What a week to be thankful!

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The thing about thanksgiving that I always want to remember is no matter how insane, how much work or how stressed out I get, I am thankful, for so many things.

As so many people would agree, not all those things, are well, things.

This year was an exceptionally crazy week to be thankful.

Thanksgiving Quote - Joyce Girard

Last week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was two days after her 14-year old beloved dog crossed over the rainbow bridge.

This week, I had to take the week off (thankfully my project was also not going to be worked on this week) to take care of my children while they were out of school.

I had planned a fun filled week of movies, making crafts, desserts, and I was even planning to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I don’t have issues with that kind of thing.

We saw a movie in the theater (Big Hero 6 and I highly recommend it,) went to see my dad twice in the past three days at his rehab facility where he is recovering from the open heart surgery, and got to see some cousins.

I took my youngest this week to see his new daycare facility, and he will be there from 715 AM to 330 PM three days a week, and not being taken care of at his home for the first time in any of my three children’s’ lives.

The tree hasn’t gone up (but it will soon) and I spent an entire day helping my sister-in-law with her two-year old triplet children while my brother took his brother-in-laws, including my husband, shooting guns.

It’s been an emotional, stressful, crazy-filled couple of weeks leading up to this week.

Every once in a while, the Lord blesses me with an experience or two during my “Oh-woe-is-me” weeks (or month.)

I was blessed to see another family in action and be glad that I have the children I had and the husband I had.

My husband took the time to go see my father, because he knew I was stressed about it and it relieved me so much for him to be there.

I have been blessed by my mother-in-laws attitude.  She has been rock solid for her grown children through all that has been happening and I remembered how strong of a women she is.  I’ve seen this side of her before and even with all her beautiful feminine traits that I envy, she shows a strength that I’ve only seen my stoic paternal grandmother show in times of great stress.  It’s pretty amazing.

Remember how blessed you are this week.  Health is such a blessing.

For today, I will be eating, drinking and being merry, as well as giving thanks for so many blessings, as well as the trials.

I am one who just doesn’t see the blessings without the trials.  I wish this wasn’t true, but I am thankful that this is all I have to deal with.


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The Newest Addition to Our Family

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No, I’m NOT pregnant.  And I’m VERY HAPPY to say that.

This summer, our family became foster parents to two different furry-family members.

Fostering an animal is one of the most rewarding experiences for our family to date.  Sure we go to church and have helped build houses in Mexico and show love to people who wouldn’t may have felt Christ’s love, but this is different.

 St Francis de Sales Quote-Doing little thingsDoing little things with a strong desire to please God makes them really great. ~ St. Francis de Sales

 The Lord put man on earth to help care for the animals.  He put us over them.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ~ Genesis 1:26

I believe taking care of dogs are no exception.

In 2012, our yellow Labrador, Franklin, was no longer able to walk and had completely stopped eating.  I cried in my husband’s arms the night we knew our first puppy dog as a couple had to be put down because he was now suffering and the only option was expensive back surgery which may or may not have corrected the problem.  Franklin was 12-years old and we look at his photos with joy that he had a wonderful, full life and we were the ones that were blessed to take care of him.

 In 2013, through a friend on Facebook, I read about a program called Elder Paws Senior Rescue.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I hear about something and I know – I JUST KNOW – that I want to get involved and help.

But, with a family of three growing children, a husband that doesn’t share in the “save every animal we can” mentality that I do, sometimes there’s not much I can do.

I heard that voice in my head (call it what you want) that whispered, “You can help them.”

Then the other voice, the voice of reason says, “No, you have other goals, other priorities, no time and other things to take care of right now.”

The voice of reason was winning the argument.

My mom had progressed in her diabetes to the point of kidney failure and was on dialysis three days a week. My husband and I were disagreeing on many things and (at the time) he was suggesting I needed to get healthier so I wouldn’t end up like my mother.  I had children’s birthday parties to plan, a Halloween costume to make and other things I needed (and wanted) to do with life than take care of another dog.

After having a heart to heart conversation with my husband about how I knew I was supposed to help this charity, and give my lonely mini poodle a friend, we agreed to send an application to be foster parents to one dog (at a time) and as soon as my mini poodle passed away, we would request that the foster dog we had would be the last.

My husband made it very clear that we were not going to get another dog.

 I sent in an application to become a furry-friend-foster mom in January of 2014.  We had a home inspection performed within a matter of a couple of weeks, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I helped out the charity when I could, creating a few postcards, talking about it with my friends, going and visiting the adoptable dogs at their events on occasion with my children and my mini-poodle to show the lady in charge that we were a good, nice family with a well behaved dog.

 I finally got contacted by the organization’s leader in early June that she had a dog that was capable of being with our children and she explained to me that most senior dogs were skittish around children, tended to nip them, and didn’t like loud noises.  I thanked her for just knowing that my children were loud.  (Because they are.)  She had a dog that was deaf, blind, and was very sweet with everyone he had met.

Our foster dog JafariOur first foster dog was named Jafari. We got him on June 29th. In the above photo, he is on the left and my mini poodle is on the right.

He was a sweet and wonderful bichon mix and was soft just like my mini poodle and just about the same size.

I had to take Jafari to the vet for an eye problem the third week we had him.

Jafari and I at the vet.He ended up needing more care than what my family was able to do for him and the organization’s leader was not only aware of it, but suggested that he be placed with a better suited foster for him.  My husband and I were again, so grateful that she had the foresight to even consider this and we took the offer.

He ended up with one of his eyes removed and the last time we saw him at an adoption event, he was wagging his tail, barking away at everyone and everything that would listen.  As of the date of this post he has not found a forever home and you can find out more about him here.

The organizations leader told me that she had another dog for us that was healthy and totally sweet around children.  He did seem to have a problem with men though and was a nervous dog.

We began fostering Reese on August 2nd. Reese's Journey - 1

Described to me as a Chi Masterson Terrier Mix, he was extremely timid the first day he came home with us.  He was not potty trained and growled, although not loudly, at my husband when my husband was around.  He had been on the kill list because no one had come to claim him at a local shelter and he was found wandering the streets, friendly, just skittish according to the shelter workers.

Life passes by when you have children and are taking care of dogs.  The first night was the only night he slept on his bed in our room.  The next night he slept on our bed where our mini-poodle sleeps and knows that’s his bed now.

Reese's Journey -2He also loves to be cuddled right next to my husband.  It took him about a week to start that, but he responded really well to treats.

Potty training him was a challenge.  It took us three weeks but we finally broke him in.  Again, it was the treats that really showed him that he was being a good boy when he did his business outside.

As a dog owner only twice in my whole life (one in high school and that dog made it to 13-years old) and then as an adult to the two dogs my husband and I loved as ‘children’, I knew I was a “dog person.”

This dog was stealing my heart. Reese's Journey - 4I had knee surgery on August 12th and was in bed for a week.  He hardly ever left my side (it was a good week to potty train him) and he never did anything wrong.

Never.

Compare it to this: My mini-poodle was also a rescue.  They estimated him to be about 18-months old when we got him, and that was about 13-years ago.  His problems were/are extensive.  No matter what we do, he incessantly licks his paws.  We’ve tried sensitive shampoos, sprays of all kinds, hot spot treatment, pills, you name it and he still does it.  He also tries to dominate other dogs whenever he can, no matter how big or how small.  (If you’re a dog person, you know what that means.) Ugh.  He’s been fixed for 13-years it’s just as embarrassing as you can imagine it to be!

But he’s one of my babies and I still love him. Reese's Journey - 6 with my mini-poodleReese hasn’t done anything like that – at all. My husband and I couldn’t believe it.  Those first three weeks we were trying to figure out “what was wrong with him” but the answer kept being “nothing.”

When Reese got over his fear of my husband in about a week, he began spending more time with my husband (and my father during the day when he took care of my children.)  My husband would hold him in his arms, just like I do with my mini-poodle.

Around August 20th, my husband told me after the kids went to sleep that he thought we should keep Reese. Reese's Journey - In my husbands arms What?  I had to ask him if I heard that right.  I did.  He wanted me to make the decision to keep him or not.

I started to pray.

I had been under the impression that he did not want another dog.  Granted, this dog probably only has 10 more years left because he was five years old, but, still.

I kept hearing conflicting answers in my head.  The voice of reason kept telling me that he was just reacting to the moment and he would change his mind after something came up with the dog, and potentially blame me for saying it was okay to keep him.

It took me ten days to know that the answer in my heart was to keep Reese.

There were so many signs in those ten days and yes, I believe in that kind of thing.

I had asked the children over the course of a few days what they thought of Reese and if each of them, individually, would like him as a forever pet.  Independently my children said that they wanted to keep him, and my oldest was wise enough to ask, “What about daddy?”

The charity posted this to Facebook on August 30th, after confirming with the leader of the Elder Paws Senior Rescue that we could adopt him. (She was just as surprised as I was.)

EPFB PostAdoption of Reese - photo on FB WallAnd that my friends, is how we ended up with the newest member of our family.

 Proverbs 12:10


Dependence & Relationship advice from Philippians

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I’m doing another bible post!

I know not everyone who reads this blog *knows* me, so I will again preface this post with the standard bible-referenced warning: I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I pretend to be one.  I usually read the bible when things are going tough, and today’s post is no exception.

You have been warned.

I depend on the LordWhat’s going on you ask?

Well, without getting too deep, I’ve run into a wall with my husband that we can’t seem to get around.  An extremely personal issue, we are still imperfect people trying to figure this living-with-each-other thing out, and I love to vent on my blog.  However, I don’t vent about my husband in a public setting because I don’t believe that’s ever productive.  In fact I believe it’s counterproductive in marriage.  I know women that do it and that’s fine for them, but not for me.

SO back to why I am telling you all that –

I am reading an older study book called “Loving Your Husband, Building an Intimate Marriage in a Fallen World” by Cynthia Heald.  I remember getting this book in 1999, a few years after we were married.

The book is dated a publishing date of 1989, so it’s prior to the days before Pinterest and Facebook where advice and free bible studies are prevalent and everyone seems to know what they are talking about.  We now believe in ourselves more than ever in my humble opinion.  [Trust me, I am no exception to this as I found out today.]  The bible it seems has become a tool to use to prove our personal points and agenda more than anything now-days.  (And it makes for great content when you have a Bible Verses section on your blog. =)

I have done this study before, now calculated to be over 15 years ago, and I remember learning so much from it that I knew it was time to go through it again.

I have a love/hate relationship with bible studies.  I learn so much (the love part) but it opens me up to my imperfections and usually makes me cry (the hate part.)

I’m telling you all this to set you up for the book of Philippians or specific verses in my case.

In the very first Lesson, the thing that stuck to me the most was the part referencing Philippians.

I must be dependent on the Lord to meet my deepest needs.

Did you say “whoa” like I did there?

You DON’T HAVE TO BE MARRIED to tell yourself that statement.

It doesn’t say “I must be dependent on myself to meet my deepest needs” or “I must be dependent on my lover/husband/kids/dog to meet my deepest needs.”

Can you say this:I am dependent on the LordI am dependent on the Lord to meet my deepest needs.

I can’t say that I am.  I really need to work on that!

Now read this.

Philippians 2:3-4How’s that for a personal relationship reminder?

Or what about this:

Philippians 4:4This one is like telling someone (me) who is having a hard time dealing with his/her loved one that you have to be happy with what’s going on.

Pshh.

Philippians 4:5Gentleness?  Right now I want to be upset.  Oh wait, there’s that whole dependence thing….  <Tears start welling up about now for me.>

Philippians 4:6-7

The book of Philippians friends, Philippians.

How do these verses speak to you?

In a relationship setting, especially a marriage setting, where the Lord is who I am (or supposed to be in my case) dependent on, I will have a peace that transcends all understanding.

I will.

I will have that peace.

I am (supposed to be) dependent on the Lord for all my needs – all my loving needs.


So What’s Going on with My Knee?

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Learn unconditional LoveIn June, I messed my knee up while at a boot-camp (exercise) class.

Get this: I DIDN’T mess it up because of boot-camp, I just messed it up AT boot-camp.

I’ve had a re-occurring problem where my knee cap has popped in and out of the socket since I was 16-years old.  Because it’s been happening so long in my life, I got used to it.  It seems almost silly now that I say that, but I never really took care of the problem, because it always healed up on it’s own, after a day of walking funny and trying to keep off of it.

I’ve never had my knee hurt as bad as it did on this occasion.  I knew something else was wrong.  That was a Saturday.  I still had to be mommy to two under five-year olds, I still had to resume my responsibility to church that I committed to having the youth group over my house on Sunday, and I waited patiently while my husband came home from a fishing trip on Sunday evening.  It could have been worse.

It all worked out, as it usually does and I saw my doctor on Monday.  He called the problem a “rearrangement of the knee.” I had x-ray’s done the same day and had to wait for insurance approval to get an MRI.  That was new.

Pre MRI Knee PhotoI got the MRI done on a Thursday evening after work. Yes, I went to work.  I hobbled around, but I was able to drive and like I said, it could have been worse.

I didn’t get MRI results back for another week.  Now we were in July and getting ready for a camping trip to Yosemite National Park.  I was still able to function, but I had lost my awesome for a week and a half.

What does that mean you ask?  You know, your “awesome.” I’m using it a a noun here.  Most people have it, but some people have a hard time describing it.  It’s the thing that makes you function.  It’s the thing that wakes you up in the morning.  It’s the thing that keeps you running during the day even though it seems like you don’t have anything else to give.  That’s my ‘awesome.’

I had completely lost it.  I had burned my finger on the oven while cooking, I was spilling things everywhere (it seemed) causing more work for me to clean messes up (I already have three kids to clean after) and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right the first time.  I just wasn’t myself.

Anyway, I was able to make an appointment with the Sports Injury Specialist the Monday after our Yosemite vacation.  While there, they took additional x-rays, drained my knee of about an inch worth of orange-red fluid in a VERY LARGE needle, and told me that I had a displaced patella.

DeAndrasCrafts PatellaYou do not have permission to use this photo for anything.

At least at the specialist they were able to tell me EXACTLY what was going on.  Apparently my knee did not pop back into place this time, as it had so many times before.  This was a problem that had been occurring for the past 20+ years.  I’m just getting old and my body is reacting to the stress I’m putting it under with my new workout routine.

Insert a big sigh.

All this work and my body doesn’t like it. Humph.  Go figure.

I continued working out with my trainer until the week before my surgery.  We did all upper body work including abs and whoa sometimes those abs hurt!

The surgery itself took place in August, and I took a before photo.

DeAndras Crafts day of surgery Knee PhotoWhen I awoke, I didn’t realize that I would be in a brace for an entire week.  I mean, they told me, but I thought I could take it off to take a shower and such. That was not the case.

Here’s my post surgery pic and it will pretty much look like this for the next week.

DeAndrasCrafts PatellaMy bed, my book, my dogs and my leg in a brace so I can’t even see my knee.

Yes, it stinks.  But there are positives.  My awesome mom-in-love bought me a tray to eat in bed.  My friends have been bringing my family meals throughout the week and through the weekend.  I have received cards and FB posts to cheer me up (and they have!)  I get to do things I haven’t been able to do while working and being mommy all the time.

Here’s what I wrote on FB just yesterday:

FB Post for KneeToday it’s getting better or at least it feels that way.

Thanks for reading this.  Have a great week and I hope you stay safe.  Keep working on your life, finding your awesome and your hustle!  There’s no excuse.  And it’s really not that bad.


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Graduation Season is Upon Us

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My children seem so little right now.

I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.

Recently enough however, our family and I were invited to five different high-school graduation parties for children my husband and I have seen grow up before our eyes.

My husband and I have been married for almost 18-years and have attended the same church in that same amount of time, so many of these families are part of our family.

I remember 8+ years ago, holding my first son in my arms and thinking how as I knew he was going to grow up, I would cherish memories, remember dates, and recall moments in time when precious events of his life happened.

Enter reality.

Eight years, two more children later, I kick myself for not grabbing the camera and capturing moments while they happen so I can remember them.  So is the story of every momma who fells the same way right?

Think of it as you ticket to change the world

Our family attended a graduation party at our church for twelve (12!) graduating seniors.  Many of them created boards of accomplishments, showcased photos of themselves as children, and displayed honors, achievements, and the important things of life that a high school graduate wants people to know about him or her.

I have ten years left until my oldest will be a graduating senior.

It seems almost surreal just writing that sentence.

Shop Amazon – Congratulate Your Graduate – Class of 2014

Although there are plenty of blogs with words of wisdom for the graduating senior, or collegiate, or mommy letting their 18-year old grown “baby” off to college, I offer one piece of advice:

Always be open to change.Always be Open to Change

It will always be there, and eventually, (even if it seems to be horrible at the moment) it will be for your good.

...so that you may be mature & complete not lacking anything. - James 1:4


Getting It Done, sort of…..

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Getting It Done

I haven’t posted about my 30-days of hustle experience for quite some time, as Easter has taken its place.

I got over the “dip” (a term I learned that happens when you are trying to accomplish a goal) in trying to finish my mother’s advanced directive.

We actually read and filled out four pages!
I am so grateful for this.  We got to the part of the directive that discussed medications, and we stopped because she didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Quite the win if you ask me.

I am grateful for this, Easter Sunday, where my mom and I were able to communicate clearly, talk about some deep stuff (as far as dealing with her eventual death) and get a piece of a goal done.

Yay!Romans 15:13 - Overflow with HopeHappy Resurrection Day too.



No longer a hustle – Now a run

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Run, Run, Run - Quote by Jose HarrisAs a “newbie” getting fit fanatic, I have a new appreciation for running.

The few times I have actually jogged, (cause it’s really not “running” as I think of it) I see how many calories one can burn by doing this rather than just walking.  Even riding a bike burns less calories over the same distance.

My husband found this out by tracking his jog and comparing it to a long bike ride over the course of a couple of days.  He jogged for 2.5-miles and burned over 600 calories, and compared it to his biking 8-miles and burned only 500+ calories.  It was a really good object lesson for the both of us.

The few times I have tried jogging, I started jogging until I felt kind-of sick.  That’s when I knew it was time to start walking and take a drink of water.  It was harder than I thought!  As I felt better, I would start to jog again, and instead of feeling sick, I would feel out of breath and would start walking again.  I would continue this cycle until my goal of 30-minutes of working out was up, and of course, I felt so proud of myself and good after the exercise (like everyone says you will.)

If anything that this 30-days of Hustle Challenge has been for me its to keep my goal in mind.

I know why I am doing it.

So today’s question to us was “How?”The paperwork to do this thing....

My three answers on how will I accomplish this goal are:

(1) I will read through the paper work and get familiar with it.

(2) I will plan a day (one for now) to hang out with my mom to work on the paper work.

(3) I will talk to my family about the decisions, keeping my brother, husband and even my dad in the loop so that no one is surprised, and build up a support system to keep my goal in mind.

I think I figured out today that I am slightlly ashamed that we are doing this.  It seems like no one talks about it, but everyone who is supportive also seems to know how important it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been “running” all this time with her sickness, knowing about the diseases, knowing that she is going to pass, sooner than the rest of us, etc.

But it hasn’t been as effective as one would think it is.  Being in denial seems easier.

Of course, that’s not running efficiently because I’m not getting anywhere, either.

[Another big sigh.]

This is hard.

I know, I know…. I’ll look up and feel good about it in the end.


Explore. Dream. Discover….

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I have been asking myself what I am all about lately.

I mean the really thought-provoking, deep and interpersonal look-inside-your soul kind of “about.”

I had a friend on Facebook throw out the question this past week, “What did you learn in 2013?”

I am sad to say that I have yet to come up with an answer.

I know I learned “stuff,” like how to write a blog post and post html-affiliate links, etc., but I haven’t come up with the deep, meaningful, life-changing new learned thing.  I know it doesn’t have to be that.  I KNOW.  But it’s there.  I HAD TO LEARN SOMETHING LAST YEAR, right?

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

There’s a page on this blog called “About Me.”  It gives an overview of me, and asks that if you want to know more, check out my first post.  Ya, ya, ya, but what I am about?  Really?

I know what I wish I was about.  I know what I dream I could be about.  Dreaming & Discovering

When I thought of writing this post, it started out being about dreaming about the future.  Looking up a “dream quote” on the internet, I chose one that was highly rated and meant something to me.  The photo attached to the quote is a picture I took of a ground squirrel, who literally looked like he was day-dreaming while sitting on a post on a heavily used walkway overlooking a piece of the California coast.  He was sitting there, not afraid, not making any noises, not trying to be noticed in any way.  It seems silly, but it was like the squirrel was dreaming.  (I know you might be smiling right about now, but go with me on it.)

I AM sitting at a computer staring at a photo of a squirrel on a post overlooking the coast, not trying to be noticed, not afraid, not making any noises (except the obvious typing,) trying to explore my inner self.  Dreaming of what this blog could be and what I can do next.  I need to discover my priorities, even now!

Seriously, the analogies could be endless.

That’s what I’m thinking right now.  I hope it got you thinking too.


Our Christmas Countdown – Part 1

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The Meaning of Christmas - Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

The Meaning of Christmas – Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

Our family celebrates Christmas.  It’s what we do.  We say “Merry Christmas,” teach our children to say Merry Christmas, and include the meaning of Christmas every day in December as the 25th approaches.

Our family is very blessed and for that I am thankful.  Our children get gifts from every family member, and one gift from Santa.

I wasn’t raised on Santa.  My parents claimed to have “never lied to me” which includes NEVER allowing me to believe in Santa.  As a young married wife, when the topic of Santa came up with my husband, I told him that there’s no way I could teach my children about Santa.  “It’s a lie.” I would tell him.  “I don’t want to lie to my children….”

Well, my thought process changed when I had my first child, we call RJ.  Our beloved newborn was still an infant for the first Christmas he spent on this planet and although we did not get him a present from Santa that first Christmas of his life, my thoughts on the whole ‘Santa-thing’ began to change.  Maybe, there was a compromise somewhere for this time of year.

Fast forward two years in RJ’s life.

Our now two year old son, able to communicate very well and learning about the world sees Santa on TV, along the road as we drive by the mall, on billboards, you name it.  My husband, who up to now has completely immersed our son with phrases like “Santa’s going to get you a gift this year,” and asked him “What do you want from Santa?” more times than I could recall, has been the sole source of our child’s Santa experience.  If I got a question about Santa when our child was 2-years old, I would defer the question by telling our only child, “Go ask your father.”  That year, there was no picture with Santa and of course, there was only the one present under the tree from Santa, something picked out by my husband from the approved list of things we were going to get our son anyway.

The following year, when RJ turned three, (coincidently in November) I had dinner with a really good friend who has a boy that is our oldest son’s best friend to this day.  She told me something I will never forget when the topic of Santa came up in our conversation.  She said “think of Santa as part of the lies you tell your child.”

What did I just hear her say?

She went on and told me to think about all the “lies” I’ve told my son up to this point in his life.  I sat there stunned for a minute trying to both process her words and think to myself, “Have I EVER lied to my son?”

The reality of the situation (and I am a realist you know) hit me like a ton of bricks – I have lied to him.

“But it wasn’t harming!” I justified to myself.  (Every kid has to think that vegetables taste good.  Every child who is a fussy eater has been told that sweet and sour pork is a chicken nugget, right?)

Santa can be good too.” An inner voice told me.

My mind was seriously blown.

My mind raced that evening. My parents lied to me too.  Perhaps it was in the sneaky ways they did stuff, trying to protect me from the real things that were going on in our poor-living conditions while I was growing up.  The stuff I found out about as an adult that were “kept from me” when I was a child, were sad things; certainly not joyful and dare I say, magical, but were kept from me to keep me from growing up too fast – something they ended up not being able to do anyway.  Once I grasped that concept, my stubborn insistence on the whole Santa thing relaxed, a little.

“Why not tell my child about Santa,” I kept asking myself.  My one excuse – about NOT-wanting-to-lie to my child – was thrown out the window.

Our celebration at Christmas has come to a compromise; we talk about Santa coming, enjoy watching movies about Santa, elves, and the magic of Christmas, and we countdown to Jesus’ birth as part of our Christmas tradition.  Right now, Santa is real to my children, and I’m okay with that.  It probably won’t be like that much longer.  I can only hope, pray, and teach them that their faith in Jesus will last their lifetime.