Interviews

Knowing Our True Names

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Hey friends!

New Q&A for you and a new must-read book! We recently had the opportunity to read Esther Fleece Allen’s new book, Your New Name, and friends…it’s incredible. It is full of faith-filled lines and encouraging words. Esther opens up about her personal story in a really raw, vulnerable, and powerful way and conveys the importance of knowing our true names- the ones God calls us. Keep reading to learn more about this valuable concept and amazing book!

LSK: We are so captivated by the concept of this book! Can you share what inspired you to write about naming?

EFA: When reading through the book of Ruth [in the Bible] I saw how it was a story of three widows, one of who renamed herself in the middle of her grief. I realized there have been many times I have renamed myself during awful circumstances. Victim. Abused. Forgotten. Left behind. Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi [whose name means sweet] renamed herself to Mara [meaning bitter,] after her husband and sons die. Yet– Naomi’s life didn’t end bitter. God challenged me to not rename myself in the middle of a storm. Naming is much more significant than labeling ourselves due to our circumstances, and I hope this book helps the reader throw off the labels that limit them and ask God for their new name.

Hint: God’s names for us are more beautiful than our circumstances!

LSK: You write beautifully about how we discover our new name in Christ and how this new name is given to us, not earned. Can you share about how God pursues us, adopts us, and names us?

EFA: When God makes us his own, it comes with benefits [Psalm 103:2.]

Our mutual friends [Michael and Lauren McAfee] recently adopted their daughter from China and chose the beautiful name Zion for their little girl. Not only did she become theirs instantly [and not out of her works or behavior,] she took on a new name and their name! So it is with us when God saves us. God does not foster us; he adopts us, and with it comes spiritual blessings like a new name, carrying His name, and more! Labels limit us to circumstances and seasons, but a new name stays with us forever. We won’t be called by our strengths or weakness in heaven, we will be identified as His children, and called by our new names!

LSK: God’s protection is an amazing gift from Him and you talk about how it is important to rely on His protection when the enemy comes knocking on our doors, trying to tempt us to doubt our new names. What does this look like and how can we be on our guard?

EFA: In my first book, No More Faking Fine, I tell the difficult story of walking through stalking from my biological father. During these years I wrestled with the protection of God. I lamented a lot during these years. But as my faith was challenged, I discovered the protection we are offered in scripture is a spiritual one. I was thinking my life should receive a physical protection, and while that can and sometimes does happen– this is not a guarantee. If my name is hidden in God’s name, my spirit and soul are protected forever.

I hope to give the reader some tips in Your New Name of how to fight off the lies of accusations that come at every single one of us. One thing that will surely help us fight off these attacks is knowing our new name.

LSK: One of our favorite quotes from your book is on page 105 re: wrestling with God. You write, “Scripture rarely talks about struggling without also talking about persevering. Not only are we to hold on to our faith; there may be a new name for us on the other side.” How essential are perseverance and endurance on our journey of faith with God?

EFA: God is able to keep us in the faith. The book of Revelation speaks to us learning new names for God when we overcome. A lot hinges on us overcoming, so I dedicated a entire chapter to it! When we’re tempted to give up in the middle of the pain or when we’ve been misunderstood or mislabeled, Gods calls us to overcome until the very end.

Many of us start well, but we need the courage and perseverance to end well, too. I look forward to learning new names for God in Heaven! There will always be more about God for us to learn. Not only will we be renamed, but we will learn more about His Names in the process. Whenever I’m tempted to give up, I remind myself that overcoming is less about me, and more about how He has already overcome, giving me the power and victory to do so also.

LSK: Above all, is there one thing that you pray readers will take away with them and hold on to after reading your book?

EFA: One of the biggest take-a-ways for me when writing Your New Name is the power we have to rename our offenders. After a season of lamenting the wrong that was done to me, renaming became a tool to help me forgive. I share a personal story of how I was able to re-name my biological father after years of neglect and torment. This forgiveness came not because I am great at forgiving (I’m not!) but because I believed my new names given by God, and attempted to live out of them. We have the power to rename and forgive others after we hear our new name. This will be a lifelong journey as we learn to become great forgivers, and live out of our new names!

Rest & Renewal: 5 Questions With Rebekah Lyons

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Hey friends!

As we approach the new year, we can’t think of a better Q&A than one with Rebekah Lyons– author of Rhythms of Renewal, a book all about releasing anxiety and entering a life of rest and renewal. Yes, please! It is on our hearts to make 2020 a year of slowing down to savor the gift of life and to resist the temptation to get caught up in the stress loop that never ends well. If you agree with us, this Q&A with Rebekah will inspire you to implement four rhythms into your life: rest, restore, connect, and create. Keep reading for more! xo

Your book, Rhythms of Renewal, is truly a game-changer. What do you hope your book will ignite within a reader while or after reading it?

My hope is that the reader will feel empowered and equipped to take charge of their emotional health through tangible and practical steps. With the understanding that transformation happens one small step at a time, one day at a time.

Out of the four rhythms, is there one that particularly is near & dear to your heart…if so, which one and why!?

Rest is dear to my heart because I know how important it is. It is the foundation for having something to offer someone else. When I don’t rest, I burn out. It’s also the most challenging for me because I tend to like to run hard and fast, but each time I do that without resting, I feel the waves of burnout. I think the reason why 77% of our society experiences physical symptoms of stress is because we’ve lost the permission to rest.

In the Create section, we particularly loved how you described the importance of dreaming and creating space to dream. What is it about this step that is so important when living out the lives that God designed us for?

We are all born with birthright gifts that are established in our mother’s womb. These are unique to every one of us, and I believe that calling is where our talents and burdens collide. So part of the journey is reawakening the things that were effortless for us at 8, 9, 10 and finding that childlike wonder and excitement around the things that we loved to do. That way as adults when we recapture those things, it brings back a feeling of joy and confidence when we feel fully alive.

In the conclusion, you have an exceptionally beautiful quote about strength: “There’s nothing more beautiful than finding strength on the other side of yes. It’s not a strength of doing, but one of being. Being in the center of his will.” Can you elaborate more on this God-given strength that equips us and enables us to do what He has called us to do?

Strength comes when we surrender the life we thought we wanted, and embrace the life we are given. It’s a strength of contentment and peace. Knowing that god goes before us and brings people around. Some of the hardest things I had to say yes to were the things that inspired and matured me the most. So now I understand that strength is holding my plans loosely and embracing the moment right in front of me.

The way you write about your daughter, Joy, is beyond beautiful. Can you try to describe in a sentence (or two!) what bringing Joy in your family has meant to you all?

She’s been the glue that brings us together in a whole new way. I can hardly remember life before her. She makes every day fun. And because my other children are older, we are all getting to experience the joy of her childlike wonder together.

Inspiration To Pray Big

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We are so excited to have Julia Sadler, author of the book: Pray Big Things, with us today on LSK. Julia has an incredible story to share of faith, trust, endurance, and hope and we just know that her answers to our questions are going to inspire you. Keep reading to learn more!

Q&A With Julia Sadler

*Tell us what inspired you to write Pray Big Things!

I wrote PRAY BIG THINGS after the most challenging and exciting season of my life and marriage. After experiencing three miscarriages in less than a year and praying specifically and consistently, my husband and I conceived our miracle triplets. I ended up going into labor at 22 weeks and was told the babies would be born blind, deaf, with brain bleeds, or not even survive at all. By God’s grace we all survived 49 days of hospital bedrest, 63 days in the NICU, and all were home the night before our 9-year wedding anniversary!

By being open about the losses, infertility, bedrest, and NICU on social media and on the TLC show, Rattled, I was able to connect with so many women and couples struggling to find hope in these hard situations. I had actually contracted to write a different book but knew PRAY BIG THINGS was the one I was meant to write. Even if these aren’t your specific struggles, everyone has a prayer and dream they’d give anything to see fulfilled—and that’s what PRAY BIG THINGS is all about. I challenge readers to take God at His word and see Him work beyond anything they’ve ever imagined.

*We love the title description: The Surprising Life God Has for You When You’re BOLD ENOUGH TO ASK. Can you elaborate on what it means to you to be bold when praying to God?

That’s a great question. I think we are scared to ask God for what we really want. We are worried our requests aren’t holy enough, important enough, or matter enough in the grand scheme of the universe. However, this is completely contrary to Scripture. James 4:2 says, “You have not because you ask not.” It doesn’t get simpler than that!

For whatever reason, many people have bought into the lie that following Christ isn’t exciting when really it’s the most fulfilling and surprisingly life we can lead. I had to be bold in asking God what purpose He had for me as I lay in a bed for 49 days, but He was faithful to give me people to minister to and encourage. Big prayers honor our big God and I think we would be amazed at what God will do when we are bold enough to ask.

PRAY BIG THINGS is not a “name it and claim it” book. I actually put my therapist hat on for a few chapters and talk about what to do when God says “no” and how to process anxiety, anger, grief, when God doesn’t answer our request the way we want. But even when God says “no we can still trust in a loving God Who has a perfect plan He is working out in our lives.

*Why do you think it is more natural for us humans to settle for less when God truly has created us (and wants us) to be bold and live in abundance?

I think settling for less is comfortable. We say we want more, but our actions –or inactions– prove otherwise. A lot of us think we need to let God off the hook. If we don’t ask, then He can’t disappoint us or let us down. “Praying Big” is definitely what I call “2.0” to the high school senior girls I teach in Sunday School. To “Pray Big Things” is the next level in your relationship with God. It’s more than what most people do, but it will get you further than most people ever go.

*How did you muster up the courage to be so vulnerable and open re: your story of infertility and miscarriage? Your vulnerability is such a gift to your readers!

I truly believe my purpose in life is to point people to Christ, and I decided a long time ago to use whatever I have to do that. Romans 1:16 in which the apostle Paul declares his commitment to sharing the gospel is my life verse. When I found out 6.1 million American women struggle with infertility, and I saw so many people of faith and of no faith being encouraged through our openness and story, I knew our experience—as hard as it had been– was a gift from God to use to talk about Jesus. I absolutely love getting messages from people telling me they have renewed hope because of God’s work in our lives! There’s nothing better than that!

*What is the one thing, most of all, that you hope your readers feel and walk away with once reading your book?

I want people to know that God can be trusted and that there is a surprising life awaiting everyone who dares to PRAY BIG THINGS!

Five Questions With Bianca Olthoff

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Friends! We are so excited to bring to you an amazing Q&A we had the honor of participating in with author and speaker Bianca Olthoff. While we have not met Bianca in person, we feel as though we know her from interview her, reading her new book, and following her on Instagram and that is because she is real and honest in everything she writes and says and THAT, my friends, is a gift and a treasure. Her new book, How To Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want To Be Tomorrow, is one of those books that you think about constantly once you start it and one that you tell all your girlfriends about. Bianca is encouraging, inspiring, and convicting; she writes in such a way that makes you want to hit your knees, praying and crying out to God, praising Him for all he has done, and trusting Him for all that He will do. Her words makes you want to stand firm in your faith, obey with endurance, and step out in courage. Keep reading to meet Bianca Olthoff and be inspired to read her incredible book.

TAKE A READ…

Let’s talk about your Instagram. We are loyal followers and your posts always do things: 1) make us LOL so hard and 2) inspire us beyond words, motivating us to fight the good fight and love the Lord with all our hearts. What do you love sharing and interacting with others on your Instagram platform and what has inspired your approach to your IG posts?

First of all, I don’t have followers—I have FRIENDS! I love that we are cyber friends. Secondly, the fact that you laugh at my posts SOLIDIFIED us as forever friends.

But the reason I love social media is that it has really leveled the playing field of communication within social class, nationality, and popularity. Within seconds you can commenting and engaging with a superstar in Brazil by leaving Instagram love, Snapchatting your roommate in the bunk bed next to you, or inspiring someone you’ve never met via Facebook live. Social media has many pitfalls, but there’s a lot of amazing ways to connect, inspire, and be encouraged by new friends we wouldn’t have otherwise met if it wasn’t for the good ol’ world wide web.

For me personally, I  know my online friends don’t really go to church. And if they do, it’s not very consistent. So I  bring church to them! Yes, I post silly things that I love, but I also posts clips of me teaching the Word of God, sharing inspiring quotes, or sharing stories of life transformation. Why? Because we have this awesome tool called the internet and we can make a really big world feel really small if we take time to engage with people.

Tell us about the title of your new book, How To Have Your Life Not Suck: Becoming Today Who You Want To Be Tomorrow. Did it come to you right away or as you started to write? It is an extremely powerful title and fits so well with the content. Did you always intend for it to a guidebook to living one’s best life? Because that is definitely what is was for us when reading!

First of all, can I put y’all in my pocket and pull you out anytime I need encouragement?! All this flattery will get you EVERYWHERE. Just kidding! (Well, half kidding.)

The very first bible study I taught was on the book of Ruth over 15 years ago. I discovered that the Bible was FULL of practical wisdom, truth, and humor that could have me not just survive my quarter-life crisis, but THRIVE in a difficult season. So I guess you can say it was a 15-year process to write this book! But I set out to write a playbook that I wish I had when I was in a really sucky season of life. Being single, moving back home, not working my dream job—those were all very normal struggles, but no one talked to me or mentored me in a way that impacted me.

This is my playbook for women who want to get their life together and a primer for those who want to understand and connect with the next generation.

As we started to read, we couldn’t put the book down! Your vulnerability and willingness to share your story, as well as your strong faith and passion for God’s Word, are so evident in these pages. I am sure there are many, but if there is one thing that you want readers to take away from your book, what would it be?

YES! Without a doubt, I  want people to understand the power of legacy. This isn’t fully obvious in the book of Ruth, but in the New Testament we see that this pagan, barren, widowed Moabite (basically she was HOT MESS EXPRESS) ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ?! The decisions she made in her everyday effected her tomorrow—she wasn’t living for a good weekend, she was building a good legacy.

If people read one chapter of my book, I would suggest reading the very last chapter. Go ahead! I give you permission. My hope is that people understand that all decisions, all disillusionment, and despair can be redeemed. Because if you are not dead, then God is not done.

Your writing style is the perfect balance of straightforward, tell it like it is, preach it type of wisdom, with a side dose of humor that makes what you say incredibly moving and memorable. Your relationship advice in particular is always spot-on! What is it about single women and the dating world that inspires you to speak into their lives with such Truth and passion? It is such a gift!

Hand to heaven, I  told Jesus that when I would preach, teach, write, or create, I will NEVER ostracize my single sisters. I love the Church, but it felt like I was less-than, unwanted, or diseased during my single years (I didn’t get married until 30 and instantly inherited two step kids). The enemy will have a field day with our mind if we believe that narrative. So I’m always intentional to include as many voices to the conversation as possible. And dating SUCKS, man. Let’s share wisdom and stories with humility and candor so we can learn how to date well!

Did the story of Ruth always hold a special place in your heart? You weave Ruth and her story so well into your personal stories throughout the book. When did you first realize that God had placed on your heart to write this book and how did Ruth become a central role in it?

I’m a first generation American with a family that wasn’t religious. My parents came to this country with nothing, but chose God to be their God, the United States to be their land, and God’s people to be their people. That was Ruth’s story. Scrappy, hard-working, and not like those in her community, she showed up. Her chutzpa inspired me and I hope everyone who reads this book finds a piece of their story in her story. Redemption isn’t just for the perfect, polished, and pretty. Redemption is for all of us.

follow Bianca on social // buy her book

Talking Courage, Faith, & Family With Jessica Honegger

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We are so excited to have Jessica Honegger with us today. As the founder of Noonday Collection, author of Imperfect Courage, and wife and mother, Jessica’s schedule is busy, but busy with things that enrich her soul and bring the Lord so much glory! We first heard Jessica’s name through friends who talked about the Noonday jewelry they owned and loved. Then I had the joy of hearing Jessica speak at IF Gathering, and then listened to her episode on a podcast that is close to our hearts- Thriving Beyond Belief! When we got connected to Jessica, we were seriously overjoyed to ask her a few questions about life, courage, jewelry, family, balance, and so much more. Keep reading to get to know Jessica and hear all the goodness she has to share!

-Tell us about the heart behind Noonday! What inspired the company and brand mission?

Before we launched Noonday Collection in 2010, my husband Joe and I were parents to two and decided to grow our family through adoption. We were running a house-flipping business right when the Austin real estate bubble popped (great timing, I know), but Joe and I had made up our minds about adopting. So, we set out to raise funds to bring our Jack home from Rwanda.

A friend of mine connected me with a jewelry maker in Uganda named Jalia. She was also in need of additional income to help support her family, so my friend suggested that I purchase some paper bead necklaces from Jalia and sell them to my friends and family in the U.S. I had no clue where it would lead, but I found myself with a ton of jewelry and decided to invite my girlfriends over to my house. I sold Jalia’s pieces at what ended up being the first-ever Noonday Collection Trunk Show. It’s been almost a decade now, and this little fundraiser of mine has grown into a global business that supports over 4,500 Artisans across the globe. Today, our son Jack is home and kicking a soccer ball like nobody’s business. Jack even considers himself the “true” founder of Noonday!


-What do you love about traveling to other countries and meeting the artisans of Noonday’s items? 

Every time I travel abroad to visit Artisans, I’m reminded of my why. I’m reminded why I do the work that I do, and I’m inspired by the knowledge that we’re really all a lot more alike than we are different. I’ve met hundreds of people around the world whose families have been positively affected thanks to orders from Noonday, and nothing sparks a fire in my belly to keep at it like seeing that impact first-hand.

And then there’s the little things, like Vietnamese coconut coffee and scouring the markets in Delhi. Just last month I was in India with my business partner, Travis Wilson. He knows me well and even brought an empty suitcase along just for me to fill with all the best market goodies!


-What are your dreams for Noonday in the future?

More Ambassadors and more impact. It’s as simple as that. Every time a new Ambassador decides to join our Noonday community, we’re able to widen the marketplace we’ve created in the U.S. for the amazing work that each Artisan Business creates. With more Ambassadors comes more orders, with more orders comes more Artisan partnerships, and with more partnerships comes dignified work for thousands of people in need. Our team of Ambassadors is truly incredible, and I can’t wait to walk with them as they continue being the change they wish to see in the world.

-We love the title of your new book. What does leaving comfort look like to you? 

It’s scary, comforting, and beautiful all at the same time. Whether it’s starting a business or trying the wide-leg pant trend, getting out of your comfort zone is exactly that – uncomfortable. But the fruits of that discomfort are well worth it. Growing our courage muscles is like growing any other muscles—you have to actually use them to make them stronger.


-Has writing a book always been something on your heart? What was the writing process like for you?

I’m not sure I’ve always considered myself to be an author, but I’ve long considered myself a storyteller, and I thought about writing this book for a long time. Imperfect Courage took years to put together, but I just knew that my purpose in life is to catalyze courage in others to help them leave comfort, go scared, and make their own impact footprints in the world! My teammates helped me sort through my thoughts in several brainstorming sessions, and we were making final edits right up until the print deadline! I’m an enneagram 7, so I’m always wanting to add something new—having a hard print deadline was definitely a challenge for me!

-I recently heard you at the IF Gathering say that you try to be fully present at work when you are working and fully present at home when you are home. We LOVE this perspective. How do you practically implement this practice on a day to day basis?

Lately, it’s been unplugging from my phone at various times throughout the day and practicing the art of just being. When I’m in an important meeting, I might leave my phone in my office. And when I’m home, I might even give it to my daughter, Amelie, to make sure I’m not randomly checking my Instagram messages.

But overall, these days I’m practicing the art of slowing down and embracing that “good enough” is actually plenty. With the release of a book last year and lots of international trips this year, it can be hard for me to slow down and be. Taking the time to be present at home with my family for an impromptu dance party or taco night, is often just the antidote I need.

Thank you, Jessica, for taking the time and energy to do this Q&A with us! 

SHOP JESSICA’S BOOK:

Talking Love With Audrey Roloff

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I am so excited to have a dear friend of mine, Audrey Roloff, featured on LSK today. Auj and her husband, Jeremy, have written a book that everyone should read ASAP! Married, engaged, dating, or single, A Love Letter Life is a read that will speak to everyone’s heart, encouraging all to pursue creatively, date intentionally, and love faithfully. Relationships are such a precious gift from the Lord and we are called to love others as Jesus loves us. We promise you that Audrey and Jeremy’s love story will display God’s love for His children and inspire you to love well, thanks to Jesus’ love for us and how He equips us in relationship.

*Let’s chat about the inspiration behind this book. Was it something that had been on your and Jeremy’s hearts for a while?

AR: I’ve always wanted to write a book, it’s definitely a big God dream for me.  I’ve always loved writing, journaling, blogging and am so passionate about relationships, from dating to marriage. Jeremy and I definitely have a similar heartbeat for relationships and the idea of writing a book as a way to walk alongside others in relationship by encouraging creativity, intentionality, and faithfulness felt really natural and made us both really excited.

*I love the book’s description of “Pursue Creatively, Date Intentionally, and Love Faithfully.” This captures the journey of meeting someone, getting to know them, and loving them like Jesus loves us. From your experience, what would you say is the most important purpose of this process?

AR: To us, pursuit, dating, and loving aren’t so much a process (as in one stops and the other starts), but more so a package deal where all three things are part of the whole love story, from the beginning until forever. Jeremy is still doing all three of these things: pursuing me, dating me, and loving me. Just because we are married, doesn’t mean the pursuing and dating stops! That is what we really hope to convey to couples and individuals, that pursuing creatively, dating intentionally, and loving faithfully are core healthy aspects for a wonderful relationship. As Jeremy says, they are beautiful ingredients for a beautiful love story. The adjectives there are super important, too: creatively, intentionally, and faithfully. This is how our God loves us, so we are to love others in the same way.

*Let’s talk faith! Can you explain your point of view in the importance of being with someone who loves the Lord with all their heart? How big of a part did Jeremy’s love for God have in your attraction, interest, and love for Jeremy? 

AR: Huge part! I had a very high standard for who the person I was going to be with would be. Loving the Lord with their whole heart was a must when it came to a potential relationship. I met Jeremy at a time when he was in a slight season of spiritual complacency, so friendship first for us was definitely the Lord preparing us and protecting us to love one another better. There was no pressure when we were friends before dating and we are both so thankful for that season, because the season of friendship allowed us to follow Jesus so strongly individually, and then come together in a romantic sense and love one another intentionally and purposefully.

*You two discuss friendship as the basis for a love relationship a lot in this book which is so amazing. Jeremy puts it so beautifully in the book: “We were careful with one another because we didn’t want to mess it up. The friendship we were nurturing allowed us to build the foundation for a love story without getting lost in a cloud of emotions from physical intimacy.” Yes and amen to that! Can you elaborate on why you and Jeremy felt called to be careful with one another and why you believe this truth to be so key when dating? Immediately it makes me think of Proverbs 4:23- “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”

AR: This goes back to the question above and just how important the friendship season was for us. As I said, it was definitely preparation and protection from God which I am so thankful for. We were careful with one another and took it slow because we didn’t want to mess it up. We both messed up before with previous relationships and we didn’t want to go there. Friendship truly was our solid foundation for our relationship and allowed us to stay grounded and patient as our love story took root and then unfolded.

*When I think of your and Jeremy’s love story, I think of a seed being steadily nourished, growing into a delicate sapling, then strengthening into a blooming, healthy plant; one that is thriving and flourishing as you are nurtured through each other by the fruits of the Holy Spirit. How would you describe thriving and flourishing in marriage? 

AR: Oh man, great question. I would say thriving and flourishing in marriage for Jeremy and I looks like us pursuing one another constantly, pushing one another to follow Jesus steadfastly, connecting with one another regularly, communicating well, and believing that there are always more ways to love and serve one another. Back to your plant reference, plants need different things at different times of the year, so knowing that thriving and flourishing for us is going to look different at different times of the year really brings us peace and keeps us going.

*Last but not least, we gotta hear what it is like to work and write a book with your husband! 

AR: I absolutely love working together with Jeremy and wouldn’t trade it for the world. We get to do life together, completely, and we both love that. Of course we have challenges to work through together and we do that, but it might look different compared to couples who don’t work together. It definitely puts us in a place where we can’t avoid conflict, so we are quick to address it and quick to resolve it! It is such a blessing though to be on mission together and working toward the same goal, it is the best thing for us as a husband and wife team and keeps pushing us to grow, both individually and as a union.

Thanks, Auj! xo

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