God’s Got This

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Back to School

Back to school commercials. The sounds of band practice as I drive by the high school. Stopping for runners to cross the street as they train for cross-country season. Teacher friends posting pictures of their classrooms they’ve  set up for the new year. And, the list could go on that indicate that it is time for students to head back into the classroom.

Reminisce

Drew preschool

As I see these events take place, I reminisce the days of getting my son, Drew ready for school. From the first time he stepped on the school bus as a kindergartener to the time he graduated from college, flashes of pictures and years go through my mind.  I recall the many prayers said for Drew especially the first time he drove our car out of driveway as a licensed driver.

Drew running

Letting Go

Not only are teachers preparing classrooms and parents getting the school supply lists, there are parents who are preparing to take the next step with their child. This step is crossing the threshold of being at home over to the threshold of college days and their child being on their own. It is a very nail-biting time for most parents in this category.  The parent knows it is time to let go but also to be concerned and wary about the things of this world that their child will be exposed to.

 

I know all about the excitement and the butterflies that are taking place in families faced with this new season of life. As the saying goes, “been there, done that and got the t-shirt. After years of activities from late night homework and completing class projects to the countless cross-country events and practices, it was time for Drew to take the next adventure. There were all kinds of questions, and scenarios that would go through my head. Yet, I knew that I had given Drew all the things I could give him and it was time to let him go and place him in the Father’s hands.

Once Jim and I got Drew moved into his college dorm, we said our good-byes. Yes, I held back the tears until we got in the car. Although Western Kentucky University was only an hour drive from our home, it was  the longest hour of my life. As we drove home, I said a prayer asking God to guide Drew. I asked God to place good Christian friends/influences into Drew’s path as he attended college.

Drew

Meanwhile back at WKU, Drew made his way to the locker room at the athletic building. He was scouting out where he would have to be for cross-country training. As he was looking around, a guy who was in his sophomore year approached Drew. He introduced himself ( Mike). Mike asked Drew if he needed anything. Drew told him that he was just checking out the facility and that he was a walk-on for the cross-country/track team. Mike shared that he was a runner as well and would be one of his teammates and showed him some of the ropes.

In this process, the prayer I was saying in the car was being answered.  As Drew and Mike’s conversation progressed, Mike asked Drew where would he be going to church the following Sunday. Drew really didn’t have an answer.  Mike said, “you will be going with me.”  From that point on, there was no question as to where Drew was on Sunday mornings. Not only did Mike keep Drew involved in worship while at college, he gave Drew tips on how to study the scriptures. Drew and Mike began a Bible Study among their teammates. Drew also became involved in Campus Crusade. Prayer answered.  Six years after meeting Mike on that first afternoon at Western, Mike stood as Drew’s best man at Drew’s wedding.

To the Parents

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I share this story/testimony because it is uncharted territory for you and your college student.  These are the years where unconditional love and listening become so important. Yes, during these years, there were many times I had to bite my tongue because Drew wasn’t doing things they way I thought they should be done.  However, Drew learned to figure things out without Mom or Dad standing there telling him what to do. Also, it was the tough times and decisions that God was molding Drew into the man that he is today.  As hard as it is, I encourage you to let go and place your college student into the Father’s hands and trust.  One needs to surround them with prayer and your child needs to know that you will be there in an instant if they need you. Trust me, they will let you know at 2:00 AM that they need you.

To The Students

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To the college student, I share this with you to encourage you, to remember who you are, and that you do represent your family.  I encourage you to seek out friends that will encourage you on your faith journey.  Not only seek Godly friends but continue to respect your parents. After all, they did raise you and got you to where you are thus far. Also, don’t roll your eyes because Mom wants to straighten your bed or freshen up your dorm room on those first few visits. Just let her sweep or whatever she wants to do because this is the only love language in action that she has known for years. As time goes on, she will learn to arrive and simply visit without wanting to fold your laundry.  If Mom or Dad give advice on a certain topic, don’t be defensive but simply listen. Your parents have been around the block a couple of times. Although their ride around the block may be vastly different from the block you are traveling around, there may be some guidance and wisdom in what they are sharing with you. And, realize in a couple of short hours they will be gone.

Into The Father’s Hands

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From the first day of pre-school/kindergarten to the first day of college, it is hard seeing your babies step into that big world. It is a world of unknowns for them and for you. Even though it is a world of unknowns, it is important to remember that you  have an all-knowing God. He has plans for your child’s future. You  simply have to place that future into the Father’s hands and allow Him to guide them.  You also need to place yourself into the Father’s hands and ask God to guide you and give the wisdom you need on this journey as well. It does not matter if it is the very first day of kindergarten or college, God’s got this!

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm youplans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Blessings,

April

 

 

 

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Be Still

This summer I am journeying through the book, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver with a group of ladies at my church. It is within the pages of this book we are learning more about the importance of just sitting still. Joanna makes us think about the things that take our focus off of Jesus. She points out that we get caught up in the obligations of life. We get so caught up in life to the point  we fail  to spend time with the One who loves us and longs for fellowship with us.

Cover art

Before our session began yesterday, our class was all a chatter and laughter. It seemed we all had a laundry list of things to do.  Some of us had added to our list since our last meeting.  Someone commented how timely this study was for her. My response was yes, God knows what we need when we need it.”

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Mary and Martha

Most of us are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha.  Jesus has come into Mary and Martha’s home. Martha is all about details. She preparing the meal and all that goes with showing hospitality to guests. On the other hand, Mary is sitting in the family room at the feet of Jesus absorbing all He has to say. As we know, this does not set well with Martha.

The Scene

I can see it now. Martha trying to get the meal ready, the table set and all the preparations that go into entertaining guests.  As she is going full speed, she occasionally glances into the living room and there sits Mary. In her eyes Mary is doing nothing but sitting there.  After dropping something for the umpteenth time, and most likely burning her hand as she pulls something from the stove. Martha says to herself; ‘that does it! I’ve had enough!  I’m going to say something to Jesus. He will set Mary straight and get her in here to help.”

 

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The Confrontation

Can’t  you see Martha marching into the living room and nudging Jesus? She nudges Jesus and ask if she can have a side bar with him for a moment. They pull away from the group and Martha  lets loose on Jesus. She complains about all that has to be done for this dinner and all Mary is doing is sitting at his feet.

Jesus allows Martha to vent. All the while she is venting, I can see Jesus just snickering and nodding his head (which probably made Martha even more upset). Once she is  done with her complaint, he puts everything that is happening into perspective.

First, I am all but sure Jesus told Martha to simply calm down and breathe. He says; “Martha, Martha ( shaking his head and smiling as he talks to Martha) you are worried and upset about too many things, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. ”   (Luke 10:38-42) I am sure Martha was a bit taken back at first  with Jesus’ explanation to her.

 

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Can’t We All Relate?

Can we not all relate? As I re-read this scripture and write this post, I am snickering a bit myself. I snicker because it is very convicting to me. I can’t tell you the countless times I have hosted something in my home or away from home that the one person or persons I thought I could rely on to help was in the family room having a good time. Yes, I have summons someone over to a corner to vent. This person would basically tell me to take a chill pill and not to worry. My response has been;“not worry! Don’t you see what needs to be done?!” Yet, in the end, I pull myself up by the boot straps and continue on with duties at hand.

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The Lesson

Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet. Martha chose to get caught up in the details of the to-do list. When Martha confronts Jesus about this “problem” Jesus basically tells Martha that Mary has her priorities in order. Mary is doing what is most important and that’s taking time to sit with him. She is sitting still and absorbing all that Jesus has to say.

It is Summer. Summer is supposedly a time of rest and relaxation. However, it seems the Summer days get filled  up to capacity.  It is easy to get caught up in the to-do list and the details.   For me, it is easy to wake up and hit the floor running and start into the daily routine of stuff to do. I admit there are days when I skip over the quiet time and go right into the day. The end result is that I become weary and irritable.

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Sit Still

Yes, we all tend to fill our calendars to the maximum these days.  Our schedules get filled out of obligation, guilt, and let’s just say it….we have a fear of missing out. Our stacked schedules with no breathing room is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be in relationship with him. He longs for us to just stop and sit at the feet of his Son, Jesus. God wants us to be quiet and hear his gentle whispers in our heart.

Today, I encourage you to just simply stop. Turn off  anything  that may be a distraction and simply be quiet. Read some of your favorite scripture verses. Or, allow God to lead you to a Psalm or Proverb that you may need today.  It is amazing that when you sit still in the presence of God how he will lead you to the very words you need.

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As you sit in the quiet, listen to the voice of your Father. Allow, him to guide you as to what you need to do next. Give him your empty cup and allow him to fill it up with a renewed spirit. I also encourage you to journal the thoughts/whispers he says to your heart. Write a prayer to God giving him the request on your heart. Also, write out the blessings you have received. As you write out those requests, remember to leave them at the feet of Jesus. When you write out the blessings be sure to give God thanks and praise.

Once you begin deliberately taking time to sit with  Jesus, you will experience your out of kilter life get back into balance. This happens because you have invited God into the busyness of your life. You have allowed your Father to renew you and give you his whispers of encouragement. Most importantly, you have spent time in worship with your Father.  I love this quote in the book, Having A Mary Heart In A Martha World…….

 “When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse.”

Until next time, take time to be still with your Father.

Blessings,

April

 

PS You can follow me on Facebook. I have a Thoughts From The Porch Page (@thoughtsforabusyworld). 

 

 

 

 

Let Go and Let God

“Even when our situation does not change for the better,

we can change for better.” 

Laura Story

Bible Study

As I write this post, I am  in the midst of wrapping up leading the Bible Study,  When God Doesn’t Fix It  by Laura Story. In this study Laura has guided the participants by sharing  how we can take our why questions and make them how questions. In other words, the circumstances we face can be used to witness to other people and how it can bring glory to God. In the midst of crisis we count our blessings over choosing to be bitter about a situation.

In one of the sessions, the participants were asked to read Acts 16:16-31. We find Paul and Silas are continually being followed by a slave girl aka fortune-teller for many days. It gets to the point that Paul becomes very annoyed with this girl.  After days of her following them and repeatedly saying the same thing day after day,  Paul commands the spirits of the slave girl/fortune-teller to leave her. Once the spirits had left this girl, the crowd was upset because they saw the hope for prosperity they had placed in this girl was gone. Thus, Paul and Silas are beaten/flogged and placed in prison where their feet were placed in stocks.

Paul and Silas

Beaten, flogged, and feet in stocks Paul and Silas did not become bitter, angry nor questioned why.  Instead, they prayed and sang praises to God. As they prayed and sang praises to God, the earth shook and the prison doors were opened and those who were bound up were now free. At this point, Paul and Silas could have chosen to flee from the prison cell but they stayed. Why?

We Read On

We continue to read when the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors opened he drew his sword on himself.  His first thoughts were the prisoners had escaped.  Yet, he heard Paul speak from the prison cell, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ We read on in verses 29-31, “And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household’.” (ESV)

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Why?

Why did Paul and Silas chose to pray and praise God in the midst of their circumstances? Why didn’t they flee as soon as the prison doors were opened by the earthquake? The answer is simple. They chose to pray and praise God in the midst of their circumstances because their hope was in God. They knew that in the midst of all that was going on their situation would be used to bring glory to God.

And, their circumstance did bring glory to God. Their why became a how. By not escaping as soon as the prison doors opened, they became a witness to the jailer. When the jailer saw they had stayed his heart was opened to want to hear the Good News of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. If Paul and Silas had chosen to escape the moment the prison doors opened, the jailer would have never heard about the gift of salvation and would have probably killed himself.

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Letting Go

Sometimes our difficult situations may not be a medical issue, a job loss, loss of family member but it may be a situation that we are in with a person.  In the midst of the situation we know we must let go and let God. Yes, sometimes easier said than done. In our humanness we want to give God our itinerary on how the problem will be solved.

Have you ever known someone that is constantly coming up to you with the same story and/ or tendency time after time.  We think to ourselves, will they just let it go?  There may be times we see the person coming towards us and we just want to run the other direction.  Just as Paul became annoyed with the slave girl following him we become annoyed with the person. Our questions on the situation turn into why questions.

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Turning the Why into How

In order to turn the why into how we have to do a couple of things first. The first thing we must do is pray not only for the situation but for the person and for ourselves as well. The next thing we must realize that Satan loves for someone to hold onto to things and create chaos among people. This person who will not let go is letting Satan have control of their heart. I tell people it is like having a vehicle stuck in the mud trying to get out and all that happens is the wheels spin and mud slings everywhere. Thus, we must surrender ALL to Jesus. We need to put our trust in Him. In other words, follow the example of Paul and Silas putting their hope and trust in God in the midst of their prison sentence.

Once we have surrendered ALL to Jesus, we have to wait. Waiting is hard. In the midst of this waiting this person may continue to do what they do. What do we do when this happens? As my mom would say, “smile and be nice.” In other words, extend grace and continue to pray for the person, the situation and seek how God can use you in this situation to show Christ-like love and action. It is in how we respond to the situation and person that is our testimony  of what grace is about and what God expects from us as Christians. Yet, as we do these things, we need to be guarded knowing this person’s tendencies and we must set boundaries. Extending grace does not mean making oneself a doormat.

There are times when we are given no choice but to walk away. However, it does not mean we wash our hands in it as Pilot did when it came to his decision  regarding Jesus being crucified. We may need to walk away to reflect, to establish new boundaries, and to seek forgiveness towards the person.  In return, we are to seek the good qualities of the person and to simply seek what God is trying to teach us from the situation. You may never know… God may be preparing you for an experience in your walk with Him. When obstacles arise, you can know that these things are from God when three things happen.  One, circumstances will bring you to where God wants you to  be.  Two,  you will be brought into the picture to be a blessing to someone else, and Three, God will be glorified.

Personally, I have been in such situations over the years. As difficult and frustrating these situations were, I have learned more about myself. I have learned to pray even more fervently and to seek where God’s hand is at work. Yes, I will be honest with you that in the midst of these situations I wanted to take control because God wasn’t working fast enough for me. It is when I didn’t let go and let God that I allowed Satan to create more chaos. Thus, the wheels became even more stuck in the mud and  spun more  mud out onto those around me.

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The Turn Around

How do we turn the why into how with the person keeps being like the slave fortune-teller? We simply ask guidance from God. We ask Him how we can be a witness to this person.  Grace is sometimes extended by not responding to some of the person’s comments/actions and by not going around  gossiping about the situation or other person. We do what the Bible teaches us and that is to go to our brother or sister that we have the problem with and talk with them. If talking with them does not work, then we go to the next line of authority and talk with them about how to handle the situation and sometimes intervening on our behalf.

Just as Paul and Silas had the opportunity to escape when the prison door opened we have the opportunity to run the other direction. It could be easy to sweep the circumstances under the rug. Yet, as Christians, we must take a higher road as Paul and Silas did in not escaping. As difficult as it may be, we must see the situation through. And, as we walk through the trial, the person needs to see us praying and praising God for the good things He has done. They need to see where we have put our joy and hope. Our joy and hope is in Christ alone. It is through our actions we are testifying the meaning of God’s grace and mercy. Hopefully, as we continue to pray and praise God, and walk in Christ-like love, the person can see the joy we have by letting go and letting God. Just as the jailer saw that Paul and Silas had something he wanted….salvation and to be set free through the Blood of the Lamb.

As we journey in the days ahead, may we seek God in all situations. It is important to remember that no matter the circumstances we face our hope is in Christ alone. God has a plan and it is a good plan that will bring glory to Him. Let’s let go and let God.

And we know that for those who love God ALL things work together for good,

 for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Love Story

Girl looking at the moon

There was this girl who lived in Georgia who like any girl dreamed of marrying her prince charming.  She prayed to God quite frequently to send her the “perfect” guy.  She met a couple who she thought might ‘be the one” but ended up broken-hearted. Yet, deep within she knew God had someone He was preparing for her. 

This girl was finishing up her freshman year in college. As Spring semester was in progress, she applied for a summer job at Lake Junaluska, NC , a United Methodist Conference Center in the Smoky Mountains. One morning, there was a letter in her mailbox that said she had been accepted to be on staff and a job awaited her as soon as she was done with her Spring Semester.

During this Spring Semester, this girl would take a Spring Break trip to tour with the college choir. They would travel to Texas and places in-between for the week. On this trip was a guest musician. This guest musician and this girl became smitten with one another. Even though this girl knew they weren’t evenly yoked, despite her friends’ advisement, and her family’s wishes, she continued to date him. If she ever rebelled this was the moment.

She dated this guy up until the last week of school. As she began to pack her dorm for the summer to move to her new job, she knew decisions and good-byes had to be made. One night, as she was going to bed, she said a prayer to God. The prayer was something like this:

Dear God,

I know the guy that I am with is not the one you have planned for

Please forgive me for not listening to my friends and family. Maybe,

you were speaking to me through them.   God, I just want someone

who will love me for who I am, who loves you as much as I love you. 

Please send me someone who will love me when I’m broken and 

rejoice with me in the good times. I need someone who

loves to laugh and sing.  

As this girl feel asleep that night, she fell asleep. She had a dream. In this dream, she saw herself sitting on a bench crying and someone comes up and puts their arms around her. She could not see the person but she felt the warmth of the warms hug her ever so tight. Then, she her the voice of this person say; “don’t worry….I will love you and take care of you.”

FAST FORWARD

It is Memorial Day and this girl is moving into her room that will be her residence for the summer. As her parents, get her settled in and say their goodbyes and she is meeting her roommate for the summer, a young man comes walking in. He asked this girl and her roommate if they needed help with anything and introduced himself and said he was from Kentucky. They chat a few minutes and he walks away.  As he walks away this girl feels something special in heart. She hears the same voice she heard in her voice saying; “don’t worry….I will love you and take care of you.”

Later in the evening, this girl is with a group of girls who were all getting acquainted. As they are talking, the guy who had introduced himself to this girl earlier in the day, comes up to say hello once again. Again, this girl feels something stir within her as he walks away.

The next evening this girl is standing in line for dinner. As she stands there  in line, she looks across the room and sees this same guy  walk into the room. Only this time when he walks in, a voice within says; “he is the one….. but… be patient.” This girl so wanted to be the typical girl and run across the room to say hi and do what girls do…..flirt! However, that still small voice within holds her back.

After dinner, there was a staff orientation meeting. During this meeting there were the typical meet and greet games. One of which you had to get back to back when the music stopped. Once the music stopped, you had to turn around and share whatever piece of trivia about yourself  the leader said to share. Then, the last round of this game came. As the music stopped, this girl was frantically looking for someone to be back to back with so she  would not be out of the game. Then, from out of no where she feels these hands grab her  arm and pull her  back to back with this person. This person was this guy. As the leader instructed, they  had to turn around only this time they had to look at one another in the eyes for two minutes without saying a word. It was to teach the staff that they need ed to seek the inside of the person(s) they  would be working with and assisting during the summer.  Before sitting down and going to the next activity this guy hugged  this girl. As he hugged her, she felt the same warmth that she had felt the night of her dream.

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FAST FORWARD ONCE AGAIN

It was at that moment that this girl and this guy would become acquainted. This guy was full of laughter, he loved to sing ( even sang to her the first night before going their separate ways for the evening), he was compassionate and you could tell he loved his FATHER up above. Needless to say, this girl was falling pretty hard for this guy.   

The next evening this guy came by and asked if this girl would like to go play a game of ping-pong. Of course, she was no fool.  Despite her level of ping-pong skills she would go just to be with him. And, this is where the story begins with even more twist and turns.

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THEY JUST MISSED EACH OTHER

Remember earlier, when this girl had gone on choir tour with her college choir? Well, as this Georgia girl and Kentucky guy play ping-pong, he mentions he went on choir tour during Spring Break. He had been on Spring Break the same week as this girl. Not only had he been on Spring Break touring with his college group the same week but at the same destination.  They had been to Texas and the same points in-between as this girl with her group. As a matter of fact, while in Houston, his group had been invited to go hear  her  group perform but this guy opted to hang back at where they were staying to play ….you guessed it…..ping pong! Looking back it was sort of like a “Sleepless in Seattle” kind of moment. 

This Georgia girl and Kentucky boy continue to date. Then, it happened one night.  He sat down with her and said he wanted to date for the summer but beyond that it would not be possible. Then, he kissed her. All the while this girl is saying to herself, “yea, right!”.

This Georgia girl is me and  the Kentucky boy is Jim.  As I look back, I see how our story has been written. It really  has been and is the fairy tale story. It is not the fairy tell story you think of from the children’s books and movies. But, it is God’s fairy tell story of how He has a plan for each one of us. It it the story of how  God  prepared Jim and me to meet at the right time. It is a story of how it was important to listen to Him and wait for his prompting to make our relationship to fall into place over time.

April and Jim through the years

My Dearest  Jim:

It is thirty-two years later since that night you said long distant relationships would not work. It will be thirty years November 23rd that  we made  our covenant before God as man and wife.  During those years, we have shed tears of laughter, joy along with tears of frustration and sadness. We have raised a beautiful son who now has a beautiful wife and home of his own. 

You have given me so much in these thirty years of marriage. You have provided for me not a house but a home where  love, laughter and music fill the walls.  In the difficult times you have wrapped your arms around me and have said; “don’t worry….I’m here to take care of you and love you.”  Every day you remind me as you walk out the door and when you call me at lunch that you love me.   Each endeavor that I wanted to try in life you have been there to support me and to offer a helping hand. Most of all,  it is in the way you live your life that exemplifies the Father’s love and grace not only  to me but to everyone you meet.   Jim, you are my prince charming. 

This morning as I look back on all the ups and downs, I see a story only God could have written. It is a story that continues to be written. There have been and probably will be the not no-good chapters we wish we could skip but it is in those chapters where God has and will continue to make us stronger as individuals and as a couple. 

In 1983, there was this guy who said long distant relationships don’t work. It was in 1985 where he stood with that girl he told this to and said he would be her partner “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer and until death do us part.”

When you walked into that dinning room on that summer evening of 1983  “you had me from hello” and everyday you still have me  from hello.

Jim, I love you more than you will ever know and  I can’t wait to see how the next chapters of our story unfold.

I love you,

April

April and Jim Voted Cutest Couple Lake Junaluska Summer Staff 1983

April and Jim
Voted Cutest Couple
Lake Junaluska Summer Staff
1983