An Instagram-filtered Lenten journey

This Lent, I had a number of challenges that I took up and gave up, ranging from food/social media fasting on Fridays, to setting aside self-deprecation and welcoming more self-love and self-care. Lent has become my favorite

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Savannah, Courtney and I on Easter Sunday at Lakeview Presbyterian Church

time during the liturgical calendar, because there is so much to be learned through the suffering and darkness seen and experienced as we follow Jesus’ journey to the cross. It is a time to repent from our old ways of thinking, and welcome in everything that is being made new in us. We are constantly being made new.

Below follows a serious of 42 photos Instagrammed during my #40PhotosOfLent challenge which offer a little insight into what I’ve learned and experienced through this year’s Lent. It was a beautifully challenging pilgrimage, but now He is risen and we rejoice in the lightness! Happy Easter! Matthew 28:6

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From glitter to dust, let the journey begin ✨ #MardiGras #aftermath #Lent #FatTuesday #AshWednesday #40PhotosOfLent #Day1

 

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I’m grateful for this man who supports me, loves me and encourages me every day. Thank you for being an amazing father! Happy birthday dad! 😊❤️ #40PhotosOfLent #Day2

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It’s #FastFriday! I don’t come from a Christian background that traditionally fasts, but I’ve always been interested in the Muslim observation of Ramadan and the Catholic observation of Ash Wednesday and (as we called them in high school) “fish Fridays” so I’ll be fasting every Friday during Lent from sunrise – sunset from food, drink and social media. Just praying my hanger doesn’t kick in at lunchtime 😏 #40PhotosOfLent #Day3 #proteinpacking

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It’s a constant struggle for me to whole-heartedly experience joy even when something exciting is on the horizon because I immediately worry about this that and the other thing. I’m a perfectionist who often has difficulty resting, taking time to be still in the moment, and allow the beauty and my present reality eminent joy from within me. This Lent I’m actively spending more time stepping back, and patiently watching life bloom around me. ☺️🌸  🌳 #40PhotosOfLent #Day4 #spring #NOLA #CityPark #RoadBackToYou

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One challenge I practice year-round is to consistently experience different cultures and people any chance I’m given, and today Cherokee and I ventured down to NOMA for India Fest. This Lent I’ve taken up daily mediation and a weekly yoga class, two practices originating from India, aimed to unite and bring awareness to the mind, soul and body. Although it’s not traditionally from a Christian context, certain practices like “centering prayer” and lectio divina offer a deeper meditation on scripture and how it’s speaking in the present moment (thanks Riley!) (I’ve also just really been missing the easiness of finding or making Indian food since moving back to the States, so this made my heart extremely happy 😍💜😋) #Namaste #40PhotosOfLent #Day5 #Bollywood #NOMA #CityPark

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This Lent, I’m making it a habit to practice my morning routine which allows me the time and space to process life day by day. I’ve started reading “The Practice of the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence – a book I heard referenced twice in one week: in a sermon from my home church, and a blog post written by my cousin. I usually take those little moments as ways in which God is speaking to me. One thing that’s been challenging this year is allowing the mundaneness of my work routine become something negative. I’m someone that thrives in an environment with lots of variety and activity, so it’s taken a few months for me to find peace in my work which is often unpredictable. But recently I’ve been able to find much more joy and look forward to every day. Reading about Brother Lawrence’s capability of finding God in every simple, little moment is one way that I’ve been able to gain a new perspective, understanding and thankfulness for the work God has set before me this YAV year, and the lessons I’ll take away when my time is done in NOLA 😊  #40PhotosOfLent #Day6 #yav1617 ☕️

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My dad surprised me with these “Leslie Tartan” hi-tops he designed for Valentine’s Day. He’s always been one of those people to appreciate the littlest things in life, and to share those joys with others – like a slice of pizza from Augustine’s, a good song, or fresh cut daffodils on the kitchen table as a reminder of Spring and the coming Easter. Today these shoes remind me how acts of kindness can change someone’s day, and how important it is to appreciate every little thing around me. There is joy to be found everywhere if you pay attention! ♥️ #40PhotosOfLent #Day7

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Happy international women’s day! 💁🏻💁🏽💁🏾💁 During women’s history month I get daily inspiration from this display at the library of all the kick-butt women that’ve changed the world. Call your mum, call your girlfriend, call your best friend or your grandma and let all the women in your life know what they mean to you! 💜 #TheFutureIsFemale #WhoRunTheWorld #InternationalWomensDay #40PhotosOfLent #Day8

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Thankful for reflection time on an evening run at the lake 🌙 “Lent is a good moment for a spiritual stocktaking; a pause, a retreat from life’s busy surface to its solemn deeps. There we can consider our possessions; and discriminate between the necessary stores which have been issued to us, and must be treasured and kept in good order, and the odds and ends which we have accumulated for ourselves…. There are few who cannot benefit by a bit-by-bit examination of that equipment, a humble return to first principles; for there we find the map and road-book of that spiritual world which is our true environment.” – Evelyn Underhill #40PhotosOfLent #Day9 #yavprogram

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Picked up the guitar for the first time in 4 months, and wondering why I ever put this away in the first place – trying to make this a habit and now’s as good of a time as ever 🤗♥️ Getting geared up for St. Paddy’s with a few of my favs from N. Ireland! ☘️#40PhotosOfLent #Day10

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As much as I wish I had the energy to go out to the St. Paddy’s parade in the Irish Channel, sometimes you gotta listen to your body and take the day off (don’t worry pal, I’ll celebrate ya on Friday, St. Patrick!) Lent allows the space to find where soul meets body, and when that body needs to recharge in order to understand the soul. Thankful for housemates that make the resting so enjoyable 😊  #40PhotosOfLent #Day11 #Clue

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My favorite part of church buildings has always been the stained glass artwork. I love how you can see the world through many different colored windows; it’s a growing edge, and a reminder for myself to stop being blinded to others’ experiences that differ from mine, in order to gain a better understanding of the beautiful variety of God’s creation in the world. Lent is a good time to turn away from my old way of thinking and seeing, and with new knowledge, turn toward creating a vibrant and colorful community rooted in love ♥️ #40PhotosOfLent #Day12

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I almost missed this beauty until Haley pointed it out because, as usual, I was scurrying around the house to make a cup of tea before accomplishing the next task on my to-do list. Remember to pause, be still, and watch the world in the midst of busyness. There is so much to be gained in the stillness. 😊  #40PhotosOfLent #Day13 #NOLAsunset #NOLA

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Thinking back to my time spent on Iona last year as I plan this week’s Lent study, and remembering a reflection I wrote about ‘thin moments’ – where heaven meets earth, and the sacred and secular are inextricably linked – as I’ve moved to NOLA. “In New Orleans, I’ve taken on the year in the hopes of further learning how simplicity relates to being one with the spirit of Christ in every context and surrounding. Part of the spiritual journey is to become so sensitized to the presence of the sacred, that we can appreciate it in the every day life. What I have discovered working for a nonprofit is that sacred spaces, or thin places, are outside of church walls, historical abbeys and comfort zones. At the library the patrons I work with daily as a YMCA Educational Services volunteer tell stories of tragedy, sorrow, and pain. But I catch a glimpse of the divine in the hope they have during their search for a new start, home, job and changed city. When we learn how to appreciate sensing the ultimate in the common and simple, we are encouraged and energized to love our communities with intentional and wholehearted grace, forgiveness and understanding.” During the journey of Lent, we focus on how to become fully present to God, just as God is fully present to us. Thin moments are everywhere, if we’re open to receiving them 😊  #40PhotosOfLent#Day14 #yavprogram #yav1617 #NOLA #Iona #Scotland

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I remember so clearly meeting you for the first time in London, jet-lagged and running on 0 hours of sleep, trying to figure out how to buy a U.K. phone from an Indian man in the corner shop. From our pre-orientation Facebook stalking, you thought I was a crazy sorority girl, and I thought you were way too cool for me because you were a dancer – little did I know we’d become best friends in our first few days together, and continue to have many more adventures and unforgettable memories together over the past 5 years 🤗 (Here’s our first photo together in front of Big Ben!) ♥️ Thank you for your faithfulness in our friendship, and your love for others and God. You’ve taught me so many important lessons about myself, and I don’t know where I’d be without you! I love you Tori! Have a wonderful 25th birthday!! 🎉🍻💜 (P.S. you’re still too cool for me) #40PhotosOfLent #Day15 #YOSO #DontYouWorryChild #DuskTuesdays #StirlingUni #Banter

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For community night, I lead us to the Emerald Isle, learning how Lent is ‘a sacred pilgrimage into the desert of our lives,’ as we journey with Christ. Through the history of St. Patrick and the teachings of Celtic spirituality, we learn how to experience a pilgrimage of the mind and spirit in partnership with our bodies; in this way the holy can be found in the midst of every day life. John O’Donohue’s “To Bless the Space Between Us” explains the importance of blessings in Celtic spirituality because of their power to change the atmosphere, illuminating a person or situation in a completely new way. As you pilgrimage through Lent, hold this blessing close (excerpt from the blessing)’For The Traveler’
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

#40PhotosOfLent #Day16 #Celtic #Irish #NOLA

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Thankful for friends willing to go out for a pint of Guinness when I’m feeling a wee bit homesick for Belfast! #IrishChannel #IrishYouWereHere #NOLA #StPaddys2017 #40PhotosOfLent #Day17

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Nothing quite better than a Saturday in the park(s) walking for MS and crawfishing with friends topped off with Pandora’s snowballs and the new Beauty and The Beast! Today, I am so grateful for this community, and simple joys like sunshine, sugar and seafood. Remember to take heart in simplicity! 🤗🦐🍧♥️ #MSWalkNOLA #40PhotosOfLent #Day18 #NOLA #OrangeYouGladItsTheWeekend #yavprogram #yav1617

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As I’ve just started listening to @jfrazfrazer ‘s Bible In A Year podcast at the start of January, I’ve been curious to learn more about Genesis and the story of creation through the lens of art, science and faith. Recently I’ve been getting into The Liturgists Podcast and this morning I spent some time surrounded by creation on a run at the park contemplating science and religion and how they’re intertwined in our understanding of the world. It’s important and healthy to engage in dialogue about the ‘big questions’ surrounding our existence and purpose on earth, and seeing it from multiple perspectives! This morning I’m thankful for the divine mystery of creation and the way in which God speaks through nature and science. 😊🌳☀️🌷 #40PhotosOfLent #Day19 #TheLiturgists #Gungor #ScienceMike

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Happy first day of spring! 🌼It’s a new beginning, and another season to grow through encounters and experiences. I’m delighting in this Lenten season as I nervously, yet excitedly, prepare my mind, heart and body for my next journey as it becomes more and more visible on the horizon. “We are never as alone in our beginnings as it may seem at the time. . .there can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different.” John O’Donohue offers this blessing ‘For A New Beginning’ //“Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desires.” #40PhotosOfLent #Day20 #Blessing #JohnODonohue #ItsAllHappening

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Enjoying a wee cuppa in my new C.S. Lewis mug, and reminiscing on memories with faraway friends in faraway lands. 😊 💚 Today I’m thankful for joy that transcends miles. // “Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself. . .” #Belfast #SDBells #40PhotosOfLent#Day21 #CSLewis #JammieDodgers

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For the past 4 years I’ve given up solo Netflix-watching during Lent because it became an unhealthy crutch/addiction in the past when I sought various ways to numb my emotions. I realized I was bored tonight and the house was empty, so I picked up this F. Scott Fitzgerald book I’ve been trying to read for the past two months – needless to say, my avid reading can fall by the wayside, and considering I own 100+ unread books and work at the library, this healthy habit needs to be re-introduced! I’m thankful for words, and how much I learn about the world every time I read someone else’s story. This 75 degree southern spring evening isn’t that bad either 😊  #40PhotosOfLent #Day22 #NOLA

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Tonight for our March Lent study we watched the movie ‘Chocolat’ (which might I add is extremely difficult if chocolate is one of the items on your list of Lent challenges – potentially ironic and hypocritical considering a talk I did at Garnerville last year but I blame this one on Craig).. 🙄We discussed how Lent is about more than repentance, and not about practicing one’s piety before others in order to be seen by them – but remembering that we are a God-breathed dust, beloved in our humanness, and taught to both accept and extend unconditional love in our relationships with God and others in order to reconcile the world. “I want to talk about Christ’s humanity, I mean how he lived his life on earth: his kindness, his tolerance. We must measure our goodness, not by what we don’t do, what we deny ourselves, what we resist, or who we exclude. Instead, we should measure ourselves by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.” – Pere Henri in ‘Chocolat’ 🍫 #40PhotosOfLent #Day23 #yavprogram #yav1617

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It’s my 4th #FastFriday! One thing I love about my Friday schedule in New Orleans is getting to walk part of the way to work through the CBD with Riley and Camille, enjoying the city coming to life around me. I started spending my Friday afternoons cooking and baking to take my mind off of the fasting, and I’m grateful for this practice that’s getting me back into cooking! 🏙 🌞 #40PhotosOfLent #Day24 #NOLA

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Dusk blue Saturday views from bed ☀️ Grateful for the quiet, reflective stillness of a sunrise before another glorious day 🤗  // “The only thing I knew how to do Was to keep on keepin’ on Like a bird that flew Tangled up in blue” #BobDylan #40PhotosOfLent #day25

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This morning while running at the park I witnessed a girl successfully riding a bike for the first time. Her face was filled with so much joy when her dad ran to hug her that I couldn’t stop smiling myself. 🤗 Today I am so happy for childlike joy showing me how wonderful it is to be alive. And my nails happened to match my shirt so all in all it’s a fab day, so it is. 💅🏽🌳 #NOLA #40PhotosOfLent #Day26

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Water: as a middle class American I’m so accustomed to having access to this precious, vital gift of life every day, that I don’t even remember to say “thank you” for it. I was listening to another Liturgists podcast today about suffering, and how it’s crucial for us to listen to others’ experiences of suffering in order to understand compassion. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all of the things I want to fix in the world that I forget to experience delight – like why is it so hard for us to provide a basic necessity like clean water for every human on earth to have life, but so easy for us to spend quadruple the amount of money on walls & nuclear weapons that lead to death? Our passion for justice can so easily get dark and heavy that it leads us to paralysis, and we numb ourselves to both the suffering and the joy. But ‘to be fully alive we must be people who engage with the suffering in a deep & intentional way as well as be people who take note of the joy & delight that exist in the world & each other.’ “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” #Matthew11. This Lent, be mindful of your blessings, be mindful of your privilege; allow yourself to engage in suffering, & delight in joy; challenge yourself to turn your passion into a tangible act of love. #40PhotosOfLent #Day27 ♥️🌎

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“Everything will be fulfilled” // I love to imagine that Rachael painted this beautiful image while reciting this beautiful poem por su hombre. . .🌅
•Ode to Hope•
Oceanic dawn
at the center
of my life,
waves like grapes,
the sky’s solitude,
you fill me
and flood
the complete sea,
the undiminished sky,
tempo
and space,
sea foam’s white
battalions,
the orange earth,
the sun’s
fiery waist
in agony,
so many
gifts and talents,
birds soaring into their dreams,
and the sea, the sea,
suspended
aroma,
chorus of rich, resonant salt,
and meanwhile,
we men,
touch the water,
struggling,
and hoping,
we touch the sea,
hoping.
And the waves tell the firm coast:
“Everything will be fulfilled.” #PabloNeruda #40PhotosOfLent#Day28 #hablaaltoart
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Sometimes a Wednesday night drinking a porter and playing trivia with no expectations is needed to refresh and relax the mind. Remember to give your beautiful brain a break! 💆🏻✨ #humpday #40PhotosOfLent #Day29

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After another #FastFriday I was overly joyed to channel my Frank Underwood (please note the sarcasm) and dig into some BBQ pulled pork. It’s so important to routinely get outside of your routine and try something different. This Lent, challenge yourself to experience something new, and bring some good friends with you 🤗  #TheJoint #NOLA #40PhotosOfLent #Day30

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Sunny, swampy, springy S-Town-listening Saturday 🌞🌳🌸 // “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. . .” #NOLA #cityparknola #alliteration #40PhotosOfLent #Day31

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Very special moment this morning reminiscing on the past as it meets the present full circle; 10 years ago I went on a post-Katrina mission trip to New Orleans with SHYG @nw_presby staying in this church, and my life has never been the same since. I’m so grateful for that experience and those people showing me love, and shaping me into the person I am today 😊  #NWPC #SHYG #NOLA #FPCNO #yavprogram #yav1617 #40PhotosOfLent #Day32

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After a crazy and stormy 5 AM wake-up due to a tornado warning alert on my phone, and 12 hours later walking under completely blue, breathtaking skies, I’m amazed at how nature mirrors our lives. I’m reminded of one of its most important lessons: no matter how damaging, storms don’t last forever; a vibrant wellspring of peace awaits us on the other side. New beginnings are only a day away. 🌞🌈 #40PhotosOfLent #Day33 #NOLA

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You know you gotta see it when it has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes – well done Jordan Peele! The satirical thriller is an introspective social critique that acknowledges “all self-proclaimed progressive people like to think we’re comfortable talking about racial divisions in America, [when] we’re really not.” – #Times. It’ll leave you wanting to talk about it with your coworkers/roommates tomorrow #staywoke #40PhotosOfLent #Day34 #GetOut

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“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances” #MayaAngelou #TheSingingTree #40PhotosOfLent #Day35

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A year ago today I was lucky enough to be the girl sitting next to this guy at Kirstin & David’s wedding. He didn’t ask me about Donald Trump, but instead asked me to dance the first ceilidh, and the rest is history! Thank you Craig, for taking a chance on us and going the distance from the very start. Living 4,000 miles apart hasn’t been easy, but our relationship has grown stronger because of the challenges. Thank you for indulging in my love for letter-writing and late night FaceTime dinner dates; all of these memories and moments spent together has been a gift, and makes me even more grateful that we’ll finally be living in the same country in few short months! 🤗♥️ #40PhotosOfLent #Day36

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French Quarter Fest with my favorite music man! 🎷🥁🎺⚜️ #NOLA #FrenchQuarterFest #40PhotosOfLent #Day37 #LeslieClanInNOLA

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Thankful for a weekend of fun memories exploring my current home with Dad and Carolyn! ⚜️  #NOLA #FrenchQuarterFest #LeslieClanInNOLA #40PhotosOfLent #day38

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This week’s YAV read is “The Practice of Living with Purpose” chapter from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “An Alter in the World.” As we enter Holy Week and continue our pilgrimage with Jesus, it’s an uplifting reminder that no matter what our jobs in the world happen to be, as said by Martin Luther, our mutual vocation is to love God and neighbor – no matter what we are doing, and where we are on our journey. It can be easy for us to fall into a ghostliness, where we walk through the motions of a job without putting any purpose or meaning into the task at hand because we are so busy trying to suss out God’s purpose for our lives, and don’t believe this present calling is ‘part of the divine plan.’ But we are here and now, and sometimes we have to look low as well as high for purpose in our present situations. “[Whatever feeds your sense of purpose], perhaps you will hold open the possibility that doing it is one way to learn what it means to become more fully human, as you press beyond being good to being good for something, in a world with the perfect job for someone like you.” #40PhotosOfLent #Day39 #yavprogram #yav1617

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I’m awe of creation tonight and these ‘crazy skies all wild above me now’ 😊⛵️🌊 #DavidGray #40PhotosOfLent #Day40

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I’ll never forget how transformative the foot washing ceremony during my first SHYG mission trip to New Orleans was in understanding God. I’d never felt such an outpouring of love and humility exemplified through this simple act echoing Jesus’ servitude on the night of the Last Supper. As cheesy or crazy as it sounds, I was in awe that my feet had never felt cleaner in my life, even after using the same bowl of water for 60 people. Tonight as I lay in bed reflecting on Good Friday and Jesus’ journey to the cross, I’m grateful for His tears, His humanity, His sacrifice and His example of love and light through the suffering and darkness. Sunday is coming.  John 13: 7 “Jesus replied: ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ” #FastFriday #40PhotosOfLent #Day41 #yavprogram #yav1617

I’ll leave you with a song that brought me joy as I prepared to go to church this morning. May this Easter bring you peace, love and new life 🙂

xoxox

Hill

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