Author Archives: cherigarrett

About cherigarrett

A woman who seeks the heart of God in all things. Wife to an awesome husband(Jim) who is also her best friend and ministry partner...mom to 3 phenomenal kids and their spouses...Mimi/Gami to 15 amazing grandchildren. Jim & Cheri have spent their 40 years of marriage in ministry and that is God's purpose for them. Cheri ministers alongside Jim as well as in women's events, marriage and family conferences and minister's conferences. Her passion is to help people know who they are in Christ and walk in His purposes and plans.

He STILL Does Miracles SO Great!

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The miracle baby turns 7!!!!  Happy Birthday Aaron!  Everyday you remind me that God is still in the business of miracles that only He can do!

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You are Great God! You do miracles so Great! There is no one else like You … There is no one else like You!

I am so thankful for a great God Who still does miracles so great! And today we celebrate first of all our great God! Today, we also celebrate one of His miracles so great … Aaron Joseph Bunts. He is seven years old today and we are reminded of all God has done and we stand amazed.

The Birthday Boy!

On June 12th of 2011 we received a call from Crystal (our oldest daughter) that she was on her way to the emergency room because she had not felt the baby move in the past couple of days. She was 31 weeks pregnant with a baby boy … in other words, the baby was not due for 9 more weeks. At the ER they immediately found a strong heartbeat but kept her there to monitor the baby as he was laying in the bottom of the womb not moving at all. After monitoring her and the baby for several hours and, after doing biophysical profiles on the baby, the decision was made to deliver him early by C-section.

A neonatologist and her team from Toledo Children’s Hospital were called in for the delivery in order to take care of the baby. They really had no idea what they would be facing.

He was delivered early the morning of June 13th … he was born dead: no heartbeat … no breathing. The medical team worked diligently to resuscitate him and were successful, but he was a very sick little baby. His first two Apgar scores were 0 and 2 … they never got around to doing the 3rd one because they were busy just trying to stabilize him.

It took about 4 hours to stabilize him enough to transfer him 20 minutes across town to Toledo Children’s Hospital. As they were preparing to leave, the neonatologist made sure that the transporter was brought over so that Crystal could see and touch her little baby boy … and then told her that Aaron was a very sick baby and that he might die; this might be the only time that she could touch her baby alive. What news to receive about your newborn baby as they whisk him away to another hospital.

I remember so many things about the next weeks and months …

I remember wanting so desperately to be there but we live in Chicago and we had our son’s 3 children … so, it took a little while to get ready and get on the road. I also remember that we had some fantastic people there in Toledo who went up to see Crystal, David, & Isaac and to pray for them and our little Aaron in our absence. We are so grateful for Todd & Donna Hostettler and Ed & Becky Marroquin!

I remember that David (our son-in-law) named him Aaron which means “mountain of strength.” And then Isaac (Aaron’s then 5 year old brother) named him Joseph which means “the Lord provides.” Aaron Joseph: this certainly proved to be a very prophetic name for the fight Aaron was facing.

I remember the first time I walked into the NICU room where Aaron was … it was like walking into a tomb of death. I watched and listened as the doctors and nurses didn’t give our little Aaron any hope to survive, much less thrive … and I watched and listened as they prepared Crystal and David for the worst.

Aaron – 1 Day Old

I remember all the machines … how swollen he was … how bruised he was … that he didn’t move at all because he was medically paralyzed.

I remember how much I loved him from the very beginning.

A Mimi’s Love…and Granny’s too

I remember having to get God’s perspective and to trust Him … even not knowing the outcome; it was a journey of trust.

I remember Amber (our younger daughter who is a NICU nurse) breaking down in tears after talking with Aaron’s nurse. Amber’s tear-filled words to us were, “He is really, really sick and I don’t know if he will make it”. We were so thankful to have Amber by our side during those critical days.

Aunt Amber & Aaron Cuddling

I remember holding Crystal as she cried and cried wondering if she would ever get to hold her little Aaron while he was still alive.

Then I remember God leading us to start speaking His Word of life over Aaron. We spoke His Word to Aaron. We sang His Word to Aaron. We put His Word in Aaron’s room.

“Aaron, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God did a great job creating you. And God already has a book written about you … he has a purpose and a plan for you.” (Psalm 139:14, 16)

“Aaron, God has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.”(Jeremiah 29:11)

“Aaron, God spoke the Word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.” (Psalm 107:20)

“Aaron, God heals you of everyone of all your diseases! ’Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits— Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases.’” (Psalm 103:1-3)

“Aaron, Jesus took the stripes on His back for your healing … by His stripes you are healed.”

“Aaron, I believe that He’s your Healer. I believe that He is all You need. I believe that He’s your portion, I believe He’s MORE than enough for you! Nothing is impossible with Him!”

“Aaron, you are a mountain of strength and the Lord is providing all you need to be healed. You will live and not die.”

I remember how strong and brave and caring and loving Crystal was.

Mommy’s Love

I remember how David stayed with Aaron to watch over him at night. He was the watchman on the wall.

Daddy – The Watchman on the Wall

I remember that Jim and I were scheduled to leave for Colombia, South America a few days after Aaron was born. And I remember knowing that my mission had changed to Toledo, Ohio and to Aaron, Crystal, David, & Isaac. Jim felt he was to go ahead and lead the trip and he and I stayed in daily contact regarding Aaron’s progress … and I remember the cell phone bill. Everyone Jim and the team came in contact with in South America saw pictures of Aaron and were praying for him .

I remember Amber posting on FaceBook that this is every NICU nurse’s nightmare … to have their family experience such a traumatic birth and sickness for their newborn baby. I also remember her saying what a true miracle Aaron really is … and knowing because of what she sees on a regular basis in NICU … that is really saying a lot.

I remember all the people from all around the world praying and believing and speaking words of healing and life. I remember them encouraging and taking care of all of us. I especially remember the Yockey family and how they prayed and believed and encouraged us (as well as how they helped with Isaac and how they brought us snacks!). What amazing people God placed in our lives! Thank you for choosing to take this journey of trust with us!

I remember the day Aaron started making a turn-around toward life and healing. What an awesome day that was! After that first day, the healing came so fast … it was amazing. Some days, something new happened every time we turned around. God’s Words of life were breathing life and health into Aaron. We watched in awe of all God was doing and of how our little Aaron was fighting for life!

No More Machines!

I remember watching the excitement and amazement of Aaron’s neonatologists and nurses as he got better each day. They referred to him as “a strong little fighter” and “the miracle baby.” And he is a miracle baby thanks to our God Who does miracles SO great!

I remember the first time Crystal got to hold him … the look on her face … the tears in her eyes … the joy!

Finally…my Mommy gets to hold me!

And I remember the first time I got to hold him … the love … the joy … the tears … and how tiny he was!

A Happy Mimi!

I remember when Jim got home from South America and saw Aaron and how far he had come … and when he held him for the first time.

Aaron and Papa

I remember how excited Isaac was to see his baby brother. It was so precious to watch him and to see how much he loved Aaron. He was so happy when he finally got to hold him. And every time he went to see him he wanted to know if they could take him home “today”. And over the past year it has been amazing seeing how Isaac watches over and loves and challenges Aaron. God knew what He was doing putting those two together! And Aaron adores his big brother!

Big Brother Isaac holding Baby Aaron

I remember after Aaron proved he was going to live and Crystal & David were told that Aaron would be in NICU for months … and I remember the day he went home … just a few days before he was 1 month old! God is so awesome!

The Bunts Family a few days after Aaron went home

I remember the nurse that did home visits to evaluate Aaron’s progress crying because of how great he was doing. She told Crystal that they rarely see babies that were as sick as Aaron was … doing so great! God is so great!

I remember Isaac in Cubbies at church when one of the other kids was sharing about getting a new baby brother or sister and Isaac popped up and said, “I have an Aaron. He’s a miracle”.

I remember month after month, appointment after appointment as we got good reports of his progress and development. He is right on target or above in every area … And he just finished first grade! He is a miracle in his body and his developmental progress and he continues to amaze us and the medical profession.

I remember Amber’s kids talking about Aaron being born dead and Eddie (who is 7 months older than Aaron and they are best buddies) popping up saying “that means Aaron saw Jesus for a little while”.  Out of the mouth of babes.

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So today we celebrate our miracle, Aaron Joseph Bunts, as he turns 7 years old! He is perfect and whole in every way!

Sweet Miracle Boy

And we are all forever grateful … And we will never be the same again after being a part of God’s miracle and this journey.

Thank you God for being Who You are and for Your miracles so great!

Happy Birthday Aaron … Our Miracle So Great!

Happy Birthday Aaron!

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This Journey Called Life…

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E5822838-E493-4031-AED3-2CAB6012CC2AFive months ago our lives changed. It has been a wonderful change! It also has been a whirlwind. Jim made the move to Ohio a couple weeks before me starting in his new pastoral role while I worked out my notice. Leaving my job at AnMed Health Anderson Family Medicine was so much harder than I anticipated. Jim flew back as we made out first leg of the journey moving from SC just 2 days before Christmas. We lightly moved into a rental while we looked for a home and I spent the week after Christmas shopping and wrapping for our family of 23… celebrated with them over New Year’s Eve and Day then I started my new job. Then we went through the long, difficult process of selling my mama’s home in SC and looking for a house here. We made another move into our new home in April… then lots of work in the house and purchases… then another leg of the move yesterday emptying our storage units in Chicago. Now we wait on a kitchen remodel and still have a move of things from our daughters home in Sylvania… and then we will have everything back in one place to sort through and purge… and then making this our home with it’s foundation being Jesus and making memories with family and friends. It is a process … this journey called life is a process of becoming more like Him.

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So, today we are on our way on vacation… a much needed time to rest and relax and just be together. Then we will return to our full life and our boxes and we will make our house our home.

Processing,

Cheri

Masterpiece in the Making

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0FBF9EA6-C6E2-47A1-9C47-8D9AE96AFD03There was this little girl who grew up broken. She didn’t know she was broken because she didn’t know anything different than brokenness. Her family was broken. I think there was a generational brokenness that manifested in many ways. Broken because of alcoholism and addiction… broken because of incest… broken because broken words were spoken that bred brokenness. Yet she knew she was loved, it was just a broken love.

Because of the brokenness she was shy and insecure and felt worthless. She often referred to herself as a wallflower … on a wall covered with floral wallpaper she was the single little flower lost in the sea of flowers.

But one day there was a knock on her door that changed the whole trajectory of her life. The knock was from a local church who had started a bus ministry and was visiting homes to ask children to ride the bus to church. The church was Calvary Baptist Church. The little girl was me. And that encounter changed everything.

God had his eye on me all along.

They knocked on my door on a Saturday and that Sunday I started riding the purple bus to church and I learned to sing, “Oh I like to ride the purple bus, the purple bus, the purple bus. I like to ride the purple bus so early Sunday morning” and it was through the unconditional love of these people that I found Jesus (or he found me…he rescued me) and he began a good work in me.

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has began a good work in me will continue to work on me to perfect and complete me right up until the day of Christ Jesus… the time of His return.” Philippians 2:6

And he is STILL working on me.
He NEVER gives up on me.
He takes the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful of our lives and weaves it all together creating a beautiful masterpiece.

The people of CBC never gave up on me either… they mentored and discipled and loved me. They gave me a strong foundation that I’ve built my life on that still today holds me strong.

My healing started the day Jesus found me and in all honesty, still continues today. See, I am His masterpiece… he is weaving a beautiful tapestry of my life.

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“ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT

D2C504DB-E516-41F0-9D22-370F379943F0And while the tapestry of my life may look incomplete, it is in process. And there is this amazing thing about a tapestry, (I remember one my grandmother had) if you look at the backside, it can be a mess BUT GOD creates beauty out of the ugliness of our lives and that is what he is doing In me. He gives us beauty in place of the ashes of our lives.  Until I see him face to face, I’m still in process.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3 NLT

I was just a young teen when I first sensed God’s call and the life I’ve been blessed to live is attributed to God’s amazing grace and the faithfulness of Calvary Baptist Church to reach out to the community and to this broken, insecure, shy little girl and show her Jesus.

As I grew in that church, I started working in the bus ministry. Our small town was built around cotton mills and they were beginning to close down so the area (the mill hill) was rapidly going downhill. The children we visited and picked up for church lacked much. They got themselves up and on the bus for church.

I can still see the face of one little girl with the jagged hair-cut, a dirty face, a faded, stained, worn pink dress — hair matted, dress dirty and unbuttoned with sash dragging behind her. I often think of her … Where is she today?  Did the purple bus bring hope that impacted her life?

The impact this made on me forever imprinted on my heart the importance of reaching out to our local community.

Through the years, God brought so much healing in my life through my relationship with him and from His Word. He spoke His powerful, living Word to my heart.

He tells me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that He did a marvelous work in creating me and that I need to know and celebrate His work of me.

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He tells me that He chose me, he picked me out as his very own and that I am His masterpiece, His tapestry … and the healing continues to flow in my life.

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I’ve worked side by side with my husband through the 41 years we’ve been married in ministry — doing children’s ministry, youth ministry, worship ministry, Missions, Family Ministries, marriage strengthening, young adult, mentoring, leadership training, and lead pastor roles.

My greatest loves other than Jesus, are my husband, my kids, and our grand-babies! NAMES PLEASE! Crystal, David, Isaac, Aaron, Abigail, Amber, Ed, Aubrianna, Annaliese, Lillianna, Eddie, Alex, Emilianna, Jamie, Sunny, Christian, Carson, Chloe, Skyler, Layne and Piper! They are my greatest legacy.

My passions today are seeking God with all my heart (that never changes) … then,
• my marriage and my family …
• Missions here in the local community and abroad (especially encouraging, equipping and training Christian leaders, building families, and marriages)…
• writing (working on a couple books) …
• and helping young girls and women become all that God has created and purposed them to be while continuing to work along side my husband.

58720F76-2E13-4E8C-84E4-B6FE2C9D28F9One of my life mantras is “Choose Joy”. I believe God did a complete, finished work on the cross and it is up to us to choose to walk in it. No matter what we face in life, in the midst of devastating circumstances, we can choose to consider them an opportunity for great joy.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 2:1-4 NLT

We are all in the process of becoming … His tapestry … His masterpiece. We are His masterpiece in the making.

Today I encourage you right where you are…
• you are greatly loved …
• you are a masterpiece in the making …
• you are fearfully and wonderfully made…
• you are chosen…
• He picked you out as His very own.

No matter what kind of mess you might be in the middle of, God can weave a beautiful tapestry of your life. He will never give up on you but we have to choose to stay in the process. We are each His masterpiece in the making…

In the Process,

Cheri

 

When Life Stands Still

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That are moments when life stands still … the day of a magical marriage, when they lay that newborn baby in your arms for the first time, when you buy your first home, when you lose your job and your home, when you or a family member receives a bad health report, when you lose a loved one — and the list goes on.

Over some weeks now I’ve been confronted with what what could be life-altering.  We’ve just moved back to Ohio after living about 700 miles from our kids and grandkids.  My husband stepped into a new pastoral position. I started a new job, we are seeing our kids and grandkids more and making lots of new friends.  And we sold our family home in SC and are ready to close on the purchase of a new home.  God has ushered us into a fresh new season and He is restoring what the enemy stole from us.  We are excited and blessed.

Then on a normal day I feel an abnormal lump in my breast.  My heart stops and I feel like life is suddenly on hold.  Everything could change.  We don’t need to buy a house when I just don’t know what I’m looking at with my health and my future.  I asked all the “why” questions.  Why is this happening now that I have less than desirable insurance and no disability insurance and when I’m back where I can do things with all the kids, when it seems we are experiencing a great time of restoration?  Why now?  I was scared and at the same time I knew I had to choose to trust God.

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I didn’t even tell my husband in the beginning, I think I was in denial.  I was praying over myself with hopes that next time I checked it would be gone, but every time I checked, it was still there — so I spilled it to my husband who immediately wanted me to go to the doctor to get checked out.  But I kept putting it off because I just didn’t want to face it.  I didn’t want to know.

Then my husband really started pushing me … EVERY DAY.  Did you make an appointment?  You’re being like a stubborn old man!  I want you to be around a long time with me.  So I finally made the call and they got me in the very next day.

What stress! Knowing that everything could change in a moment.  So many emotions.  I chose moment-by-moment to trust God, knowing that wasn’t a “get out of jail free” card.  Knowing that truly trusting God is trusting Him no matter what comes our way — no matter the circumstances — no matter the diagnosis.

I saw the doctor, and after her examination,  she scheduled me for a mammogram and an ultrasound the very next morning at 8:00 am.  I was exhausted.  I think my body was so tensed up that when I walked out of the office, I just wanted to sleep.

The next morning seemed to last forever.  I went to one place for the mammogram which hurt like there was no tomorrow and my routine mammograms are normally just uncomfortable, never painful, so this concerned me. Then to another place for the ultrasound and then back and forth, between the tech and the radiologist.  Finally, all the tests are done and I’m sitting in the doctors office waiting — waiting and wondering if everything was about to change.  Would I be getting a biopsy?  Will I have chemo and surgery?  Will I lose my hair?  If it is cancer, is it in my lymph nodes?  I just kept taking deep breaths and telling God that whatever happens, I trust him.  But sometimes it is easy to say we trust and much harder to actually trust.

The doctor came in and read the radiology report which I didn’t completely understand — she broke it down for me. It looks like a hematoma.  I feel the stress literally leaving my body.  I’m so grateful — but I walk away knowing it could have been so different; for so many women it is, and their lives continue to stand still and things forever change.

How do we handle these times?   We choose to trust God.  We trust the promises of His Word. We pray His promises over our lives knowing that He stands behind his Word.  And we trust knowing the answer may not be what we want, yet knowing that God always has our best in His plans.  I have to go back in six months for another mammogram and ultrasound and I continue to choose to trust.  So my story continues.  And as I trust Him, He uses the pressures and the stresses to continue His work in me.

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You learn a lot about yourself when you go through times that squeeze you.  What comes out when the pressure is on us shows what is on the inside.  And when we run to God with our “whys” and our pain, He meets us where we are and when we cooperate with His work in us, we come out looking more like him on the other side.

And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

When life stands still I will trust in you!  God, make me more like you.

Seeking His Heart,

Cheri

 

Would You Consider?

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Seek…Listen…Walk, a devotional for women by everyday women from all walks of life. I am blessed to be one of the authors and I’m asking if you will support me by purchasing a copy. The best thing is that you will also be supporting mission work in Sweden as the profits are all going to that work.

The cost for the devotional is $15.00 and includes shipping. I will be happy to send a signed copy to you! Send your payment along with your name, address and phone number (in case there is any problems) at paypal.com to jgarrett1958@hotmailcom. Once received I will get your copy out in the mail to you!

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They also make great gifts so consider picking up a few extra copies.

Thank you in advance for your support. I know you will be blessed!

Pursuing the Heart of God,

Cheri

Who Am I?

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My life goal is to always be a woman after the heart of God and that is what I strive for every day. And as I pursue the heart of God I am becoming the reflection of Jesus to others. Have I arrived? Absolutely not, otherwise you wouldn’t see me still walking around in my skin! I am becoming and God is completing me day by day. It is a process.

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I am a wife to a man that loves me so amazingly … only second to the way Jesus loves me. We’ve had our struggles and our fairy tales and the everyday things that life brings but we are committed to this thing called marriage, this journey of life and love. He is my love … my best friend and my greatest cheerleader.

I am a mom … to four children, one in Heaven and three children that are best things God entrusted me with … I am so very proud of who they are today and their walk with God. And they each chose spouses that are now my children-in-love that I am so blessed to have in our lives. I am a forever mom!

I am Mimi/Gami to the cutest and sweetest and smartest all round most amazing 15 grandchildren a person could dream of … who knew that this season of life would be so full and fun and blessed. They make me laugh and cry and do crazy things and spend too much money and they keep me young and I love every minute of all of it!  I wouldn’t change s thing!

One of my MANY Life Verses

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will continue to perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus, the time of His return”

Philippians 1:6.

I am called and chosen and purposed by God. To speak into the lives of women … to bring healing and wholeness and freedom … to encourage and help them to become all that God created them to become. To love each one where they are. A daunting purpose that I can only walk out as I pursue His Heart. It is all him in and through me. I’m just a vessel.

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I am real and vulnerable … I’m not perfect … I’ve not arrived. I’m in the completion process. Won’t you join me?  I promise it will be an adventure!

Pursuing,

Cheri

Legacy = Happy Heart

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I guess as we age … I like to say I’m “seasoning well” (LOL) … so the more seasoned I become, the more I think about the legacy I’m leaving.  Through the years, I’ve been blessed to do a lot of things where I have left a part of myself: Mission Trips, ministering to women, pouring into children and youth, pastoring along beside my husband, discipling and mentoring the next generation … all of which are part of my legacy.  Yet the greatest legacy I will leave will be found in my family and will be passed generation to generation.  This legacy is my heart.

Children are a gift from the Lord, a reward from him.  He entrusts them to us for a short time to raise them and prepare them to become who he created them to be.  We impart to them things that will be with them all their lives so we must be sure of what we are imparting.  They are our greatest legacy and what we impart to them keeps us alive in all our generations to come.  Our kids are our legacy.

“Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.”

Psalms 127:3

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For those of you in the midst of raising your children, I know that the days are long, the work is never done, and parenting is a challenge.  But take it from a mom that has raised three children … at this point, it seems I blinked and the nest was empty.

After our kids are grown, we find ourselves blessed with grandchildren.  Grandparents have a huge possibility of spoiling those babies but I also believe God has positioned us to pour into them … they also are our legacy.

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“Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged (the “well seasoned” … my interpretation),
parents are the pride of their children.”  Proverbs 17:6

Grandchildren ARE the crowning glory of the “well seasoned”.  As a Gammi/Mimi to 15, I can tell you that this is so true!  And can you believe that we are the pride of our grown children? Finally!!!  That makes it all worth it!

We leave our greatest legacy in our children and grandchildren.  So what do I want to leave behind … what do you want to leave behind … what do we want our legacy to look like?  Here of some of my legacy goals … the things I want to impart to my children and my grandchildren and all my generations to come…

  • I want them to love God with all that they are.  “Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Mathew 22:37                                         
  • I want them to worship God with abandon.
  • To long after him … to be people after the heart of God.  “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.”  Psalms 42:1
  • I want them to know who they are in Christ —That he chose them as his very own.
  • I want them to know they are loved with an endless love — That they are the apple of God’s eye.
  • I want them to know that they are God’s masterpiece.  “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
  • I want them to know that can be world changers.

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This is it … this is my heart … this is the legacy I want to leave behind.  This legacy for me equals a happy heart.

What will your legacy be?