Amazon Smile for Smiles

Help bring more smiles to these Kiddo’s faces by shopping with AmazonSmile this Christmas.

Did you know you can shop and Amazon and at the same time help children in need?

It’s so easy!

All you have to do is add the word ‘smile.’ in front of the normal Amazon web address, (smile.amazon.com), choose Compassion International as your charity, do your normal Christmas shopping, and then when you are finished shopping Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to Compassion!

How AWESOME is THAT?!

 

A Gang of Eleven

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Me and my sponsor child Ericka. We are reading a book that she made for me.

On a recent visit to El SalvadorI learned that gangs are a huge problem in the city of San Salvador. I also learned that children living in poverty are prime targets to be recruited into gangs and sometimes parents will send their children off to school and they never return home because they have been recruited by a gang.

Something else I learned while in El Salvador is that a gang will not recruit someone if they are a Christian. There are parents who will put their child in Compassion’s program to try to help keep them out of gangs. Gang members will even put their own children in the program to keep them safe.

Children go to the Compassion project, learn about Jesus, and bring home what they learn to their family members.  Some parents who were gang members have become Christians and left gangs.

Because of the gang problem in El SalvadorI have started a campaign to try to help children in the country who are waiting for sponsors. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see as many of them as possible to be free from the violence that could await them in a gang? Also with a sponsor to share the love of Christ with them they also will know just how truly special they are!

My new campaign can be found at this link -> A Gang of Eleven.

Please take just a few minutes of your time to check out my page and say a prayer for the children on the page.

Also, if you have a facebook, twitter or any sort of place that you can share the link, please please please share it.

Thanks so much for reading and also thank you for your prayers!

In case you missed the link here it is again – A Gang of Eleven

Have a great weekend!

Terri Siebert

 

Trusting is Believing, My One Word for 2016

20160102_202806-1In 2009 Compassion started a tradition that focused on one word  for the year. Two weeks ago I received a blog writing prompt that encouraged me to spend time with the Lord and ask for his guidance as to what word he would choose for me in the coming new year. Though I have never really chosen a word in advance usually by the end of each year I find that there was a particular theme that my year seemed to have taken on as the year progressed.

Even though I have not chosen a word for this year I do know without a doubt my theme and word for 2015 was ‘TRUST’

As 2015 started I began the year with a whole lot of new things on my plate. Now as I look back I can see I had many more things coming my way that I really had no idea were going to be coming. All of those things made way for a whole lot of times I found myself having to Trust the Lord in his guidance and his strength.

There were also many times this past year that He showed me that big things can happen if I just let go of myself and put ALL of my trust in him.


With that said now I will say this has probably been the hardest year in my Christian journey.


I started the year off full of excitement and ready to dive right in to whatever God had in store. But as the year progressed things seemed to get more and more confusing and I will admit it there were times I felt like he was far away, and also sometimes oddly silent.

At one point even though I knew God had led me in to the place I was, things didn’t seem to be going quite as well as I thought they would have been going. I also had conflict going on around me and many times found myself feeling as if I was caught in the middle and for some reason I began to feel as if somehow I was to blame for it. I know now it wasn’t my problem or my fault and also know I did not put myself in the middle of it at all. I can’t really go into detail here but will say that by the end of April my confidence in trusting to what and to where God was leading me was beginning to fall apart. Yet at the same time, he still kept showing time and time again that I was where he wanted me to be.

In April I went on a mission trip to Haiti. While I was there it was really good yet at the same time I had probably one of my worst times ever of feeling like I had somehow messed up and had heard God’s plan in this for me all wrong. Strangely even though I felt that way, at the very same time things happened while I was there that soon proved to me I was actually right where God wanted me to be….Ya I know it sounds totally confusing and weird. It’s a very long story I could never put into words, so I will just say as I now reflect back I can see God’s hand prints all over the place on that trip but at the same time it’s like the enemy somehow was able to distort my vision part of the time that I was there and make me feel really confused.  Another thing that happened while on that trip is I was notified that a really close friend of mine had died and I kept a lot of my emotions about her death bottled up until I returned back home.  I also think maybe the sadness I felt about her dying may have put a bit of a dark cloud over the trip too. I remember coming home knowing that I was supposed to have been on that trip yet also at the same time feeling even more discouraged.

But here is the cool part….

What I didn’t know at the time was that just a week after returning home from that trip I was going to be invited on another trip. On April 23 I received an email inviting me to attend a vision trip in El Salvador with Compassion International. I know this may sound crazy but even though I was at that time doubting my confidence in discerning what was God and what wasn’t God I clearly heard him say to me “GO on the trip.

So I signed up.

After I signed up for the trip my confidence still continued to plummet.

Yet God still kept throwing things out there that said I was in the right place but by then I was even more confused and feeling as if I was losing my ability to trust in what I heard from Him was really Him.

I also felt ashamed of my feelings and I didn’t want to tell anyone what was going on so I spiraled through most of it feeling very alone.

Then to top off all those bad feelings in July I started having some serious knee issues and I realized I most likely would not be able to go on the El Salvador trip.

I sent an email to the trip leader explaining to her the situation and I told her that I would not be able to go on the trip. I knew from past experience of going on a trip like this that I may have to walk in places that I couldn’t walk such as rough terrain or long periods of walking which I knew I could not do. I figured most likely they wouldn’t let me go with my knees like they were anyway.

Once again I found myself doubting and I began to tell myself  that maybe I had made the decision to go in the first place because I had most likely heard God’s voice wrong.  Why would God tell me to sign up for something He knew I wasn’t going to be able to do?

After I sent the email I soon received a reply and a phone call from the trip leader. During the phone call we talked about a lot of things, including the fact that I could possibly have another trip coming up with my church to Haiti, (I forgot to mention that earlier) that I worried if happened the dates may conflict.  As we spoke I began to feel as if she was someone I had known forever even though it was my first time ever talking to her by phone. She told me that the trip would not be very physical and that I could still go with the knee problem if I wanted to. She also prayed with me for discernment I would be able to know what God wanted me to do.

We ended the conversation with me having a few more days to pray about my decision which I did and soon I knew without a doubt that God still wanted me to go to El Salvador!

So once again I said, “yes.”

I felt such relief once I made that decision and then suddenly at the end of July I found out that I would have the trip to Haiti but it was not going to be anywhere near the El Salvador trip dates.  It was so exciting to know God had worked out the dates!!

But suddenly I had another problem… There was no way I could afford to pay for a trip to El Salvador and also a trip to Haiti.

I felt a loyalty to my church, because I was the new Mission’s director plus I had been a part of setting this trip up. Suddenly I felt like I was torn between the two trips and found myself trying to choose once again.  I knew if I was going to have to choose I had to choose my church because I felt a loyalty to our mission there. But God still said to do both! Once again I began struggled with God because I knew I did not have the money to pay for both of these trips!

I made a decision on my own even though deep down I knew God wanted me in both places. I decided I was going to drop the El Salvador trip and I even went so far as to tell a couple of people I would not be going to El Salvador anymore.

As soon as I made that decision suddenly I could not rest.

And God still kept saying, “GO to El Salvador!”

I knew God wanted me to trust him.

I also knew I still had to go on that trip.

I changed my mind and I said, “OKAY, I will go!” but this time I did it differently and I finally gave up my own feelings on the matter.  This time placed it back into God’s hands where it belonged; And guess what happened the very next day????  I found out I would not have to pay for my trip to Haiti!  Wow! All I had to do was say yes and what I thought was going to be a problem was never a problem at all.  God had everything under control!


I know this story is getting really long so if you are still here thank you for hanging in there.  I will now try my best to finish this as quickly as possible.

We will fast forward to September….

Since July things had been going really great but then two days before I was supposed to leave for El Salvador something horrible happened.  I cannot say much about what happened here because I always try really hard not to put things on the blog that may tell something personal and could possible hurt others. What I will say is that what happened totally threw me for a loop and almost threw me back into my mode of not trusting my ability to truly know what God wanted me to do. I spent the whole next day and night in tears, doubting who I was now and for that matter also doubting who I had ever known myself to be. Its may sound crazy but sometimes old wounds can be opened and when they open you may find new ones you never even knew you had. In a matter of a couple of hours of time I went from feeling closer than I had ever been with God to suddenly feeling like a horrible person. At that point I wasn’t sure how on earth I would ever be able to get myself on that plane to El Salvador.

The day before the trip, I talked to God asking him if what had happened to make me feel that way was true?? I had searched my soul and honestly felt like what I had felt the day and night before was because of lies created by the enemy. But I still wanted and needed God’s input very much.

“Please just give me something to let me know I was truly where you wanted me to be!” I prayed.

As I prayed I opened my Bible and this is what I saw hi-lighted inside –  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45  That caught my attention and as I recognized the rest of the story suddenly peace just wafted over me.

The next morning as my husband dropped me off at the airport I was still at peace and never one time did I ever find myself thinking that by going on this trip I was making a wrong decision.

A little while later shortly after the plane lifted off the ground I noticed the sun was rising. I remember trying my best to hold back the tears of joy because at that moment I knew like I’d never known anything before that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I was so thankful that despite all the detours I had taken to get to this place he had never given up on me. I was so thankful that through all the mess I had said yes.20150912_063228

That trip ended up being one of the best times I have ever connected with God and while there he showed me I truly was exactly where he wanted me to be . Another thing about that trip was it was not just a vision trip it was also a spiritual retreat. I had never been on a spiritual retreat before and had no idea what a treat I was in for. Each evening we would all meet for a couple of hours and focus on knowing and just being with God. In the mornings we were encouraged to spend time with Him. we were encouraged to go where ever he took us by walking the grounds or sitting on our porches or whatever felt right. To just BE and connect with God was what we all seemed to do. Never in my life have I experienced something like the closeness I felt with him on that trip. The whole trip from start to finish was perfect. We were very busy yet at the same time it felt like it was the most relaxed time emotionally I ever remember having in my life.  It was like God had taken the worst parts of me and my life away for that week.

Another cool thing is that just as the trip had begun with the dawning of a new day and a beautiful sunrise, my trips last leg was finished with my plane taking off from Houston on the journey home with the sun just setting and it was beautiful too. I felt as if I had somehow come full circle and I also knew without a doubt that another chapter of my life was now closing because a new one had just begun.

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I knew from that moment on in order for me to do what I am supposed to do for God I had to fully get rid of myself and trust Him.

I also now knew that all the things that had seemed to be reasons for me not to go on the trip were actually all the more reason for me to Go.

Since the trip things have not always been easy but I do now know what God wants from me. I also knew I had to give up a few things that I felt like were getting in the way of what He wants me to do. Giving them up wasn’t easy but oddly once I made my decision and did what I know he wanted me to do I felt relieved and also that peaceful feeling once again.

So my word this past year was Trust

When I looked up the definition of trust it said – the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. “relationships have to be built on trust.”

I also found this part of the definition interesting, looking at the word trust used as in law. – “confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more – others.”

.As I started writing this blog post I had not looked up the definition of trust, though I knew what trust meant I hadn’t really ever thought of it that way. also as I started this post I had no idea what my word of 2016 would be. I had planned to stop this post with the definition of trust and tell you that I still had no idea what my word for 2016 was yet.

But as I read the definition from the perspective of setting up a ‘Trust’ I realized that another lesson I learned in El Salvador was from pastor Carlos when he talked about lending to the Lord (see blog post Casa de Pan Lending to the Lord) somehow seems to go with this definition. Suddenly it has occurred to me that though I place my confidence in God, he also has confidence in me and he has placed me where I am because that is where HE wants me to be. Could it be possible he has made me a nominal owner of HIS property, and now it is my job to use his property for the benefit of others?

As this revelation was flooding over me suddenly I looked up and saw a group of pictures hanging on the wall in my bedroom with the words Dream, Imagine, Love, Hope, Faith and Believe on them. The top word on the pictures is the word Believe. Now I can see that without believing He chose me I can never fully trust myself to do what he wants me to do.

I know God wants me to not only trust him but also to totally believe in his ability to make proper decisions and trust that he can and will make things go exactly as he has planned.

I plan to spend this year focusing on believing that God has my life in his hands and no matter what things may look like from the outside to me or anyone else, God knows the truth, he knows the plan and He is the only one I have to believe in.

I said in the beginning of this post that this has probably been one of my hardest years of my Christian journey. I also know, even though it has been a hard year, it has also been my best year on this journey so far.

I am pretty sure it was a good year.

Now I have a question for you.

Do you have a word you feel as if God has given you to focus on this year?

If so add your word to the comments or share your blog post in the link up below I would love to read it.

Thanks for reading my very long blog post and I wish you a blessed and wonderful new year!

Terri Siebert

P.S. Don’t forget to share your ‘One Word’ below.

 

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12 Days of Giving Christmas Away – Feed a mother and Baby

Last night my husband and I had a frozen pizza for dinner.  Normally frozen pizza would not be my number one choice for dinner but my husband was the chef for the evening and that is what he cooked. The way I see it is if I don’t have to cook the meal then don’t I have a thing to complain about.

When I really think about it, the fact that I have any kind of food at all gives me even more reason to have nothing to complain about.

Did you know that there are families in which a meal was not available at all last night because they don’t have enough money to buy food?

If you didn’t know that then I am telling you now and I am also letting you know that there is a way you can help put a stop to that

Today’s 12 days of Giving Christmas away gift is food for a mother and baby.

Did you know that for just $15 you can feed a mother and her baby for a whole month!

$15 is less than the cost of just one dinner out!

The picture of the mother and baby below is a picture I took in El Salvador at on of Compassion International’s Child Survival programs. As you can tell from the picture this is one very healthy mother and son!

Your gift could help other babies to be healthy just like the little guy in the picture.

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Your gift can help stop the malnutrition that robs a mother and her baby of the strength and energy that they need to survive.

If you would like to help just click the picture of the mom and baby above and it will take you to Compassion International’s website. From there you can just follow the instructions and soon your gift will be on its way!

What  better way to celebrate the birth or our savior than by sharing his love as you help feed mothers and babies?

Thank you so much for coming by today and have a great week!

Terri Siebert

 

 

Other Posts in this series, ‘Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away’:

A Very Special Music Monday –  Kickoff to Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away

Water of Life – 12 Days of Giving Christmas Away

Everyone Deserves a Fair Chance

Squeals of delight echoed off the walls of our tiny concrete playground as we took our stance, lined up arm and arm, ready to guard the make believe goal behind us.Everyone deserves a fair chance

Our three year old opponent was in position eyeing us up, a look of determination on her face. With her tiny foot posed behind the lopsided pink ball, she counted, “Uno dos tres!” Suddenly the ball was sailing toward us and more squeals of delight erupted as the ball made its way through our legs and into goal. We all cheered as three year old Genesis jumped up and down, clapping her hands in sheer delight. “Score!!! Mine! Mine! Mine!” she said.

Her joy was contagious and we couldn’t help but join her in the celebration. There was so much to celebrate today because not only was Genesis winning in this game of soccer but she was also winning in life!

This was my second day El Salvador and that morning our group had visited a Compassion child survival program called “Little Friends of the King” and now this afternoon we were visiting three year old Genesis and her mother Vanessa who are part of that program.

In the area where Genesis was born the infant mortality rate is very high. Many babies never make it to birth and many who are born never make it to their first birthday. If Genesis’ mother ‘Vanessa’ had not been a part of the child survival program Genesis may have been very different from the child we were playing soccer with today.

Being in Compassion’s Child Survival Program helped Genesis’ mother to learn how to take care of herself and her baby during her pregnancy and after by giving her pregnancy coaching, medical care, and emotional, nutritional and spiritual guidance. Vanessa also learned how to care for Genesis after she was born and Genesis also receives medical checkups and her childhood immunizations.

The Child Survival Program also has vocational training such as cosmetology, jewelry making and sewing classes.

Everyone deserves a fair chanceVanessa showed us a sewing machine that was given to her by Compassion and she told us that at the CSP she was able to learn how to sew and she showed us clothing that she makes and sells in the market. Learning this valuable job skill has helped Vanessa to be able to support herself and her daughter financially.

It was very obvious how much being a part of this program has made a world difference in Vanessa and Genesis’ lives and has helped Genesis to develop into the healthy, bubbly little girl we were playing soccer with today.

Our game of soccer continued most of the afternoon with Genesis making the rules. We didn’t mind at all to be playing by the rules of a 3 year old because Genesis’ rules were fair (and also a lot of fun!).  We all took turns playing each position.  There were only two positions, you were either a Kicker or you were a Goalie and you clapped and cheered when anyone scored.

Everyone deserves a fair chance

As each of us took our turn to kick the ball Genesis would place the ball on the spot where we would kick it from. When it was my turn to kick the ball, just as I was getting ready to kick, Genesis suddenly moved out of her goalie position, picked up the ball and moved it closer to the goal. We all laughed and then I took my turn kicking the ball from my new spot which was closer and gave me a better advantage of getting it in the goal.

I didn’t think too much about Genesis moving the ball closer to the goal at that time but now I have had a little more time to think about why Genesis may have decided to move the ball closer when it was my turn.

I have a knee problem which causes me not be able to walk or jump very well and though I never said anything about it to anyone, I think Genesis still may have noticed and I think maybe she didn’t want me to be at a disadvantage when it was my turn to kick the ball.

Something I noticed about Genesis’ game of soccer is that no matter which team we were on we were still all winners and we were all cheering each other on.

Because of the small space we were playing in, the goal was only about four feet away, but I am guessing that in the eyes of a three year old, four feet must look pretty far and when it was my turn to kick the ball Genesis made sure I would have a fair chance at getting the ball into the goal just as everyone else did.

Being in Compassion’s Child Survival program has given Genesis the advantage that she needs too.

Because of the assistance and the hope her mother receives Genesis was given a fair chance at life and now she is a healthy, joyful and thriving little girl today!Everyone deserves a fair chance

Everyone deserves a fair chance

Isn’t she just the cutest?!! You can see the joy just radiating out from her and believe me when I say, her joy  IS contagious! 🙂

If you would like more information about how you can help mothers and babies like Vanessa and Genesis receive a fair chance, you can visit Compassion’s website by clicking on any of the pictures in this post.Genesis3

Thanks for reading and have a blessed evening!

Terri Siebert

 

Music Monday – ‘Oceans’ ~ Walking on Water in the Presence of My Savior

Music Monday – ‘Oceans’ ~ Walking on Water in the Presence of My Savior

Good Monday Morning!

I can’t believe its already another Monday morning! It seems as if time sure does seem to be flying soooooo fast anymore!  As you know every Monday I try to post a song that moved me during the past week.  ‘Try‘ was the magic word in that past sentence because I have totally missed posting the last 2 Music Mondays.  I think I may have a very good reason as to why I have missed the last 2 Music Mondays, tell me if you agree 🙂   The first Music Monday I missed because I was in El Salvador and then this past Monday I think my head and heart may have still been in El Salvador.

Since returning home I have had a really hard time getting back into my life here.  I can’t really explain it but it’s almost as if some of the things that used to seem important to me now seem somehow a little silly.  There were so many things that just touched my heart while I was there in a way that I feel as if I never will forget them, and truthfully I hope I never do forget what I experienced during my trip.  Though I don’t want to forget, the problem right now is that many of those things are still whirling in my mind and the processing of those thoughts has been a hard thing for me to do.  It just seems like I am getting nowhere fast in the processing.  Its not anything bad, its just a lot is on my mind and I feel as if my brain might be on some sort of overload.

I came home from El Salvador wanting to tell everyone right away all about my trip, but yet it’s all so hard to explain.  I have journals that are full of notes I’ve written and I have also started about 4 blog posts.  I thought by now I would have posted all sorts of stories on my blog but so far I have only posted one story (Unexpected Loan Payback – Day 1 Casa de Pan).  Everything is still  a jumbled of thoughts in my mind at the moment and it feels as if my thoughts seem almost as if they are too personal to share; but yet I also know that I did not experience all if this to keep quiet about it either. I am pretty sure that at some point with God’s help I will be able pull my thoughts together.

For right now I will share this small tidbit of information from the last day of the trip.

Our last day in El Salvador our van pulled up to a Compassion project and we were met once again by children who were lined up waiting to greet us. They were playing instruments and blowing whistles.  By the way…I feel I must mention that who ever had the idea that hundreds of children should all blow whistles all at once inside of a large echoing room must have never heard the sound of hundreds of children blowing whistles all at once inside of an echoing room 😀  I think my ears are still ringing and that is one experience from this trip I will NEVER forget 😀  Even though it was quite painful (just kidding… well maybe not) they were so cute and having so much fun! They were once again another one of those blessings that just seemed to be happening one right after another all week long. 

We eventually made our way to the front of the church and as we stood there looking back at the faces of those happy children the song ‘Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)’ by Hillsong United was playing.  

 “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior”

I had heard the song before but had never heard it in the way as I was hearing it right then.  It was the last day of the trip and by then I had already seen God moving in such a big way throughout the whole trip and it was at that moment I realized that God had led me here to this place, and He was right there, right now and I was standing in His presence.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders...

He had led me to this place

Let me walk upon the waters…

I had walked upon the waters to get here

Wherever You would call me…

He had called me to be right here, right now

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…

I was deeper than I could ever imagine and knew at that moment If He took me even deeper I would go

And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior…

Ya….  ❤  At that moment I stood right there in the middle of the presence of my Savior

I will call upon your name, keep my eyes above the waves, my soul will rest in your embrace, I am yours and you are mine.

Since I have been home it seems like every time I turn on the radio this song is playing and then this morning in church we sang it.  Once again I was taken back to standing in that church in El Salvador but this time I realized that though the song reminded me of where I stood a week and a half ago, today I was standing in my own church, and once again He had taken me deeper than I could ever wander and my faith really has been made stronger.  As I stood there in the presence of my Savior I called upon his name, He keeps my eyes above the waves, while my soul rests in His embrace, because I truly know I am His and He is mine  ❤

Thank you Jesus.

What song moved you this past week?

May God’s peace be with you as you walk with Him into this week,

Terri Siebert

This is Luis Antonio Ventura Rodriguez.

Music Monday – ‘Oceans’ ~ Walking on Water in the Presence of My Savior

Luis’ birthday is February 7, 2008. He is 7 years old. Luis lives with his mother. His duties at home include helping in the kitchen, running errands and cleaning. There are 2 children in the family. His mother is employed as a farmer.
As part of Compassion’s ministry, Luis participates in church activities and Bible class. He is also in kindergarten where his performance is average. Soccer, playing with cars and running are his favorite activities.

You may not be able to change the whole world but you can most definitely make a difference in this one child’s life and I can promise you that sponsoring him it  will also make a difference in your own life. What have you got to lose?? For about the same price as a cup of coffee each day you can make a difference in Luis’ life, Please consider what that means.
If you would like to know more, you can leave me a message and I will send you more information.

Casa Del Pan

I got a really cool email a couple of weeks ago from Compassion telling me they are opening a brand new Child Development Center In El Salvador named “Casa del Pan” or “House of Bread” and they have invited me to come with them this September on a on a Women of Compassion Vision Trip & Retreat..

Our trip will introduce us to every facet of Compassion’s work in the field and will also include a day with our sponsored children. I am so excited because I will get to meet my Ericka in person!  🙂  🙂

Ericka

Another cool thing that is happening is we are also advocating for the children who will be a part of this new center and we will also get to visit the center and and meet the children we are advocating for! I am so excited for these children who will now have the opportunity to learn and grow physically, mentally and spiritually!

Here are 3 of the children from Casa del Pan who are waiting for sponsors:

Alisson Nayeli Villanueva

aaa 001 - Copyaaa 001Osmin Edgardo Martinez Nunez

o 001 - Copyo 001Darlyn Yesenia Sosa Guerrero

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Could it be that maybe you are the sponsor that one of these children have been praying for?

I have seen first hand that sponsorship works. I have also been on a trip with Compassion and seen how and where they work and I have also met some of the children and families who’s lives have been changed. If you would like more information about how you can help change the life of one of these children, leave me a comment or send me and email at tluvs2trvl@yahoo.com.

Before I go today I would also like to ask if you will please say a prayer for each of these children to receive sponsors quickly and that their lives will be blessed and that each of them will know the love of Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers and have a wonderful evening,

Terri