the way of that. “Give us this day our DAILY bread…give me neither poverty nor riches… if I have too much, I might disown you.”

      I would also argue that “providing for my family” can have several interpretations. If you mean providing food, shelter, and clothing for my own kids before I give my $ to starving, orphaned children, that’s one thing. But some might take it to mean providing education and entertainment and vacations and the coolest clothes and toys… Where do you draw the line?

      I’m not interested in giving out of my “wealth.” I’m interested in giving out of my “mites” like the poor widow.

      Thanks for sticking up for Dave though. Don’t know that he stands a chance against me otherwise. πŸ™‚

      1. katie

        haha, I was about to post another comment “sticking up for Dave Ramsey” and mention his “live like no else so later you can GIVE like no one else” line. he has planted some amazing ideas of giving in my mind that i hope someday i will be able to do as well. in one of his FPU lessons he tells an awesome story of a family that had adopted children but felt they personally couldn’t adopt anymore themselves (wouldn’t be able to give kids time they needed or soemthing I’m guessing) so they took their abundance of money and wrote a $10,000 check to another family so they could adopt. How FUN would that be? That’s a level of giving that the average debt-loaded American family can only dream of. Or his stories of people giving waitresses $5,000 tips, etc, etc. I pray that someday I could do something like that. And not so I’d feel good about myself but so that I would know that I could help people with the blessings I’ve been blessed with. …

        1. Marla Taviano

          I see your point. I used to daydream about winning the lottery (without even playing–not sure how that would work) so I could give and give and give. I LOVE giving.

          HOWEVER, I think God works this kind of thing out in many different ways. You’ve got the rich people who are so generous it’s mind-boggling. And you’ve got the poor people who are so generous it’s mind-boggling. After spending time with the poor in Cambodia (and even here in Columbus), I know that for me and my house, we are called to live more like the poor. Instead of being able to give huge monetary gifts, I love being able to sit in the dirt with a poor child in my lap and say, “You’re valuable and I love you. And I’m no different from you. We are equal–in my eyes and in God’s.”

          I do have to be careful not to project my personal feelings on others (I have a habit of doing that). Their money/giving/living situation is between them and God.

          1. Brooke

            interesting discussion. I’ve told Jay that if we ever win the lottery than 100% HAS to go back to God – since we don’t play it has to be a God thing if we win right? πŸ˜›

    2. ellen

      I tend to agree with DR also but to him and everyone — we need to hear from the Lord and DO that — it will be different for each of us and each family — if we do what God says we can’t go wrong. If we do what someone else is told to do … we will go wrong.

  15. Cheryl Pickett

    We don’t have/haven’t had a mission statement, but I like the idea. I’m also an organizer and occasionally get into purge mode, and I really like the idea of if it doesn’t fit, it goes. Husb is more of a saver though, so I think any potential statement would include keeping memories somehow. Also, at this point, our family is just down to husb & me as kidos are on their own or almost there in college. I’m thinking if we’d have done one when his kids were younger, it would change a bit now.

    Something to keep thinking about, but one thing at a time, working on the ebook at the moment πŸ™‚

  16. Sharon W

    I wanna see the video of you all singing your family purpose statement!!!!

    Haven’t gotten around to reading Tsh’s book yet, but did start the decluttering process shortly after you posted on it and am still chipping away at it.

    You are so fortunate that you and Gabe are on the same page as far as your financial priorities. I fluctuate between wanting to be sure my family will have “enough” for the future and wanting to help those who are in need NOW. From time to time, my hubby will surprise me by agreeing to randomly give some money to a cause or to someone we know that is in need, but I sometimes wish that were more the norm.

    I’ll be honest. I’ve always hated trying to come up with mission statement types of things. I’m not an efficient person when it comes to words, I guess I think the more, the better!! And I also don’t think in an organized manner and can’t imagine coming up with a statement that could encompass what our family wants to be about. But I do like the idea. I have no clue what my hubby would say our family purpose is. And I’m not even sure what I’d say it is right now. (Survive the toddler years??? πŸ˜‰ Can’t wait to talk to him about it!

    Thanks once again Marla, for inspiring me.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I know how blessed I am that Gabe and I are on the same page. It wasn’t always this way (and we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything). I think the best thing to do is pray. Pray that God will change his heart (or yours, as the case may be). Thanks, Sharon!!

  17. Wendy

    What a cool family statement! We’re getting ready to go on vacation, maybe we’ll come up with something for our family while we’re away.

    Hope all is going well w/ book launch.
    ~ Wendy

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’d love to hear it, Wendy! And the book launch IS going well. It’s tiring though and always a struggle to know when to promote and when to lay off (I’m getting sick of seeing the book cover), so I’m praying for wisdom.

  18. Mandy

    Thanks for sharing your purpose statement, Marla! I love it.
    I completely agree with you about the Dave Ramsey thing – there are so many folks in my church who swear by him, but how can I save money for myself when over 26,500 children die every day due poverty-related causes (from The Hole In Our Gospel by Rich Stearns, one of my favorite books in the whole world)? And when God promises to supply all my needs? I ranted about this here and elsewhere on my blog: http://readwhatiwishicouldsay.blogspot.com/2011/05/budgeting-looking-those-numbers-in-eye.html

    My husband and I have a purpose statement that is still a work in progress, mostly because it is so long. I won’t post it all here because it is so long, but here is stripped down, not very exciting version. We also chose a family purpose Bible passage: Romans 12 with the key verses being Romans 12:1-2.

    Here it is: “We, the Miltimore family, believe that our purpose as a family is to love the Lord, our God, with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We will accomplish this by focusing on: Relationships, Peace (Shalom), Renewing of the Mind, Rest, Giving, Life-long Learning, Creativity, Story-telling, and Caring for the Creation.” Not very cool or catchy and the fleshed-out version really does say it all better even though it’s too long. I posted it here: http://readwhatiwishicouldsay.blogspot.com/2011/05/we-almost-have-family-mission-statement.html

    This serves as a reminder to us of what is important to our family, even though it’s not nearly as concise or catchy as it could be. Maybe in the future…

    1. Marla Taviano

      I struggled a bit with our “catchy” purpose statement, because I felt like there was SO much it left out (for example, we don’t mention God–He’s just kind of implied). I’m a pretty wordy kind of girl. But I thought it was really cool that it was something our girls can recite off the top of their heads, and then we can flesh it all out and explore it deeper as we go. Thanks for sharing, Mandy. And I LOVED The Hole in Our Gospel too!

      1. Mandy

        It would be really cool to have a family purpose statement my kids can memorize and even sing. You’ve inspired me to try again to get that thing whittled down to size. I’m way to wordy, as is evidenced by the fact that I felt the need to put in two links to my blog posts because I couldn’t say it all in a few words. One of those things I definitely have to work on.

        I’m amazed at the Dave Ramsey controversy. It’s always interesting to see what strikes a nerve.

  19. katie

    Hi Marla, please prepare yourself for my long-winded comment. You know I always love financial things…

    We don’t have a family purpose statement but I read Organized Simplicity on your recommendation and absolutely loved it! Then I shared the book with my mother in law. She is embarking on a journey this year of downsizing from their family home to a much smaller home next door. She loved the idea of filtering her belongings thru a family mission statement. It is a decluttering tactic than neither of us had ever heard before. And believe me, she and I have read our fair share of organizing books πŸ™‚

    If Dave & I were to make a family mission statement for our household it would probably include things like raising our child to love the Lord, spreading the Dave Ramsey message to others on living debt free, practicing what we preach in that respect, spending as much time as possible as a family (and that is why we are working to reduce debt and get Dave self employed so he can be with us more, etc.)

    For what it’s worth, I also just wanted to offer up my perspective on the “Dave Ramsey” emergency fund. Of course, my perspective is ever evolving as I feel each day/year God gives me new insight.

    Anyways, I gather from your post that you and Gabe share my view on getting rid of debt but not necessarily saving the emergency fund. And I absolutely appreciate where you are coming from. It is hard to justify saving thousands of dollars when there are real needs all over the world that we can meet instead. We have gone back and forth on this.

    However, currently, our perspetive is that if we don’t at least have SOME money stashed away for life’s emergencies then we too become a mission field that someone else would have to rescue. And they would be pouring money into, say, our car repairs, rather than feeding children in Haiti or something. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and sometimes we need to be on the receiving end of generous givers in order to humble ourselves and see just how much we rely on God to work things out. After all, He is the one who gave us the ability to work and earn money in the first place. Still, I feel that some events in life don’t have to be emergencies that we need to be rescued from if we have had the foresight to save some money in advance for things we know might happen (such as illnesses, car repairs, home repairs, etc.) Not all expenses in a household come in the form of monthly bills. Some things can be planned for but occur irregularly. For example, we know that cars are not perfect objects. They will break down. It’s a fact of life. So we can estimate based on past experiences how much we need per month or year to repair our cars and stash that away so when these things happen we’re prepared, etc.

    Thanks for your blog, your books, etc. You are such an inspiration. And if you ever want to come speak on the north side of Indy, let me know. I was telling another lady at our church about your ebook this past weekend and she said, “Get Marla out here to speak!”

    1. Marla Taviano

      1. I’ve spoken a lot in/around Indy and would LOVE to come to your church.

      2. Thank you for your comment. Loved it. You make some GREAT points (and so excited for your mother-in-law!).

      3. My sis-in-law, Jess, blogged about Dave Ramsey the other day (they finally caved and did FPU, agree with much of it, but had a problem with “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else), and I left this comment, so I’m just going to paste it here.

      “I could write about this forever, but I’ll keep it short. Bottom line: we’ve done a lot of DUMB things with our money over the past 13 years. But that’s behind us, and we’re currently sacrificing as much as we can to get out of debt completely.

      However. Gabe and I have a really, really big issue with Dave Ramsey. And it’s the line you quoted–Live like no one else so I can live like no one else. To us, that’s completely un-biblical.

      We’re getting out of debt for one reason–to FREE us up to live more fully in line with God’s kingdom purposes. To give more away, to adopt or move overseas in a heartbeat if that’s what he called us to, to help the poor and oppressed around the world.

      We don’t have a savings or a retirement account and never will (aside from a small amount in savings for emergencies eventually–but God has an uncanny way of providing for those things when they come up).

      We can’t justify hoarding money so we can have an amazing, comfortable life someday in the future while thousands of people are dying of starvation and disease TODAY. And dying without Christ.

      There. That was pretty short, wasn’t it?”

      4. Me in real time again. She suggested, “Live like no one else, so you can give like no one else.” or “Live like no one else, so you can love like no one else.”

      5. I think my reply was longer than your comment. πŸ™‚

      1. Amy

        I’ve struggled with this a lot. I see what you’re saying but I also see people that have not saved for emergencies or retirement and see what a burden it is to them and people around them. They are barely able to pay bills and certainly are not able to give like they want, or at all. In fact, there entire life is stressful and worrisome. However, if I think of people that did plan, they are stress-free and happy to give to whatever need they see fit. I definitely think there is a balance somewhere and I suppose for everyone it is different and of course you should do as you feel led.

        I do really like the statement, β€œLive like no one else, so you can give like no one else.”

        1. Marla Taviano

          Yes, I think it’s different for everyone. We do want to have a small amount saved up, but we know that it can be so tempting to want to keep a little more and a little more. We’ve seen God move in amazing ways in the past few years when we’ve given sacrificially, and he has provided. I think the real key is–are we trusting God or ourselves? And how does that look for our family’s finances?

  20. Keri

    This might be long so grab a cup of coffee or a bowl of ice cream depending on when you’re reading this! I guess I could email you but clearly I am not very good at multi-tasking during the summer!

    1. I am still reading the book but would really like to do a fun blog thingy on it. Still thinking…..would love to say I was waiting on purpose to help extend the marketing of it but again, it’s summer and I’m not doing much of anything on time these days.

    2. Still giddy about Cambodia at Christmas and that means we’ll probably have to have some kind of conversation at some point about it.

    3. I love your family. I love how authentic you live and how honest you are with your kids. We do not have a purpose statement but I really want one. I guess our statement for now would be:
    4 people
    Same country
    When we get that nailed down we can come up with something more inspiring.

    4. I can’t wait to Hug Your Neck!! Texas style!!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Hahahaha! 4 people, same country. I laughed out loud at that one. HILARIOUS!!

      YES, we need to do some planning for Cambodia. Starting today, I’m going to do some serious praying that God will lead us to plan our time according to what he wants most. It’s kind of been overwhelming to even think about, and it hit me this morning, “Uh, why don’t you PRAY about it??”

      I LOVE YOU.

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