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Posts Tagged ‘movies’

This weekend I picked up Ann Coulter’s book, Treason.  The first several chapters describe with multitudinous source notes the true history of the “Red Scare” in the fifties and what really happened when Senator McCarthy was in congress.  In her typical sarcasm, Ann emphasizes that the alleged persecution inflicted on suspected (and actual) Communists and Communist spies in the Cold War was nominal, especially when contrasted with two extremes: the oppression of the people under actual Communist rule in the USSR at the time; and the normal shunning and ridicule of conservatives today who are not potentially feeding national secrets to our enemies. 
 
This is an interesting contrast to the pet project of George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck, about Edward R. Murrow, one of the first responsible for slanting the public’s view of Senator McCarthy.  My brother’s community college professor recommended the movie to him, and so after the semester was over, Michael picked it up at the library and we spent the most boring hour of the month watching a whispering, black and white, dull, impersonal movie semi-documenting the press’ coverage of McCarthy, especially when he questioned Annie Lee Moss, the black Communist washerwoman who worked in the code room at the Pentagon.  I think they even mixed actual press footage into the movie.  (By the way, the Academy nominated this film for Best Picture, which is one of the most blatant evidences for their political agenda or at least favoritism, since it in no way compares to excellent classic films sharing that distinction.) 
 
While Clooney wanted to do a movie refreshing the image of McCarthy as a man irrationally bent on censorship and discrimination, I argue the movie accomplished at least two opposite aims:  First of all, the sheer boredom of the movie supposed to show the tragic suffering of those the Republicans arbitrarily decided to pick on, highlights how insignificant the hardships of Communist spies and sympathizers were; it didn’t even make a good movie.  Secondly, I believe the movie, which focuses much more on the behind-the-scenes at the television station, generally portrays an accurate picture of the actual ambition and worldview of those who spun the myths about McCarthy in the first place.  To know the real story the press was covering, and see how they portrayed the facts, is a much more entertaining display of liberal media at work.  The moral of the movie to me is not: “See, those Republicans are mean!” but rather, “See, those liberals are miles from the facts again!” 
 
Emboldened, however, by their success at distorting the history of McCarthy-“ism”, the liberals continue in their campaign to rewrite history as it happens.  They use it in elections (usually between the casting of votes and the inaugurations, and then casually referenced as common knowledge attacking the legitimacy of whoever holds office that they don’t like), in propaganda about our enemies and defense, about economics, nature, and very frequently in the best-selling books they write after they leave office.  From the fifties they learned Hitler’s policy of the thirties: if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough, the public will believe it.  Let the example of Hollywood’s dramatization of a deceitful press contrasted with the thoroughly researched and footnoted book about history be a lesson for today. 
 
To God be all glory. 

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with Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon is a really wonderful movie.  It’s bright and colorful, creative and meaningful, and romantic.  Every character has a story, and each one changes as a result of being a part of the story.  I’ve seen it three times.  The music is wonderful, and the artistic costumes, sets, and shots are the perfect house for a whimsical story – just distant enough to shine truth upon me.  The end song is by that Icelandic band: Sigur Ros; the song is Hoppipola, “hopping in puddles.”  Doesn’t it just make you want to skip?  

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn 

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Simon says?  Exercises?  Arrests?  Hide and go seek?  Illegal hands to the face? 

 

My hands have spent a lot of time on my head lately.  Life is too big for me sometimes.  Like this week.  At my church I’ve been teaching a women’s Sunday morning Bible study on Ephesians.  Have you ever looked at a hill from a distance and thought you could get to the top in an hour or two, only to discover when you get closer that the hill is a mountain with no scalable paths?  And for a breathless, unmeasurable time, you think you’ll never make it; you wonder why you tried.  At the last possible moment, wings come in, sweeping you up like the eagles to hobbits on Mount Doom.  God’s grace comes beneath your weakness, and through no fault of your own, you’re at the top, taking down your hands from your face to enjoy the view. 

I watched a movie the other night.  It wasn’t a really good movie.  The cinematography was unique, and the acting was superb.  Anthony Hopkins, playing a familiarly dramatic role, was suppressing his emotions, and trying to hide them.  He kept holding his face in front of his eyes as if shielding them from a light, when really he was shielding tears from sight.  Even when there aren’t people to see me, I keep putting my hand over my eyes.  Actually, at twenty-three, it’s hard to cry anymore, so the gesture is an act of the will to indicate emotion I can’t express any other way.  But the emotions, even at my age, must be expressed. 

A friend and I are starting a small group for high school girls, and quite frankly, I don’t know where to start in connecting with them.  Emma describes Robert Martin to her friend Harriet (in the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation) as a man as much above her notice as below it.  Is evangelism and discipleship like that?  Either people know they need discipleship and God’s grace because they’re that mature or because they’re that empty? And I’m looking at some of these girls seeing so much need, but they’re not quite broken enough yet to value it, and I don’t know how to start a conversation or to whet an appetite for a close relationship with God.  I guess it’s all up to Him. 

Psalm 32 contains God’s promise to guide me with His eyes.  So maybe putting my palms over my eyes is a way of getting me to follow Him, recognizing my own lack of wisdom.  Too bad God has to force me into faith. 

Then recently every time I try to get on the internet (check my library due dates, blog, check messages, look up movie times) I have to refresh a hundred times, and it still doesn’t work.  I’m so inefficient, and end up doing a fraction of the things I’d intended with a day.  That’s a cause of frustrated grasping of my head. 

Maybe excitement could explain the frequent movement, too.  This week quite unexpectedly I made my first sale on my business website: www.LadyofLongbourn.com  Another exciting find was a website about Hebrew alphabets and words that argues for a Hebrew – or Edenic (long story) – etymology for most words worldwide. True or not my mind has been spinning with possibilities, and I’m finding it incredibly easy to learn new Hebrew words.  But then I always have. 

On Monday I got a bargain at the thrift store, and spent less than $3 on a brand new CD of classic hymns sung by the amazing St. Olaf’s Choir.  St. Olaf is a Lutheran Bible College whose incredible music department was featured on TV this Christmas season.  My brother and I stayed up irrationally (but not atypically) late watching it one night.  The beauty – the gift of it so touched me that I put my hands to my head. 

Dad and I went to the Colorado Republican caucus on Tuesday, which was an experience in disorganization and disbelief you wouldn’t, uh, believe!  Do you know the actual rules stated that ties in our precinct should be decided by a coin toss?  No one had any idea what they were doing, and since I couldn’t help us out, I put my hands on my head. 

Sunday I sat on the floor in my sanctuary, which was an exciting change.  You’ve no idea how many times I wanted to sit on the floor instead of formal, uncomfortable, modern chairs.  Mary of Bethany sat at Jesus’ feet, and that is quite my preference.  I probably won’t do it all the time; I fought against feeling self-conscious.  But it was neat to experience freedom in that way. 

The Superbowl…  Ok, to stop all scorn in its tracks, I babysat for a neighborhood outreach party put on by a church plant in Denver, and then hung out with everyone for the last quarter, so it isn’t like I was idolizing football or anything.  The Superbowl was a nail-biter, quite exciting.  I couldn’t believe some of the plays I witnessed.  Nice escape, interesting throw, and impossible catch for essential first down.  Yep.  I even know what I’m talking about.  Hands over my eyes. 

Monday was a rambling day, much like this post.  How beautiful to spend unhurried time at the library, wandering around, thinking, scurrying back and forth from the movie shelves to the computers (which work!) there, as an idea of another movie to watch came to mind…  And then on Wednesday I got to go to tea with a new friend.  Tea, yes.  I had mint chai, which is just as good as the other varieties I’ve had.  With enough sugar almost any tea tastes good, I think.  I just needed to get tea done the British way, with milk, too. 

I’ve been doing much praying for a special person, name to be announced sometime after I learn it myself.  My expectations for him are so high that it’s only right I support him now, already, in prayer.  But then I miss him.  And I cover my face shutting out the vastness of the world that separates him from me – but, of course, all in God’s capable and good hands.  Um.  That was code.  It all means that I wonder where my husband is, and when he’ll come, and want him to be here sooner than later, but I have no idea who or where He is.  But God knows, and I trust God. 

This week I spoke with a few friends about honesty, and how we wish the world would let us say the truth, say what’s on our hearts without code or offense.  At least with them I’ll practice it.  I hope they will with me.  No mask here.  Which reminds me – I’ve watched several movies with masks or masquerades in them recently.  Lots of movies. 

But movies always make me think.  A movie I want to see as of today is Penelope, due to limited release on February 29.  The fantasy, fairy-tale-ish story has a message of honesty, of taking the hands from the face and being yourself for all the world to see and know – even risking the hurt. 

YLCF was a special blessing this evening, since the most recent post specifically addressed the topic of waiting for one’s handsome prince, and what to do while you wait.  I know those things.  I certainly rebel on occasion.  The reminder was important to get me refocused, to seek the most excellent and most fulfilling. 

I’m craving tea: my mom’s blackberry, which I never like.  The clock, at almost midnight after a long day, declines my craving.  In fact I even have to stop my ramble through writing.  This post is the way I used to write emails to my friends: late at night, a summary of a dozen thoughts and events that come together to form a sort of three-strand theme.  If my brother were writing, this would be a strongly metaphorical poem (trying to make sense of which would bring my hands once again to my head).  My other brother would tell a wonderful allegory.  I’m trying to get the latter to guest blog here sometime.  He has a great story about orange juice… 

Ramble away in the comments.  Feel free to put the unconcise, irrelevant, unfinished thoughts you can’t submit as an English paper, or publish on your blog, or tell your friends when they ask how you are doing.  Good night. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I just watched The Matrix for the first time last night. When I was in high school, I remember, a couple friends were crazy about The Matrix and would sit apart from the group talking about it. And my friends said that everyone had to see it at least a couple times to “get it.” The concept just blew their minds. Well now I’m twenty-three, which is a lot older than the friends I had in high school, but I can’t figure out what is so hard to get. Are there any questions I should be asking, but didn’t think of?

Over all, I guess I liked it. The story was well-thought. There were warring philosophies, which the movie choreographed into one cooperative plot. This philosophical war fit well with what God’s been teaching me of late: something about our plans and His plans. Also in reading The Immortal Game, I’ve been contemplating the ideas presented by chess: does fate govern your life, or are your choices supreme? Can you win by intellect, or is there something to be said for brute force? Is it every man for himself, or every man for the collective goal? Should life be lived tactically (moment to moment, choice by choice) or strategically (long term)? How well can any one person’s decisions manipulate another’s? These were the various positions and questions dealt with in The Matrix as well.

Of course trench coats, leather, and machine guns were rather glamorized. There was violence, and I didn’t watch some parts (not because anyone warned me or they were getting too gruesome, but I had been multi-tasking, and felt the long violence/chase series were missable). In fact, I asked my brother what the point of the long fight scenes was, as everyone knew what would be the outcome (of some parts). He told me that the movie makers got their awards and notoriety for the filmography of the sequences and the special effects. I still protest that they did not add to the movie.

Anyway, at one point I was also curious whether anyone spoke regular English, or if all the humans used bad language to express themselves. So I’m not really endorsing The Matrix, but it didn’t bother me enough to make me dislike the movie.

If I were to identify the central theme of the movie, after this first viewing, I would eschew the philosophical questions and say it was about the power of the mind over the body (and delving back deeply into philosophy, over destiny).

One thing I noticed: it didn’t end. The sequel is probably at the library right now waiting for me to watch it, and I might have to get the last one on hold. Do the next two get better or worse?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Today my brother and I watched Batman Begins.  The movie is 2 hours, 20 minutes long, but if you skip the fighting and driving scenes in the second half of the movie, you can cut it about in half without missing anything.  We watched the whole thing; brothers need appeased sometimes.  He had a birthday this week.  And I didn’t have anything else to do that required as little energy. 

Thinking doesn’t require a lot of energy, so I did that.  And I decided that even though Batman is a hero, the bigger heroes in the movie are:

1.  Sgt. Gordon, who was a good cop in a corrupt system for at least 14 years.  He kept fighting bad guys and doing what he could, each day watching his attempts accomplish apparently nothing.  How many times did he look at little boys like Bruce who lost their parents – and he couldn’t stop it?  But he kept fighting because it was right. 

2.  Lucius Fox, who believed in his work, believed in the mission of his company.  He is smart, but on a deep level that doesn’t need to brag.  He kept his own counsel.  When the time was wrong to be speaking and acting, he was preparing.  That takes a lot of patience, wisdom, and courage. 

3.  Rachel Dawes was an idealist, yes, and young.  But she didn’t use her compassion in an easy place, somewhere outside Gotham.  She could have escaped, but she dreamed of making a difference.  She couldn’t be bought.  No loyalty took precedence over her love for the truth.  Her convictions led her to confront almost everyone in the entire movie.  Without her voice, Bruce would not have been the principled, sold-out hero that fought for Gotham at every cost to himself. 

I need inspiration from heroes like this.  People who behind the scenes, faithfully, every day, when results remain to be seen, keep fighting for what’s right.  They take time to prepare for what God has for them.  Things and attachments are the trappings of their service, not the gods they serve. 

My life has no Batman.  But I do know many of these heroes, and I’m grateful to God for them.  Do you know any?  Maybe you should tell them thank-you, too. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Do you know how much more I blog when I know I have an audience?  Before I blogged, my friends received long, winding emails quite frequently.  I’d threaten them that if they didn’t respond, I’d keep writing, desperate to have some contact with them.  Then I’d warn them that if they did reply, it would inspire me to write back.  Evidence imposes reality on my realization: I write more when I know you’re reading.  I talk when I know you’re listening.  The substance is better in conversation than in desperate attempts at starting a friendship, or drawing attention: advertising. 

I’ve been looking at my life, and praying about what I see.  Some days I can’t do that; my prayers are focused on survival.  God gives us phases, I think.  Like the moon.  I love the moon: always there, always the same, almost always visible, almost always seen in a new light.  And the light is beautiful. 

Why do I have better conversations, ones that “hit the spot” via blogging, or with an eclectic group of admittedly eccentric protesters outside abortion clinics?  I don’t agree with all the theology, but we can pray together.  When they ask how I am, I can answer that God is teaching me about grace, and share a little.  They share.  I want to know.  Not just their stories, but the stories of my friends, and the people at church and Bible study.  But in the hallways all I hear is “How are you?” and all I can answer is “fine,” unless we were going to cancel nursery service, worship, and lunch.  Then I could talk.  That’s the beauty of blogging and abortion protests.  There’s no schedule, no interruptions that matter.  So I can’t be online at work…  The conversation picks right back up, no awkwardness, more forethought. 

In my prayers I keep telling God I don’t want to play.  I don’t want to play at life.  Gas prices shouldn’t drive me crazy; I don’t want to play.  Hard decisions aren’t on my shoulders; I don’t want to play.  It’s pretending to say I have the wisdom or strength to decide.  And at church, I am so tired of playing.  What I do there is superficial.  I believe in being there, and in making the most of what is there for the sake of bringing the body towards perfection (Ephesians 4).  There is something so wrong about the way we do church.  Why do we bother singing and praying and listening to lessons when we don’t even know each other? 

People move away or change churches, and we never talk to them again.  Why?  When they were at church activities, we admired them.  We enjoyed doing ministry together.  Their comments in Sunday school were challenging, and their smile uplifting.  They’re gone, and we miss them.  But there was never anything more.  We never met for lunch.  I didn’t know what they were thinking, the little things that they might say as commentary on life, but would never think worthy of a special phone call. 

I have a friend at my church, and we’re going to start praying together.  I’m really excited.  She selected an anonymous envelope to “adopt” a teen from our youth group, and I wanted to ask her who she got.  I wanted to enter into even this little facet of her life, and so many more things like that. 

Tonight I babysat for a church plant.  I sat with three little boys while they ate dinner, and the parents and friends talked around the kitchen island.  I care about the adults, but the kids know me, and I love them because I watch them eat.  When one does some weird thing with his spoon, I get to know him.  The middle kid imitates the oldest, and you see how relationships are developing.  I intentionally sit with them when they eat, to build the relationship.  But do I do that with adults?  When is the last time I sat by someone not to start a conversation, but just to be there in case there was commentary? 

Speaking of the church plant, I could hear from my position in the basement of the pastor’s house uproarious laughter, evidence that the group is bonding.  They feel free to be loud, to be humiliated, to laugh, and thus are invested in the details of each others’ lives.  Eventually I think the plan is to have a “normal” church where there is preaching and singing, but I believe they want to keep groups like this one as core to their church.  Once they are loving, unified friends, they can march in sync in their ministry.  In fact, the pastor told me a couple weeks ago that he believes the church’s primary purpose is evangelism, and I’ve been thinking about my disagreement, looking for what the Bible says instead of just what I’ve been taught.  I see the great commission.  And I see Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for what He planned his followers to be.  I read Ephesians, and see that the church is about unity, edification, maturing into the image of Christ.  But that unity of the Spirit is what produces the striving together for the faith of the gospel, the reaching out to the world with the gospel. 

So another thought.  I get challenged like that from this friend, who is a pastor.  His church asks him questions like that more than some, but I think they’re in awe of him, and respectful of him as their leader.  (His wife was originally on my side, properly heeding his perspective and coming early to the conclusion that we’re basically saying the same thing different ways/different emphasis.)  My pastor doesn’t talk to me like that.  I get answers from people who run blogs.  They dare to address my real questions.  But a lot of times their own friends and churches aren’t asking.  What a mess.  Why can’t we be real with the people in our churches? 

I want everyone to read my blog.  But I’m fair about it.  I would want to read everyone else’s blogs or journals, too.  I don’t want to play at friendship, to pretend to be the Body of Christ, anymore.  I, me, personally, want to be real.  And I want to be a real friend.  May God take me, sold out, take my every hour, to be invested in Him and in building people. 

As a crowning point to how this whole topic is being driven home to me today, in one day-long thought, I was telling all these things to my brother after watching some of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I have no idea how much we missed, but I wouldn’t dare go back to find out; there’s a reason you can skip tracks on DVDs.  (I’m definitely NOT endorsing the movie, but I’m not all that sorry I watched what I did.  Just read a review, and make an educated, prayerful decision if you ever think about watching it.)  Anyway, the premise is that this guy is getting his memories of his girlfriend erased, so he’s going backwards through the memories.  And timelines are just a bit confusing, but if you watch it twice I suspect everything would make sense.  Watch the hair colors.  It’s a key.  We discussed how our brains have to extend to the furthest reaches to follow the movie, and the implications of the story.  It’s too far out, to complex to put our arms around, to hold.  But you can follow it, if you try.  That’s relevant, but this is commentary, windows into my world that produces these thoughts. 

After I said most of the things above, and actually some are his additions, I was talking about being tired of friendships being fake; I want to hear what is going on with people.  I want to read blogs, and my blog to be read.  In an amazing double-irony, he asked, “Did you read my blog?” 

“No.”  We both laughed and I was crying, too, from the irony.  I knew of course that I was contradicting myself because I hadn’t read it in the past couple days, and that he must have written about basically the same thing, or he wouldn’t have brought it up.  And maybe we’re both thinking about the same thing because we read the same things, and talk, and (sometimes) read each other’s blogs.  So here is his perspective on real listening and real friendship.  You have to promise, if you are reading this post, to read his too, and to read it like he meant… every… word. 

Oh, and less crowning but still continuing, we’ve had an ongoing conversation with some friends of ours about “heads bowed, eyes closed” altar calls, whether it be for salvation or other things God’s doing in your life.  We’re tired of playing, and want to be the Church to those around us, at least.  If we can’t see each other, and we’re silent, not praying together at all, how are we going to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?  What are we saying about the shameless gospel of our God’s great grace? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

PS: My brother reminds me, and I thought it important enough to make clear: being serious does not exclude joy or smiling or fun.  When I say “I don’t want to play,” I don’t mean I’m opposed to silliness and recreation.  Actually, we should even take our fun seriously; be intense, and sincere when you play. 

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The beginning of the movie Bella is a man quoting his mother, “When you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6  

Monday I had a list of things to do a mile long, and I was convinced I could get them all done before their respective deadlines.  With relief I checked off each item.  Trying to multi-task, I turned on the oven to preheat and sat down to fill out my local ballot, for which I had made zero decisions.  The efficiency was already starting to wear away when I realized I needed my laptop and had just turned it off.  Forgetting what was behind and reaching forth to what was before, I pressed on. 

And spent about 45 minutes on my computer learning about candidates and issues.  All the while the oven was preheated and empty.  When I finally finished my ballot, the time it would take to cook lunch and eat it would eliminate one item from my list.  I chose to skip the library, because I didn’t have time to watch or listen to the items I had reserved anyway. 

After lunch I ran my errands.  Mom ran hers, too, agreeing to meet back at the house in time to depart for Bella.  The theater I chose was across town, the one offering the cheapest tickets.  (Even though we broke even for gas, I like to boycott expensive movie tickets.)  Before we left, I checked my email one more time to see if any friends had responded to my last-minute invitation to join them. 

By the time we got across the city, we were about ten minutes early.  But being out of our neighborhood, we didn’t know where the theater was.  I saw one on the left side of the street; Mom turned right.  Finally I explained I saw the sign across the street, so we made it over there.  Like a theater ashamed of its existence there was no marquis.  We parked and went in, but did not see Bella listed.  Sighing, I asked the cashier, “There’s another theater across the street in the mall, isn’t there?” 

Back in the car, we returned to the exact spot we had accidentally visited earlier, but still there was no theater in sight.  You know how malls work, though; you can start anywhere and get anywhere, especially in this one, which has a shortcut through the food court.  So we parked.  I hurried in and analyzed the map while Mom followed.  At this point the listed start time of the movie was already upon us.  I found the theater on the directory and took off in the direction, hoping my recent venture into map-reading would pay off. 

The whole race I was coaching myself, “God knows what He’s doing, Lisa.  This is for a reason.  Relax.”  Finally through the mall and across a little drive, we entered the theater, bought our tickets, and were at last standing just inside the door for screen 12.  And everything was pitch black.  The movie was just starting.  Once there was a little more light, we found our seats and heard the line, “…tell God your plans.” 

Hang with me, I’m not done.  About twenty minutes into the movie the entire screen went black.  Small fluorescent emergency lights began to flash and a calm voice informed us that an emergency had been reported in the building; everyone should move toward the exit.  Outside we moved back across the little drive. 

My brother has this laugh and dance he does when life is so unbelievable.  Rosalee on Win a Date with Tad Hamilton says, “Yikesabee.”  I sit down and watch with a smile ready to burst into a laugh.  Some people say, “You just can’t make stuff like this up.” 

In the end we got free movie passes for anytime, any in the family of theaters, with no expiration date or restriction – and we got to finish our movie after a mere 15 minute intermission.  I would have been fine if they carried sodas and popcorn to us on trays, but then they were already over the top on customer service. 

The drive home was one of those times of perfect peace.  I was trying to figure out what I thought about the movie without thinking.  Instead, feelings were just filling me, but not in an I’m-going-to-burst sort of way.  A nice thing about being the passenger is that you can pull your legs up into the seat and pretend that even though the world is flashing by at 60 miles per hour, you feel like you’re in a cozy library with a mesmerizing fire to watch.  At one point a car out my window exited the highway and I realized I’d been watching it for miles.  Outside the sun was setting, leaving shadows and light mixing in a way that is only accomplished by the looming presence of large hills in the west.  Peace is a nice thing. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~ Philippians 4:6-7

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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