Students do not need me to be cool, they need me to be more like Jesus.

Students do not need someone they can dress like, or look like. Students do not need another friend or buddy. Students do not need someone they can hang out with, they need someone to show them how to live like Jesus. The problems I see in Youth Ministry today is a long list, but one of those things that we can work on is that Youth Pastors need to step up and grow up.

Connecting with students is less about wearing cool clothes and having a fo-hawk. Connecting with students comes from loving on students. This students do not care what you look like or how you dress, they care about how much you care about them. I believe that dressing like a teenager and trying to be a student's "buddy" is a cheap way of trying to connect with them. It tells me that you will not pay the price to love them and to show them the love of Christ.

Students are looking for someone to be real with them, challenging them, and show them something greater. They are looking for a journey, a cause to take on, and someone to lead them in that adventure. I am not giving you an excuse to not dress nice or look decent. I am not giving you an excuse to be a jerk to students, I am telling you that you are not called to be their friend. You are called to be like Jesus. You are called to look at them in the eye and say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."

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Thursday, January 28, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Can life really boil down to choice? We have all heard people say that we make our choices and then our choices make us. Have we heard that so many times that we have become numb to it? Have we grown so accustom to living in the moment that we forget how our choices affect the future?

We choose to sleep-in instead of going to the gym and we are choosing to not loose weight and be healthy.

We choose to let things occupy our mind during our quiet times and we are choosing not to tune in to voice of God.

We choose to attend the pity party that we feel like we have to throw and we are choosing not to be who God called us to be.

We choose which friends to allow to influence our lives and we are choosing who are power over our attitude and outlook.

The tricking thing is that not making a choice in actually making a choice. Choosing not to act or not to move is choosing not to care. We have more choice and control over our life that we like to give ourselves credit for. The real issue is what we choose to do with those choices that really count.

What will you do with the choices you have to make today?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Scott Williams writes about the 2 things a leader can control here.

Perry Noble blogged about the difference between coaching and critics here, here, here, and here.

Mark Batterson wrote a very funny but insightful blog about leadership lessons he learned from Brett Farve here.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

For those that did not know Dad had a heart cath Wednesday morning. He does not need to have by-pass surgery and we are grateful.

I went down to Adel Tuesday evening to spend some time with the family. Really love hanging with them.

Patric spoke Wednesday night in Thrive and did an awesome job. It has been really awesome watching him grow and mature over the last year. Really proud of him.

I was reminded time after time this week that God is still in control and is not changed by by our circumstance but has the power to change our circumstances.

Really excited about Thrive's series in February. Got some really cool thoughts about how we are going to open service.

Praying for creativity this week as we lay some of it out.

Hoping to launch a new Youth Ministry resource site this week. I do not believe that we have all the answers for Youth Ministry but it is our passion and if we can help a couple of people it is worth it.

Visiting a couple of schools this week to hang out at lunch.

I have a couple of thoughts that I am chewing over that are big. I need to make sure that it is a God idea and not an Eric one.

We watched a couple of Tyler Perry's plays last night on video. They make me laugh and they inspire me as well.

Looking forward to watching some great football games tomorrow. I pulling for a Colts vs Vikings Super Bowl.

Hope you have a great weekend.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

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Posted in | | 0 Comments »

@MarkBatterson - Does your ministry have YOUR fingerprints all over it or GOD'S fingerprints?

@perrynoble - Those who choose to live without integrity will have to be content with making excuses, passing the blame and hurting people!

@BrianCHouston - Leaders goal: DON'T lower belief down to the level of circumstances - Commit to LIFTING circumstances UP to your BELIEF!

@MarkBatterson - if your motives are wrong nothing will be right. If your motives are right nothing will be wrong. The leadership battle is won or lost with motives.

@RickWarren - It takes no faith to trust God when He is obviously moving. Real faith is holding on & believing when God SEEMS absent.

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Friday, January 22, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Youth Pastor / Pastor Relationship

Life is all about relationships and what you do with them. Your relationship with Jesus and the people around you. The same is true in Youth Ministry. Relationships are key to the success of the ministry that God has called you to. You have to have a healthy relationship with God, you HAVE to have a healthy relationship with your spouse, but there is one more relationship that is very important for you to have a successful Youth Ministry. A healthy relationship with your Senior/Lead Pastor.

The relationship a Youth Ministry has with his Pastor may be the most important relationship that he or she has inside the church. The Pastor is the one that God has given the vision to so the local church can reach the community that God has placed them in. It is the Youth Pastor's responsibility to do what they can to help see that vision become a reality. A strained relationship between the Pastor and Youth Pastor can affect not only the Youth Ministry but the entire church.

Over the last ten years I have worked with six different Pastors that have had six different visions and lead in six different ways. Some of those relationships have been good ones and some not so good. I have learned unique things from each of them. What to do and what not to do.

Before I share some tips to strengthen your relationship with your Pastor let me say that I have the privilege to work with an awesome man of God. He is a great Pastor and a good friend. He has an awesome vision for the church and I am honored to get an opportunity to help see it become a reality. That being said, here are some tips:

Know your Pastor's vision - ask them on a regular basis what their vision is and how you can help them see it become a reality.

Know your Pastor - get to know them. Who they are, what makes them tick. Find out what they like and do not like. It helps you serve them better. It will help you stay a step ahead of them.

Become accountable to your Pastor - accountability is giving information before it is needed. It is your responsibility to ask your Pastor to hold you accountable in your spiritual and sometimes personal life.

Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE - it is your responsibility to keep the channels of communication open. Tell your Pastor everything, run everything by them. The worse thing you could do is allow them to be caught off guard by hearing something somewhere else they should have heard from you first.

Always have your Pastor's back - whether you agree with them or not, it is your responsibility to protect them. They will make a decision that people do not a agree with. Sooner or later those people will come to you. Do not entertain that conversation.

Serve your Pastor and their family - find ways to make your Pastor and their family's life better. Constantly ask what you can do to help, what you can do for them. Find small ways to serve them, bring them coffee, buy them books, whatever you feel is best.

Pray for your Pastor - if you are not praying for your Pastor on a regular basis then you do not want to see them succeed. If they do not succeed you do not succeed. Try taking one day a week and pray very specifically for them. Ask them how you can pray for them.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Where there is no communication the past speaks

Communication is very valuable. When there is a lack of it communication we let many things have a voice in our life. Far too often when their is a lack of communication we allow the past to speak for other people. We allow how people have acted and reacted speak for them when they do not communicate clearly to us. We do this in our home, at our job, in the church, and every other place that we have relationships. You need to fully understand that people are doing the same thing with us if we are not communicating as well.

The issue is that we all do not have the same past experiences. We have all had different experiences and interactions with people and in different situations. As a leader, we can not assume that everyone knows how you think because they have walked where you have walked. We can not take for granted that people that like you think and make decisions like you do.

The answer is simple. Communicate, communicate, communicate! The only time that you can really over communicate is when you over promise and under produce. I have actually learned that most trouble between people can be cleared up by clear communication. It is better when somebody speaks up and not lets people's past speak for them.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Where there is no communication circumstances speak

Communication is a key to a lot of things in life. It is to understanding, peace of mind, assurance in decision making, and a lot of other things. When there is poor communication, a miscommunication, or worse of all a lack of communication anything can speak. We have a tendency to allow everything else around us to speak when people choose not to.

People tend to let the circumstances around them speak when leaders are not speaking. When life is dictated by circumstances our decisions and our emotions become very unstable and even unpredictable at time. When we allow our surroundings to dictate to our situations we become like a boat caught in a storm that is being toss around by the waves. Instead walking through our circumstances with peace, we become weighted down with worry and anxiety.

Our leaders, friends, and people that we are journeying through life with need us to speak up and speak loud. Do not assume that they know what you are thinking and expecting. It is our responsibility to communicate.

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Monday, January 18, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Scott Williams writes about why leaders fail here.

Perry Noble blogged about if Pharisees twittered here and how to make sure church is boring here.

Mark Batterson wrote about confession here.

Pete Wilson asks three questions that will change you here.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Man it has been a crazy week.

God continues to show me that no matter if I can see His hand at work or ear His voice in my heart, God is always in control.

For those that do not know, my Mom called Thursday about 3:30 a.m. to let us know that they were rushing Dad to the hospital by ambulance with chest pains. After several EKG's and blood work we learned he did not have a heart attack. A stress test showed some irregularities. He was released and has to go back next week for some more test.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying. I have some of the most awesome friends in the world.

After spending a couple days at the hospital everything the rest of the week gets blurry.

Really excited about a lot things that are coming in the days ahead.

Got a work day at the church this morning.

Hope you are having an awesome weekend.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

@prodigaljohn - Big ideas are built from small ones. If you don't give yourself raw materials to build with you'll never build big ideas.

@dougclay - Let ur idenity be bigger than what u do!

@BrianCHouston - Leaders goal: LIVE accountably, TAKE responsibility, SHOW transparency. Not afraid of 'sorry' & always ready to change!

@prodigaljohn - Feelings aren't smart enough to be given the decision about if you'll do what you're called to. Don't wait on a feeling

@BrianCHouston - Leadership goal: To MAKE history, not serve it. LEARN from history, not repeat it. HONOR the past, but not glorify it!

@loswhit - Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.

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Friday, January 15, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Dependency On You = Independent From God

Who are we teaching our students to be depended on? Us? Because we have all the answers and the ticket to get out of Hell for free. Or God? A lot of time in Youth Ministry we allow our insecurities to dictate a lot of our decision. As human we need to be needed. We want to be wanted. I can be honest and real enough to speak from experience. It feels good that when a student in your ministry has questions or are in serious need they come running to you. If strokes our ego to be needed. Although we can guide them and possibly steer them in the right direction we truly do not have the solution that they need.

Are we making disciples of Jesus or disciples of us? If your driving force in your insecurities then you are building your own kingdom. If we are teaching and training the student in our ministries to be dependent on us then we are teaching them to be independent of God. Instead of us being their answers and solutions to every need, we should be teaching them how to seek Him for their answers. The greatest thing you can do for a student is introduce them to Christ. The second greatest thing is to teach them how to be dependent on Him for their everything.

Teach them how to think, ask questions, and look from His perspective rather than yours. Teach them God's Word not your ways. Just a thought from a Youth Pastor than struggles with this issue from time to time.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Matthew 5:13-16, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Salt and light are elements of change. The thing is that they change nothing while they are by themselves. Salt changes nothing while it is with other salt and light has not impact around other lights. I know that they is a lot of Jewish tradition and history behind the usage of these metaphors but at the root of it all they both change their environment.

The same is with the Church. We are not called to change the Church we are called to change the world. Instead of being offended that we do not sing the songs we like on Sunday we should spend that energy showing our neighbors the love of Christ. Instead of breaking down the difference relationship and religion we need to be meeting the needs of our community.

We are called to be elements of change in our worlds. Instead of whining about what is wrong with the church why not be the change that you are looking for. Remember salt does not change salt and light does not change light.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

What's worth your emotional health?

Right now get out a pen and piece of paper and start making a list. What is worth your happiness? What is worth your mood swings? What is so important that it is worth you laying awake tonight worrying, fretting, and battling depression over? Is it something that you have or do not have. Last time I check nothing is more important that the peace that we need to get through every day life.

The better question would be who is worth your emotional health? What unhealthy, unbalanced relationship is worth causing you all kinds of trouble? You need to make up your mind who in your life is important enough to disrupt all the other relationships in your life.

Yesterday we talked about what attacks your emotional health and today you need to decided what or who is worth your emotional health. This should be a very short list.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Emotional Health

This may seem like some strange posts this week but this is something that the Lord has been dealing with me about for several weeks now, so I thought I would share it. I am a firm believer that emotional health is very important. When there is a breakdown in your emotional health it can lead to trouble in the spiritual and even physical health. Emotional health affects your moods, your perspective and many more things that you may not realize. There are some things that you need to avoid if you are going to remain emotional healthy:

One sided friendships - We all seem to have them. People that we call our friends but if we are going to talk to them or interact with them then it is us that has to call or make the effort. If we do not work at the friendship there would not be one.

Emotional vampires - People that are always down and love to bring you down. People that want you to believe that they would not survive without your help. They know just how to bring you down when you are in a good mood. They know how to suck the life out of everyone around them.

Unbalanced relationships - I heard a young lady once say, "never make someone a priority when they treat you like an option." An unbalanced friendship or relationship happens when you place it at more of a level of importance than they do.

Just like our spiritual and physical health, we have to work at our emotional health as well.

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Monday, January 11, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Perry Nobles writes about why leaders stop leading here.

Mark Batterson wrote an awesome blog about the seat of honor here.

Scott Williams blogged about leaders clearing the runway here.

Al Force writes about created to be creative here.

My Pastor talks about learning to learn here.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Back to reality this week. Really feels good to be back in some sort of routine. The older I get the more I love routines.

This week was a great start to the new year.

Wednesday night we had a record non-event crowd and we saw 14 students give their life to Christ. The 300 Challenge kicked off in a big way. 286 left to go.

Went to the gym three mornings this week. Very proud of Paige and me. We will pick it back up Monday and go again. Shooting for 4 this week.

God has been dealing with me about a few things as of late. I am working on a way to give away everything that Thrive does. We have created a website, that I will announce the end of the month, that Youth Leaders can go to and download all of this stuff for free.

Also, every Thursday on this blog I will be sharing Youth Ministry leadership thoughts. I do not have all the answers but after 11 years I feel like I can share some things I have been through and have learned.

I thank God every day for placing me on the staff that He has placed me on. I love my Pastor and his family so much. Steven and Nikki are great leaders, friends, and Pastors. Also Pastor David and Linda are some of my heroes. I love their family as well. Last but not least, I believe that Ms Joni keeps us sane.

It has been cold this week. It snowed and stuck Thursday night. It was only about a half an inch but it still snowed. Some of it is still on the ground this morning in the back yard.

Enjoyed resting yesterday. One of my New Year's Resolutions was to rest more for my emotional health.

Hope you are having a good weekend. Stay warm.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Here are some quotes that I read on twitter this week that have challenged and stretched me:

@ShaunKing: No joke: If U behave today like U behave every other day it is VERY LIKELY that this YEAR will look like EVERY other year!

@MattChandler74: When the illusion of control disappears we become men and women of prayer.

@prodigaljohn: Brainstorming is sexy, but the capture of the idea & the execution of the idea matter more than the initial creation.

@erwinmcman: Day one is about enthusiasm. Day two about resolve. Eventually inspiration must turn to perspiration or you drift into desperation!

@MarkBatterson: Quit criticizing and start creating. don't focus on what's wrong. do something right. don't make noise. make a difference.

@JohnBoore: growing people is what grows ministries!

@prodigaljohn: Pastors: Avg. person sees 3k-5k marketing messages a day. Your sermon is idea #30,001 they've heard. You better bring it.

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Friday, January 8, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

People will never be more passionate about your vision than you are.

Youth Leader, God has given you a vision and a plan for leading a group of students and reaching the students far from God in your city. This should be one of the most exciting things in your life. It should be something that comes out in just about every conversation that you have. The people that God has placed around you to partner with you in ministry will only be as passionate/excited about what is going on as you are. People follow vision. People are looking for someone to paint the picture of where God is leading them. Draw up the play so to speak. That is what vision is in a nutshell, a picture of where God is wanting to take your ministry, or what God is desiring your ministry to look like. If you are not excited about it and give it clearly then no one will understand it or be willing to chase after that dream with you.

Passion is defiantly caught and not taught. Passion is contagious and rubs off on people really easy. We are looking for something to be excited about, we are desiring to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. As a Leader, you have to be excited way before anyone else is.

Do not get frustrated with people when they are not as fired up about what God is speaking to you as you are. You have seen it already, God has shown it to you, now it is your job to show it to them. If God has not shown you a vision for the ministry that He has called you to, you need to begin to pray and listen. He desires to.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Take a different look

Sometimes when our attitude is in the ditch we just need to step back and get a different perspective. See the situation from a different angle. Change where you are viewing the situation from. Take a more humble approach. Instead of taking offense to it, see how you can make it better. Instead of whining or complaining start serving and working. Nothing will change your perspective quicker than changing the angle that you are viewing in from.

Another thing that I try to do is to see it through different eyes. Sometimes we have to go to people that we love, trust, and respect and have them look at it. Get them to give you council. Two heads are better than one. Here is my warning. This is not a license to gossip. Find some person that you TRUST and will give you honest non-basis advice.

The last thing I would suggest you do is remove yourself out of the situation. Take a look at what you are going through and ask yourself if it would be different if you were not in the picture. That is a good indication to whether you are the problem or not.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

You get out what you put in

Here is something that I am learning in life. You get out of it what you put into it. It has been called different things through out the years. I have heard said like this, "You have made your bed, now you have to lay in it." I believe that is true in a lot of things. Unless someone truly understands that they are accountable for their actions and attitude they will never fully grasp the affect that their actions and attitude have on life.

The Bible says in like this, "God can not be mocked, a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7)." You get out of life what you put in it, you receive what you give. I am shocked, floored at times at people who make stupid decisions, rebel, and refuse to submit to the authority above them and then have the nerve to ask why their life is falling apart. You reap what you sow. Do not expect if you sow bad seed that you will reap a good harvest. People sow confusion, strive, gossip, "_____(you fill in the blank)" and then expect God to bless their actions and give them a return on what they have sown. I really believe that is why the Apostle Paul wrote that God can not be mocked as the first part of this verse.

So what are you sowing? A good way to tell is look around at what you are reaping. Today I challenge you to truly examine what you have been reaping. Is it hurt, pain, conflict, confusion, or strive? If it has, change your seed. Have a better attitude. Life is as you make it. God has offered us good gifts and it is our choice to take them.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

Attitude is contagious

Your attitude and outlook in life will determine a lot of things. With all this talk about hoping that 2009 is better than 2010 I had a thought. A year in itself is not bad, events are not bad, what you do with them and your outlook can be if you let it. If you let it life has no hope, no joy, no peace. We can find bad in anything and everything that we do and everywhere we look. On the other hand people can find the positive in everything. Find the brighter side of the doom and gloom. That ability to see things comes from our attitude.

Here is something that I have always known deep down but I am relearning more and more lately. Attitude is contagious. Good or bad it has an affect of the people that you are around. Only truly selfish people fail to realize that our lives have an influence on the people that are around us. Your attitude and outlook on life, good or bad will bring those around you up or down.

Do not believe me? Have you ever seen someone walked into the room and suck all the energy out? Everything is going good and everyone is having a good time, then someone with a bad attitude walks in and sucks all the energy out of the room. Takes the mood of the room down, people notice it and some feel like they have to address it. On the other hand, have you ever noticed someone with a good attitude? How they brighten the world around them? They have a way of making a room the better place.

Your attitude is contagious. I challenge you today to be aware of that. Be aware of the fact that your attitude affects others, it has an influence on the people in your world.

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Monday, January 4, 2010 Posted in | | 1 Comments »

Wednesday night in Thrive I shared the biggest dream and challenged that I have ever shared in Youth Ministry. I believe that we serve a BIG God and He gives us BIG dreams. Everyone that God has ever used He has given a big dream. Here is the dream God has given us for 2010 in Thrive:

300 souls added to the Kingdom
Students giving $300 to help buy a missionary a car in China
Students spending 300 hours of personal growth in their relationship with God

100 hours of Bible study and prayer
100 hours of Worship
100 hours of serving

Please pray for us. It is going to be a wild ride!

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Sunday, January 3, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

IT"S COLD! I woke up this morning and it was 27 with a windchill of 12. I love cold but I defiantly didn't turn on enough heat through the night.

Today is a bum today. The Holidays were so busy with family, traveling, and everything else that Paige and I spending the day resting.

Had probably one of the best times on New Year's Eve this year. Thrive's New Year's Throwdown was awesome. We played capture the flag, grilled out, played card games, had a fire, watched movies, and just hung out with each other. This is going to be an event I will look forward to every year.

I upload a couple of podcasts yesterday to I am going to make some changes to the website the first part of the week.

Wednesday night I shared the biggest dream and challenge that I have ever shared in Youth Ministry with Thrive. I felt like most of the students grabbed ahold of it. 2010 is going to be a year that we are not going to forget.

Tuesday night I went to speak at a retreat for some friends. It was an awesome night. Loved having some of our students with me to hang out and support. I am praying for more open doors to speak in 2010.

Monday we went and saw Sherlock Holmes with some friends. It was not what I expected but really enjoyed it. I will watch it again when it comes out of DVD.

We have watched more movies and played more Wii this week than in the last year. It was been nice.

Paige took the Christmas decorations down Tuesday. That made me a little sad.

I really do love this time of year. I love to think, dream, plan, and reflect all at the same time.

I have to be honest, I am ready for Monday and to have my routine back. I love routine.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »

My prayer is that 2010 is your best year yet!

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Friday, January 1, 2010 Posted in | | 0 Comments »