How do you find rest for your soul?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28
I just finished my junior year of college yesterday and now I am with some of the family at a lake house. As I was kayaking with my 11-yr old son, it was absolutely quiet on the lake. I could see pretty far down in the water. Various birds were circling around overhead, some would come down to the water and swim for a bit. 

As I closed my eyes and leaned back on the seat to rest a bit, I realized how long it’s been since I’ve deliberately taken a deep breath and heard the sounds around me. The idea that I have a few days where nothing is pressing is amazing. 

This is what I’ve been missing. Chillax time. Quietness. Breathing deeply. Listening to birds and the wind through the leaves. Walking barefoot on the sandy beach. Feeling the cool water on my feet. Watching the waves on the lake. This restores my soul. 

I look forward to reading a book and getting in some knitting and napping. Unwinding is good. 

What do you do for self-care? Hiw do you manage to take care of yourself when you are worn thin, emotionally and spiritually?

How do you find God during these times?

SSB Sunday Gathering – August 13, 2017

Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.

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-by Kathi

Discussion: The Blue Parakeet by Scott McKnight

From Chapter 2, “The Birds and I”

While there are many ways to approach how to read the Bible, McKnight offers three for us to think about. The first way is “reading to retrieve:”

Some of us have been taught to read the Bible in such as way that we return to the times of the Bible in order to retrieve biblical ideas and practice for today. There are two kinds of ‘return and retrieve’ readers – some try to retrieve all of it and some admit we can retrieve only what can be salvaged.

McKnight points out that the problem of reading the Bible in order to live out whatever the Bible teaches simply cannot be done. The principles are timely, but it is impossible to live out a first-century life in a twenty-first century world. Jesus taught to wash the feet of your visitors. We don’t need to practice that today (at least in America). Paul said women should be silent. Do they really need to be silent in our day and age? Peter said that women should not wear gold jewelry. How many women walk around wearing gold?

On the other hand, reading the Bible in order to “retrieve the essence” means that we read in such as way as culture dictates what is of value. There is more to the Christian life than allowing culture to shape what we do.

What we most need is not a return to the first of fourth or sixteenth or eighteenth century but a fresh blowing of God’s Spirit on our culture, in our day, and in our ways. We need twenty-first century Christians living out the biblical gospel in twenty-first century ways. Even more, if we read the Bible properly, we will see that God never asked one generation to step back in time and live the way it had done before. No, God spoke in each generation in that generation’s ways.

McKnight’s final conclusion regarding viewing the Bible in a “reading to retrieve” way is: “The way of returning to retrieve it all is not the biblical way. The biblical way is the ongoing adoptions of the past and adaptation to new conditions and to do this in a way that is consistent with and faithful to the Bible.”

What examples can you think of where Christians read the Bible to “retrieve information” for how we should live today? Have you had any experience with people who think this way that have told you how you should live?

Psalm 10

 Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes of his devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.” His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.”

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account?” But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.

The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Proverbs 11: 11

Through the blessing o the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

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May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you from the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

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Feel free to join the discussion.
You can share your church struggles and concerns.
Let’s also use it as a time to encourage one another spiritually.
What have you found spiritually encouraging lately?
Do you have any special Bible verses to share, any YouTube songs that you have found uplifting?

Photo credit: Kathi – Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA

Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories


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Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma.

 

I’ve been a lifelong musician (pianist and vocalist).

Yet in my darkest days, the one thing that left me

was what I love the most,

the music that spontaneously played in my heart.

 

Although I played the piano during praise and worship at my cult “church” and enjoyed it, I lost my love of singing. I didn’t have songs playing in my heart.

Some may recall that it was music  — me accompanying my son’s high school choir  — that helped me to get out of my cult. I looked at the world differently when I was participating in the choir. I didn’t hear my pastor’s evil words telling me that everyone who was not going to his church was probably on their way to hell. Instead, I saw people for who they were – unique individuals created in God’s image.

This was the beginning of the process of me separating from the cult. When I was busy with the high school choir, it gave me time to think of other things outside the church. Previously, the church kept my mind so busy, I didn’t have time to think. Now, at the high school choir, I gained back my self, my critical thinking, my own thoughts and questions. I came back to life again. At one time during a Wednesday night choral performance, I remember feeling a tinge of guilt come over me – I had missed the Wednesday night meeting at church. But my mind said, “I don’t care.” That was a healthy response! The idea that I played secular choral music on the piano without my pastor’s oversight or permission was so liberating. There’s probably nothing scientifically significant about my experience with music that allowed me to wake up, but I’ve always acknowledged that it was that choir experience that was pivotal in my spiritual abuse journey.

In the following video, Dr. Allender takes the topic of music a step further and notes (pun) the physical responses in our brain when we experience trauma, and then add music. He discusses how our brain physically heals through music. I love this. Is it any wonder we see so much in the Bible about worship and music? I was always impressed in the Old Testament that there was an emphasis on using trained musicians to lead music. God wanted good musicians to lead people. And when people sang and worshiped, they were moved emotionally and spiritually. And I have no doubt that many were healed through music.

So, if you are recovering from spiritual abuse or any kind of trauma for that matter, I encourage you to play music, and SING!  Your brain can regain what was lost as a result of trauma! Watch the video, it’s around 2 minutes long.

 

Missing Woman Found after 17 days: Pastor and His Wife Counseled Woman to Stop Taking Bipolar Medication

Mental Health, Spiritual Abuse, Jamie Tull


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Facebook page to help find Jamie.

Jamie Tull, a kindergartner teacher from California, has been found alive after being missing for 17 days. Tull was found in a private field approximately one-half mile from where her vehicle crashed the day she went missing. According to one of the three men who found her, she stayed alive by drinking water from a cows’ trough and eating locusts. When found, she was dehydrated and severely sunburned.

Jamie Tull’s father, Jim Devenport, reported that his daughter had a mental illness, bipolar disorder, requiring medications. However, Ms. Tull was urged to stop taking her medicines, and here’s the shocking reason why:


According to Tull’s father, she has bipolar disorder. He says she had not taken her medication for about six months because a pastor and his wife told her that pills lead to demons. Source

Listen as her father, Jim Devenport, describe Jamie’s history of mental illness, her faith, and how she took the advice of her pastor and his wife, and stopped taking her bipolar medications 6 months earlier. If this doesn’t get your blood boiling . . .

(For some reason, I am unable to embed these videos. Please click on the links below the following 2 images.)

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This is just an image. Please click here for video. 

 

 

The following video has even more discussion about the pastor and beliefs. This clearly is not a safe church.

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This is just an image. Please click here for video.

So, if she had been found dead, would the pastor and his wife have been charged with manslaughter? If anyone discovers the name of the pastor or church, please let me know. I have a few questions I would like to ask that man.

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Doctrine, Debates, and Salvation. Will the real Christian please stand?

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—

and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 

There has been heaviness for me this week, and it has wiped my writing mojo. But I have been thinking about a lot of spiritual stuff, and on a whim, I posted this on my Facebook status:

img_4014-1I have learned a lot these past 5 years. My spiritual beliefs have gone through the ringer as I re-evaluate what I believe and sift out the “teachings of men.” Christians have many differing opinions about doctrines. My salvation is not based on if I agree with you on Young Earth Creationism, pretribulation, Calvinism, Male Headship. Your salvation is not based on these highly controversial subjects, either.

We seem to lose the Gospel message when we get caught up in debates and abandon the people around us. I am Christian because I love Christ. I believe He gave me life through His death and resurrection. It is by His grace that I am His. If you believe in the essentials of the faith, you are my brother or sister in Christ. Period!

Am I the only one who is tired of all the drama about these issues? Just stop, already. Look around you, there are people in your midst who are hurting and need someone to be like Christ to them in a real and meaningful way as they maneuver through difficult waters.

This week, I have dealt with three cases of domestic violence, a shattered family, pedophile’s wife, a lawsuit, spiritual abuse, mental health issues, etc. People need Christ. They don’t need Calvin, pretribulation, male headship. They need Christ. I’m so sick of the doctrinal distractions. What matters?

 

 

Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Parents Rule, Children Drool

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Child Training, Submission

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Opportunity to Participate in Research Study on Clergy Misconduct

 

I was just in contact with Julie Anne, and she asked me to post this notice on Spiritual Sounding Board. ~ Brad

I occasionally hear through the survivor community grapevine about academic-level research being done on issues related to survivors of spiritual abuse. When I do, I encourage people to participate. The resulting research data and descriptions have proven valuable to our communities. Here is an opportunity to respond to a doctoral research project on clergy misconduct.

This research focuses on clergy misconduct of a nonsexual nature. Case study participants are needed for a detailed online survey about what they experienced. It’s an anonymous survey using SurveyMonkey, and participants from any country worldwide are welcomed!

The requirements for participants:

  1. At least 20 years old.
  2. The person had something happen that reflects wrongdoing by a specific pastor (misuse of authority, breaking confidentiality, crossing boundaries, something financial, etc.).
  3. The wrongdoing was not sexual.
  4. It happened more than one year ago.
  5. The church where this happened was Protestant (Lutheran, Baptist, Alliance, United, Pentecostal, etc.).
  6. The person was a member of the church or a regular attender.
  7. The person was an adult when this happened.

The SurveyMonkey link for the study is:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N5D8N2W.

The opening pages explain more about the survey, its purposes, and its length.

The study is being done by Marlis Krueger through California Southern University. Results will be accessible on the university website in approximately six months.

Thanks for considering participation in this important study!

~ brad/futuristguy

[UPDATE August 2, 2017: We’ve been in touch with Marlis and will be notified when the results are available, so we can link to them then. Thanks again for considering participating in the survey!]

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

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Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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I don’t have a problem with those tweets. On the surface, they are fine. But even false teachers get things right. The Bible tells us:

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:4

 

I haven’t done a post on my ex-pastor for quite a while, but I’ve been disturbed lately to see that he has found a niche with people who agree with him on evangelism, yet probably do not have a clue about his background.

I discovered after the fact that Chuck O’Neal had joined with Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown, Mark Spence, Dr. Jason Lisle,  Jeff Rose, Ben Seewald, Jeff Pollard at the Evangelism Reformation Conference in Texas in June 2017.

 

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This was the only tweet that I found from O’Neal on his Twitter timeline about the conference. He’s known to post many tweets to upcoming events, so it’s odd that he only did one tweet before the event.

 

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However, looking through his Twitter timeline, it appears that Chuck O’Neal and his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, is also sponsoring/hosting and speaking at a conference with speakers in August 2017.

 

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Why do I even care about what Chuck O’Neal does? Why don’t I just move on? Why does it matter to me?

 

lawsuits chuck O'neal beaverton grace bible church

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The $500,000 lawsuit he filed against me was dismissed about 5 years ago. It matters to me as much today as it did when I posted my first negative Google review about him many years ago. He portrays himself as a godly man, likable, committed Christian, etc, but beneath that facade, he is a fraud. More than that, he is a wolf who devours. Those were the words I used when he took me to court years ago. But nothing has changed.

I care because while he is finding his fairly new niche in the broader evangelism community by making friends on social media and then connecting, these people with whom he meets and speaks do not sit in his pews. They do not see his behavior on a weekly basis. They do not see how he treats people in his church and people who have left his church.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, yea, I know him, he’s a great guy” when you only know him based on evangelism or pro-life connections, but that is not who this man really is.

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I’m sure that most do not have any idea that while he is currently “evangelizing” and speaking on evangelizing, he has anti-evangelized for over a decade and people have been left bruised, battered, and some have even abandoned their faith due to his abusive leadership.

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To those who have worked with O’Neal in evangelism or pro-life efforts, please be advised that when you endorse this man, fellowship with him, speak with him, you are endorsing a false teacher and a wolf. If you recommend Chuck O’Neal to someone who is looking for a church in the Portland area, you are sending people into the arms of one who spiritually harms people.

I get it. You think I’m nuts because Chuck O’Neal is so nice, wouldn’t hurt a fly, has nothing but the love of God in him. I know how he presents himself. That’s what I thought when my family started attending his church. Some who read this will doubt me. I understand that. However, after reading this post, and looking at the links, you cannot deny that the behavior described is troubling. It’s not enough for you to ask Chuck O’Neal about my claims. Obviously a wolf is going to speak strongly against anyone who exposes him. He has a whole website against me to convince you that I’m the one who is wrong and he uses all sorts of “proof” that I am evil and not to be trusted. That is foolish.

 

If you care about the Gospel, care about families, care about the spiritual health of people, please do due diligence and do your homework on this man.

 

What’s disturbing to me is this man has been able to pull the wool over so many men’s eyes. Have they done due diligence in investigating O’Neal or his history? All it takes is a simple Google search to see that there are many issues with Chuck O’Neal that show up on the internet. Has any of the people he is teaming with chosen to reach out to his victims? No one has contacted me. My contact information is pretty easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. If you would like to speak/connect with people who have been harmed by Chuck O’Neal, I can give you references.

Do they realize that:

  • that numerous people, including pastors at John Mac Arthur’s Grace Community Church,  advised him to withdraw the lawsuit, but he refused.
  • his ministerial license was revoked by the same group who administered it (I can provide names and contact information of longtime godly pastors who licensed him years ago, and then revoked the license).
  • he purchased domain names similar to the name of an ex-congregant in order to “phish” traffic to your site he can spread gossip about ex-members he sued?  Chuck O’Neal
  • he has encouraged shunning for years. If you leave the church, he conveys to the congregation that you were in some sort of church discipline (completely ignoring the church bylaws on church discipline). Many people who left the church on their own were later found out that Chuck O’Neal had “excommunicated” them. He hadn’t informed them of this, but this is what congregants later told them. Congregants were told to never have any contact with those who had left, or they too would be put on the shun list (Mark and Avoid list). I have personal accounts of this “church discipline” shunning practice used as a spiritual weapon by Chuck O’Neal going back at least 15 years. Here is only one story. I know of many others. In Chuck O’Neal’s church, you cannot leave well unless you are moving out of the area for work, etc.

 


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Special note to Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, who are schedule to speak with Chuck O’Neal at his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, on August 18-22, 2017:

Gentlemen, I would like to reiterate that I am happy to provide contact information to back up anything I mention in this post. My sole purpose is to alert you that Chuck O’Neal should not be standing behind any pulpit preaching, teaching, or speaking. Why do I do this? Because I have seen the harm done in my personal family and many other families. It is devastating. Please, please, do your due diligence! And ironically, I urge you to please do what Chuck O’Neal suggests in the tweets at the beginning of this blog post.

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 4

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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This is an ongoing series on spiritual abuse using excerpts from Pastor Ken Garrett’s dissertation on spiritual abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery. We will use excerpts from Ken’s dissertation as a springboard for discussion. You can find all of the other posts in this series here

Ken begins his next section entitled, Cults in America, noting that in the past 50-60 years, an estimated 2,500,000 Americans have been a part of cult groups and how cultists are viewed.

The United States has a strange relationship to cults. A person’s religion can be seen as strange, abnormal, mysterious, or even downright creepy, but as long as that religion does not hurt anyone or break any laws, it is not just tolerated, but protected under law.

He then identifies a few celebrities in American culture who have joined movements and non-traditional groups:

The Beatles had a guru, folk musician John Denver attended and enthusiastically promoted EST (1) courses, Madonna observes Cabalism, and Tina Turner, a self- described Buddhist Baptist, practiced chanting. . .  . Actors, politicians, poets and musicians became Scientologists, espousing the religious creation of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, seeking personal improvement and happiness through the exploration and study of the immortal, eternal spirit called a Thetan that presumably resides in the human mind and body.

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Ken sitting in front of the church he pastors, Grace Bible Church in Portland, Oregon (the 2nd oldest church in the city).

Apart from Tom Cruise’s involved in the well-known cult, Scientology, when I think of these specific artists that Ken mentioned, I found it interesting that I dismissed their involvement in non-traditional groups or movements in my mind. I have always loved the peaceful sing-along music of John Denver, and it was his musical talent that I focused on, not is spiritual beliefs or practices. Perhaps we as Americans are just tolerant of various practices and we look beyond them, focusing on whatever talent a person has to offer.

Although Americans have long held a benign tolerance for such avant-garde movements and groups, it was not long after their introduction into the religious scene of the nation that disturbing stories arose regarding their inner workings, including accounts of deception, manipulation, and abuse of members. Groups like the Children of God, the Unification Church, the Church of Scientology, the Church Universal and Triumphant, Twelve Tribes, Heaven’s Gate, The People’s Temple, etc., some of which were founded by men and women from Christian homes, experienced various (and v public) scandals and scrutiny. Some of them went on to become bywords of tragedy and death.

It’s important to note that the above-mentioned groups were started by “men and women from Christian homes.” How many people innocently connected and felt safe with the Christian aspect of what these folks were offering, but were then led down a harmful and destructive path? Continue reading

Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Shhhh…Be Very, Very Quiet

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Submission


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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7


Chapter 8 – Part 1 – Win Him Without a Word

Due to the length and so much wrong happening, this chapter will be broken into two parts. Remember how the last chapter ended questioning whether or not wives didn’t have any words because they were too busy having sex? Oh, there’s so much more to winning over your husband.

Lori (ever so humbly) reminds readers again that she helps women who come to her complaining about their husbands. Lori’s “prescription” to winning over a husband is:

You can win him without a word by your grace-filled, godly behavior because a woman’s most potent voice is not the words that she speaks but the life she lives in front of her husband and children. This approach is reminiscent of the saying, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, and, if necessary, use words.’

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