Flowing Faith

November 26, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
0 comments

How to Be at Peace

How to be at peaceAs we approach Thanksgiving and other big family celebrations, it is good to remember how to be at peace in demanding situations.

We can’t be peaceful without being centered on God.
We can’t be gracious without resting in grace ourselves.
We can’t be loving without feeling God’s love.

What to do then?

Before you enter into difficult situations (or any day for that matter) spend time with God. Not just a hasty prayer here and there but pray until praise flows. You need to listen to God speak to your heart. You need to read the Bible until you’re surrounded with God’s peace. This won’t take that long, I promise. But the benefits are out of this world. That’s how to be at peace in difficult situations.

When you have God’s approval, you are not needy for other people’s acceptance or understanding.
When you have basked in God’s grace, you’re ready to extend grace to others.
When you know you’re special in God’s eyes, you’re ready to love others like God loves you.
When you are reminded what really matters in life, you are filled with peace.
When you feel God’s presence, you’re filled with joy.

Also, deliver all your anxious thoughts to God as soon as they rise.

You don’t need to handle situations, let Jesus do it.
You don’t need to stress about stuff, let Jesus do it.
You don’t need to be anxious, because Jesus cares for you.

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, NRSV)

Hence, cast your anxiety, your worries and difficult situations on Jesus and receive peace upon peace. It is impossible for you to be a loving presence in difficult situations. But it is possible for Jesus to make you gracious and peaceful in the midst of demanding situations. Just remember to be filled to overflowing with God’s grace and peace. That’s how to be at peace in every situation.

 

Let us pray the prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen

Q4U: How do you handle difficult family situations? Do you know how to be at peace in every situation?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you let God fill you with his grace and peace. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy of Kristin Huntley, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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November 24, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Your Life – A Living Testimony?

Your Life - A Living Testimony?Yesterday at church a senior men’s choir sang a beautiful hymn at the end. It was so touching. I am sure I was not the only one with misty eyes in the audience. Not because of the words of the song. Not because the performance would have been somehow extraordinary. But because these older men were standing there and praising God with their song. After decades of hard life and difficult circumstances, they were still praising God. What a testimony.

G. Steinberg has said “That which makes the men of God so great and impressive is not, first and foremost, what they have accomplished. It is rather how they are able, by God’s help, to pass through the greatest difficulties and the darkest hours;when, like Abraham, they give God the dearest they have; when, like Daniel, they brave the greatest dangers; and when like Moses, they endure that which is well nigh impossible. Thus they glorify God.”

Faith is not just a creed to be believed.
Faith also needs to be lived out.

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7, AMP)

If you have received Christ, be rooted and built up in him. Be established in faith, live it out every day of your life, and overflow with thanksgiving. No matter what happens, glorify the Lord. Then little by little your whole life becomes, by God’s help, a testimony for Jesus.

 

Gracious God,
You are the alpha and the omega.
You are the giver of life.
You are our everything.
We want to praise you forever and ever!
Help us to be so established in faith
that we’d praise you in every circumstance
so that our lives could become living testimonies
for you, our awesome God.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Is your life a living testimony for the Lord? Do you want it to be?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you thank & praise the Lord every day of your life!

Photo courtesy of Matt Gruber,design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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November 21, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
14 Comments

Why Do We Not Notice God?

Why do we not notice God?Have you ever read a novel with a protagonist who just doesn’t get what s/he needs to learn in order to succeed/find happiness or balance in his or her life? You as a reader just can’t understand why s/he does not get it. The protagonist struggles with the same thing over and over again until finally s/he gets a break through and things start looking better.

It is so easy to know what’s good for the protagonist while you’re reading a novel. But why o why we can’t help ourselves? Why can’t we notice what we need to learn in order to get that break through? We struggle with the same old, the same old without finding a way through it. Especially when we can’t even name what’s wrong with us. Sigh. Maybe we have forgotten something in the process?

Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
(Isaiah 43:19, AMP,*)

Oh, yes! We are not alone after all. God is at work in our lives. Why don’t we notice God and what he is doing for us? Why don’t we give heed to God’s actions? Why don’t we ask for God’s help?

That’s the key to all breakthroughs. If we don’t have time for God in our busy schedules, we do not notice God and what he is doing in our lives. If we don’t seize the day to notice what God is up to, we struggle with the same stuff over and over again. If we don’t ask for God to guide us, we move in circles. But we don’t have to do that.

God is ready to help anytime we ask.
God is ready to open our spiritual eyes to see the divine happenings around us.
God is ready to show us how to lead our lives according to his will.

Noticing God has something to do with seeing the world and life like little children. With wonder and awe. With eagerness and joy. With trust and faith in our heavenly Father.

Gracious God,
Help me to notice what you’re trying to teach me.
Help me to see what you’re doing in this world.
Help me to give heed to your guidance.
Help me to live in awe and wonder.
Help me to ask you to help me.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you notice what God is up to in your neighborhood? Is it difficult for you to catch what God is trying to teach you? Would you share what has helped you on the way?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you notice and embrace what God is doing in your life!

* [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses to Biblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.]

Image courtesy of Jesus Chico, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday.

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November 19, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

When God Is Silent

When God is silent

Have you ever felt – or do you feel right now – that God is silent? Do you know what to do when God is silent? It is an important faith skill. Because too often we worry about if we have done something wrong when God feels distant.

The silence of God is part of salvation life. Sometimes it lasts few days or weeks, sometimes the silent period lasts months or even years. But it doesn’t mean that we would be abandoned. It doesn’t mean that we would be bad Christians. 

If God chooses to be silent there is nothing we can do to prevent it. The silence of God is not exceptional. Take, for example, the 430-year experience of the absence of God preceding the Exodus! Eugene H. Peterson says this silence of God is often reproduced in our lives but we don’t know what to make of it. How true! The silence of God is okay. It’s not a judgment.

Even this sense of the absence of God does not make God cold, distant or passive. God does care for us even if he chooses to be withdrawn for certain period of our lives. Those times may seem like life in a desert but for everything there is a purpose. There is beauty in a desert, too. 

We are supposed to believe without seeing. We are supposed to base our faith on God and his promises not on our feelings. As C.S. Lewis reminds us “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” Feelings are gifts from God but the sense of the absence of God doesn’t prove that God would not be there for us.

Warren Wiersbe writes “When it seems as if God is far away, remind yourself that He is near. Nearness is not a matter of geography. God is everywhere. Nearness is likeness. The more we become like the Lord, the nearer He is to us.”

So let’s seek God’s presence, let’s seek to hear God’s voice. Let’s seek to become like Jesus. But let’s not be discouraged if sometimes God seems silent or distant.

Because God is always there, only a breath a way.
God is always there, lovingly in action for our behalf.
God is always there, preparing for something great!

Just think how after the 430-year period of silence God started talking to Moses and what happened next!

There is a right time to be silent,
there is a right time to talk.
There is a right time for everything.

Thanks be to God!

 

Gracious God,
Thank you that you are everywhere.
Thank you that you are near us even when we don’t feel it.
Remind us of your amazing love when you’re silent.
Help us not to condemn ourselves or others when you’re silent.
Help us to base our faith on you and not on our feelings.
Help us to wait when it’s time to wait.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How have you dealt with the silence of God in your life?

Be blessed, fellow pilgrim! If you’re experiencing the silence of God in your life right now: rest in God’s grace and know that this, too, will pass. If you can hear God’s voice in your life right now: make sure you take time to listen!

Photo courtesy of Tonya Christner, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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November 17, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
8 Comments

The Word of God Directs Our Path

The Word of God Directs Our PathsOne of the most famous Bible verses is Psalm 119:105 (AMP): Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. There are songs about it and almost everybody – it seems like it – knows it by heart. I’ve always loved it too but today I read it in the Message paraphrase and saw it very differently afterwards.

By your words I can see where I’m going;
    they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
(Psalm 119:105, MSG)

I felt like the Word of God that shows me the way is Jesus himself. That it’s not just some sort of physical light or wisdom literature, it’s the Lord of Light himself that is all the time with me. That Jesus is conversing with me and guiding and coaching me through the life.

And I felt very special in God’s eyes. Like a treasured child of God that we all are. This is what a loving relationship with God is all about: walking and talking with Jesus and learning from him along the way.

When we converse with the Word of God, it discovers to us something we could not have otherwise known about ourselves and God. It shows us what we are missing in faith and life. It warns us of dangers, keeps us on the right path. It directs us in work and play.

The Word of God is more than an ancient text.
The Word of God is more than wisdom.
The Word of God is the son of God with us.

But this lamp – Jesus – is given for us to be used for direction. We need to sit down with Jesus and talk, ask questions and listen. That way we can see where we are going and where we need to be going. That way we steadily advance on the pilgrim’s way. That way we can better hear the voices of God’s kingdom. That way we can celebrate even while in afflictions.

Because God is real.
Because God loves us.
Because God is with us.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving us Jesus.
Draw us into your Light.
We bask in your Love.
We praise you for saving us,
guiding us and equipping us
to make it home to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you friends with the Word of God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you bask in God’s Light and Love!

Photo courtesy of Adrian Rodriguez,design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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November 14, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
10 Comments

Zealous for Good

Zealous for GoodFrom very early on I was aware of the power of my choices. I realized I had to decide whether I wanted to add to the good or to the bad in the world. I had to decide how I was going to be remembered. I had to choose between the light and the darkness. The choice was easy then and it still is a no-brainer. I want to choose life-giving light. I want to be zealous for good. I want to stand on God’s side.

Who will harm you if you are zealous for good? 14 But happy are you, even if you suffer because of righteousness! Don’t be terrified or upset by them. (1 Peter 3:13-14, CEB, emphasis added,*)

When we are on God’s side, we live with the victorious Christ. Hence we can be happy no matter what. Because this world is not all there is. It is God’s kingdom that lasts forever. Doing good can be taxing sometimes but creating good is always better than creating bad. Even if we suffer for doing good, we’re still better off.

15 Instead, regard Christ as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it.(1 Peter 3:15, CEB, emphasis added,*)

We are called to keep our hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ. We are called to regard Christ as holy in our hearts. We are called to live out and speak of our hope. Because our hope is what everyone craves even thought they might not yet know it themselves. Blessedly, our hope is available for anyone who asks for it.

16 Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you. 17 It is better to suffer for doing good (if this could possibly be God’s will) than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:16-17, CEB, emphasis added,*)

Chuck Swindoll has said “Few things are more infectious than a godly lifestyle. The people you rub shoulders with everyday need that kind of challenge. Not prudish. Not preachy. Just cracker jack clean living. Just honest to goodness, bone – deep, non-hypocritical integrity.”

I would point out that the critical element for a godly lifestyle is Christ. Our good lifestyle draws others to God when we live in Christ. Otherwise our good lifestyle is self-righteous, prudish, preachy or all three.

The only way to lead an infectious godly lifestyle is to do it in Christ. But when we live in Christ, anything is possible. When we live in Christ, we live out our hope and faith in such a way that it draws others to Christ. When we live in Christ, we can be zealous for good.

 

Gracious God,
We are drawn to you.
You have the words of eternal life.
You have light, love, and all the good things
we so desperately need.
Empower us to be zealous for good.
Equip us for good lifestyle in Christ.
Fill us to the brim with faith, hope, and joy.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Are you zealous for good? What keeps you going?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you continue creating good no matter what!

* [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses to Biblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.]

Image courtesy of Tylyn Taylor, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday, Faith Jam, and the High Calling.

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November 12, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Not Just Mercy, But Grace

not just mecy, but graceDo you know the difference between grace and mercy? I was reading a prayer of Daniel and I was awed by the humbleness how he approached God. He realized we really don’t deserve anything from God. Yet he boldly approached God for appealing for his compassion. I was thinking that’s how we all should approach God: humbly yet boldly. It’s true we don’t have anything to offer God. But yet he is inviting us to come to him. It’s not about us but about God. And that’s why we dare to humbly ask for God’s mercy just like Daniel:

O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and look at our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You for our own righteousness and justice, but for Your great mercy and loving-kindness. (Daniel 9:18, AMP)

We don’t deserve a hearing from God. We don’t have anything to offer him. Yet he hears us. We plea for mercy, but receive grace upon grace. That’s God’s love for you. He does not just grant us mercy, absolve our sins, and be done with us, but he gives us grace which is so much more. With the words of Max Lucado “Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.”

God gives us not just mercy, but grace.
Not just pardon, but blessings upon blessings.
Not just justification, but life upon life.

Because he is an awesome God.
Because he loves us more than we can ever know.

That’s why he gives us not just mercy, but grace. He cares for us and is ready to help us with every need we have.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hewbrews 4:16, AMP)

Grace is life-giving. It’s wild and loving. It’s holy and delightful. It’s freeing and restoring. It’s uplifting and affirming. It’s everything we could ever hope for and more. All this is unmerited yet offered to us free through faith in Jesus.

How do we respond? Hopefully with praise and thanksgiving.

 

Gracious God,
I don’t deserve your love
or mercy
and definitively not your grace.
Yet you want to give me
not just mercy, but grace too.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you know the difference between grace and mercy? Does it change your view of God? Or the way you live?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you humbly but boldly approach God with all your needs!

Image courtesy of Wagner Daniel. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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November 10, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

True Faith Rejoices

True Faith RejoicesFaith is a weird thing. You can’t see it. You can’t taste it or touch it. But you can sense it. You can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. You can see with the eyes of faith and you can know the truth. Yet it is very hard to describe to others.

Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. (1 Peter 1:8, AMP)

True faith produces a strong love to Jesus. True faith produces love, joy, and peace in us. True faith rejoices in Jesus. Because faith is a gift from God. We just need to receive it and let the Holy Spirit work in us: to produce a strong love to Jesus, to produce love, joy, and peace in us. To surprise us with grace day by day.

[At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9, AMP)

As we believe in Jesus we are already enjoying certain essential elements of salvation like peace, joy, and fellowship with God. But full possession of real faith awaits the return of Christ. Meanwhile we can exult and thrill with inexpressible, glorious, triumphant, heavenly joy right now, right here. We are not called to live in gloom and doom. We are called to live in God’s amazing grace.

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for giving us faith
to believe you and love you.
Thank you for pouring out
grace, peace, and joy.
Show us how to live in grace,
how to live out faith in joy.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: Do you live in gloom and doom? Or do you revel in God’s grace?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you rejoice in the Lord!

Photo courtesy of Jason Rutel,design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Sharing His Beauty, Unforced Rhythms, Playdates with God.

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November 7, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Sunflower Faith

sunflower faith
Have you turned to God today? Or are you going on your own way? These questions right here defines your faith. Do you have a sunflower faith? A heart that follows God’s light all the time? Or are you focused on yourself and your problems? And then wonder why God feels so distant?

There really is no other way to live abundantly than starting each and every day by turning to God. When we are focused on God, everything else will fall into their rightful places. But when we are focused on anything else, we start walking away from light towards darkness.

If we want to live in light, we need to keep turning to God over and over again. Especially on gloomy days. Just like sunflowers do. Just like Jesus did. Just as the Message version of Matthew 17:2 states: Sunlight poured from his face. Shouldn’t we turn to God like Jesus? Shouldn’t God’s light pour from our faces too?

The sunflower moves itself in the most direct position in front of the sun so it can get the maximum sun rays. That’s what we are called to do also. We need to place ourselves in the most direct position in front of God so we can get the maximum exposure of God’s love.

What it is for each of us varies of course. I have a very long time prayed before getting up each morning. It’s been good to surrender myself and the new day to God. Recently I’ve added reading a psalm into that routine. And I can’t tell you how much that has blessed me. This turns my heart towards God right then and there. All this takes only a few minutes and afterwards I am ready to face the world with aplomb.

Just like sunflowers thrive in full sun, sunflower faith thrives in full Son. We need Jesus to shine on us. If we get enough of God’s light, it is well in our souls. It’s as simple as that. Get your Son-exposure and live boldly!

 

Gracious God,
We truly need you to live fully.
Help us to get ourselves daily in the front of you.
Shine on us, Lord!
Bless us with your life-giving grace.
Make us thrive, make us bloom for you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U: How do you place yourself in the most direct position in the front of God?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you bask in God’s radiant love and grace!

* [As you might have noticed, I enjoy reading the Bible in different translations and love comparing them. I have started linking the Bible verses to Biblegateway.com so you can easily read (and compare) them in the different versions I’ve used while preparing each post.]

Image courtesy of Brandon Johnson, design Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Linking up today with Faith-filled Fridays, Five Minute Friday and Faith Jam.

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November 5, 2014
by Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith
2 Comments

Running with Purpose

Running with purpose

Do you know why you are you and why you are living on this earth? It is hard to live without meaning and purpose. But only when we are made right with God, we find what is the purpose of our lives.

Rick Warren writes “Bringing enjoyment to God, living for his pleasure, is the first purpose of your life. When you fully understand this truth, you will never again have a problem with feeling insignificant. It proves your worth. If you are that important to God, and he considers you valuable enough to keep with him for eternity, what greater significance could you have?”

If your hope is Jesus, it’s time to stop dragging your feet and sitting around on your hands. Because we have places to go and things to do! God’s Spirit is helping us out and beckoning us to love and serve God with everything we’ve got.

So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! (Hebrews 12:12-13, MSG)

It’s not just about us running with purpose, it’s also about helping others along the way.

Together we are stronger.
Together we can make it.
Together we can fight the good fight.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (1 Cor. 9:26-27, MSG)

Running with purpose means we live with the end in mind. We are on our way to heaven. In order to make it to the finish line we need to be intentional about staying alert and in top condition. What could this mean for faith life?

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. This is why we’ve thrown ourselves into this venture so totally. We’re banking on the living God, Savior of all men and women, especially believers. (1 Timothy 4:7-10, MSG)

We are meant to intentionally take care of our spiritual well-being. It includes spiritual strength-training and exercising daily in God. It means taking seriously this journey of faith. That’s what running with purpose means.

What kind of spiritual strength-training exercises could we do? I have a list of 10 things here. (What would you add?)

1)    Prayer & silence/solitude
2)    Listening to God & spiritual journaling
3)    Private & corporate worship
4)    Bible-reading & studying
5)    Obeying God’s commands
6)    Loving (God, ourselves & our neighbors)
7)    Stepping out in faith when urged to do something
8)    Fasting (of TV or something else poisonous in your life)
9)    Service of others
10)  Fellowship of believers

 

Gracious God,
Thank you for inviting us to come closer to you and
blessing us with meaning and purpose.
Show us how to stay alert and in top condition.
Empower us for living with then in mind and
running with purpose.
Enable us to help as many people along the way as possible.
Guide us home to you.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

Q4U
: Are you running with purpose? What are your best strength-training exercises?

Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you are running with purpose!

Image courtesy of Joshua Einwechter. Linking up today with Unite the Bloggersphere and #tellhisstory.

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