The Long Con Of Child Grooming

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I never imagined I’d be writing a post like this one.  I’m sharing this scenario because it was unimaginable to me and may be to you, too.

As I have watched the news about Roy Moore and Bob Coy, I started thinking about the phenomenon of child grooming.  Reading the controversial article released a torrent of memories.

Many wonder where were the wives in these situation?  Why did they allow this?I thought I would share a story from the wife’s perspective:

I want to share a story about a women who married a man that was grooming a student of his for years.  This was before they were married, but she now realizes she was used in his long con.  She knew absolutely, nothing sexual happened, because she knew the young lady well.  In fact, she was mentoring her. But, she now also realizes, she is the one he desired all along.

Looking back, she was extremely naive, which is why I’m writing this. This women wishes she had been aware of the scale, method and ferocity of child grooming.  He spent time with this student, bought her gifts and treated her like she was special.  He joined our church, which she also attended and became her youth leader.

The worrying truth about child grooming, however, is it’s not just the child who’s being manipulated by a predator – it can be you, the adult, as well.  She realizes now that the reason he became her friend in the first place was to have access to her.  You see, In order to have access to a child, a predator needs to go through their care-givers – and in such a way that they don’t arouse suspicion.  The three of them were always together they enjoyed, sports, movies and church.

It’s also important to note that the perpetrator most likely won’t exhibit behaviors which would make him look like a predator.  So, you can imagine our surprise when she was a senior in high school after allegedly grooming her for 4 years, he gave her a gift for valentines day.  He was a man of 40.  In the envelope was a proposal and a diamond ring along with a letter of his desire to have lots of children with her. Luckily, she declined and showed her the letter and returned the ring.  But, not before this young women was shocked, startled and afraid. Especially, because she was innocent and blindsided by this whole revelation. She was not alone in this.

A few months later he had a major mental breakdown, which in her mind explained his bizarre proposal and behaviors.  She assumed he was in a desperate situation and clinging to any life line he could find.  She found herself as his medical contact as he had no one else, so she became his proxy.  She sat at his bedside everyday, meeting with doctors and counselors.  When he was released, She was forced to be his legal guardian, even though they were the same age.  This was the only way, he could be released from the hospital after several weeks.  He came to live with her and recovered for more than a year.  Unfortunately, due to this women’s strong nurturing side, she let her guard down and after 2 years fell in love with this man.  Thinking he was genuinely remorseful for what he had done.  She chalked it all up to his mental illness.  The counselors said with medication he would be fine.  She believed them.  He went on to attend Bible college and they were married.

As most of you can guess, this marriage did not have a happy ending, they  had a marriage filled with domestic violence and lack of trust.  She had learned early in her marriage, while he was at bible college he was interested in a relationship with a 19 year old girl from another country.  Again, nothing inappropriate happened to this young lady, I doubt she was even aware of the situation at all.   This relationship (in his head) happened at the same time he was at her home everyday as if nothing had happened. So, once again she had become an unwilling participant in his obsession with youth and the paradox of what is appropriate and what he desires.

One of the aspects that has been the most difficult for her to deal with is the realization that she was fooled by this man. Conned if you will. She felt (and still feels) like a fool.

Her life was like a virtual reality — her home like a movie set consisting of false fronts. Like the Truman show.  She came out of the marriage confused, unsure of what was real and what was fabrication. She was embarrassed. Thinking, how could she have been such a fool?  She had been literally sleeping with the enemy. The crime was intensified by the fact that it was carried out by the man who had sworn to love and protect her.

She hopes that writing down her thoughts will help her untangle them. She still doesn’t know how she feels or how she is supposed to feel. She is constantly reliving her many interactions with this man, hearing his voice and his laughter, remembering his every touch and facial expression — a slideshow of once pleasant images, before they were married now viewed after their marriage through a distorted lens, nightmarish and cruel.

Now the cold, hard truth sets in. She was deceived; She was played! She was led on. You see the relationship was never what she believed it to be.

It’s funny, when the dusts settles and the pain goes away, you are able to see things so clearly.  She realizes now, she was used..plain and simple, by a man that wanted a relationship with someone else much much younger.   I believe now this was the reason her now ex-husband became friends in the first place.  She was part of the long con.  She was not the one he wanted, she was the one society would approve of.  No wonder he has told people, he felt pressured to marry her.

Hearing this story, I am starting to be much more educated on the subject now.  After training to be an advocate for women and children.  I am becoming more aware of the signs and the behavior of these men that have a mental illness and are preoccupied with young women.   As parents we need to learn the signs, be aware of who our children are spending time with.  Talk to your children and educate them too!  We must understand that the Christian community is not immune to this phenomenon.  Sometimes, I think we can be more vulnerable.  In our attempt to give forgiveness and look for the best in people, we sometimes over look dangerous behaviors.

The Christian vision of manhood is men as givers, not takers. Men as self-sacrificers, not self-gratifiers.

I am dedicating my life to educating and bringing awareness to this phenomenon.  I pray for her ex-husband that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to him and his pastor.  I pray he gets the help he desperately needs.  She has revealed the truth as she now knows it to his pastor and the people that need to know,  it is no longer her burden to bear.  People need to be accountable for their actions.

In the meantime, the Lord has richly blessed her. Her kids are healthy, Godly and all either married or will be in the next several months.  She is happy and fulfilled.  She is happier than she has ever been.  Peace reigns in her life.  She no longer bears the shame of her marriage and realizes through the Lord’s help it was not her fault.  Her biggest fault was being a gullible women wanting to believe the best in someone she loved.

Was she foolish to marry this man, ABSOLUTELY!

While she is no longer “in love” with her former spouse, this side of divorce.  For her, divorce was the beginning of understanding that God’s love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out. That kind of love will never leave her.

She has learned that there is a freedom on this side of her divorce, a freedom that she was hoping for.  The Lord has shed light on the darkness in her marriage and in her life.

1Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

For more information on the signs of Child Grooming:

https://thejoyfulchristianministry.com/2017/11/15/stop-child-grooming/

http://themamabeareffect.org/1/post/2013/11/do-you-know-how-to-identify-grooming.html

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Stop Child Grooming

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Nobody ever thinks it can happen to them. Nobody thinks they know a child predator. Until it is too late.

Child predators are not some strangers in a dark alley. They are  people we all know. They are our friends, our relatives, our teachers, our youth leaders and our kid’s coaches. The best way to keep your kids safe is to learn their tactics. Ignorance and naivete is dangerous in this situation.

THEY GAIN TRUST

The most important step in grooming a child is to gain the trust of those around them. Predators are skilled at taking on the attributes of a “good guy” and that is unfair to the REAL good guys among us. Before they even meet their victim – Predators often place themselves in a position of trust. They seek out roles that place them around children. They ingratiate themselves into your life and into your routine. Predators are often patient and they will take months or years building up the trust with those around them.

THEY GIVE GIFTS AND FAVORS

Once the predator has established a role in your life and has gained your trust – they take things one step further. They might offer to do you favors or bring gifts and treats for your children. They appear extremely helpful and friendly. They may be playful and silly with your children, but they are careful to not be overly attentive to your children in your presence.

THEY ISOLATE CHILD

By now the predator has gained your complete trust and approval. Your child knows you trust them – so they trust them too. It is at this point the predator’s goal is to isolate your child. They might offer to babysit, give your child a ride, tutor them or give them extra coaching. The predator continues to work on the child’s trust and tries to develop a “special” bond with the them.

THEY DESENSITIZE THE CHILD TO TOUCH

You may get comfortable leaving your child alone with this “good guy.” Your child is always eager to go with them and they seem happy upon returning. It may be at this point that the predator starts to touch your child. At first it may be a tickle fight – where the predator “accidentally” touches the child’s private parts. The sexual contact will progress from there.

THEY SECURE SECRECY

Young children may not understand what the predator is doing. They may not know they are being abused. The predator might convince them that they are playing a secret game or have a secret bond. Older kids may think they are “special” or have a relationship with the predator that no one else would understand. Some kids are told that no one would believe them or worse – that their family will be hurt if they tell.

YOU PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN:

-Look for these warning signs.

-Understand that no role or position exempts a person from being a predator.

-If something feels wrong in your gut

– trust your instincts. -Keep the communication open between you and your child.

-Talk to your child about their time away from you.

-Talk to your child about sexual abuse and arm them with knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Spread the word. Share with others.

If you’re a parent, please make sure that your children are aware of the dangers online.

 

There Once Was A Man I Loved

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*Survivors of childhood trauma deserve all the peace and security that a loving relationship can provide. But a history of abuse or neglect can make trusting another person feel terrifying. Trying to form an intimate relationship may lead to frightening missteps and confusion.

Whether the trauma was physical, sexual, or emotional, the impact can show up in a host of relationship issues. Survivors often believe deep down that no one can really be trusted, that intimacy is dangerous, and for them, a real loving attachment is an impossible dream. Many tell themselves they are flawed, not good enough and unworthy of love. Thoughts like these can wreak havoc in relationships throughout life.

Hidden trauma from childhood sexual abuse can cause survivors to unconsciously, sabotage relationships, here is my story.

There Once Was A Man I Loved

As I sit here writing this, I stare at my computer screen and have that familiar bitter taste of the sadness and pain build up once again in the back of my throat. I take a deep breath and continue to think about my life.

There was a man I once loved, when we met we instantly had a connection, we became best friends.  His parting comment on the first night we talked will stay in my heart forever, He said “Have you ever met someone you knew was going to be your best friend for the rest of your life, it’s like when you were in kindergarten on the playground and you instantly like that one kid, well, that one kid is you”

That is when I knew for sure that my life was forever going to change.

There was a time that we shared everything with each other. We shared laughter, tears, experiences, walks, faith and traditions, good times as well as bad. We shared our most intimate secrets with each other.

It was Unedited, Trusting, Fully immersed. Unaware of what the future would bring. We created so many wonderful memories together, our walks, our trips, our talks and just experiencing life.

Smiles and laughter we shared when we were different people than we are now. When we were learning from, growing with, and just enjoying each other. Smiles we shared when we had no idea what the future held for us, but we didn’t care. We were just being us. Smiles when I picked you up after your hospital stay, when my youngest held your hand at Disneyland leading you to all her favorite rides.

And now you are you, and I am me.

There was a time when we were once strangers, then we became everything to each other, and, eventually, seemed to somehow become strangers again. A stranger, who will forever, I hope, leave a space in our hearts and our minds. One who leaves memories in the way that one leaves a carving on a tree? A carving that someday may have other memories carved over it, making it invisible. But, it will always be there, no matter how deep it becomes buried.

I became the girl who didn’t believe it would ever come crashing down, who thought we had a forever love.

Yet, one day, it did.

When it did, I felt as though I was moving from place to place, not really living but simply existing. I wish I could describe to you the pain I felt as I held back the tears all day and then finally releasing them at night. It was so hard not having you.

We broke each other’s hearts and left both our lives in ruins.

For so many reasons, I didn’t know how to say it. How could I say something that I didn’t even realize myself?  That my past abuse was clouding my judgment causing me to retreat within myself.  As easy as it was falling for you, it also terrified me, causing anxieties and deep-seated insecurities I’d long buried. I was waiting and hoping for irrefutable proof that you chose me — for you to tell me or bring me fully into your world. Making me really feel I was your one true love.  Instead, my jealousies and insecurities just caused frustration and anger.

I adored you, utterly and without reservation. My downfall was, I didn’t think you could possibly feel the same way about me. That has as much to do with me as it did with you — and everything to do with what went wrong.  Never dealing with the pain of my childhood and the truth I buried so deep inside my brain.

We still don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe someday our paths will cross again.  We will have traditions we have built with someone else and special occasions that were once only arbitrary dates on a calendar will become important. We will have photos on our phones of experiences and people we did not share.

Please believe me when I say that I let go, but I didn’t give up on you. Even though I left, I was so confused, I still loved you.  I was so deep in pain from my childhood, triggered by your behavior that I panicked and ran and hid.  Divorcing you was never an option for me. But hurting each other because we didn’t have the tools to make things right by each other wasn’t an option, either. I had to stop chasing your love and start giving it to myself and understand why I sabotage relationships — and I suspected you needed to do the same. 

I’m sorry for the ways I hurt you. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to say the words that weighed on my tongue for months after we separated; I should have shared with you the pain of my memories coming back and trying to make sense of what was happening to me and that it was overwhelming me. That I was having flashbacks of my father every time I looked at you in those last few months. I kept waiting for you to say these words to me. That you couldn’t live without me, that you loved me more than life itself.  That everything would be ok. I’m sorry I didn’t just ask what you really wanted and that I didn’t believe it could ever be me. I’m sorry it all fell apart. There was nothing I wanted more than to keep it — keep us — together, and I regret I didn’t have the strength in me to do more in that end, to explain my pain; I was too afraid and confused.  How where you suppose to understand when I didn’t even understand what was happening to me.

I still hate that it ended, but I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in the ending. It pushed me toward Jesus and started me on a road to healing, toward doing the work I’d never before found a reason to do, to face my past completely. To finally face the horrible truth of what my own father did to me, starting at 4 years old.  The pain was too much to face so; I buried it deep within my mind only to come crashing back at my most vulnerable time.  Caring for you the way I did showed me the places in myself that hadn’t yet healed from my childhood, the cracks I’d painted over but never really filled. Those cracks made me more fragile and vulnerable than I’d allowed anyone, especially myself, to believe. I’m filling them and healing them now.  It has taken me a long time to reconcile all that happened to me.

Unfortunately, we will fade from each other’s lives but hopefully, burn brighter in the lives we have created for ourselves with the new people we will love. The one’s that will teach us that we can find love again, and teach us to find happiness again.

We will have new smiles. Separate smiles built by separate memories. Smiles full of love and family with the people who have accepted us fully, as we have accepted them.

But, it’s true what they say: time heals all wounds. Eventually, I realized that seeing your picture didn’t sting as much, and hearing your name didn’t make me want to cry. Talking about the day you decided to divorce me didn’t make me want to die anymore and hearing about the new girl you were pursuing didn’t make me retreat inside myself.

I knew that I am getting over you when I started typing this letter. All because I had typed,” loved” in the title. As in the past, because unfortunately, that is where our story sadly belongs.  A distant memory.

So thank you for all the life lessons you have given me. Thank you for the wonderful memories, the laughter, especially in the early days.  Thank you for picking me to minister to you when you were hurting.  Thank you for making me feel special that day in Pavilions parking lot. Thank you for making me stronger. But most of all, thank you for teaching me that I am capable of loving and caring for others in need, a ministry that I am growing in today.

After all this time, and all this pain, I’m still unable to construct a wall of emotion to keep you out.  A position only you and the children share. 

It’s this knowledge that, if I learned that you were dying, I would want to come see you one last time. If you needed help and I was somehow the only one who could provide it, I would without hesitation.

I suppose there is one thing I can be proud of in all this: When I promised you I’d always love you all those years ago, I never broke my word.

Even through all the pain, You will always have a special place in my heart.

*Survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not have to allow the trauma to continue interfering with their lives. If you are a sexual abuse survivor, the first step is to talk to someone about it, either a trusted friend or a counselor. If sex abuse is threatening to destroy your relationship, you should tell your partner about it. Therapy can help you understand the patterns in your life created by the abuse, including the ways it has been affecting your relationships. Figuring these things out can set you on the path to healthy and thriving relationships.

Seasoned With Salt

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“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6

As Christians, we have a testimony we need to lovingly and carefully maintain. Our speech is so important it is one thing that is often criticized by non-believers. It is often said that although we speak about the things of God, but we do not show love. They say we are too critical of worldly things, that we are judgemental toward others. Often times we are because the Bible clearly admonishes us to live in the world but to be separate from it at the same time. The closer we are to God the more we will view the world as He does. However, when dealing with non-believers we must never forget that while we hate the sin they do, we are to love the sinner in order to win them to Christ.

So what difference should this verse make in our lives? Plenty. Your conduct and speech before an unbeliever is so vitally important. Your conduct should be with wisdom, your speech filled with grace.

I know a Christian who years ago worked with an unbeliever. For several years, this Christian answered the unbeliever’s questions; he was gentle and kind in his conduct in all situations and always tried to point his friend to Christ. He sought to be wise and gracious. Today that unbeliever has become a missionary. The Lord used that Christian, his wise conduct, his gracious speech, to help bring another into His kingdom. To Jesus be the glory. Amen.

So, what does it mean to have our speech seasoned with salt? Salt enhances the natural taste of foods so that we want to eat more. It also makes us thirsty. Our speech ought to be fresh and inviting, full of spiritual flavor, causing others to be desirous, hungry, and thirsty to hear more.

Stepping Out In Faith

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“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

Have you ever been exhausted waiting for God to answer your prayers? Or have you ever prayed for something so much bigger than you—that only a God-intervention makes it happen?

Last week, I started praying for something that on the surface seems insurmountable. I am stepping out in faith like never before.  This is a prayer request a couple years in the making.  My faith bubbled up in me as I put my request through the filter of God’s word.  I was not asking with wrong motives, in fact, I felt the Lord would be glorified. I have been reading through the book of Deuteronomy and have been overwhelmed at the mighty hand of God that moves dramatically throughout the pages of His Word. The Bible say’s that as Moses neared the end of his life, he reminded the people of Israel about the mighty hand of God.

Because the Lord loves you … the Lord has brought you out [of Egypt] with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 7:8, NKJV).

After Moses died, the Israelites stood on the banks of the overflowing Jordan, ready to cross into the Promised Land. It looked insurmountable. The water was swift and deep. But God told Joshua to instruct the priests to go and “stand in the Jordan” (Joshua 3:8). As they approached the rushing torrent, nothing happened.

But when they touched the water’s edge with their feet, God worked a miracle and stopped the river. The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until a million or more Hebrews had crossed into the Promised Land. When they stepped out on the other bank, the water resumed flowing.

After studying the scriptures I started realizing, that I have a tendency to put human limitations on my prayer requests.  Now I am not naive enough to believe that God is going to give me everything I ask for simply because I ask for it. He is too wise and too loving for that. He knows much more about my situation than I do, and many times will override my prayers because He knows He has a better plan. I decided if I was going to go out on a faith limb, I was going to go all the way out. I called several of my prayer partners and asked them to pray for the impossible with me.

Jesus said, “The things that are impossible for people to do are possible for God to do.” Luke 18:27

Is it impossible for God?  Our Heavenly Father made everything we see, and everything we can’t, with a word. He breathed life into this world, He designed and created it all. There are no limitations to His power. He can (and does!)

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

Oh, how this must grieve the heart of my Heavenly Father when I limit His power. He knows how much more He wants to do in my life if only I’ll invite Him.

Let’s start to be bold with our prayers.  I want my prayers and faith to go beyond human power. I want to bring everything to my Heavenly Father, every care, every need. Not with a demanding heart, but with one with positive expectation.

I don’t need to worry about how God decides to answer. How wonderful it is that we can trust our Heavenly Father with ALL our requests.  Knowing with all certainty that He and only He knows how to answer my prayers.

I don’t know how the Lord will answer my leap of faith, I have peace knowing He knows the hearts involved.  I pray the Holy Spirit will go before me, preparing the way.  I’m tired of playing it safe. It’s time to cast off my fears, remove the limitations I’ve placed on God, and invite Him into every situation I face — especially those that seem hopeless. It’s then I’ll see God’s power, not mine.

God will get the glory when we press forward in prayer and faith. We refuse to give up or give in and God will honor it with answered prayer in His perfect timing.

Empathy Is Important For Christians

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The one thing that I am learning is that as Christians we need empathy.  Why?  The reason is simple, so we can share in the suffering and pain of our friends and fellow Christians.

I have found in my life that the Lord often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad to our deepest calling.  It is because of the hardships the Lord has allowed in my life, I’m able to feel more than sympathy and give my friends the gift of empathy. It’s a hard-won, precious gift.

The definition of empathy according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” It’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place when you have no point of reference. But as God allows certain experiences in our lives, we don’t have to imagine empathy because we feel it automatically; it is a gift we can give a hurting person.

My second child Casey passed away from congenital heart disease.  The pain of losing my son is something I carry with me always. I know what it is to live with pain — emotional and physical. It is from that hardship (among others), I am able to draw from a deep well of empathy.

I was talking with a new friend the other day, and she started sharing how she lost a daughter a few years ago. The hurt she felt was still so raw that she started crying. Tears came to my eyes as I shared that I knew exactly how she felt, because I had gone through the same thing. I explained my feelings of loss, how there will always be a hole in my life where Casey should be no matter how much time has passed. How I often think of how old he would be now and how the pain deepens on important days like his birthday, when he would have graduated from high school etc.. Yet I know my son is with the Lord, and it is only sad for those of us left behind. My friend nodded through her tears and said no one ever understands how she feels. Empathy is a bridge of understanding; through my own loss I could share in hers.

The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  We are taught as Christians to share our friends emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of this statement. It doesn’t say, “Feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says we need to literally cry with them. Have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears. This is a powerful teaching Paul is trying to get across to the church in Rome and ultimately to all Christians. We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how they feel, but the true depth of empathy is achieved through experience.

Christ was our ultimate example of empathy. He literally put himself in our place when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So when God allows us to go through a hardship, we should consider it a privilege to suffer as our Lord Jesus suffered and use our experience to bless others.

It takes a brave person to pray for empathy, braver than me, but God allows experiences in my life that “teach” me this gift. Trials in our lives have many purposes; it took a long time of walking with the Lord and studying His Word for me to discover the lessons hidden in my own hardships and sufferings. They are often for our growth: to teach us reliance on God, to draw us back or closer to our Savior, or to give us empathy for our neighbor.

As Christians, we have a higher calling. We have been bought at a price and are no longer our own, but humble servants to our Heavenly Father. The greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls, and to love others as ourselves. In a world rampant with selfishness, vanity, bullying and greed, God offers us a better way. We are after all His hands and feet, and what better way to represent our Lord and serve others than with the gift of empathy?

Word Of God

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I remember being a new Christian and wondering “How can Jesus and the Bible both be the Word of God?”  As my walk with the Lord grew I began to realize some really important truths:

That the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Jesus showed us a link between the written Word of God and Himself, in that He is the subject of the written Word, it is His biography: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

I learned that the phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking to us since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9). We can learn to know God better by seeking to hear Him ( and really listen) in every way that He speaks.  Isn’t that good news!   All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

(Deuteronomy 4:29 NKJV) “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. {12} Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. {13} And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.