Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3966)

Sitting Eight

By midday, Iz and Pal had developed a brand-new game. They called it, “Your Book, My Book.”

They mentioned the various names that were in the Talmud and the Koran, and were shocked to find out how many were the same. Abraham was in both, as was Joseph, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Adam, Eve, Moses. Yes, they were all there.

Iz’s book had some other different names and Pal’s mentioned both Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed, but it was really quite surprising. Kind of freaky.

They also realized that the two of them looked much the same. By now they smelled the same. They both believed in God. Both had never touched pork and had strict families. They came from desert Bedouins and they both really, really liked Hershey chocolate bars with almonds.

Aside from Iz being shorted by circumcision and Pal not really having a country, they should be brothers.

It made them wonder if anyone had ever thought of it before. They were so preoccupied with their new game that neither noticed the arrival of a guest—a slender, lanky young man with dark brown skin, curly hair and pieces of coal for eyes—piercing but still permitting some of the warmth of childhood.

Iz did not recognize the stranger but Pal knew him.  He spoke quietly. “Hello, Talsan.”

The young man stood tall, staring off into the distance. “It is hot, my little brother. You will sicken yourself in this heat.”

“I drink as much as I can,” said Pal, continuing his calm tone.

Talsan chuckled. “In the desert, by the time you think to drink, it is already too late.”

He sat down next to his younger brother.

Iz spoke up. “I am Jubal,” he stated. “Amir’s friend.”

“So,” asked Talsan, “are you the trouble-maker?”

Pal interrupted. “No, I am the trouble-maker. No, I mean—there is no trouble. We are just enjoying being together.”

Talsan shook his head. “Papa is worried. He has talked to the elders.”

Pal quickly shifted to his haunches. “Why did he talk to them?”

Talsan raised his voice. “Because he wasn’t going to talk to you out here in the desert, running from family and Allah.”

“I’m not running,” said Pal. “All my life I’ve done whatever I was told to do, even though there were questions exploding in my mind.”

“Questions?” scoffed Talsan, “what questions?”

Pal paused as if deciding whether to continue the conflict. “All right, Talsan,” he said with intensity. “Answer this. Why do we live in a religion, in a culture, that speaks so highly of family, friends and love, but then teaches us to hate these people walking nearest to us in the village?”

“We do not hate them,” Talsan spat. “They hate us. We are merely protecting our lives.”

Iz jumped in. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Pal. I don’t hate your father. I would just like to live—and have some fun.”

Talsan laughed scornfully. “Now I know you are a boy. Fun is out of the question. We are to become men and take our place—first at the universities and then, in leadership of our communities.”

“Without fun?” asked Pal.

Talsan heaved a deep sigh. “Papa has explained all of this to you. It is time for you to come home. He will not pursue you. He will pray for you but he will not come to you. It is a shame and a disgrace that you would wish him to defile himself by chasing his son down in the desert.”

“I don’t want him to chase me,” shouted Pal. “I want him to leave me alone and let my friend, Iz, and me, start a new life. Maybe a new town.”

“Or even a country,” piped in Iz.

“Iz,” said Talsan. “Listen to yourself, little boy. Our country has existed for thousands of years, filled with tradition and rich spirituality.”

Iz interrupted. “But how can it be spiritual when it is so full of hate?”

Talsan shook his head. “Do you hate the lamb when you take the wool? Do you hate the chicken when you collect its eggs? Do you hate the animal when you spill its blood to provide meat for your table? What you call hate is merely the way of nature. Things that are alike seek their own. In the process, they reject different species so as to keep purity within the ranks.”

Pal screamed at his brother. “You make no sense! Is this what they teach you at the university? These are just weird stories that don’t mean anything. My friend, Iz, here, is not a chicken. And I’m not an animal stuck in some herd. Talsan, you cannot tell me that you believe this.”

Talsan drew a deep breath. “What I believe has no power if it cannot change what I see. All of my wishes for peace and love are meaningless when I live in a world of bigotry and intolerance. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to keep the world from changing me.”

Both boys squinted at him, confused.

Talsan grabbed Pal’s arm, pulling him to his feet. “You will go with me,” he stated.

Pal collapsed, forcing his body to the ground, as Iz grabbed the grenade.

Talsan spied the weapon extended in the young boy’s hand. “So this is your answer to violence?” he posed. “How are you any different than anyone else? You would kill me to maintain your little society?”

Pal, lying face-down in the ground, spit back, “Talsan, I don’t want to kill you. You are my brother. I just don’t want you to decide my life.”

Talsan released his hold on Pal’s arm and stepped a few paces away, then turned and said, “I will tell Papa that your mind is deranged by the desert sun, and that you are under the power of some evil spirit. This should comfort him.”

He continued. “My little brother, I do not know what you’re doing. I do not know what in the hell this ‘Iz and Pal’ business is all about, but you are skin of my skin and blood of my blood. I will not hate you because I do not understand. This is where I am different from Papa. I pray you will change your ways, but I do not want you to starve and die of thirst. I will have food and water delivered here every morning until you decide to come to your senses. You are a childish idiot—but that should not be a death sentence.”

Pal stood to his feet and gingerly gave his brother a hug. Talsan nodded at Iz and concluded, “I do not hate you Jews. I just don’t believe that God chose you any more than He chose me.”

“No argument from me,” said Iz simply. “And thanks for the food.”

The boys perched in silence and watched as Talsan made his way down the hill. With each step he took they realized they were growing further and further away from their families and communities. Soon there would be nothing but the sand under their feet and the love they had in their hearts.

Still, it seemed like enough.


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Catchy (Sitting 63) Milton and Liver with a Side of Onions… August 26th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3776)

Jubal hated the beach–even one as beautiful as the stretch of sand in Miami.

He had no interest in tanning any further, and ocean water gave him the creeps because of all the unknown creatures bumping up against his legs.

For sixteen days he had been in south Florida, trying to set up a meeting with Milton Crenshaw, his mission person, who had written a book called “Jesonian.”

He had been able to acquire an autographed copy of the volume from the Internet for $2.99, so most days he sat in his room reading. Every time he called Milton’s house he encountered a personable, but crusty older woman named Cully. She was a long-time friend and business partner with Mr. Crenshaw, and she made it clear to Jubal that Milton didn’t like interviews, didn’t take interviews, and basically didn’t trust interviewers.

Even though Jubal tried to explain that his intentions were pure, Cully cut him off at the pass, leading to this extended vigil of an unwarranted and unwanted stay in “Beach City.”

Jubal didn’t even favor Cuban food. He joked with one of the waiters that Cuban food was “Mexican food without a soul.” Getting some nasty glances from nearby patrons, he decided he should stop his comedy routine.

Yet on the morning of the sixteenth day the phone rang as he was sitting down, getting ready to enjoy his five-egg-white omelet and wheat toast. It was Cully.

She explained that she’d been able to convince Milton to see Jubal that afternoon for two hours. Jubal was overjoyed. He took the directions, as Cully explained that they lived in a trailer park–a simple life–surrounded by a multitude of neighbors of all cultures.

Finding himself on the doorstep of the small mobile home of Milton Crenshaw, Jubal knocked on the door. Opening up to him was a woman–Cully, he assumed–sixtyish, energetic, physically fit and absolutely grounded in courtesy.

She ushered him through the door and there he was. Sitting in a wheelchair was a big man–about 325-plus pounds–with a bald head and a huge smile. He stuck his hand out.

“Milton Crenshaw. Sorry you’re not going to get to meet my wife. She’s off working one of her assignments at a local department store.”

Jubal nodded. Cully offered something to drink and Jubal opted for an iced tea.

She brought the tea and Jubal sat down in a chair next to Milton. Crenshaw noticed that Jubal was looking at Cully, so he piped in. “I don’t do much of anything without Cully in the room, so I hope you don’t mind. If your matters are personal, and you would rather she not hear, I’ll make an exception, but other than that, let us enjoy her presence.”

Jubal glanced at both of them and once again, nodded his head.

“So what is it you want to know, young man?”

“I’ve been reading your book,” Jubal began. Milton interrupted.

“Cully,” he said, “that makes six readers…”

He laughed and so did Jubal, who realized that Milton had no intention of pretending he was something he wasn’t, nor did he expect Jubal to fudge on the truth.

Milton continued. “And I’ve been keeping up with your work, young man. You certainly have captured the fire of the Gospel in your rallies.”

“What do you mean by the fire of the Gospel?” Jubal asked.

“Well, my son,” Milton explained kindly, “the Gospel is not just the good news. It’s the explanation of why everything is here. You see, Jesus did not come to complete the Old Testament stories, linking Moses with the Christ. Jesus came to link the Creator with Earth–so his teachings are full of science, references to nature, personal awareness and an understanding that the kingdom of God is inside each of us. So what I mean is that you bring the enthusiasm, but much of what you share fails to bring the heart and the mind and the soul of Jesus of Nazareth. Yous is the strength.”

Jubal crinkled his brow. Milton continued.

“You see, I can tell by your face that you’ve fallen into the errant thinking that because you’re doing something successful, it must be complete. Nothing could be further from the truth. What you’ve done is, you’ve struck up the band and made people aware that faith should have the works of joy. But Jesus had a heart. And oh…Jesus had a soul. And of course, we’re all in pursuit of the mind of Christ.”

Jubal’s heart melted. The room was so quiet, the tea was so cold, the smile on Cully’s face was so sincere, and Milton’s voice was so soothing that as he sat there, he experienced a sensation of healing in his own soul.

For two solid hours they talked.

Milton explained that the whole message of the Gospel was simply, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.

“In other words,” Milton shared, “Everything that works on heaven works on Earth. It’s just a matter of linking things up instead of acting like there’s some spiritual war between good and evil.”

It didn’t take Jubal long to realize why he was there. The Soulsbury Movement had passion but no direction. No way for people to carry the groceries of faith and hope to their homes to make real meals.

“So,” Jubal asked, “what is Jesonian?”

Milton lifted his head up and spoke. “It is the realization that Christianity has failed simply because it’s trying to follow a book instead of the Spirit. Jesonian is the Spirit of Jesus, brought into practicality in the lives of human beings living on the Earth right now. I think it’s a rallying cry.”

When Jubal heard those words–‘rallying cry’–a chill went down his spine and he nearly dropped his glass of tea.

That was it: the world needed a word to explain the yearning.

They needed a word to represent their hearts.

And they needed a word that had not been tainted by crusades, killings, bickering and molestations.

Jubal started to cry.

Milton sat quietly, looking off in the distance, giving his brother a private moment. Cully rose to her feet, offering the visitor some Kleenex. There was a juncture of sweet silence for about five minutes, as all the people in the room took time to consider good things. It probably would have continued, except Jubal’s phone buzzed with a message.

It read, “Matthew in hospital. Emergency.”

Even though Jubal knew he needed to leave, he wanted to cap his conversation with Milton with a sense of appreciation. He stood, walked over and hugged the man in the wheelchair.

He leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Listen, my brother. I want you to come and speak in front of a huge crowd of people, and tell them what you told me today.”

Milton pulled back and laughed. “It is my understanding that to ‘go into all the world’ requires a pair of legs, and knees that are not busted up–and a body that is not quite so plump.”

Milton reached up and put his hand behind Jubal’s head, pulling him close to his face. “You are my legs, brother. Just come down here every once in a while, and we’ll talk Gospel.”

Jubal wept again.

He hugged Milton and Cully, and was on his way to the airport–to fly to Las Vegas to see what was happening with his friend, Matthew.

*****

Meanwhile, one week earlier, Michael Hinston, with the aid of Jo-Jay, had discovered through blood tests that his liver was a match for Matthew. So when they received the notice that Matthew had been rushed to the hospital, Michael made immediate plans to fly to Vegas and surprise Matthew with the good news that he was a donor.

The morning of his departure, Jo-Jay discovered that the CLO was making moves to bring an indictment against Michael Hinston from the American people, for malfeasance and the misuse of campaign funds. Michael was scheduled to be picked up for questioning that very morning.

Jo-Jay kept the information from him and drove him to the airport to catch the plane. Michael had no idea that he was about to face new persecution.

Michael sat on the plane and cried, knowing that he had the blessed position of being able to offer life.

Jo-Jay stayed behind and made phone calls, setting some plans in motion. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Michael found a limousine waiting for him at the airport, which zoomed him to the hospital in no time at all.

He stood at the bedside of an old friend–who certainly did look old.

“I have some good news and some bad news,” said Michael, taking Matthew’s hand.

Matthew sighed. In a weak voice, he replied, “Well, I don’t need any more bad news, but you better give me that first.”

“Well, the bad news,” said Michael, “is that this drama you have planned–your death–has to be temporarily postponed.”

Matthew squinted up at Michael, who continued. “Because the good news is that it turns out, my liver is a match for yours. So I’m going to give you a piece of mine. It may be the first time in our lives that we ever agreed on anything.”

Matthew laughed, which was interrupted by his crying–tears of relief and gratitude.

Michael didn’t want to wear him out, so he excused himself and headed off to prepare for the operation.

A couple of hours later the medical staff entered Matthew’s room to prep for surgery.

“Where is Michael?” Matthew asked. “Can I see him? How was his operation?”

Questions poured out of Matthew. The nurses calmed him down, gave him a sedative and he was on his way.

The next thing Matthew knew, he was waking up in recovery, surrounded by friends–Jo-Jay, Soos, Jasper and Jubal. They were all beaming.

It must have gone well, he thought.

He looked at the people in the room and even though his throat was sore, he whispered, “Would you pray for me?”

Jubal looked surprised. “What’s this? A change of heart?”

Matthew coughed and smiled. “A change of liver…” he managed.

They prayed. Exhausted, Matthew dozed off halfway through the supplication.

The four visitors left the room. Soos and Jo-Jay headed to the nurses station to get information on future treatment. Jasper turned to Jubal and asked, “When are you gonna tell him?”

Jubal replied, “I don’t know. I guess when he’s ready.”

Jasper continued. “What happened?”

Jubal shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is that Michael passed away on the operating table.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … April 25th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3653)

Walk Away

Upon this rock a church to build

And then we pray, “Pews be filled”

Waiting for the sinner man

To accept the Christ, be born again

Giving that tithe once a week

To fund this haven for the meek

But the gates of hell are unafraid

Evil seems to have it made

We perch, debate the Holy Ghost

Wondering which of us has the most

Of God’s favor, we call grace

A free pass to heaven, the Holy Place

Yet where’s the salt or the light of Earth

Evidence that we truly have rebirth?

We gather and make a pious scene

Every week at ten-fifteen

And listen to David, Moses and Paul

With stained glass on each and every wall

Or strum a guitar, beat the drum

Standing still, we barely hum

Time to find something clever

While spouting “nos” and certainly “never”

The younger humans are leaving each day

Looking to achieve a better way

And the old saints insist we keep it the same

Searching to find a devil to blame

Jesus wanted to have a people

Not a gravesite with a steeple

It begins by respecting one another

That includes sisters–not just brothers

And walk away from the power of fear

Delighting ourselves to be of good cheer

*****

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Jesonian … January 13th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3551)

Every single week.

As I journey across the country and stop off to do my presentation, I am always greeted by people who want to know my political persuasion. When I reply, “Apolitical,” they smile and begin to probe me so they might unearth my hidden beliefs, and thereby categorize me with either a big “R” or a big “D”–Republican or Democrat. How disappointed they usually end up being when I do not attack President Trump or swear my allegiance in that direction.

Many years ago, I discovered four verses from the Good Book which are so full of common sense and understanding of the human condition that I have embedded them into my own thinking, declaring this passage to be my touchstone.

When Jesus was explaining the Pharisees to the disciples, he said, “They hold Moses’ seat.”

In my lifetime, twelve men have held the position of President of the United States. Jesus’ approach on the matter? Honor the men because they’re in the position–and he goes on to say that we need to be careful to do what they say.

You see, this is where it gets tricky.

Many of my friends who are Democrats feel it’s necessary to resist President Trump, and likewise, my Republican friends demand some blind acceptance.

Jesus’ take? “Be careful.”

For instance, every time I step into my van to drive, I realize I am losing my freedom, suddenly at the mercy of the policemen in the local village who might have a speed trap. If picked up, I lose my ability to be autonomous.

“Be careful.”

Jesus says to “be careful to do what they say,” but then he adds, “But don’t do what they do.”

Not one of the twelve Presidents I’ve encountered in my lifetime would I choose to imitate in personal profile. Fortunately, since we don’t live in a dictatorship, I don’t have to do that. As long as I maintain a respectful cooperation with present laws, America gives me the right to pursue my single-minded goals while following my own philosophy.

With that in mind, I will also tell you that every week I meet a new pastor. He or she has a job. They also have a calling. What they discover is that the job often interferes with the calling, and the calling certainly complicates the job.

So they often end up pastoring a church instead of the church. They learn the mannerisms of their congregations–the quirks, limitations, aggravations and the preferences–and then try to build an institution saluting the lifestyle of Jesus inclusive of these guidelines. It often leaves them exhausted, and sometimes faithless–because believe it or not, people don’t always agree with Jesus, even while they’re praising him. People don’t always concur because they’re too busy being Republicans or Democrats.

So unfortunately, the job of the local pastor becomes that of an arbiter instead of a proclaimer.

They can even forget to give respect to the congregation, but don’t follow their ways. It is the mission of the pastor to shepherd the people to greener pastures. That begins by removing the “R’s” and the “D’s” and the denominational allegiance, and finding the simplicity of the message of Jesus, and keeping it as healthy and pure as possible.

It will take such men and women to bring about a revival.

But in Matthew 23:1-4, Jesus pronounces that it is completely plausible to respect the position of someone without following the leadership.

I do it every week. It doesn’t make me anemic. It doesn’t make me hypocritical. It simply means there are temporary solutions which are offered and can be implemented as long as the greater good is held in supremacy.

To be Jesonian is to follow the heart of Jesus. Part of the heart of Jesus is respecting those who have “gained a seat” in our society.

But most of the heart of Jesus is clinging to your autonomy so that the choices you make in your life are yours and yours alone.

 

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Good News and Better News… August 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3406)

I had the night off from my gigs.

I decided to take in a church service at a small pioneer work where I’m staying. It is called Renaissance Fellowship. It touts the uniqueness of being a Christian church focused on the arts. Since I’ve been known to have a brain cell or two tuned in that direction, I was titillated.

The church is held at a community center and has about twenty-five folks who attend. The people are typical “church.” About 35% of them are excited, involved, busy scurrying around, and the rest of them have the appearance of folks arriving for a seminar on an unknown subject, with the promise that they might get free passes to a restaurant at the end.

Renaissance suffers from what every church suffers from. In trying to find God, they accidentally kill passion.

The pastor, a young man in his early forties, has a delightful desire and talent for sharing his thoughts. You can tell he is still deeply involved in the pursuit of God and the salvation of human souls, but growing a bit worn around the edges in all the well-doing. It happens to all of us.

But I heard something I liked. I heard rumblings that sounded like possibility.

Even though his message was plagued with too much preaching to the soul and teaching to the brain, I sensed that he’s beginning to reach for the heart.

For you see–human beings are not really spiritual. We aren’t thoughtful. We are emotional.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about work, play, a football stadium or church–the evidence that we are impacted is always an emotional outburst.

So I speak with great clarity to this pastor and tell him to keep reaching for the heart. Go ahead and abandon preaching to the soul and teaching to the mind. No one cares what Abraham, Moses, Joseph or any of the old patriarchs did. If the stories do not relate to family, Wal-mart and the Internet, they will not touch the hearts of American people.

Instructing the brain by pointing out clever pieces of information may once have been a path of probability, but no longer. Our brains are inundated with too much information, and of course, way too many posts on Facebook about nothing.

  • Reach the heart.
  • Touch the heart.
  • And demand a heartfelt response.

It is the only way people are healed. As Jesus said, “If you say to this mountain, be removed, and you do not doubt in your heart, it shall be done.”

The soul, the brain and the body have nothing to do with moving mountains. It is a heartfelt action.

Although I’m sure they are delightful and blessed people, many of the folks at Renaissance were doing their best imitation of being church cardboard cutouts. But becoming a church of artistry will require that the congregation that’s already there–tiny as it is–become emotionally excited with its own faith.

If it doesn’t, they will be just an average church that occasionally puts on plays.

The good news is that the Gospel is an experience of the heart.

The better news is, the pastor of Renaissance Fellowship and his congregation have a great opportunity to become heartfelt.

I have confidence in them.

For you see, the pastor is my son.Donate Button

 

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Good News and Better News… June 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3349)

It is a tale of two Mounts.

One is called Mount Calvary, where the Prince of Peace was crucified at the bequest of angry religionists and indecisive politicians who were bound and determined to maintain the status quo.

The other mount was a place where Jesus came face-to-face with the human race and made his case.

He talked about personal responsibility–how we are responsible for our own lives, responsible to study Mother Nature, responsible to take care of one another, responsible to curb our anger and lust and responsible to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the Earth.”

Yet the American church is totally obsessed with Mount Calvary, spending countless hours teaching all congregants about the atoning gift of the blood of Christ and even sharing a meal of remembrance.

The other Mount–the Mount of Message, the Mount of Human Transformation–is parsed and referenced, but rarely presented as the necessary philosophy for human beings to get along.

Although we should never forget the courageous sacrifice of Jesus on Mount Calvary, we must realize that what sets Jesus apart from Buddha, Moses, Mohammed and any other religions icon, is that he taught us to use our talents, love one another and remain in good cheer instead of blaming other religions, cutting off the lifeline of our emotions, or spending countless hours pleading with the heavens.

The answer to this dilemma is easily understood by paraphrasing a comment from Jesus. He once said, you shouldn’t leave this one undone, but you should pursue the “weightier matters” of life.

Amen.

Once I understand that Jesus was so enthralled with the propagation of his message that he was willing to die for it, I can go back into those simple, practical axioms and find the way, the truth and the life.

For you see, the good news is that Jesus died for our sins.

The better news is, before he died, he taught us how to live.

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Good News and Better News… January 16th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3188)

good-news-glasses

If you don’t have the right outlook, you better “look out,” because trouble’s coming.

Everybody knows that.

But sometimes we think we can maintain a bad attitude and still expect good results.

Or we believe it’s not necessary for us to do any more than we’ve already done. God, Nature and people should just be happy we showed up.

Jesus doesn’t mingle well with other religions.

For instance, there’s no such thing as a Christian Buddhist. Jesus taught us to feel; Buddha suggested it was completely unnecessary. Never the twain shall meet.

There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian. Moses espoused an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus required that we creatively find ways to love our enemies.

And there is certainly no spiritual common ground between Christianity and the Muslim faith. Whereas the Muslims are the children of Abraham and the followers of Mohammed, Jesus was quite insistent that He existed long before either of them.

Christianity is not a temperamental faith, but it is a faith that addresses our temperament. And if you’re going to assist human beings in achieving their goals and becoming better citizens, you must first and foremost teach them to open their hearts.

Yes. We are all emotional people.

It doesn’t matter what culture you come from–any attempt to disguise or dampen the emotions will leave the individual imbalanced.

So if we try to have church without giving everybody an emotional experience, what we’re really advertising is a study group with hymn singing.

No wonder we’re having some trouble with attendance.

  • People need to connect.
  • They need to feel.
  • They need to realize that someone else in the room cares about them.

The Bible needs a face. Yours will do.

But right now, we spend too much time spiritualizing, meditating and promoting Zumba classes. All these things can be wonderful, if they undergird an emotional experience.

Our outlook comes from our feelings, maturing in our spirit, renewing our mind and affecting our life choices.

The good news is that Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

The better news is that when we plump up the abundance of our heart with feelings of goodness, we just talk better.

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