Tag Archives: photography

Grace

Dear Friends and Family:

Happy New Year!IMG_1479

One of our frequent prayers is that we would come into new relationships with people and existing ones would grow deeper.

We have been really blessed to spend the winter in Florida which gives us the chance to explore new places, new churches, new friends and new ways of doing business and ministering.

We have found a liturgical church which is also very active with community ministry.

Christine has started to work with the Altar Guild at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota which fits well with her understanding of the roots Christianity and the many symbolic aspects of liturgical worship.IMG_1259

Michael has started to volunteer in a homeless shelter the church is involved with, which has people waiting on the streets in the morning to get in for a shower and a bite to eat.     IMG_1657

A bus ride can reveal how many people are living on the edge, struggling with health issues, mental and physical, struggling with real poverty, financial, nutritional and spiritual.

Walking through the quieter suburbs also shows the run down houses, with all the shades or curtains drawn to the street with a fancy car or truck parked in front. It must be so dark inside, one wonders what kind of life are people living, is most of their light coming through the television screen? It seems the appearance of the car is more significant than the home.IMG_1662

The reality that in this country of great wealth, America, there is a level of poverty which is easy to drive by and not see or just disregard. It reminds me of the parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told to emphasize what loving our neighbors means.   IMG_1612

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”Luke 10:25-37

On a similar tract Michael has just finished making a video concerning the opioid and heroin crisis which is sweeping our country. It is a horrible epidemic killing young and old, rich and poor. The video was created for a grass roots charity, Columbia County Pathways to Recovery, which was formed by five mothers who had grown up with children in the small affluent community of Chatham, NY. They realized their children and many members of their community were becoming addicted to opioids and heroin and they struggled together to find ways to help them. They did not pass by on the other side but have dived in wholeheartedly to find out how to help those addicted.

Bringing an understanding of the opioid crisis to all people in a community through discussion and sharing experiences is what this video is designed to do. It is designed to stimulate open discussion of people’s thoughts, prejudices , and stigmas towards those under addiction within families and our churches. So please use it – watch the video, show it to your friends- and think about the questions it raises. What kind of prejudices  do you hold towards those who are caught by addiction? What kind of help do we offer as a faith based community?

As we come to the end of 2017 which has been a very divisive year in politics let us not turn our backs on those who are in need but embrace the fact that Jesus came to give us all life and life more abundantly.IMG_1435

Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.

“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”

Ephesians 6: 26

And may you be blessed and healthy in this New Year!

Love, Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography website     Christine’s Icon website

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Testimony and Extraordinary Times

Hello Friends and Family:   IMG_9889

As you know, we are living in extraordinary times in America.

Each day the news gets more and more incredible.

We have gone through many powerful natural disasters, hurricanes and wild fires.

We are currently going through a social expose of the sexual abuse of women by men in power.

There seems to be a growing awareness of the reality that America freely elected a racist president.  _MG_3508

Also that the economic, health and educational resources of the country are being redirected towards the ‘well off’, large corporations and the military.

 

We are also facing an era where news can be fake or not fake. What is true? Who is telling the truth. What is true for some is not true for others. This dilemma has always been present but it is exercised now to such an extent that it is hard to hold onto reality, whose right is right and whose wrong is wrong. By declaring something which we do not like as, ‘fake’, then it’s validity seems to be washed away.

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For those of us who believe that theBible can give us a standard by which we can judge right from wrong, we also realize that it can be twisted and misinterpreted. We see that over the years many wars have been fought over the different interpretation of the meaning and content of the bible. Many lives have fallen through ‘Religious’ wars.

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So where does this lead us?

 

For me it leads me back to digging deeper into who Christ is and how He is working today. It leads me back to a more personal relationship with Him. It leads me back to my testimony of who Christ is and what he has done in my life. A testimony of daily depending on Him and His grace to get through each day and a gratitude that He has asked me to do that.

 

The Bible talks extensively about testimony. It talks about how God gave signs to the exiled Jews as a Testimony of who He was. It talks about Jesus testifying to his relationship to God the father, and it talks about the false testimony of the Pharisees as they wanted to condemn Jesus to death. It talks about how testimony can be true or false.

 

Testimony can raise faith or it can destroy it.

I was able to attend one of Dr. Randy Clarke’s Empowerment conferences at Harvest Time Church in Greenwich, Ct, earlier in the month. Many people were getting healed of physical illness as words of knowledge and prayers were taking place. To help build the atmosphere of faith people were encouraged to clap 15 times when they believed God had healed them at least 80% of an illness.

As the evening went on one could hear throughout the crowd more and more people clapping, a testimony that they had received a healing._MG_3526

For me the extraordinary beauty of the moment when someone realizes that God has just supernaturally touched them personally and given them a healing is something that needs to be shouted out. It deserves to be clapped and stated. Once you have seen God move in this way, one knows that there is a truth of such value and holiness you hold onto it. Someone else may see it as fake news. For me it is real that we have a true God who is very real and His truth can not be washed away, ever.

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It may seem as odd as a pumpkin sitting in the waves of the sea but the truth is, we have a God who will judge us and loves us all as well. Our Father.

Jesus Icon
The Lord is My Shepherd Icon by Christine Hales

Paul says it when writing to Timothy from jail, so beautifully.

2 Timothy 1:6-14.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,[b] 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.[c] 13 Follow the pattern of the sound[d] words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Please hold us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.

Love and prayers, Michael and Christine

Christine’s Icon Blog is here.

Mick’s Photography Site

God is in their Recovery

Dear Friends and Family:IMG_9537

The autumn this year has not been spectacular so far because a lot of the maple leaves went brown without turning red. They dried out before coming to their wonderful yellow-orange and red colors. Fortunately the stag horn sumacs have added the most color on the sides of the roads and there are still the oaks trees in reserve to turn.

It reminds me of Elijah hiding in a cave after running from Jezebel telling God, he was the only prophet left and the word of God gently correcting him to say there were still 7000 faithful in reserve.

Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but God always has more to give than we can imagine.IMG_9515

This last month I have had the privilege of videoing people who have gone through serious additions to opioids and heroin telling their stories. It is material for a video I am making for Columbia Pathways to Recovery, a grass routes local community organization formed to help those caught up in the currant crisis. Each one of these people eventually coming through these horribly destructive experiences have recognized that it is a spiritual and physical disease. Each one talks about God or their Higher power and how that awakening to a divine presence is the saving foundation from which they can build their lives again. Each ones way to recovery is different and there is no cookie cutter answers to this very complex healing called ‘Recovery’.

One of the sentences that was quoted to me was, ‘ the opposite to addiction is not sobriety, but being in community with others.’ The way of addiction is to isolate people and slowly destroy them through the cravings of what ever drug they have chosen to take their pain away. This slowly makes them withdraw more and more from other people and social interactions.IMG_9607

God created us to be in relationship with each other, the drugs want to take us into isolation. The stigma around addiction shown by society will have to change before there can really be widespread healing for this disease. It is a much larger issue than a moral failing, or a weakness of character as society often view those fall ill with addictions. There are definitely chemical issues in the brain which make this a physical as well as spiritual illness.

There is a real need for the church to take a lead in this awareness that the people who are dying around us from overdoses are not bad people but people who really need healing, just as people need healing from cancer, they deserve to be loved, cared for and treated as other people with a disease.

Artists Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson
Artists Community Potluck Slide Share Dinner in Hudson

Jesus only did what his father asked him to do and he healed everyone who came to him for healing. As a Christian we are called, in this epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction, to help every one we can and be totally informed on what recovery means and how we can use the gifts we have been given to help them. That is more than just allowing an AA group to meet in the church once a week but knowing person to person and congregation to congregation what recovery really is.

I just met God in those people I videoed, they have recovered and they are back in society living a life more abundantly than they could imagine. That is what Jesus came to give us, a life more abundant than we can imagine.IMG_9648

Please pray for all those who find themselves in a trap and for those who help them get free.

We ask your prayers this month for those in recovery from opioids and their families, and for ourselves as we transition into God’s next plan for us!

Blessings and Prayers,

Christine and Michael

Michael’s Photography Site        Christine’s Icon Site

Psalm 23

Dear Friends and Family:FullSizeRender 10

We hope this summer is going well for you all?  It is a working summer for us- God is blessing us with many opportunities to make our art and share it!  So, it’s crazy busy sometimes but also great fun because we love what we’re doing!  Couldn’t be better!!photo 3

This morning this is the last little baby bird to fly the nest on our front porch!!

Even the sparrow finds a home, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.  Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.” Psalm 84:3-4

I’ve just taught an Icon Workshop at Holy Cross Monastery and that is always a blessing for everyone, praise God.

Also just took a week long painting intensive at Bennington College through my alma mater, Massachusetts College of Art.  During this workshop, I began exploring the boundaries between Icons and religious painting- something I hope to do a lot more of this coming year.  Here is a photo with me and my Saint Joan of Arc painting. photo 7

This from Michael:  “I have been working on a video on Psalm 23 which has been a wonderful project. It has given me a deeper understanding of how close the relationship of King David was with God. The first line states the Lord is my shepherd and right up front assigns authority to God. David declares that God has authority over him and once that has been established the Psalm then states God’s security, leadership, rest, provision, abundance, redemption, direction, love, family and on and on until finally unity with Him for eternity.

This Holy scripture describes so intimately the relationship between God and David and it is all available when David assigns authority over his life to the good shepherd. David having been a shepherd himself before becoming a king, understood the roles of both of those positions. He likens himself to a sheep under the care of a shepherd, a foreshadow of how Jesus became the sacrificial lamb for mankind under the authority of God the Father. The depth of the love voiced in Psalm 23 is a witness to the love Jesus has for us.
Psalm 23 video

Please watch the video and share it with someone who may not know the Psalm at all. When I started to film people for the video, I approached a group of teenagers on a NY subway platform and asked if they would read the psalm 23, none of them knew what a psalm was, never mind the number 23. One young man was willing to try, but a train came in at that point. That experience just increased my desire to make scripture alive to people who do not get to hear it in their daily lives.”

And, for the first time ever, Michael and I had a pop up exhibition together in my studio in Hudson.  It was so much fun, visiting with our friends and being able to talk in depth with them about our work.  Thank you God!!  FullSizeRender 9

Sending you all love and prayers,

Christine and Michael

Mick’s Photography Site

Christine’s Icon Site

Gifts

Watching the spring finally come into our garden this morning I was struck by the abundance of small yellow flowers falling off our Maple trees. Then I was struck by the abundance of azalea blooms which only yesterday were in their prime and now are falling to the ground. God’s abundance and His timing can make me stand up in awe. Indeed, this April, there have been images of the wild flowers in the Californian hills taken from space, and the whole landscape has turns yellow and orange with their Californian poppies. This was an extraordinary wild flower blooming in California, after years of drought finally gave way to soaking rain.

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It is good to remember when we feel like we are in a desert with our walk with God, that He is so abundant with His riches and precise with His timing. The bible reminds us that, [Romans 9:29], ‘For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.’

I hang on to that scripture knowing I have been called and often experiencing His gifts, but still feeling I am not exactly where God wants me to be. So I have been crying out for my life to align with God’s purposes for it.

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Christine led another Icon writing retreat in the final days of Holy week in Miami, which was a very powerful experience for all who took part. One of the wonderful parts to the retreat was using stations of the cross Icons which Christine had created some ten years ago. They were placed in different areas of Morning Star Retreat Center’s garden and everyone took part, including three teenagers who were taking the retreat with their parents.

Miami Icon Retreat
Miami Icon Retreat

 

The retreats Christine has led through lent, have each been different although the same Icon, the face of Christ has been written. The Holy Spirit has a way of opening doors which have been closed for some time and allowing integration and healing to take place. There has been a lot of healing happening in these retreats, both physical, emotional and spiritual.

 

Michael had a new book published, New York Living: Re-Invented, for which he did the majority of the photography. Books take some time to get published, this one two years, so it is always good to see how people react to ones work from a few years previously. The career as a photographer has been Michael’s ‘tent making’, referring to the apostle Paul; often while on photo shoots the chance to pray for someone will come up and it has been wonderful to do that with people, often the clients. When one looks back over a period of time one realizes how God has been working through you.

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Romans 9: 33 and 36, ‘ Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and inscrutable his ways.photo 2

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.’

 

Please keep us in your prayers and let us know how we can pray for you.

Blessings and Love,

Michael and Christine

Michael’s photography Website, Christine’s Art Website A, Christine’s Art Website B, Icon Website,  Icon Classes Website

 

Ash Wednesday

As I drink my tea in the morning, my favorite cup reads,
‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ Hebrews 11:1. But when I go back to my ESV bible the same verse reads, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’img_6592

Those slight variations in translation can be an opportunity to explore further the nuances of the Holy Scripture or the beginning of misunderstanding and doubt. The whole chapter of Hebrews 11 digs deeper into those faith filled people of the past. But what of today? Who are the people really walking in faith with Jesus?
Our church, the whole body of Christ, seems to be divided as to what truly walking in faith means. Is that because there are so many ways to translate the bible, or so many ways to interpret what it says, or so many ways to make it fit with our own life styles and values; or even political world views? img_6480

Those are all good questions. However the question of real significance is, are Christians truly getting the benefits of walking in faith, believing they are new creations in Christ and receiving fully the power God assigned for that walk? Are we Christians making things happen, which in our own strength could not be possible, because we have faith that the Holy Spirit will back us up? Are we so grounded in our relationship with Jesus that we are sure we are walking in His will not our own? When we are in that intimate relationship, God will do extraordinary things through us, more than we can possibly imagine.img_6549

God calls us to take the first step and believe that He will be there with us when we take the second step and the third. It is our faith that He will be there for us that enables us to move forward. Having God’s path for us, completely set forth from the start to the finish with all the details in place, has never happened in my own experience, as Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘the conviction of things not seen’. I believe He calls us to push forward in ways far beyond what our rational minds can see, but by being guided by the Holy Spirit and having faith, Jesus is with us. We will fulfill His call on our lives. It is in the journey that we share daily with Christ that we receive His promise of life and life more abundantly.img_6582

Christine has been working on an icon of the Archangel Michael which depicts the scene of Revelations 12:7, where there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels and the dragon lost the battle. It is an extraordinary icon and dynamically shows the energy of the fight. The dragon is seen with seven heads and each spitting furiously. It is always a good thing to hold fast in our minds that the dragon and his angels lost. That is a fact we can have faith in as we keep our focus on Jesus and what He is doing through our lives as we walk as new creations in Christ.***  cshportrait

 

Christine is preparing for three Icon Writing Retreats this Lent.  The last one will be at Morningstar Renewal Center in Miami Florida, and will finish with the Stations of the Cross, using her Icons for prayer and meditation.

Another one will be at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, NY, March 21, 24.  There is still time to register! Contact Br. Joseph, guesthouse@hcmnet.org

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As we often pray for you, each one, we continue to send our prayers and thoughts for your good health, wisdom, and peace.  I’d like to pray a blessing over you now, that comes from Roy Godwin’s book “The Way of Blessing“:

“I bless you in the name of Jesus, that God may reveal to you everything you need to know to enable you to be fully who you were made to be, and that you receive everything you need, that the fulness of life might be released to you.”

Amen!

Love and prayers,

Michael and Christine

Mick’s Photography Website    Christine’s Painting Website  American Association of Iconographers

 

 

Volunteering

Dear Friends and Family:img_6023

Some of the fun when volunteering for different organizations is meeting other volunteers and getting to know them. This month Michael has been blessed with the chance of making a short video for an organization called ‘Books for Kids’. This came about when a man spoke from the heart about a charity he had formed for kids who grow up in homes where there are no books available. The consequences are that during the summer months those children fall behind in their literacy skills, compared to children who do have books and parent who read to them. Consequently each year they progressively get left further and further behind in their reading ability. ‘Books for Kids’ is a program which supplies volunteers to go into schools and read books to the kids and then give each child a book to take home, each school month. I volunteered to make a video of what the program does, to help with its promotion to possible volunteers and businesses which could support the program.

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It is wonderful to see how much it means to the kids to get these books and how much it means to the volunteers to have the chance to help. The blessing works both ways. It happens because the leader, Ted, has such a heart to help the kids that it becomes infectious. Michael got the chance to pray with Ted and revealed to him how this was a calling from God and how he was stirring up others to follow through his complete dedication to the work._mg_8047

 

img_5993Twelve years ago John had a stroke which left his right hand curled up and without function. He has difficulty walking and getting up to his first floor apartment. Pretty much every morning he makes his way to his car to drive it into a sunny spot in the car park and just sits there for two or three hours. He likes the warmth of the car. He also loves to have people stop by and chat through the car window- so of course I go and pray with him. It can take him a little while to get the words out but he always tells me how much God loves him and will be coming soon.img_5491

This week I was also blessed to pray for people’s healing in Jiffy Lube, in our launderette and in a food pantry. There is joy in the every day chance meeting when one steps out and offers prayer. Doors get opened, people’s countenance changes as the Holy Spirit moves through them bringing things back to life, in their minds and in their bodies. It is so wonderful to be a part of God working even in the smallest way.

img_5898These are the opportunities which we ‘gently approach’ to bring a living Jesus to people around us. So many people need healing in their bodies but few look to prayer for healing. Sadly many Christians do not pray for healing, or pray without real belief that something will change with their prayer, it is done more as a rote or obligation.

Praying for healing can be one of the most exciting things a Christian can do, Jesus only did what God the Father asked him to do and he healed throughout his active ministry time.

Icon Talk
Christine’s Icon talk at Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota this month

 

Sometimes when praying, we know what Jesus is doing, but often we do not. But I am sure he loves it when we do pray for healing. Then occasionally there is an e mail in your IN box that lets you know.

 

“We wanted to thank you for praying for all of us at the Alive Church. We thought you might have been an angel showing up! I had recently been saying that a lot of us need healing for our backs. I know the Lord answers prayers ♡ We were and are grateful for your humble and obedient spirit. My back hasn’t given me trouble and I am happy for that manifestation.” Mellody C.

So, thank YOU for praying for us, and we continue to pray for you as well!

Love and prayers

Michael and Christine

Mick’s website    Christine’s website    Christine’s Icon website   Icon Blog

Thanksgiving!

Dear Friends and Family:

As November draws to a close, we have so much to be grateful for.  

Having Thanksgiving in Boston with our son, daughter-in-law and new grand daughter was delightful!  Being able to visit my mother who is recovering well from a broken hip and seeing her smiling, settling in back at our house, seeing old friends and making new friends.

But I wonder if you are experiencing the battles and seemingly unending difficulties that we are?  It’s almost becoming funny, that the moment we solve one huge problem and feel we can relax-BOOM!- another one hits.

And they all seek to distract us from the things that really ARE important.  Like prayer, worship, fellowship with God.  

This is our back garden – can you see the little deer?  There’s a family of them that live back there by the cross.  In a way, our succeeding in all the recent battles secures the safety of their home.   I think that is the way of intercessory prayer, too.  People willingly taking up the battle in prayer wins
peace for many others who are unaware of what it costs.      We are praying with a couple of icons these days -like this detail of Saint Anthony, the father of monasticism.

He was a great intercessor for his time and withstood many temptations and assaults from the demons. In 2 Chronicles 5:13 when Solomon completed the House of the Lord, and brought the Ark of the covenant in, it was the duty of of the trumpeters and singers to praise the Lord saying “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”  I think this is the task – no matter how awful the onslaught is, to sing praise that God is good, He is always good, and His steadfast love endures forever.  When the people praised God with those words, the Glory of the Lord came down and filled the temple.

We are the Temple and what could be  better than being filled with the Presence of the Lord?  This photo is from the blessing of the icons and the iconographers’ hands at Saint Nicholas’ Church where I teach, in Cohoes last month. It was a joy and honor to be there.

We are planning for  a January start for a house Church in our home in Philmont, a small discipleship group, and Michael will be doing some Bible teaching.  We plan to be praying and asking to see if God is calling us to start a Global Awakening satellite school of ministry in this area in September.

Back in Bristol, we are so encouraged by all the prayer efforts that are happening there. It seems that people are uniting across the denominations to pray together – outside and inside churches. Dec 1 there is a UK wide prayer on the streets which some of our friends in Bristol are participating in, and John Mulinde’s World Trumpet Mission is having a strong prayer presence too.  There are many more prayer events and we are really thrilled to hear about each one, and we pray together with each one.   

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We are also seeing a very powerful presence of the Lord in some of the prayer meetings at St. Michael’s Church in Colonie and experienced being held on the floor by His Presence. We have both started prayer walking on the streets and find it a way to hear God’s heartbeat for the village. There was recently a death in this community which has shaken the village as it happened so quickly and it has opened up opportunities for us to pray for people. It has also revealed a strong masonic presence in the village. The words keep coming to my mind as we discern what God is doing here from a prayer session in June, “Build an Ark, in Philmont. A place of my powerful presence.” So we ask for your prayers for this that we would build God’s ark here, it so desperately needs it.

I prayed for a lady in the drug store in Boston the other day for her broken wrist, she literally said before I started to pray for her, ‘I wish someone would come along and bless me and get rid of all these demons attacking me.’ God had it all planned for me to be there. We always need to remember God has so much more for us than we can possibly imagine and when it seems to be so dark we need to hold on to God with all our heart, for He is really all there is and His love endures forever.

We hope you have a Happy Christmas with the true blessings of the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ our savior, born so humbly yet full of so much power in each of our lives today.

PS  We REALLY want and need your prayers!!! It makes a huge difference!!  And we will continue to pray for you too!           Love,            Christine and Michael.