birth

Adventures in Faith

We Named Our Son White Warrior, Here's Why

God gave Whitney the name Boden for our 1st son in a dream when we didn't know God still named people (it was common in the Bible). 

With our 2nd, Lukas, I simply asked God for a name and got a wild vision and a name.

So with baby #3, we figured we'd ask God and get a name. And we did. 

However, this time He brought us face to face with our sin and tested our faith like never before. Here's what went down...

Months before conception, Whitney asked God why she has a strong desire to have a baby girl. She sensed God saying, "I made you and I put that desire there."

Then, she asked if God would name the child, and He said yes. 

Scarlet popped into mind, she'd never considered it. When she looked up the meaning and saw "fine cloth" she got chills--or years she's had a vision of God wrapping her in fine cloth. 

Could we really know we'd have a girl named Scarlet before we had conceived? This was hard to believe because we badly wanted a girl and feared being disappointed. 

We started to see the name Scarlet everywhere, over 40 times in 6 months, here are a few examples:

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August 31, 2016

I was on a business trip in San Francisco, and Whitney called to tell me about a sense she had that we were going to have a baby girl named Scarlet. I was staying in the Hotel Scarlet. 


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October 7, 2016

I was at a meeting in Atlanta and realized I was in the Scarlet Oak Room. 


At our Church, mid-sermon I sensed Whitney was upset so I prayed, “God please comfort my wife and speak to her right now.”

Just then the pastor said the word “scarlet” three times in a row. Whitney later explained that she was feeling bummed, but when she heard the pastor say Scarlet she was reminded of God’s immense love for her and the vision of being wrapped in fine cloth.


Whitney was praying in bed and asking God for comfort when I song started to play, with the lyrics:

Though our sins are scarlet
You have made us white as snow


I had a pastor friend say to me, unprompted, "I have news for you...you and Whitney are going to have a girl." We hadn't even told anyone we were pregnant yet. 

We asked a friend to pray about the baby and name, and she became so convinced this was from the Lord that she went out and bought us red girls baby clothes!

Even our closest counsel was in agreement with us, we'd have a girl named Scarlet.


A correction from God

With sooo many Scarlet's popping up, Whitney and I asked, "are we being hypersensitive to this name?" But wondered why this didn't happen with the first two when we got their names in advance? 

I prayed for more clarity on the baby gender and name and felt God saying:

God's name is above all names, above ours, above Scarlet. Remember, I am God =)

Whitney prayed and asked God “What if I’m disappointed? What if we don’t have a girl?" and heard God whisper:

My love is never disappointing.

 

The big reveal

We finally got THE email with the test results that included all kinds of health indicators, including the gender. Would we have our little Scarlet??? We expected that to be the case.

Drumroll. We opened the email...and. it. said. BOY

What?! 

We were stunned.

Disappointment and confusion followed, there were tears.

Visions of a mother-daughter relationship, of perhaps a softer more gentler addition to the brood, all fell away...

The very next day Whitney had a health scare involving blood loss. Everything turned out fine but going through it made her realize that, above all, she just wanted a healthy baby. 

Slowly her attitude changed, she even felt guilty about having lamented over the baby God had given us instead of celebrating, and at once she became more thankful and excited. 

 

Getting to Finley

Even with improved attitudes, Whitney and I didn't feel like praying for a new name. Months went by and we'd ask each other, "Have you prayed about the baby name?" We hadn't.

In the fall I started to pray for the baby again. I prayed for hours one day and got a strong sense that this baby would be:

  • a gift to his mother
  • very strong
  • able to absorb scripture quickly
  • tall and holding a large sword

Then we had a confluence of events that, in short order, confirmed a name for us:

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First, we realized Whitney's grandfather's name, Finley, means "White Warrior"

Then, we saw that the verse we had drawn on our kitchen blackboard, Isaiah 1:18, included both the word "scarlet" and "white" in bold. 

We began to feel a connection to Whitney's maternal grandfather Finley (and great grandfather too, also named Finley). His nickname was "Whit," a reference to his surname, Whitfield, and the same nickname Whitney's closest friends call her. 

We requested 12/27 for the c-section, but it wasn't available. Instead, the hospital confirmed December 29th, which we later learned was Whitney's grandfathers birthdate.

Discovering this gave us goosebumps!

And exactly 105 years after his great grandfather, Finley Kennedy Whitfield, one Finley Everett Derfler was born as a blanket of snow fell outside. 

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Focus on Redemption

A simple petition to God for a name became a journey of doubts and confusion. Old ways of thinking about our family deconstructed and rebuilt. God whispered and guided us gently all the while. 

We had to confront the verses that say:

  • God's ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9),
  • He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and,
  • nothing, not even our children, must get ahead of God in our life (Luke 14:26), in new ways. 

If we're honest, going through this process wasn't fun. We still want a girl but trust God for the outcome. 

As we worked through our "stuff," this season taught us to constantly look to God, trust him, and celebrate what he gives us. 

Another Baby?

Speaking of having a girl or another baby at all, we'll end with this "Praise Report."

After Lukas was born, we were told Whitney shouldn't give birth again. Our doctor later refuted that, but doubts lingered about her reproductive health. 

So, going into this labor and delivery much of our prayer centered around her health and safety.

We count it as praise, then, that the doctor's report this time is that Whitney looks great and can "have 5 more kids if she wants!" 

So hey, who knows if we'll have a fourth child or not?

Only God. 

And we will truly, genuinely, be thankful for any outcome. 

A sign we have hanging in Finley's nursery.

A sign we have hanging in Finley's nursery.

Tools That Work

How to Not Have Sex with Your Wife for 6 Weeks

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.
— Paul in Ephesians 5

I wish someone told me before I got married there would be periods where for very good reasons my wife and I cannot have sex. 

I'm in one of those periods right now... it happens for every husband and wife after they have a C-section (and many other types of procedures). Here is Whitney's hospital discharge note stating very clearly, no sex:

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Now, as a Christian man, I've contemplated what to do about these trials. In the wake of my 3rd C-section, I feel like God is giving me some wisdom worth sharing. 

  1. Biblical love in marriage is about giving, not receiving. As I serve my wife through her physical and emotional healing, I find empathy and my desire for my own pleasure dissipates.
  2. Just praying for my wife has a way of deepening my empathy for her as well as my own resolve not to sin. 
  3. I guard against moments of weakness, like when I'm really tired or have an abundance of energy that would normally find a sexual outlet. The top 7 tips that work for me to beat lust are in this little guide

Think its impossible to not have sex with your wife for prolonged periods of time?

Consider wise counsel I received from an older man a few years back. He shared with me how his own wife had a condition that made it impossible for him to have sex with her for over a year. I asked how he was able to do that, to which he responded, "I learned to love her like Jesus, without sex."

A challenging lesson, but rooted in Biblical love, I'm convinced. 

Adventures in Faith, Most Read

A Near Death Birth Redeemed by God

Just a heads-up this post contains some graphic details of the birth--if you get queasy around medical stuff, you might want to skip it. 

Look at the circumstances, the excruciating labor, emergency surgery, near death of the baby, scary hours after the birth, one might find it tough to understand how Whitney and I could say God redeemed the birth experience for us, and yet, that's exactly what happened.

For context, the birth of our 1st son Boden was rough. 30 hours of labor, head was stuck, wife's cervix swelled, heart rate dropped, an emergency cesarean delivery required. The baby ate every hour for weeks = serious sleep deprivation. The recovery for my wife was painful and in many ways robbed her of the joy of being a new mom. A month after we took him home our landlord went through a divorce, had to sell our condo, and we were evicted without any family around to help. 

So, for nine months leading up to the birth of baby boy #2, we prayed "Lord, please redeem this experience for us." Midway through I got an overwhelming sense in prayer that God was going to do just that. Not wanting to be wrong I was tepid to report this to my wife; but, I kept getting it so eventually I told her this time it's going to be different.

With every doctors visit, my wife Whitney and the baby were the picture of good health. And yet, the doctor had to tell us about the risks of a natural birth after a cesarean (known as a VBAC), the possibility of a ruptured uterus, and worse. 

Her belly grew ever larger and the idea of birth pains gave Whitney anxiety. I knew that this pain could not be avoided, so I asked God to draw her close and grow her through it. In the week or two before the delivery my wife told me that God had given her a song, she even began to refer to it as her birth song--here it is:

The day after her due date, Whitney began to have contractions. Excitement--the time had come! We prayed as a family in the living room--thank you God for the medical care, for my mom who flew out to help with our toddler, for giving this son a name, and so much more.

Whitney labored at home as long as she could; we expected her to get to a few centimeters dilation and when she could take the pain no more, we went to the hospital. In the five miles between our house and the hospital she had a few more contractions--they picked up in frequency and ferocity fast--she writhed in pain with each one.

Upon arrival she asked for an epidural--the nurses scurried around in preparation. They reported she was 8cm dilated, very close to birth. The heart rate monitor put on her belly revealed a baby inside with a low heart rate. This coupled with her more complicated VBAC delivery led the nurses to move her to the operating room (OR) for delivery. As they wheeled her away, the doula (a birth coach we had join us) told me that this was all normal, that as the baby enters the birth canal and is squeezed the heart rate often drops.

I was told to "suit up" so I could enter the OR for the birth, which I did quickly since I was an old pro having done this once before. I ensured my phone camera was handy to capture those precious first moments of life.

Nurses entered and left the operating room in a flurry, then one came out and said that a c-section was going to be required. I could hear my wife groaning in the room and the news hit me with a wave of concern. What happened? I thought she was ready to push the baby out? Our doula looked upset. 

Then I stopped hearing Whitney's groans and instead I heard another nurse request a "crash cart." What was that, I asked the doula? Again, her look said it all, then her words confirmed, it wasn't good--it's used to resuscitate a baby. I became confused, it didn't make sense, God told me everything would be okay, He even gave me a name for this baby. If the baby died, I would be left with so many questions, it wouldn't make sense.

I was numb with emotions. Still holding onto the hope that God had given me, yet now also fearful with the reality of what was happening, feeling foolish for having already documented the story about God naming the baby, terribly concerned for my wife--was she okay, was she in pain, was she hearing all of this and afraid? I couldn't even pray in that moment, thankfully our doula began to pray and I listened to her and agreed with every word she said.

Then we heard a crying baby--the doula broke out in praise to God. She told me this was the best possible sound--I praised God too. They brought him to me and congratulated me. I walked with him to the nursery, and the details about what the doctor had found began to emerge.

I learned that the baby's heart rate dropped again and did not rebound. For six minutes it was under 50 beats per minute, a grave concern. The epidural Whitney received did not take effect quickly enough for surgery so she was put under general anesthesia. When she was opened up, they discovered that her uterus was in really bad shape, stretched as thin as a sheet of paper, so much so it was translucent and the doctor could see her instruments through it. Even worse, the baby had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and there was what's called a "true knot" in his cord. The doctor later described this as a "triple whammy." 

I learned that a true knot is rare and often deadly. They're formed early in the pregnancy when the baby is small enough to swim around to tie a knot. They are one of the leading causes of still born babies. In our case, as the baby was being born and pulled down the birth canal the knot tightened cutting off his blood and oxygen. One of the nurses later fetched the cord and showed it to us, several standing around remarked that they'd seen only a few of them in their long careers. Then the nurse who was holding it in her hand had me put a glove on to feel it and she said that even with the knot the cord has a spongy covering over a smaller life delivering tube inside, which serves to protect against these kinds of things. She concluded by saying, "Isn't it amazing how God designed all of this?" 

In the nursery, Lukas went through his first weigh-in, bath, and warm up under a heater. A special doctor was called in to review his blood gas scores. For babies who face the kinds of challenges Lukas faced, time without adequate levels of blood and oxygen, they have to determine what the effects will be. She explained to me that Lukas was on the borderline in a couple of categories, but that they were hopeful he'd be 100%. Then she remarked that if we had come to the hospital even a few minutes later it could have been a very different outcome--you had a guardian angel she remarked. 

I hadn't heard an update on Whitney yet. When our first son was born I wasn't in the nursery near as long before we were ushered back to meet mom. I felt like my new son and I were missing the most important part of our family. I asked a nurse and she called for an update, then she passed on that Whitney was still in the OR. It seemed strange to me that over an hour after the birth she'd still be in that room.

I kept praying, "Lord, save Whitney...keep her in the palm of your hand." The thought crept into my mind that nothing is guaranteed, maybe she was in trouble, then again, wouldn't they tell me? There was nothing I could do except embrace this little miracle baby in my arms and pray and trust God.

Both Lukas and the reality of what happened settled into me. The news kept coming, I learned that our doctor didn't make it to the hospital in time, the procedure was so urgent the nearest doctor was called in. One nurse remarked to another something about good thing the small hospital started keeping a doctor round the clock just a year ago, had she not been there, who knows...

Just then the operating doctor came to see me--before we went to see Whitney she wanted to tell me that we would likely not be able to have children again. Whitney's uterus was too fragile, she'd never seen anything like it, a miracle it didn't rupture, and had she delivered the baby naturally it most likely would have had to be removed. I was just glad to hear she was alive--thank you Jesus, the rest would all be dealt with later. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:34

We walked to see Whitney and she was loopy from a concoction an epidural, spinal tap, and general anesthesia. The nurse reported that the first thing Whit said when she woke up was, "How is my baby?" When she saw Lukas she cried, moved slowly to put him on her chest, and he quickly burrowed in and began feeding. I was choked up. 

The nurses kept checking my wife. One tried to take her temperature and seemed frustrated. Then she asked another nurse to help because the thermometer wasn't registering. They realized her temperature was under 94 degrees--too low to register. They fetched heated blankets and switched her to a warm intravenous drip. Due to the drugs her body couldn't regulate itself--they said the baby on her chest would help to warm her too. 

Eventually Whitney warmed up, we moved to a room to recover just as the workday began. The full picture of what had happened over the past few hours sunk in, at least for me. I started to tell Whitney the details and I got choked up over it. I thought to myself, why can't we have a normal delivery without all of the trouble?

And yet, as Whitney recovered, amazingly she said to me later that she felt as though God had redeemed the birth experience for her. I listened carefully to what she had to say knowing that in this moment I would learn something from my wife about the deep things of God. As she was wheeled into the OR writhing in pain she prayed and God whispered to her, it will all be okay and He gave her great peace. Yes, she said, God had comforted her despite the pain and the turmoil around her and now she felt much better than she had last birth. She felt so bonded to the baby, she couldn't wait to hold him next. Then she told me that it was as if the baby saved her, his heart rate dipping to avoid the natural birth which would have most certainly caused many more problems. 

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:7

I considered her words carefully. Here was this brave woman who had gone through so much, and while on paper it looked like this was a far worse experience than our first birth, God had changed the whole conversation. While I understood what she was saying and I was elated that God had drawn her close to himself all the way through, the drama of the night before stuck with me. I decided that, yes, God did redeem the birth experience because if that's what my wife felt then I would believe it too. I thanked God and adopted a celebratory attitude despite not feeling it 100%. 

In the day that followed we had sweet visitors who offered up prayer for us. One, a dear friend to Whitney, in her prayer she thanked God for having Mom and baby to work together, to preserve them both. Another, a dear friend to me, prayed a blessing over the family and asked for healing and thanked God for what he had done. Friends brought sushi and candy and a gift for big brother Boden. Another stayed for many hours and took beautiful photos some of which are included in this post. My mom extended her stay to help care for Bo so we wouldn't have to coordinate for his care. Whitney's regular doctor came to offer encouragement that it might be possible to have children again.

A day later Whitney posted on Facebook that she was so at peace, and I knew that behind that post was so much prayer, great trials, but an even greater move by God. He had done something amazing in our midst, even more than deliver a miracle, he had taken my wife through her greatest fear and he spoke to her and delivered her on the other end full of strength and peace and with a wonderful testimony about how great God is, something she and I both know full well she could not have done on her own. 

In conclusion, as I sat in the recovery room holding my precious newborn son in my arms and basked in the reality of a redeemed birth experience I prayed and had a revelation that brought this birth into the light for me. The Lord reminded me of one of the most telling prayers I've ever had for my wife, a prayer that lasted hours while at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. While there, the Lord showed me how he wraps my wife with love and gentleness like a soft warm blanket. That prayer has stuck with me and I've attempted to emulate the approach, which has proven effective and to speak deeply to my wife's soul. I saw that through this pregnancy, through the labor and delivery, God had done just that--he swaddled her tight and cozy and warm to insulate her from all that was happening around her. It was so clear now, from the peace of the worship music in her heart and the whisper going into the OR, the warmth of the baby on her chest, the rest and sweet visitation by family and friends, and an extraordinary bonding with baby Lukas, who Whitney in turn wrapped in a blanket of love herself, yes, it was clear that God's redemptive cover had fallen on my wife and in turn enveloped our family.  

Adventures in Faith, Miracles, Most Read

God Named My Son

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13-14

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It's true, God gave us the name for our son, Boden Wiley Derfler, before we even knew he was a boy. But before I get to that, I want to share the real, practical ways we felt God's presence in the pregnancy that led up to the naming. My wife, Whitney Elizabeth, was born to be a mom. As a young girl, she carried baby dolls around the house as a pretend mother to them. She played house, like many girls do, but she gave extra care to it all. Through her school years and even while entering the working world, her desire was always to be a mom. She became a nanny to two small children for a few years and exhibited a natural instinct with them. And so, that she got pregnant right away was a miracle itself, any woman who has struggled to get pregnant would attest. God was fulfilling His plan and design for Whitney on the first try!

But, before we knew that a baby was on the way, and a week before any kind of test could verify the pregnancy, Whitney got a loud and clear confirmation one day. She sat on the floor praying for her friends, and right in the middle of it all, she heard in her thoughts, "You're pregnant." Whitney rarely makes firm statements like this. For example, she would say "maybe I'm pregnant," even if she took a test and it said she was pregnant she wouldn't be so sure. So the fact that what she heard was matter of fact, it helped her to know it was not her own thoughts. A test a couple weeks later, on Christmas Day, verified that what she heard was true.

Newly pregnant, both Whitney and I could hardly contain our excitement. And yet, we waited a few weeks to tell anyone to allow it to be special news for just the two of us and to wait until the chance that the baby could be lost was lower. Yet, before we told anyone, our neighbor approached me while I was walking our puppy Archie and excitedly blurted out "Whitney is pregnant," through a heavy Iranian accent. My puzzled look back to her as I wondered how she could know this was met with a follow-up, "I had a dream and I saw this." Back in the house, I confirmed with Whitney that she had told nobody--we were the only one's that knew, or so we thought.

A couple months into the pregnancy, we weren't thinking too much about names.  And, the names we did toss around for ideas were for girls, because we mainly thought it was going to be a girl. Then, one night, Whitney woke up and heard the word "Boden" three times, not audibly, but as clear as day in her mind. Her first thought was, "What?" Because she didn't know it was a name--she had never heard it before. The next morning she looked up the meaning and it gave her goose bumps. You see, Whitney had been praying for this baby all along for all kinds of things such as that s/he would be healthy and strong, kind- hearted to people and animals, social and funny, and much more. When she saw the meaning of the name Boden on the computer screen--shelter and messenger--she was immediately struck that God had taken strong qualities of our two characters. Whitney, with her care for all living things--be it people or pets or plants--and her nurturing way, combined with my social nature, love of hospitality, and desire to share stories--the perfect name blending our qualities was this one that meant shelter and messenger. God had provided a name that was better than she could have imagined and she loved it!

It was a couple of days until Whitney came to me with the news. And when I heard it, my first thought was that it was unique for sure, and then I wondered what kind of nickname he would have. Then, a light went off in my memory! A couple weeks prior, we had gone to hear a band called Need to Breathe, and the lead singers are brothers named Bear and Bo. As we drove home from the concert, I remarked that if we had a son we should call him something manly like Bo, because that would have a ring to it, Bo Derfler. Whitney squashed the idea. Well, now that we had this name Boden, I pointed out that our son would be called Bo for short, just as I had wanted. She agreed that, yes, he could be called Bo, but her nickname for him would be Bodie.

Mind you, all of this happened before we knew we were having a boy. And, I should add that our experience was that when it became known we were pregnant, almost everyone (family, friend, and stranger alike) started to weigh in on the sex of the baby.  And a large percentage, I'll say 75% or more, were telling us they thought it was going to be a girl. They would say that they could see clearly that the baby was sitting in the belly a certain way, we spun a ring above her belly and it spun in such a way that indicated a girl was in there. But this name Boden, which we were increasingly feeling like it was from God, wouldn't work for a girl. So, this story about getting a name from God was not one that we were telling to anyone, not wanting to look like a fool should we be wrong. Also, neither Whitney or I were of the understanding that God was in the habit of naming babies nowadays. Sure, in the Bible He clearly did, but we just hadn't heard much about it happening anymore. That all changed very quickly.

A few weeks after the name was revealed, I attended the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. Modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington D.C. each year, it's a big deal in the San Francisco Bay Area, often attracting well-known speakers like Condolezza Rice and hundreds of attendees. You can imagine my surprise when the keynote speaker, Hollywood producer Mark Joseph, spoke about how God had named his daughter during his speech. Did God reeaallly name my son? It began to look more and more like a possibility.

Then, within another week, as I shared the story with a colleague at work, he quickly remarked that God had named two of his children. And He had equally amazing stories to tell me about it. As I heard them, it was solidified in my mind that God had named my son Boden, and I then knew with 100% certainty that we were going to have a son. At this point, I began to tell the story. I now had complete faith that this was all from God, and I just had to share it. We found out a month later via ultrasound that we were due to have a baby boy.

God names children, I am not sure why He does with some and not others. But this much is true, He does it and in our case it was such a comforting experience. After all, if God names a baby, then there is a reassurance that His hand is on that baby through the pregnancy and that was so helpful for us since we navigated this our first pregnancy on the opposite side of the country from our family and friends.

God continued to provide peace of mind to us. Even with His confirmation in prayer that we were pregnant and with a name given to us, we still had anxiety about the delivery. About five months into the pregnancy, a friend casually suggested that we might come meet her doula, who was going to help her through her delivery. We didn't even know what a doula was, but we went anyway, and we met Tara, who would greatly impact our peace of mind about the birth, in a most remarkable way.

Tara, we learned, was a Christian too. Even more importantly, she has a really calming presence and she knows a whole lot about giving birth, the mother of five herself. When she came to our home to get to know Whitney and talk about a birth plan, we were surprised that our puppy Archie didn't even bark when she came in the door. In fact, he ran right up to her and licked her foot--pet owners might appreciate such a vote of confidence. Long story short, the idea that we would have Tara in our corner to help us through the delivery gave us a peace of mind through that pregnancy that made things seem safer.  Also, Tara, who normally charges over $1,000 for her services, informed us that she would not take our money when we asked her about the payment details. She told us that in our case, God nudged her to provide her services to us as a gift and she wouldn't budge.

There is more to our feeling blessed through this pregnancy than is even captured here. For example, toward the end of it I kept coming across the verse Psalm 139, which included the verses 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

These verses were presented in a Bible study one night, then it popped up in conversations, and when I opened my Bible randomly for inspiration, there it was. I find that for me, God often works by putting the same verse in my path repeatedly to truly write it in my heart.

So, all of these occurrences gave us a strong sense that God was involved in this pregnancy in a very personal way. It left us feeling compelled to share this story with you, because it is so important to us that He gets the glory for this baby boy in our life--we thank Him all the time; and we relay to you son, dear Boden Wiley Derfler, that you are blessed, that God named you, and we pray that He continues to bless you, establish your ways, and grow you as His very own shelter and messenger.