faithcounts

Following God One Step at a Time

Bible Study for You

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I just finished the Bible study “Entrusted”, on my own, and I wanted to share how I did that.  Yes, I did a whole Bible study by myself!

The current Bible Study by Beth Moore is “Entrusted” (a study of 2nd Timothy). I rarely do reviews on Bible studies, but I want to share with you how I did the study by myself.  I know that not everyone has a women’s Bible study group to go to, so –

Fear not – You can do this Bible study for yourself!

How? 

1) Purchase the “Entrusted” Bible study book, just like I did, online. (My whole cost for everything was less than $37.)

–>Click THIS for Complete information on the “Entrusted” Bible study

–>Hit on IT to buy the Bible Study book from Lifeway

–>Jump on THIS to buy at Amazon  with free-shipping if you are a Prime member.

2) Purchase each video lesson, download to watch on your computer, or audio only. 

–>Click on IT for Audio only downloads (mp3) (cheapest option for Beth’s sessions)

–>or Push THIS for renting the videos

–>or Click HERE for the most fun, download Beth’s videos (mp4)

3) Watch the videos or listen to the audio for each session 1-6 whenever you want. 

4) Read the corresponding 5 days of Bible study lessons in the book for each of the 6 sessions and answer the questions.  Hey don’t worry if you can’t answer every question.  Do your best.

Here is a great tip!  Do you find it hard to listen to Beth’s videos and get all the blanks filled in on the page?  Well you can find the answers for each of the 6 video sessions online. 

–>Click HERE for those answers!   (Sorry, but there are no answers given for the lesson questions.  Those are for your own personal study and answers.)

Since you now have all the answers to fill in the blanks, you can listen to Beth as you walk the dog.  You can download it to any device that will take mp3 audio files.  

What is great about doing the Bible study by yourself, is you can take as long as you need to finish it!  In a group you will be doing the study for 6 weeks in a row.  On your own, you can skip a week when you are too busy, and pick the study up again the next week.  It is all at your speed, and on your schedule.

So many times ladies in Bible study groups complain that they can’t get all the week’s lessons done in one week.  Some people don’t even join the group because it is on a bad night, or they always work late. 

So don’t give up on Bible studies! Do it on your own.  I did it! 

How long did I take to finish the “Entrusted” Bible study?

I ordered it last November, and I just finished it this week, April 28!  So I did not get it done in 6 weeks.  I finished it in 5 months!  But that is ok.  I got it done.  I learned a lot.  And I am proud that I finished!

You can do it too!  Just follow the links above and get started learning a bunch about Paul and Timothy and the early Christian church.

So many women want answers and encouragement and hope.  You can find these in Bible study!  I find Beth’s Bible studies so encouraging! 

Why this Bible study? 

Entrusted” has something new in it. — Beth asked hundreds of women online what question they would like to ask her if we could sit down with her over a cup of coffee.  Beth picked some of those questions and answered them in the margins of the “Entrusted” study book!  It was so interesting to read what other women asked, and especially to read Beth’s answers!  Beth has been writing Bible studies and teaching the Bible for over 25 years.  She has tons of experience, and lots of good advice.

I will give you one nugget from the study. — Beth wrote that this much I know… persistence will carry you where talent and skill cannot.  When your prayers seem wasted, Heaven has not forgotten you.  No prayer is ever wasted.  There is life in God’s Word! Persist! Keep trying.  Keep learning.

I hope this encourages you to pick up a Bible study

and let God’s Word work in you!

If you have any questions, just use the comment section below.  I will do my best to answer you.

P.S. This fall, Beth Moore has a new Bible study coming out, “The Quest”.  It should be awesome!  I plan on doing that study on my own too.

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The Opposite of Division is Multiplication

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We all know that long division is difficult.  If you don’t remember learning it in school, just wait until your kids ask for help with their long division homework!  The division I am concerned with today is the divide opening up among Christ followers. 

This dividing is easy to do, but it brings ugliness with it. 

You have probably seen some of this ugliness.  We have been sharing a lot of it on social media.  Somebody says something we don’t like and we type up a nasty comment.  There is name-calling, finger-pointing, arguing, even threats.  I know there have been a few times I have typed up an angry comment.  You know what I got for my trouble?  More angry comments back at me.  What a waste of time!

What I try to do now:

  1.  If I can, I ignore the post that got me upset. If it’s an angry or hateful post, it is much better to ignore it and move on.  If the writer was that upset or hateful, my new motto is “Don’t wrestle with pigs”.  (You know that only gets you dirty.) I look for a more positive website or get off the internet and read something from the Bible or from a new book, or listen to some music.
  2. I write my own blog post with a different perspective, but do not mention the other person’s post. I just share my own point of view on my own blog.
  3. If somebody is making hateful comments on my blog, I delete their comment. If somebody makes a hateful comment on my reply, I block them from my feed. 

Then there is another way to respond – Multiplication!

Multiplication in math is easier than division.  Most of us can still recite our multiplication tables, because we had to memorize them!  The multiplication that is the opposite of the angry, hateful division, is to spread the goodness around Unfortunately, the ugly comments come to my mind automatically.  I have to choose not to engage in the ugliness.  I have to intentionally find the good stuff.

What I do to spread the goodness, not engage the ugliness:

  • Post positive tweets, and share other helpful, encouraging tweets.
  • Write encouraging comments on positive websites and blogs.
  • Share good blog posts.
  • Post or share great pictures of flowers, animals, or nature. A great pic with a Bible verse or other positive statement is something I love to share on Twitter and Facebook!

Jesus prayed for His followers to have unity and love each other.  We need to do what we can to stop the division, and increase the love and encouragement. 

Jesus is all about the Word, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. 

Let’s spread that around!

Flowers WhatYouDoJulieSunne.com

–>Would you write or share a positive or encouraging post or picture today?

–>Or click on the Twitter/Facebook buttons below to share this post.

Thanks!

BridgeBuilder SusanBMeadSusanBMead.com

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Bread and Wine feeds our hunger

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“Bread and Wine” is a collection of short reflections by various authors such as Oscar Wilde, Oswald Chambers, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Barbara Brown Taylor, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Philip Yancey, Henri Nouwen, and many others.  The collection is on several broad topics – Invitation, Temptation, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and New Life.  Although the intent of the book is to be read during Lent and on past Easter, these reflections are timeless, because Jesus Christ is timeless.

I read this book during Lent this year and in the week after Easter, but not in order.  I read them by author, and by topic.  Some I enjoyed greatly, and a few did not speak much to me.  I enjoyed using them to prepare for Easter, to feel gratitude, and to give Easter the celebration that Jesus deserves.  Everyone will find nuggets in the many different perspectives of these authors.  Although each piece stands alone, there is the overall feel of awe and respect and gratitude for Jesus Christ.

The authors talk about the purpose of Jesus coming to this world was to save us, and to be an example for us to shape our life with.  There also are discussions about the Holy Spirit, and our waiting for the Spirit, because (John 14:26) Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”  Jesus told us the truth.

The authors in this book try to explain Jesus Christ’s love.  By doing so they invoke feelings of sorrow, regret, relief, gratitude, hope, joy… This book took me in so many directions, yet it all led to Jesus.  I could not read more than 1 or 2 of the readings in a day.  I let them settle into my mind and soul.  Then the next day, I wanted to read more. 

This book is about Jesus and His relationship with us.  This book will bring you into a place of peace, love, freedom, healing, and purpose for your life.  Our relationship with God is what matters most of all.  That is what gives our life purpose.

So get this book, dip into it when you hunger for peace, for direction, for relief.

— It will feed your heart and mind well.

>Click HERE to get a copy.  Enjoy!

There also is a similar book written to prepare for Christmas. 

Take a >look at it HERE.

Just a note — A friend of mine recommended the book “Bread and Wine”, so I borrowed a copy from the local library.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  I think you will too.

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Easter Monday

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Have you ever celebrated the Monday after Easter? – Neither have I.

Today in prayer it struck me that the first Easter Sunday was not a day of celebration.

We celebrate Easter Sunday because Jesus arose from the dead.  As believers we acknowledge Good Friday as the day Jesus died.  Good Friday is considered “good” since we know the outcome of the cross.  None of Christ’s followers would have called that day good.  Jesus was crucified and died and they had no hope left.   To us today Easter Sunday is the day Jesus proved all the doubters and haters wrong.  From then on Christians would consider Easter Sunday as a joyous church celebration!

For the early Christ followers, that Sunday morning there was nothing to celebrate. 

When the two women went to the grave that Sunday morning to honor Jesus and use more oils on his body, they were mourning his death. (>Mark 16:1-3) They were grieving and probably afraid and without hope.  Yes, they were later happy when they saw Jesus in person; however, that day did not start out well.

But Easter Monday morning followers of Jesus would awake with joy! 

The Monday morning sun would greet them with hope and excitement about what Jesus would do now that he was alive again.  (>Matthew 28:8-10) Yes that Monday morning had more to celebrate.  Monday morning would be a day of rejoicing and sharing the good news that Jesus the Christ was alive!

So now I see that on Easter Monday I should praise God for we have the good news every day now.  We do not have to wait until Easter Monday to greet the sun with joy and hope.  We know the good news every day – That Jesus Christ saved us from sin and redeemed us with His blood so we will live in Heaven forever after we leave this world in death.  We know that Jesus gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us what Jesus taught and help us make good choices. (>John 14:26-27)  We know that we are holy and blameless in God’s eyes, because Jesus has covered us with His righteousness.  We know we are loved and forgiven by our God. (Read this Scripture for encouragement >Ephesians 1:3-10)

So this Easter Monday I rejoice! 

I am glad to greet this day that God has made for us.  Easter Monday is time for a new start, time for renewed strength, time for moving forward on our journey through this life toward our new life in Heaven.   May we bring as many others with us as we can through sharing the good news and encouraging other Christ followers. 

May the multitudes of Christ followers reach Heaven knocking on the door rejoicing for what Easter Monday has given us every day from that first Easter Monday on toward forever!

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Suicide Mission

LifeInSpiteOfMeThis is Kristen.  She is so joyful now!

As I sit down to write the review of this next book, I can’t help but look at the message of today, Good Friday.  Jesus willingly gave up his life for us.  That was a suicide mission.  Only He was capable of completing His mission.  When He died, He said “It is finished.”

Reviewing >”Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson, shows the differences between the author’s suicide attempt and the sacrifice Jesus made in giving up His life.

Kristen hated some things about her life and about her self.  She decided to end her life by laying down on the tracks in front of an approaching train.  Jesus loved us more than His own life.  He laid down His life on a cross to save us.  God also chose to save Kristen.

Both actions changed lives!

I will forever be grateful for Jesus dying to redeem our lives and wash away all our sins.  Kristen’s suicide attempt failed to take her life, but her action still changed her entire life.  It changed the lives of her family and all the kids she helps through her charity, >Reaching You Ministries.  The purpose of her ministry is to prevent other kids from committing suicide.

After the train ran over her, Kristen’s life turned completely around.  She repented of her old life and changed it for a better life.  Her new life includes Christ, and thousands of people she helps through her book, her ministry, and her speeches.

This is the message Kristen shares now — “Please don’t give up.  You are not alone.  There is a God who made you, and he’s not as far away as you may think.  He is always near. Wherever you go, whatever you do, he will be with you.  He loves you, and he wants to comfort you, heal the hurt in your heart and carry you through this life.  Let him in.  God has an amazing plan for your life, even if you don’t have a plan for yourself… Suicide is never the answer.”

God saved Kristen, because He had a plan for her.  She would have died, but God intervened with a miracle.  It was hard for Kristen to adjust to a life disabled, but she now lives joyfully.  She was baptized, she started her charity, wrote this book, and started speaking to groups.  Now she wants to share what she learned — that we are loved.  

We are all loved by God!

This book is good for anyone 13 and over to read.  It can provide answers to kids and to their parents.  There are better options than suicide. There are some signs that can warn you that someone is thinking about suicide.  If you are contemplating suicide (or know someone who is), or cutting, or drugs, or other ways of hurting yourself, please ask your parents for help, or your school counselor, or go to Kristen’s website for her charity –>Reaching You Ministries.  

This is a great book, because Kristen tells her story with honesty.  She knows she made mistakes.  She knows that God is making a new life for her.  She wants to share her story to help other kids.  I am glad I read her story.  It has helped me better understand why someone would consider suicide.  This life is hard, but Jesus came to make it easier, by loving us.  Don’t dismiss Him.  Seek Him.  Life is better with Jesus in your heart and mind, than any other way possible. 

You can download the Kindle version of Kristen’s book –>Click HERE.

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Why Me?

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Have you been there?

Sometimes it seems that no one is doing what is needed to address a problem.   Then I realize that it is because God is waiting for me to act. 

It may not be comfortable to step up, but sometimes we are put in a position “for such a time as this”.  

Lately I have seen several references to this Scripture from >Esther 4:14.  Esther was a highly esteemed Queen, so only she could get the job done to help her people.  This has reminded me that several times I was put in place at the right time and in the right position to do what was needed.  Although it can be uncomfortable, the outcome is gratifying, knowing I did what was right, and I did it for God and His people.

One time I was leading a cancer support group at church.  When a member of the group dies of cancer, several members would attend the memorial service, representing our group to the family.  My priority was to be supportive of the grieving family first.  When one member decided it was taking too long for the family to plan the memorial of a friend in the group, she planned a memorial at our church, and publicized it to family and friends of the dead woman.  The family was very upset, as they didn’t want people not to come to the family’s memorial service that they were planning.  I stepped up and got the memorial at our church cancelled.  This made a few people in our group mad, but it was the right thing to do.   The family’s wishes needed to come first.  The family was very appreciative of what I did, and I was able to attend their memorial service with several other group members and many family members and friends.

Another time I led a prayer ministry at a church, when the church was divided on an issue of salary for ministers there.  There was anger, and suspicion, and some people left the church.  I stepped up and started a weekly prayer group at the church to pray for the church, its elders, and ministers.  After a couple months, the issue was resolved by a change in staffing.  It worked out well for everyone, even though we had to wade through turmoil first.  The only way to find a solution was prayer, and I was leading the prayer ministry at the time.

There have also been a couple work situations where unfair, sometimes even illegal practices were occurring.  I have had to stand up when others would not take a stand.  I have risked losing my job, in order to do the right thing.  In one job situation it was obvious to me that I was the only real Christian there, or at least the only one willing to make it known.  I would pray on my way to work every day for the workplace and the employees.  I knew God wanted me to stay and take a Christian stand.  It was hard, but eventually God found a way for me to leave with pay, and soon after the company went bankrupt from some of their unwise practices and legal problems.  God knows what is best, although we may be unsure until the turmoil is all over.

Sometimes we need to look around and see who is in the right position to do something about the problem.  If it is you, pray for courage, and step up to do what is right.  You will see in the end, that God will bring good results.

Are you in a “for such a time as this” position right now?  Let me know in the comments below and I will pray for you.

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Falling

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“Falling Free” by Shannan Martin is a book that made me think.  It challenged my thinking about what God expects us to do for other people.

Shannan and her husband had the life they always wanted, living in the country with a big house, big yard for the kids to play, good schools, good jobs.  Then they gave it all up.  They moved to the city to a neighborhood with small rundown houses, and needy neighbors with checkered pasts, low incomes, and less good schools.  

They used their new surroundings to change the way they responded to their neighbors’ needs.  They got to know their neighbors, and helped them in so many more ways than I had ever thought of doing.  This was a new context for me of “loving your neighbor as yourself”.  

They love their neighbors as part of their family.  I don’t think I am ready to do that.  Is that what God expects?  Read the book and see what you think.  Are they going overboard? Or are they on the right track?

>Click HERE to find the book.

>Go HERE to check out Shannan’s blog.

Thanks >to Kristin Taylor for having a giveaway for this book!

And I won! I so enjoyed reading it.  Sorry it took me so long to finish.

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Quitting the Internet

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“What Falls From the Sky” by Esther Emery is not about rain or snow.  It’s about what God blesses us with.  The author found God again after thinking she no longer believed.  How did she do that?

She gave up the internet for one year!

Esther did not give up the internet to find God.  She wanted to get rid of so many distractions, and find herself and be happy again.  Her marriage was struggling and she needed to decide where her life was going.  Her life was too busy, and she needed some rest.  –All of this led to her deciding to give up the internet (no cell phone, no blog, no Facebook…)

It changed her life in many unexpected ways!

I went through this book pretty fast.  I loved seeing how no internet was changing her and her relationships.  The middle of the book bogged down in details a bit, but then it picked up again as she realized her life was changing for the better, so much better.

Seeing the sky and nature again was a surprise to her.  She came from the west and loved the outdoors, but when she got a job, a good job, she forgot about the outdoors.  She became immersed in the internet. 

When she gave up the internet, she found herself looking at the sky again, and wanting to go outdoors and spend time in nature.  She also found herself wanting to connect to people in person, not through a screen.

Some of the things she has to do while living without the internet, are learning to read a map again to get where she wants to go, reading books (paperbacks not Kindle), and cooking from scratch.  It is fun reading about each thing she comes to that she used to do on a computer or on a cell phone, and what she decides to do now instead. 

Who knew how entangled we have become with the internet and our cell phones?!  Did you know? 

It is an eye-opener to read about Esther’s experience.

I am hoping Esther will write another book about her life now that she lives so differently than before.  Yes her whole life has changed, and I want to know what happens next!

>Click Here, to get a copy of her book.

I got a free copy of this book from >BookLook Bloggers, so I could write an honest review.

BookLookBlogger badge>www.booklookbloggers.com

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How To Find God’s Plan for Your Life

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Have you ever asked this question?

  • What does God have planned for my life?

I know I have.  In fact, I have asked it at various turning points of my life.  Now that I am a cancer survivor, cancer-free for 6 years, I have been asking that question again.  You see, the answer changes over time.  It’s not a 1 answer for all time kind of thing.  What you are ready for at 20 is very different from what you can do with experience at 40. 

So if we are going to be asking this question over and over, we need a good way to get an answer! Right?

Since I have struggled through finding an answer to this question several times in my life already, let me take a stab at some ways to find the answer.  This will also help me as I am currently asking the same question.

  • How do we know what God has planned for our life? Your life and my life, are 2 very different set of circumstances. God has created each one of us as a unique human being.  We have different skills, and different experiences, and different circumstances.  I am a cancer-survivor.  You may be single, or a mom with kids.  You may have a full-time job, or need to work from home. 
  • So, how do we all get our own unique answer to the question?

#1 — The 1st priority is we need to start with prayer. 

For example, “Lord Jesus, I’m confused.  I don’t know what you want me to do.  I need some guidance.  I want to do something good, something useful for people and in God’s will.  I also need to make money for my family.  Can I do both? Please give me an answer.  Tell me what you have planned for me to do.  What is my next step?  Thank you for your help.  Thank you for the many blessings you give me and my family.  Thank you for our home.  Thank you for the beautiful spring flowers that are starting to bloom.  I will trust you to answer this prayer.  I will be listening for your answer.  Amen.” (You can pray something similar or totally different.  Fill in your unique situation, and pray for help from our God.)

#2 – So next we get into listening mode. 

Listening is hard for some people, but I listen pretty well most of the time.  This is what I do – I sit down to pray every morning.  I give thanks.  I pray for friends and family.  Then I tell Jesus, “Lord, I am listening to you with the ears God gave me.  Tell me what you want to say to me today.”  Then I listen for an answer.  Whatever answer I get, I write it down in a notebook with the date.  It is very important to write it down, because believe me, you will forget it if you don’t write it down.  That has happened to me too many times, so now I write it down. 

Most of the time the answer I get is simple, maybe part of a Bible verse, or He may tell me I should rest today, or go for a walk, or help someone.  Sometimes, what you need to do first is get yourself together, get organized, or get training.  As time goes on, there may be a pattern of the type of things He tells you to do, or a direction it seems to be heading in.  There may be certain words or phrases that are repeated over and over.  That means you need to pay attention to that!  (And, you know, write it down.)

#3 – Then we need to listen harder. 

This part is like being a detective.  We need to put together clues.  The clues can come from several places.  You may decide to read in the Bible and find a phrase that strikes you as something important.  You might be doing a Bible study and a phrase pops out at you as one you heard from Jesus in prayer.  A friend may be talking to you and say the same phrase or word.  Again, if you listen for these repetitions, you will hear them, then write them down. 

#4 – Now that we have some key ideas, and a direction this listening is taking us, take all the clues and go back to step #1. 

Pray for clarification. Ask God, “Is this what you want me to work on? Is this Scripture directing me?” Then you know the rest.  Go back through #2, #3 and #4 as needed. 

At some point you will have enough information to start on a project.  At first it may be something small, then as time goes on, it will grow.  This is a process that we go through in life.  Just be sure you go through it with Jesus Christ in your heart and by your side.  Without Him, we are lost in confusion!

Hey, Remember you saw this first at FaithCounts.Wordpress.com ! I hope to see you again.

Click the Follow button in the right side column of this post so you won’t forget.  Or write it down! 

Click the Share Buttons too!  Facebook and Twitter buttons are provided below!

If you want to ask me a question, post it in the comments below.  I will do my best to answer. 

If you have already received some answers from God and want to share them, I would love to read them!

Bye, See you soon!

 

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Chasing God

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“Chasing God” by Angie Smith

I started reading the book “Chasing God” by Angie Smith over a year ago, and decided to try finishing it.  –

I am so glad I did!

Although the beginning chapters were basic for me, the last half of the book was filled with good information and insights.  Angie includes several places where a word or phrase is used for the first time in the Bible.  I enjoyed that information, because it shows the importance of that circumstance, and the reason it is set apart, or illustrates the beginning of a shift in focus or purpose.  These places in the Bible are full of rich insights.

Angie also talks about her shift in focus, when she stops chasing God, and instead experiences His love, and learns to trust Him.  She spent years chasing God, thinking she wasn’t smart enough to understand Him, so she kept trying to prove she deserved His love by trying to do what she thought she must.  She would read the Bible beginning to end, and try to do it in less time.  She would chastise herself for not reading more, and not studying more. 

The day she stopped chasing after God is a beautiful bitter-sweet moment in her life. I will not spoil it by revealing it here.

Angie’s story of Chasing God takes us through her early experiences with God, and what she learned through the process.  It takes us through her life to the result today – a deep rich faith in God.

She runs through many good topics in the process – our will vs God’s will, platitudes that are not really true, our relationship with the Father, what binds us together with God, the place of memorial, writing this book… all leading to a change in perspective by following Jesus not chasing Him, a change in attitude by forgiving others and trusting God, and finding God’s love and grace and her own strong faith.

I will tell you one insight that surprised me.  When Thomas asked Jesus how they would find Him when He went away, Jesus says that they already know the way. Thomas said we don’t know where that is.  Angie points out, the place is not on a map, it is the person of Jesus ChristThere is not a road to get to Heaven, but the Son of God.  He is the way.  Awesome explanation!

Special Deal!

>Click HERE for Kindle copy (currently $0.99 – but that price won’t last long!)

Hardcover also available, >Click THIS.

Angie has written several good books, including a child’s book “Audrey Bunny”.

>Look HERE at all of Angie’s books!

*I highly recommend her book,“What Women Fear”! —

*(Kindle copy also $0.99 for a limited time!)

*>Click on IT!

 

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