His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Escape

Fog oozed into the grove of trees, dripping off the leaves, filling the air with the pungent smell of eucalyptus. Dead skin-like bark littered the ground, making it hard to creep silently through the old cemetery. But creep I did, hiding behind a head stone, looking for my chance.

He lurked out in the open part of the hillside cluster of graves, looking behind each head stone, statue, and crypt, determined to find me, and the others. But, could any of us get away?

My only chance was with the granite statue in the middle of the cemetery, the tallest statue there. That’s where my freedom lay, waiting for me to grab it. I just had to get there without him seeing me. For if he spotted me, I was dead, just another resident of that fog shrouded cemetery.

He was getting closer. My heart raced. I tried not to breathe. Then, a noise, farther up the hill, one of the others most likely. A careless step, that’s all it took. Too bad for them, but it gave me the opening I needed.

He changed course and headed for the noise. I crept to another hiding spot, just a bit closer to the statue. He took a few more steps up the hill. Then, as he stepped behind a crypt, out of sight, I made my move. Running low, from one head stone to the next, I dashed for the statue, stealing glances toward the crypt. Closer. Closer. Then …

“Base!” I yelled, touching the statue and screaming out my freedom. Oh, I loved a good game of hide and seek.

I miss those days, so long ago. Though the Vietnam War was raging, we were oblivious. Our grammar school lives revolved around fun, and we had lots of it. I sometimes wish I could get that feeling back.

Many years later, maybe forty, I saw more meaning in our games of hide and seek. The cemetery was our favorite place, and that same statue was always the base. But then I remembered; it was a statue of Jesus Christ, holding out his hands in a very welcoming gesture. I now see Jesus as my “base,” my source of freedom—freedom from fear, from worry, from anxiety, from depression. And my source of escape from the world—whenever I need a break, he’s there, arms out, welcoming me.

 

And now a thought for anyone who feels they don’t know Jesus, but currently know too well feelings of anxiety, etc..

Look, there’s a lot of s#*t going on in the world right now. I don’t need to elaborate. But, without sounding like some Bible-thumping evangelist, I encourage you to look for help. And maybe the help you need can’t come from the world. After all, it’s the world and all the s#*t that’s the source of our worries. Please consider looking outside the world.

Maybe Jesus isn’t the kind of help you want. But if you think he might be, and you’d like to learn something about him, please check this out (link to cjpenn.com). Maybe it could be a good place to start.


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Death to the Little Devil Within Me

Often, I feel like my personality is split in two—the good me, and the bad me. I’m like a character in a Saturday morning cartoon, with a little angel on one shoulder encouraging me to do the right thing, and a little devil on the opposite shoulder tempting me to do the wrong thing. Sometimes my little devil screams so loudly I can’t hear anything else.

But this morning I realized something. The little devil part of me is actually dead, having died when all sins died, with Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, he took with him the sins of the world—those sins died with him. Those sins were the collection of the sinful side of everyone who chooses to believe, the collective of our little devils.

So, the devil that seems to exert power over my words and actions is not actually real, but a phantom, or maybe more like a lingering shadow of the sinful me that once thrived. And that shadow fades the more I let the light of the Spirit of Jesus shine within me.

This morning, for the first time, I see and believe in the image of my little devil as dead, sent to the abyss where Jesus took all our sins. It feels so freeing to say that. I’ve prayed for the death of my sinful self for a long time.

I suspect I’ll backslide, and the phantom shadow will con me into believing it has real power over me. But now I feel armed with the reminder that the little sh*t-disturber is powerless and dead.

Here’s what Jesus and the apostle Paul had to say:

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. … In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:6, 11)

What do you think about all this?

Oh, and if you’re interested, please check out my soon-to-be-published book, We Called Him Yeshua.


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It’s Dark Down Here

How soon I forget! I guess I need to re-read the book I’ve written – the book I’ve been talking about that I’ll start giving away soon. While on the journey of writing that book, I learned how to escape the stress pit I’d been falling into. And yes, that’s what the book is about – finding freedom from stress, (more about that here, if you like).

But I now believe I’ve fallen back into that dark pit, and I have data to prove it, (being an analytical person, I like data). Well, the nature of the data doesn’t matter. What matters is this near-constant, low level feeling of stress. Not the anxiety-grinding stress. Just enough stress to take the fun out of life. And people who know me know I like making life fun.

Anyway, why am I back in the stress pit? I wonder if it’s habit. The pit is familiar to me; it feels almost normal to be down here. Stupid reason, I know. But I really think that’s what I’m doing.

Okay, so why am I writing about this? Look, as humans I think we sometimes gravitate to the things that are familiar, even the harmful things. You may do this too. If so, don’t chastise yourself for doing something that’s part of your human nature. Rather, make a decision to change, and then act on that decision.

Also, maybe this blog post is a disclaimer in advance. If you decide to accept a free copy of my book  – when I finally finish it that is – there’s a good chance you’ll find freedom from your own stress pit. But I think there’s also a chance you’ll fall back in, like me. (that’s the disclaimer part)

However, I now know how to get back out again – that’s where I’m going now. See ya…


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Stress – It’s an Epidemic… But with a Cure

Stress Time cover

Check out this small sample of statistics from The American Institute of Stress:

  • 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago
  • 1 in 5 Americans experience “extreme stress”
  • 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful;

Follow this link (http://www.stress.org/stress-is-killing-you/) to even bleaker statistics on the effects of stress. Or maybe don’t – the data just might add to your stress.

I read somewhere that stress is considered an epidemic in the United States, and probably all over the world. After all, humanity has a talent for creating stress-inducing situations. I sure suffer from it, though not as often and not nearly as intensely as I used to. In fact, feelings of stress are getting rarer for me.

Several months ago I made a decision to escape the stress in my life, without actually escaping life. And I kept a journal of what I learned and felt as I eventually found a way out of the stress pit I had dug for myself. And I’ve turned that journal into a book which I’m giving away for free. (more on that here: Not for the Money).

Now to be perfectly candid, if you don’t think you could ever be open to believing Jesus Christ is who he said he is, then my book won’t help you – you’re on your own in dealing with your stress. But even if your thoughts on Jesus amount to only a mild curiosity, it’s possible this book could lead you to true peace, and freedom from the stress pit that may hold you prisoner.

Now I’m not quite finished with the book – it’s currently at my editor for final fixes. Just a few more weeks and then it will be ready to release. Would you like to check it out? Why not? After all, it’s free. So if you’re interested, sign-up to receive your free pdf copy by clicking on the link below. And then when the book is released, I’ll send you an email with a link to download the book.

And whether you try out this book or not, I wish you the best of luck in your own journey to escape stress.

(Sign up here)


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Stress Sucks – But Life Doesn’t Have to be This Way

Does it sometimes feel like stress is dragging you down into a pit of despair? Are you looking for a way to escape the stress pit? So was I. We’re not alone.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can escape the stress that holds you captive. I have a book that might help, and I’d like to give it to you… for free. The book is only a few weeks away from being finished. When it’s ready, I can send you a free pdf copy.

In this book, titled Oh… Jesus!, you can follow me on my journey to escape the stress pit that I fell into almost every day. Follow me, and you may find a way out of your self-dug stress pit. But know this: you can follow me on my journey, but I’m not the one who will pull you out of your stress pit. Only Jesus can do that. Please, give Him a chance.

Why am I giving this book away for free? Well, the complete answer is within the pages of the book. The brief answer is, because I believe it’s the right thing to do. And it feels good to give something away that just might help someone else. So if you’re looking for a way to escape your own stress pit, follow this link and sign up. When the book is done, I’ll send you an email with a link to go download it.

(Sign up here)

 


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I Surrender

I can’t handle the world – the world handles me.

It craves control of my mind,

It hungers to direct my actions.

I’m tired of being manipulated by the world.

But there is another way.

Time for a change.

I’m no longer a victim.

Surrender!

I wrest my life from the world and surrender it to God.

I pour out my self, and God fills me with Him.

What next?

That’s up to God.

What’s that I feel?

Excitement?

Anticipation?

Oh boy!!!


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Chasing Peace – Day 44 – The Beginning

My journey to escape stress and find peace has become a journey to surrender to God. That’s where I’ve found true peace… in surrender, and trust. Trusting God with my life knocks down the walls of my mind and lets His peace come pouring in.

Anyway, I believe this is my last blog post about this journey. Well, I want it to be my last– but I’ll soon see if God agrees.

I’ve decided to pull together all my blog posts about chasing peace and turn them into a small book. And writing this book should help remind me of everything I’ve learned while on this journey. Also, once the book is done, it will give me something to refer back to when I wander off the path, as I’m sure to do.

And you know, this book just might be helpful for other people. That’s why I plan to give it away. And I believe with more help from the Spirit of Jesus within me, and with some heavy editing, the messages will be stronger, and more helpful.

And maybe through this book, other people will find the peace they seek. And they will find that peace in their own personal relationship with the Spirit of Jesus. They too can learn to surrender to the peace within them.

 

←Day 43

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 43 – Lesson’s Learned, So Far

I think I’m almost done blogging about this journey of mine to escape stress and find peace. After all, I don’t think it will ever end. But so far, it’s helped remind me of some truths that are crucial to my life, such as…

I need to stop trying so hard. Just relax and let Jesus live through me. His life and energy and His presence within my mind – that’s where true peace comes from. I won’t find peace within any efforts of mine.

And I need to be patient with myself. I’m a flawed person. I’ll frequently stumble on my never-ending journey. I just need to accept this.

Another truth: pure, complete and invincible peace waits for me in heaven, where there is no stress, and no chaos.

But true peace is still available to me now, while I’m stuck in the midst of this messy world. All I need do is surrender my life to the Spirit of Jesus. As I’ve learned, selfishness creates stress, love conquers selfishness, and true love comes from surrendering to Jesus. Therefore, peace comes from surrender.

Trust… that may be the most important thing I can bring on my journey. With unconditional trust in Jesus, He will do the rest and take me home, to peace.

 

Day 36                    Day 44 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 36 – Midnight Stress Monster

Woke up last night, middle of the night, and my mind immediately started chewing on a problem at work. What brought that on? Why did my mind go there? The stress monster of work had followed me home. And it crawled into bed with me, waiting for a weakened moment to strike.

Oh God, save me from myself!

And then freedom. Wearily I crawled out of bed this morning, but now I feel joy and peace… and freedom from my inner demon, the stress monster.

Each morning is the same. I go in search of the Spirit of Jesus, who lives within me. My mind sometimes resists – for some reason it likes hanging out in that cluttered room of random thoughts. But coffee helps, or at least it wakes me up enough to steer my mind towards Jesus. And then He starts to replace the clutter with His presence. And then freedom, and peace.

There is only one true peace – living with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. He’s here.

 

Day 35                    Day 43 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 35 – Mind Control

The apostle Paul once said, “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) That’s what I want, that’s what I crave. I want to surrender control of my mind to the Spirit of Jesus living within me. And He’ll keep my stubborn mind from diving into that stress-pit every day.

I’ve been on this journey to escape stress and find peace for over a month now. Is this going to end up being some biblical 40-day thing? I don’t think so. Actually, I don’t think it will end, until this body of mine gives out – that’s when the never-ending peace will begin.

But I do believe there is a way to peace on earth, and that is found in a daily surrender to Jesus. I also believe that I’m not able to completely surrender on my own, since my self-centered ego will always fight against it. My ego wants to keep control. But Jesus can overcome my ego. Jesus can take control, and He will, if I sincerely want Him to. What’s impossible for me is possible for God.

Have you been following me on this journey? Are you on a journey of your own? What have you discovered? If you like, please share with the rest of us in the comments below… and thanks.

 

Day 28                    Day 36 →

 


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Porn Addiction

Apparently it’s a big problem within our society – addiction to porn. And I learned from a good friend who has done some research, that the Christian community is not immune. Addictions lead to pain and suffering, and this porn plague is no different.

So I found myself wondering how people could kick this addiction, or any addiction. Well, I don’t think focusing on the addiction would help. All that does is keep what you want to avoid in the forefront of your mind, which would only draw you deeper into it. You naturally gravitate to what you think about. As some old philosopher type person once said, “We become what we think about” (wish I could remember who said that).

Anyway, I believe the cure for all such things as porn addictions is to rip your mind away from the addiction and focus instead on the Spirit of Jesus within you. The more you think of Jesus and the more you surrender your mind to Him, the more He will draw you closer – you become what you think about.

And with Jesus, there is no painful addiction; instead there’s freedom, and peace, and love.


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Chasing Peace – Day 28 – A Glimpse of True Surrender

Praying my way into another day. Another day at work… meh. Yet in my mind (and hopefully my heart and soul), I hand my self to the Spirit of Jesus within me. He’ll take it from here. Jesus will take this person CJ and carry him through today. Whatever happens today is in His hands, under His control. I can relax and watch. Cool.

And then it hit me: whatever we actually do today doesn’t matter. What matters is that by Him making my feeble and partial surrender complete, Jesus is in control.

Going to work, or staying home, or going to the beach, or going on a hike and taking a nap under an oak tree (okay, that’s what I’d like to do)… anyway, it makes no difference what we do. Anything would be joyful, even work, because Jesus would be in control. This tastes like true surrender. This tastes like peace.

Believe in the truth of absolute surrender to God. He can make it real. And that’s where true peace lives.

 

Day 27                    Day 35 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 27 – A Wave of Love

This morning God opened my eyes to a truth I’ve long known, but it had faded within the cloud of the noise in my mind.

God created earth. He created light. He created the entire universe. And He created you and me. And this God who created all that exists seems to humble Himself enough to have His Spirit live within wretched little me! Why me? I’m such a messy place for Him to live. Look at all the crap He has to put up with, living within my clogged up and noisy mind, and with my broken and whinny soul. But He’s here!

This morning, the reality of the presence of God within me crashed over me as a wave of pure love. The actual infinite power of God is within me! Oh, I always know this (with my mind), but this morning I felt really aware of it – it is more than a thought, but an intense feeling.

Then my mind flashed upon this journey I’m on – to escape the stress of work and life, and to find true peace. And I thought about going to work today, WITH God who created all that exists!!! The wave of love and gratitude crashed over me again.

And the morning dread that usually churns within my belly as I get ready for work has been replaced with excited anticipation. What will God do today, through me, at work? Maybe He’ll keep me from throwing myself into the stress-pit. Or something bigger?

What might God do through you today? His Spirit lives within you too, if you believe Him and accept Him.

 

Day 26                    Day 28 →

 


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Chasing Humility and Peace – Day 26

Trying to escape stress, stress of life, mainly stress at work.

I run, but I stumble, and stress tackles me.

So I run to God, to Jesus’ Spirit within me.

Surrender to Jesus and His peace; that’s my soul’s desire.

Yet surrender requires humility, so now I’m running to that.

Then this morning, dark MONDAY morning… something new.

My mind fell into that old stress-pit of brooding over Monday.

Oh how I dread Monday’s.

But then God gave me that “something new,” a new thought.

And I started praying for people at work.

Everyone, especially those who push my buttons and set me ablaze in the stress-inferno.

Praying.

There’s peace in prayer.

There’s compassion in prayer, even for the button-pushers.

Monday doesn’t feel so bad now.

Monday can be exciting, and maybe fun.

For this Monday I go to work with God.

And we will pray for my co-workers.

While in the midst of that stress-pit of work, I’ll pray for the button-pushers.

Dear Jesus, thank you.

Let’s go pray Your grace upon everyone we meet.

And please help me show them Your love and humility.

 

Day 25                    Day 27 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 25

Chasing peace? I’m now wondering if I have it backwards. Maybe peace is chasing me. And some days I’m in such a hurry that peace doesn’t have a chance to catch up.

What is peace? Well, if you’ve been checking in on my journey, you know what I’ve found – that for me, peace is absolute surrender to the Spirit of Jesus living within me. He’s right here all the time. But now I’m thinking that I sometimes run from Him.

At work I chase after achievement and praise; often a step ahead of Jesus, and His peace. When I step out of Jesus’ reach, I fall back into the stress-pit. Oh, it happens almost every day.

Wait a minute! I think I know what’s going on. It’s my natural human pride that has me running ahead of Jesus, chasing achievement. It’s my pride that thinks I can successfully survive without surrendering to Jesus. It’s my pride that pushes me over the edge and back down into that stress-pit.

I’ve known for a long time that pride is like a plague that infects humanity. And I’ve known that humility is what I need in order to surrender to God. So on this journey to escape stress and find peace, I think it’s time to change my focus again. Now I’m going to chase humility.

Wish me luck, please.

 

Day 22                    Day 26 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 22

I wish I had more patience. I want to be at the end of this journey… NOW. I want true and un-interrupted peace… now. The past several days have been filled with sporadic peace and intense stress. I’m running, but I can’t always stay ahead the stress.

For example, take that tension-filled meeting at work yesterday…

I was doing just fine, with my mind focused on the Spirit of Jesus within me, sitting there with me in the midst of that chaos. I felt like I was holding up a shield to protect myself from the tension, a shield held in place by my surrender to Jesus. I figured as long as I kept my mind focused on my being surrendered to Him, I would be protected from the stress that filled the room. I was right of course. But I think my restless mind was feeling feisty.

Someone in the meeting said something that my “self” just couldn’t ignore, and I dived right into the middle of that stress-pit with everyone else. I just had to open my mouth, didn’t I?

You know, this surrender stuff really takes a lot of humility. I’ve got to stop thinking of my self and my precious opinion. I’m beginning to like the idea of keeping my mouth shut. What was it I read in the Bible… “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

Keeping a rope on my tongue – now that’s a good way to escape stress and find peace. Humility; that’s what I need. Humility will keep my tongue tied up. I just wish pride wasn’t such a basic part of my nature. Surrender… with surrender to the Spirit of Jesus, I believe He will fill me with His humility. Now that’s what I need.

You know, one thing that’s changed in me over these past 22 days is that whenever I feel stress invading my senses, my mind runs to Jesus. Sometimes I don’t run fast enough. But I like that I’m running in the right direction.

 

Day 18                    Day 25 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 18 – What the…?

That’s not what I expected.

I wanted to escape stress. Specifically, the stress-pit I tend to fall into everyday at work. And then God showed me a new way to look at this; to escape stress by chasing after peace. And then God showed me that I will catch true peace when I surrender my self to the Spirit of Jesus within me. I’ve been on this journey for 18 days now.

And now that I’m feeling a taste of surrender, Jesus is starting to fill me with Himself, and His Love! My selfish ways seem to be fading. And His Love is consuming and filling me with a compassion for everyone who does not feel His love themselves.

The Church. His Church. It’s hurting. It’s wounded. It’s aching to be filled with His love. But much of the church has wandered from the path of surrender. Much of the church has surrendered to manmade rules, and traditions, and concerns, and agendas – rather than surrendering to the Spirit of Jesus.

Oh, the church worships Jesus, but have they become Jesus? The true church, as Jesus designed it, is the collection of believers in whom His Spirit lives – we are His Temple, His Church.

Where will this go? Where is Jesus taking me? My journey to find peace is shaking up my life.

Dear Jesus, your Love is greater than life. My life is yours. Thank you. Now let’s go heal wounds… with Your Love.

 

Day 17                    Day 22 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 17

There’s always something to feel guilty about. Sucks. Yesterday, day 17 of my journey to find peace, I was haunted by a memory that filled me with guilt. I hate that feeling. But part of the misery of guilt is my feeling that I deserve to feel miserable. I’m so messed up.

But then I remembered this new path I’m on in this journey, my path to absolute surrender to Jesus. And as soon as I focused my mind on my surrender to Jesus, the misery of guilt disappeared. Now this was weird, because Jesus was one of the people I had hurt in my memory of guilt. But then it hit me…

Surrender to Jesus is freedom from guilt. Guilt is surrender to memories of the past. Instead of surrendering to the past, surrender to the Spirit of Jesus, within you. With Him there is no guilt; only love, and peace.

Surrender is so freeing.

 

Day 16                    Day 18 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 16

Chasing peace? I now think the truth is that peace is chasing me; always has been. Yesterday, day 16 of my journey to find peace, and peace found me. As I mentioned in my entry for Day 14, I just started re-reading Absolute Surrender, by Andrew Murray. And my eyes, and heart, are opening.

I now see that all along I may have been running away from peace. For my selfish and independent nature always led me away from the idea of surrender, even though my mind has told me for years that I want to surrender. Yet I now believe, with certainty, that true peace only comes from absolute surrender of my life and self to the Spirit of Jesus.

How am I so certain? Well, I surrendered yesterday, for a little while anyway. And I felt absolute peace in the midst of my chaotic world. Oh, my journey hasn’t ended – I don’t think it ever will. For surrender is not just something I can turn on, like a light switch. As I said, I’ve wanted to surrender for years, but I didn’t know how. I’m still not sure. But I think it has to do with love. So my journey continues.

But now that I’ve had a taste of my goal, I’m hungrier than ever.

Dear Jesus, today I surrender all that I am to you, and your love. For it’s your love that conquers my selfish and independent nature. I love you. CJ

 

Day 14                    Day 17 →

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 14

The past two days I felt more like I was chasing stress, than peace. And stress was easily caught.

I’ve been feeling dry, worn out, and helpless. It’s desolate in the bottom of this stress-pit. In my efforts to escape stress, I seem to be drawn back into it. Like there’s a slimy arm with tentacles clutching my leg and pulling me back into the pit whenever I climb out. I’m tired of surrendering to the monster in the stress-pit.

And then last night I remembered a book I’ve read several times. But it was many years ago. Absolute Surrender, by Andrew Murray. So this morning I read chapter 1. No more surrendering to the stress-pit. I choose to surrender to God and His Spirit within me… and the peace He promises me.

All that is me and everything I have is God’s. With that thought in my mind and hope in my heart, here I step into a new day of chasing peace.

 

Day 12                    Day 16 →