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Even Once My Marriage Is Healed – I Still Can't Go Back to My Old Ways

Greg and April - May 28, 1994
Greg and April – May 28, 1994

Even now, almost 7.5 years into this journey, I know I can’t possibly revert back to the way I used to interact and think about Greg, myself, and God.  I can’t cling to Greg in an unhealthy way. I must be sure I don’t idolize him. I need to continually take every thought captive for Christ as His power abides, fills, and strengthens me. I must look to Christ to meet the deepest needs of my heart and soul – not Greg or anyone or anything else – even when things are going really well.

I have a new way of looking at things:

  • I acknowledge and reverence God’s sovereignty over everything and acknowledge I am not the Holy Spirit and I am not sovereign. God is sovereign over circumstances and He will accomplish His purposes and at the same time He gives people free will. What a wonderful mystery – the way God’s sovereignty and the gift He has given us to make our own choices work together!
  • I acknowledge that my husband has the responsibility and right to control the things that are rightfully his (himself, his personal decisions, his personal convictions, his emotions, his spirituality, his leadership).
  • I retain control and responsibility over the things that belong to me (myself, my personal decisions, my personal convictions, my emotions, my spirituality, my biblical submission).
  • I seek to bless my husband, yes, but my ultimate goal is not to please him or “do everything he wants” as if he is my absolute lord. I am not to be enmeshed with my husband and lose myself in him. My ultimate goal is to please Christ alone. Jesus is my absolute Lord.

Sometimes wives think to themselves, “Once my husband and I reconcile, I can go right back to all of my old ways of relating to him and make myself, my desires, or my husband the most important thing again.”

Nope.

God has to be the main thing. My main source of everything.

A wife asked me – when I shared this one time – “So I have to be content with nothing?”

NO!!!!! NO, NOT AT ALL!!!!!! We must be content with Jesus. He is not nothing!

He is EVERYTHING that matters!

This is a new way of relating and thinking where my feelings aren’t the most important thing, my husband is not the most important thing, romance and happiness are not the most important thing, the marriage isn’t the most important thing.

I’m not sure how to explain this well. But I think it may be helpful to know this ahead of time:

  • It is not “I’ll really trust God right now in the crisis, and then I’ll go back to trusting my husband and myself again.”
  • It’s “I’m going to really trust God with everything today, and every day for the rest of my life no matter what else happens. Nothing is coming between God and me. Nothing is more important than He is. The only thing that matters is His glory and His pleasure with me. Lord, I seek Your will, Your whole will, and nothing but Your will today and every day in my life, in my marriage and my husband’s life. I am fully  Yours! I trust You to work things out for the best in my life regardless of what I see right now with my eyes. I will live by faith. Increase my faith!”

Jesus is not a “means to an end.” He IS the goal. He IS the prize. He IS the end. I hope that makes some sense! The healed marriage is icing on the cake. It is kind of a “side effect” that often happens because of a spouse’s healed relationship with Jesus. It is not the primary goal.

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.… Luke 14:26-27

Compared to my love for Christ, my love for my husband and family will look like “hate” – of course, God commands me to love others, not to hate them. So the point is that no one can come before Jesus in my life by a long shot!

In Christ, I want my marriage to be healed if it is broken so that God will receive much glory – but I can be content with or without the marriage being healed. What I can’t be content without is JESUS!

It’s not wrong to desire my marriage to be healed if it is broken. God loves marriage – He designed it and it is to be a good thing and a blessing to all involved. But most of all, He wants our hearts.

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36 thoughts on “Even Once My Marriage Is Healed – I Still Can't Go Back to My Old Ways

  1. This is so well said! I have never heard this truth said in such a simple yet straightforward way. Praise God for your obedience in sharing this wisdom!

  2. Hello.

    My name is Deborah and I am in a bad situation with my husband. We have been married for 16 years and have a child together (17 year old son). From almost 1 month after we married, we have had problems and they have gotten more severe over time. Now we are separated going on 4 months. He lives with his sister a few miles away and my son and I remain in the house.

    My husband cannot get out of the past. He holds grudges against me for things that are just plain stupid. When I was pregnant with our son, I was 39 years old. I had a difficult pregnancy with severe morning sickness and twice I lost my vision to my eyes throwing blood clots. Then after he was born, I had to have a c-section, which was traumatic for me and it got infected. On top of that I had horrible post partum depression that last a good 18 months. I was unable to take medication because it made it worse. Now, after saying all of that, we were not married at that time. I found out later that he was also seeing someone else, but that’s a very long different story that I won’t go into. I will just say after she found out about me and our son, she dumped him and THEN he was ready to marry me.

    He holds a grudge because we didn’t have more children. He says I am selfish because I didn’t…I say he is because who would want their wife to go thru that again? On top of that he is emotionally unsupportive, emotionally, verbally, and mentally abusive. ITs extremely toxic. He is a career cop and that itself makes a person’s heart hard. He is NOT saved, my son and I are going on 9 years now.

    I have tried and tried to make this work, but it seems that I am the only one. Now that we are separated, its worse than ever. (My counselor recommended a therapeutic separation) I did 6 months of counseling, with that ending in March and he has done 3 sessions with someone else, dragging his feet to even do that. He makes no attempt to see me, but he does stay in contact with our child. When we talk on the phone, he escalates it into a fight always about the past.

    We are supposed to start couples counseling at our church on Tuesday, but he is going into it with the mindset that he will try it, but its not going to work. He keeps saying there is no future for us, but in the next breath he speaks of counseling. Its like he talks out of both sides of his mouth and keeps me upset and confused.

    I have prayed continuously that God will intervene and change something….anything, but thus far I’ve seen no changes. I am at the end of my rope so this is what I am doing…..nothing. I have blocked him from my phone and I am not calling ,texting, emailing or anything else. I feel that maybe space will be the best thing to do right now and I will see him at church (when he shows up) and at counseling. Nothing else. I have joined the local gym and just trying to take care of me for a change.

    If you have any advice, please let me know.

    I love getting your emails. They are very up-lifting and I appreciate them alot. Keep up the good work.

    Sincerely, Deborah Anthony

    1. Deborah,

      Goodness. I can just feel the weight of the pain in your words, my dear sister. How I grieve with you over the pain in your marriage!

      As a pharmacist and a woman who is pretty familiar with the risks of “advanced maternal age” – it strikes me that it is quite miraculous that you and your son made it through that pregnancy and that you didn’t have a stroke with the blood clots you were having in your eyes. YIKES! I have had two c-sections myself, and can certainly understand the risks of that happening again. But I have to wonder, does your husband realize how dangerous pregnancy is for a woman after 40 years of age? If he did, he surely wouldn’t think you were selfish. He knows you had blood clots, right? And that those were pregnancy related and very likely to happen again?

      Well, y’all sure did not get off to a good start.

      What is your relationship with Christ like at this point? That is my greatest concern to start with. 🙂

      What do you pray for?

      What do you need to be content in life?

      I assume you realize that his greatest need is Christ – and that he is spiritually dead right now.

      When you talk about things are worse than ever – what do you mean? Do you believe you are safe?

      What has your counselor suggested in the past, other than the separation? What did his counselor suggest?

      How do you generally respond to the way he treats you? Do you lash out at him in return or do you shut down and absorb all of that toxicity and sink into depression?

      Have you checked out any of Leslie Vernick’s resources about dealing with a toxic, critical spouse? http://www.leslievernick.com

      What do you want in your relationship with Christ, my sweet sister?

      Much love to you! 🙂

  3. Asking for prayer. I am learning all of this first-hand and I’m noticing that just when things are going well, Satan attacks our marriage. My husband confessed to me last night that he is having sexual thoughts about his ex-wife. 😔 This has hurt me immensely. I covet your thoughts on this. God bless you.

    1. Hi Heidi,

      I’m so sorry that you are hurting. 🙁 I don’t have any advice on your situation, but I do have some general encouragement: I don’t think Satan would “bother” to target you and your husband spiritually if there was no hope for your marriage. Satan’s attacks can be “proof” that you are growing in Christ and that hope for your marriage is increasing. <3

      Much love to you!

      Flower

    2. Heidi,

      That sounds very painful. 🙁
      I pray for God’s wisdom for you and for him and I pray that you might press into Christ and find healing, hope, and direction in Him.

  4. Thank you for sharing this from the “other side”! I’m SO blessed to be under preaching that emphasizes the importance of Jesus Christ as a person, and knowing him, and seeing who he is in scripture. That’s what the entire point of being a believer is about, and that is what the entire bible is about. All my hope and all my everything is to be in a person which is Jesus. I think it can be hard to understand this if one is being taught that being a Christian is about doing well and being well. Those things only happen as a result of Gods mercy and grace, and though some may not know God and be kind by Gods grace he bestows on all people, the believer will always end up in a battle because we are called to a higher calling to set aside all things we think give us life, and cling to our Saviour, thereby glorifying him. It’s all about him.
    I’m in a stage of going back and forth with my respect for my husband.

    I wanted to ask how pivotal other human relationships were for you to get out of your “God complex ” (where even without realizing it, I put my needs first ). Was it important to connect w others? Or can God bring me to himself in this season of somewhat isolation ; caring for little ones and managing the home.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thank you for continuing to bless with your ministry April! -Rach

    1. Rach,

      Love this! Thank you for sharing!

      I had a 2 year old and 7 year old when God woke me up to my sin. Yes, I had self on the throne – and a lot of other things, too. 🙁 I withdrew socially from a lot of adults around me. I couldn’t withdraw from my children. But I did repent to them, to my husband, to all of my extended family, and my coworkers for my pride, control, disrespect, gossip, bitterness, and self-righteousness. I didn’t have a mentor – except for one woman I got to talk with about 2 hours or so per year. If I had a class of women or a teacher or godly wife mentor, it may have helped to connect with them. But for me, it was more of a desert experience where it was mostly just God and me for a really long time. I saw people at work, too, of course, but I got pretty quiet for awhile when I was trying to figure things out.

  5. April, your comments are something that should be remembered each and every day. Thank you very much for taking the time to communicate how we should not go back to our old ways. I have learned that love is about discipline. And when I think I’m going to return to my old ways, I remind myself that Christ is first and he truly wants us to have availability, desire and obedience. Worshipping Jesus and staying connected to HIs Vine and doing His Will is paramount but of course, the human part of me wants to make my own definition of Love. Blessings to you and this awesome Blog

    1. Jennifer Thomas,

      We could all take a quick detour back to our old sinful self and old ways of thinking VERY quickly. When that happens, it’s time to get out the hammer and nail that old nasty self back to the cross where it belongs!

      I love what God is showing you. That is awesome!

      Our desiring a healed marriage and connection and intimacy with our husbands is a good thing – if we keep it in proper perspective. But I think the kind of love God can teach us to have is so much more powerful than our old ideas of love. He is very good. 🙂

  6. I have a question. I started denying my husband his rights in our marriage because he would not look at the needs of others as much as his own. HE came home from the military with only one thought, have his life his way, from sex, to a family, to time he had coming off in holidays, weekends and vacations, as well as his rights to jobs and shift under the contract.

    That was a word I had come to despise. CONTRACT, It did not look to needs. it just looked at time and the number a person was on the seniority list. It forced everyone out side the union to look to needs and make people care less about the things they want and look to the needs of others first.

    My husband was by no means the only one that had to be forced to do as was needed by others but he certainly became the most vocal and the most violent in not talking through the needs of others but flat out taking them, He would just say it was his right and if the objection was to strong people walked away after 2001 bleeding and broken and I would be left trembling that the next time could be me if I did not start giving in to his demands of sex and time out of work.

    I could never find a middle point for any ones agreement except that word CONTRACT. Which never addressed real needs in society.

    IF any one could tell me how I was supposed to react to my hu8sbands defiance about taking vacation in mid winter and the holidays he was due under the contract, Everything he wanted seemed to stomp on a desperate need. Now he does not stomped on needs he Has forced me into sex three years ago. He’s taken the rights of invitation from everyone if he wants he takes now, and he’s willing to bust somebody up in the taking.

    All I have asked for is time, maybe he feels that the time has gone to long. but time is what was needed many times.

    That’s all everyone needed from him so why is he hurting us because we made him give it.

    1. Callie,

      I have heard a good bit of your story from you and from your husband, actually. There have been some really serious issues in your marriage. Some very scary situations. 🙁 SOOOO heartbreaking for both of you. I don’t think that the comments forum of this blog is going to be a place where you will find the help you need for the disagreements you have had in your marriage from a lot of people who don’t know your story and who don’t know you and your husband and all of the issues that have been going on for decades. Even if you get someone to give you ideas about what you could have done differently 20 years ago or something – I don’t know that it will be productive. I don’t know how I or anyone else here online could address all that you would need to be addressed properly in a way that would truly help you both to heal.

      There is obviously a ton of hurt on both sides – that breaks my heart for you both! I would strongly encourage you to seek in-person help from a trusted counselor for the marriage issues because they are really severe.

      If you would like to talk about your walk with Christ here or about seeking to become the woman He desires you to be and the healing that is available to you in Him, we could do that. 🙂

      Much love to you!

  7. Hi April. I have two questions for you. The first is do you think that it’s absolutely imperative to repent to everyone around me for my sin against them? I’m thinking they wouldn’t care/or know they had been sinned against. I have apologized to my husband, just not my coworkers and extended family etc.
    Second question, would i be right in remembering that before your conviction you spent 3-4hoursa day reading the Bible and praying but you were convicted through reading a book on marriage? Why do you think that God didn’t use his word to convict you?
    Thanks 😃

    1. Rebecca,

      I knew that God was prompting me to repent to everyone around me once I saw my sin. This would be something to prayerfully consider and to be willing to do it if you believe God desires you to.

      Yes, there were days I spent 3-4 hours per day on my days off – especially before I had children – praying and reading the Bible. But my attitude was SO AWFUL. So prideful and self-righteous. I could read and quote Scripture and not even realize I was violating it. My heart was hard and full of pride and bitterness. I was blinded by my sin and by a lot of wrong, sinful fixed beliefs.

      The book I read, Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, directly addressed my sin in a way no one had before. He went into a lot more detail about what respect meant. I thought I was respectful because I didn’t scream, cuss, threaten divorce, or get all “Jerry Springer.” I had no idea how many smaller nuances there were to respect. Largely, these were things I had never been confronted about or reprimanded for in the past since childhood.

      Much love!

  8. This is exactly what I want for my marriage and I. It isn’t the greatest. We are two people on the opposite sides of having a relationship with God. I know that God is the answer but it is as if I can’t let go of fear and anxiety towards what the future holds for us as a family. I go back and forward. I grew up in a home that taught works oriented and so sometimes I do things just to please my husband out of fear. This frustrates me because I know this is a problem for me but it is as if I can’t let go of something and it prevents me from surrendering completely to God. Thank you for this good post though.

    1. aprogressor,

      It is wonderful to hear from you. 🙂 I can certainly relate to the fear you are talking about. I lived in fear, anxiety, worry, and frustration for well over 14 years in our marriage.
      About 15 years ago or so, I heard Dr. Phil say, “What I fear, I create.” You know, that is so true. When my motive is fear, I will be driven to make fear-based choices. Unfortunately, fear motivates me to do things that are ultimately destructive to my relationships. One thing fear motivated me to do was to try to control my husband. I have a post about that here – Fear Fuels Our “Need” to Control.

      You are right that total submission and surrender to God is key. As we do that and as we trust Him fully and rest in His love and sovereignty and allow His Spirit to be our power and our motivator – He heals and transforms us. We can be overflowing with His peace and joy. Even in the trials. Even when things are not what we want them to be.

      But to get to that point, we have to deal with fear, unbelief, and lack of faith and trust in Christ. We have to face our idols and tear them all out by the root. We have to face our bitterness and any other sin that is entangling us. And we must be willing to learn to yield in trust to God.

      I invite you to search my home page for:

      – fear
      – control
      – anxiety
      – worry
      – godly femininity
      – resting in Christ
      – how to stay filled with the Holy Spirit
      – security
      – hold things of this world loosely
      – fully trusting God with my husband

      You may also want to check out my video about Taking Our Thoughts Captive.

      I am excited about what God is about to show you and how He is able to heal your soul and transform your thinking and empower you to live wholeheartedly for Him!

      Much love!
      April

  9. “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less”
    by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

    1. My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
    All other ground is sinking sand.

    1. YAS!!!!!!!!!

      It is so great to hear from you! 🙂

      I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song. When I am facing something difficult, I often sing this hymn over and over at the top of my voice. It helps me to remember that the only One who deserves my full trust is Jesus.

  10. I enjoyed reading this, April. Well said. I too had to learn how to put Christ first. I really struggled with Luke 14:26-27. I got caught up in, “what kind of a God would make me chose Him over my own husband, my own children?” Thankfully He was patient and persistent and I finally understood.

    There is great wisdom there too, it is a teaching that can be very valuable for women. God first, all else second. It is like being on an airplane and putting your oxygen mask on first thing. That can be counter intuitive, we can want to fix everything else around us, take care of everyone else first, but God must come first, God is our source. He is our oxygen mask. If we don’t put Him first, we won’t be of any use to anyone else.

    This is it exactly, “I can be content with or without the marriage being healed. What I can’t be content without is JESUS!” When you are basking in His love for us, when you are allowing Him to fill you up, everything else becomes secondary, not desperate, or needing to be fixed, not something you must control or save. All is well with my soul,and that is a place of great strength. Often that alone, with His help of course, is enough to change those around you, to allow Him to bless you with whatever it is you seek.

  11. Hi April

    Thank you so much for this blog,only married for 4years,I am so greatful for these teachings they are helping a lot and my spiritual life has improved.I want to be a godly wife,i messed a lot in my marriage with my tongue,was too much self righteous,I started reading on your site last month…
    I’m struggling to keep my mouth shut,when can I make it right? I want my husband to see Christ in me,the amazing thing is that I have peace in my heart and I dont have fear anymore.

    Thank you

    1. Anathi,

      It is so wonderful to hear from you! Praise God you are getting to learn these things so much earlier in your marriage than a lot of us did. That is awesome! How I praise God for the way He is already working in your heart and the peace He is giving you and your desire to know Christ more and to bless your husband and to shine for Jesus in your marriage. WOOHOO!

      I have a LOT of posts that may be helpful on this issue.

      You may search my home page for these words:

      – challenge (there are 3 challenge posts, one about smiling, one about tone of voice, one about not complaining and arguing)
      – words
      – space
      – the frustrating quiet phase
      – to speak or not to speak
      – ungodly woman
      – godly femininity
      – how to stay filled with the Holy Spirit

      And please check out my video “taking our thoughts captive.

      Let me know what God shows you and if you need to talk about anything.

      Much love!

  12. Hi April,

    I’d like your opinion on a situation with some of my male acquaintances. One of them, “Alex” and I were romantically involved for a short time before I started dating my boyfriend (who I will be marrying next year). My boyfriend has asked me not to see Alex at all and to contact him as little as possible (I now wish him Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, and Happy Birthday – that’s it). I feel this is reasonable and I have been honoring my boyfriend’s wishes.

    My boyfriend is fine with me seeing my other male acquaintances on occasion (maybe once a year) if it’s in a public place and a group setting. The problem is, Alex is always invited too. These other acquaintances don’t know that Alex and I were involved (we kept it a secret) and my boyfriend would prefer me not to explain the situation to them and not to explain to Alex why I rarely contact him now.

    I feel said because these people that I now call acquaintances used to be good friends of mine. I dramatically cut down my frequency of contact with all of them after my boyfriend and I started dating, to honor our relationship. While my boyfriend is okay if I see the others occasionally, I feel like I can’t actually see them because I can’t see Alex. I don’t like not being honest with these people, but I also understand my boyfriend’s viewpoint – I wouldn’t really want to drag up the whole thing with Alex, because it happened over three years ago.

    Any words of advice or comfort?

    Blessings,
    Flower

    1. Flower,

      When I got married, I seriously believed I was “above” committing adultery and I did not guard my heart. I thought, “men know I am married, I will be fine. I can talk with them and be friendly with them – no problem.” But I did run into a big problem 2 years into our marriage and became infatuated with a guy. 🙁 I didn’t act on it physically – but I talked with him WAY too much and got very emotionally involved. I was honest with Greg about it. He said nothing at the time. But I was terrified. I could have destroyed my whole life with that relationship. Thankfully, he eventually started dating someone else and started focusing attention on her instead of on me. But I realized what a perilous position I put myself in and decided I did wanted to be very careful to guard my heart after that.

      I do believe it is best to have limited contact with other men and not not have a lot of close friends who are guys. Old boyfriends are probably especially tempting sometimes when things are not going well in a marriage. If we have other men around to whom we talk a lot or confide our feelings or problems – it is VERY easy to turn to them or to become emotionally involved with them, as I am sure you already realize.

      My personal convictions are that I try to avoid much contact with other men – particularly private conversations or being alone with other guys. I copy my husband on emails to other men – unless it is something simple and work related. Although, I would copy him on that if I felt anything remotely inappropriate could happen. Meeting in groups can certainly work. But if you begin to realize you have feelings for another man, I would try to cut off contact in that situation.

      It can feel sad that you have to give up as much closeness with male friends as you move toward and into marriage. But I think they will understand. Part of marriage is that we leave all others and cleave to our husbands. That involves severing some of the close ties we used to have – or it should involve that. I would imagine your old friends would feel the same way once they get married, too. Unless they are asking why you are not in contact with them as much, it probably isn’t very necessary to explain it. If you are engaged and getting married – it is probably a given that you will be moving away from friendships with other men to honor your marriage.

      I think this is part of moving into marriage and part of protecting your marriage and your heart. Yes, it can be sad, and you may need to grieve a bit over these relationships. But, to me, it is worth it to set up healthy boundaries like this around your marriage and to guard and protect your marriage and your heart.

      Not sure if that is comforting. But I do believe this is a wise thing to do to give yourself a strong, solid marriage and to show respect and honor for your husband-to-be.

      Now, if your fiance demands that you cut all friendships and all contact with everyone you know and your family – then we are talking about a big red flag with severe control issues. That is a whole different situation.

      Much love to you!

      1. Thanks, April. This actually is very comforting. 🙂 <3

        No worries – he's very supportive of my friendships with girlfriends and of my relationship with my family. 🙂

  13. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6 KJV)

    Our love for those around us, must be based on this. As we walk nearer with Jesus, those people near and dear to us, will experience our love for Our Savior, it is a love, that encompasses everything I think, but it is not a shameful, needy, weak kind of love.

    Thank you Christ sister.

  14. More great stuff April!
    My process the last couple of weeks has been refreshing, thank you Jesus and thank you April for sharing your wisdom. I came here VERY hard hearted. I would read and some of the words were like tiny pebbles being thrown at my heart. I could almost hear the “clinking” of them hitting and bouncing off. Each “pebble” that I read would chip away at the stone of my heart slowly but very steadily as I kept going forward. I looked at the words like pride, control, disrespect and self righteous and knew I had a problem but the remorse wasn’t there…. Obviously, this is because I have a problem with all of these things and it’s prevented my heart from feeling and instead turned to stone. Thank God for this website and your book. Those “pebbles” have broken through to the tenderness of my heart and I’m beginning to feel again. No, they aren’t pleasant feelings because I’m aware of my sin BUT I am so joyful because it’s progress. I’m finally at a point where I feel like I need to repent to my husband as I’ve already repented to God.
    Baby steps but definitely progress. I can feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me again. Hallelujah for that!!!
    Tons of love to you sister!!

    1. Cara,

      WOOHOO!!!! THIS IS AWESOME! Tears of joy with you today, my precious sister!

      I love how you described this process. I wonder if you might allow me to anonymously share this on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page? SO POWERFUL. 🙂

      Much love to you!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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