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Archive for the ‘God’s promises’ Category

A new year is dawning. There is no bright sun breaking through the dense clouds here in the eastern United States. The same as Christmas Eve, it’s gloomy and raining. If only it was colder so the precip would change to snow – bright white snow transforming the barren landscape into a winter wonderland.

But I can’t control the weather or all that has happened in 2020 – my husband’s cancer, the coronavirus, the political and racial unrest that is tearing our nation apart . . .

Will 2021 bring a return to “normal”? I doubt it! Yet this I know, God is with us. He has not and will not abandon me or you. But we must choose to trust – my word for 2021.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

As I look to the new year ahead, I am more convinced than ever of the need to “write His answer.” I remain committed to do all I can to encourage and equip you to “write about a God who is real, who is reachable, and who changes lives.” The ministry of the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will continue, if not in person, than we’ll meet virtually.

What about you? If you attended one of the conferences in the past, did you make a commitment to “write His answer”? Have you kept that commitment, or do you need to renew it or make a new commitment? In faith will you seek His will and enabling to “begin the new year write”?

Have the “deadly Ds” of disappointments, doubts, and discouragement derailed your writing dreams? It’s time to dig deeper into God’s Word and read (or re-read) my Bible study for writers. Click here for excerpts. Order at a discount from https://writehisanswer.com/bookstore. Also available as an eBook on Amazon.

I just finished rereading your book Write His Answer for the third time and wanted you to know how much I appreciate your message. It continues to amaze me how I would read a chapter on a topic just when I needed it. God is good! And He is using you to encourage writers over and over again. Thank you for being His messenger. Jeanie Wise, Ohio

The hot-off-the-press 2021 Christian Writers Market Guide is a must-have resource for finding a place to sell what you are writing or locating an agent, an editor, a designer, a podcast, or a writing coach. This 482 page resource sells for $29.99, but through the Write His Answer Bookstore I am glad to make it available for $24.99 Your purchase is needed and appeciated. It will help with the ministry expenses that have continued even though the conferences did not take place in 2020.

Have you finished your book but have not (yet) been able to find a publisher? “For such a time as this” I believe God has provided the technology to go indie. While there are numerous companies you can pay to publish your book, I encourage you to build a team and do as much of the process as possible yourself. Everyone needs an editor, but you can learn how to typeset your manuscript and even design your cover or use a service such as Fiverr or 99 Designs. My “Grow Your Writing Ministry” seminar will talk you through the steps. And here are just a few helpful books available at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Have you worked hard to get your book in print only to discover it’s even harder to sell it? Or maybe you’ve been approaching agents and publishers with your yet-to-be published book but you lack the “platform” for them to be interested. How can you build your platform and still find time to write? Is it even possible? Here are just a few of the books I recommend that you’ll find at the Write His Answer Bookstore.

Perhaps your writing project seems too big, too overwhelming, and you’re feeling stuck. Writing your testimony or a personal experience story is a good place to begin, and the audio workshops that accompany the book below provide “incredible storytelling secrets so that the stories of your life can make a lasting impact.” – Linda Evans Shepherd, best selling author and founder of AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association).

“Few have Marlene’s experience to teach writers and give them the tools they need to Write His Answer and to do it so well. These are practical items even experienced writers need reminding of, such as: have a clear focus, stay close to the Lord, search for truth, reflect (and journal) on your life experiences, stay humble, know your audiences—all of this to remind us that we, as believers in the Lord Jesus, are called to write His answer to those with so many questions. Written conversationally, this book invites you to take part in the work with a ready pen. ” Eva Marie Everson – Bestselling author; President, Word Weavers Int’l.


We’re likely to face continued challenges in the coming year. Jesus never promised it would be easy to follow Him, but He has promised always to be with us. Father, help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to trust You, and to “write Your answer.”

God is our refuge and strength,
a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear . . .
Psalm 46:1-2 TLB

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A Hymn for Christmas 2020

To the tune:
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

It’s been a long and fearsome year
The covid pandemic has brought.
So many lives have been cut short,
Despite the battle they have fought.

We grieve, we mourn, we question why.
Oh God, have You abandoned us?
Yet in the darkness shines a light.
We must look up and choose to trust.

Immanuel, God is with us.
He came and He will come again,
And while we wait we’re not alone.
His Spirit with us will remain.

Strength for each day He has promised.
Upon His Word we can depend.
He knows, He understands our plight.
He is our Saviour and our friend.

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Christmas is just two weeks away. I’m just now beginning to shop for gifts. No trekking through the stores this year. Our daughter, who is a pediatrician, has had me and my husband on lockdown since February because we’re high risk for the coronavirus.

Deb has been seeing children with covid every day in her practice. Even though she sees those who have covid symptoms outdoors rather than in her office, a father who was not wearing a mask probably infected her the Monday after Thanksgiving. The weather was miserable that day with rain and tornado warnings. I always thought “neither rain nor snow” was the motto of the United States Postal Service – NOT what would be required of my daughter in her medical practice.

We were concerned that I might have been exposed because my granddaughter was here the next day. She wore two masks and I wore mine, but we were indoors and closer than six feet. So my husband and I started wearing a mask in our home and I slept in the spare bedroom. (Except for Philadelphia, our county has the highest number of covid cases and deaths in the area.)

Thank the Lord I have not gotten covid and Deb is recovering. But Christmas will be very different this year. We won’t be with any of our kids and grandkids. There will be no family dinner or opening of gifts around the tree.

Still, as I consider what gifts to purchase for family and friends, I’m grateful for all the gifts I’ve received this year despite the pandemic. Covid has not claimed the life of anyone I’m close to. Although financially things have been challenging, we have not needed to wait in long lines to get free food.

We are facing other challenges. My husband has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. While it’s in the early stage, his Gleason score is high so he will begin hormone treatments next Monday. In addition, we’re weighing the cancer risk vs. covid exposure to beginning radiation now five days a week for seven to eight weeks.

So, in the midst of this very strange year what gifts does Father want me to give to loved ones? And what about you? Have you finished your Christmas shopping? Let me encourage you to consider the following:

A special gift because of the pandemic is worshipping with Marty Goetz Tuesday and Friday nights, 7 p.m. Central. His “House of Worship” with his daughter, Misha, and wife, Jenny, has drawn me into the Lord’s presence and deeply ministered to me. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. And for your gift-giving, visit www.MartyGoetz.com. You’ll find CDs and DVDs at special prices that Jenny will ship to you quickly. And as a gift to yourself, click here for a free video of their powerful latest release, “For Such a Time as This.”

God Is Big enough” says my friend Nick Harrison. “If you’re praying for a miracle, you can expect God to answer and provide you with real hope even in your darkest hours.” Nick is a literary agent and a frequent faculty member at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. He had planned to be at this year’s Philly conference until the pandemic caused it to be cancelled. Available on Amazon.

Written by my dear friend, Barbie Haley, who says, “In this crazy 2020 Christmas season here’s a gift that will bring peace and joy to those you love. These Christmas Carol Devotions remind us of the greatest gift ever – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! Send the gift of LIFE – the only REAL answer to the trials and suffering in today’s world.” Available on Amazon.

Yes, Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son. Help us to keep our eyes on Him this Christmas and every day of the new year.

His life is the light that shines through the darkness—
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:5 TLB

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Thankful

Every morning tell him,
“Thank you for your kindness,”
and every evening rejoice
in all his faithfulness.

Psalm 92:2 TLB

None of us could have imagined last Thanksgiving Day that the new year would bring a pandemic that would turn our lives upside down. Some have lost loved ones. Others have been infected, have survived, but are still struggling to fully recover. Many have lost their job or a business they have worked so hard to establish. Hunger is a reality for tens of thousands along with the threat of losing their home. And we all are being cautioned to avoid gathering with family and friends.

A 17-pound turkey is defrosting in my kitchen sink, but it will only be my husband and I at the table this Thanksgiving. My daughter, a physician, has had us on lockdown since February because Paul and I are both high risk.

On our 57th wedding anniversary November 9 we learned that Paul has prostrate cancer. To determine whether or not it has spread, he had a CT and Bone Scan two days ago – just one day before the hospital went on lockdown. We will get the results this coming Monday morning.

Yes, I am worried, but this I KNOW – God is with us. And He is with you in whatever you are facing. I’m praying we will all turn our eyes upon Jesus not just on Thanksgiving Day but every morning and evening and throughout the day. May He bless you and keep you safe.

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Saturday was the first time I’ve driven my car in seven weeks. It felt really strange. At least I hadn’t forgotten how to drive! And I didn’t get lost finding the church where I was scheduled to pick up a box of food for my daughter. I wore a mask and was careful to social distance.

Although some states are beginning to reopen, it’s likely to be quite some time before the Philadelphia area where I live will return to normal. I’m growing impatient. I’ve never been very good at waiting, and I admit I’m anxious wondering what restrictions the new normal will require. Will I again be able to hug my grandkids? And will it be safe to hold the July 22-25 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference? I don’t know. I’m still waiting and praying for a clear answer.

Be still and rest in the Lord;
wait for Him and
patiently lean yourself upon Him.
Psalm 37:7 AMP

A good thing to do during any season of waiting is to learn from a master crafts- man. Cec shares valuable, bite-sized lessons such as:

* How to get beyond the amateur look;
* Why writing articles is a good place to start;
* The importance of showing and telling;
* Choosing the best words and tenses;
* Using dialog to move your story along;
* Writing from the right perspective;
* Keeping your reader happy;
* Working with publishers, editors, and agents;
* Making a living as a writer.

Special price $7. Click here to order.

“The most comprehensive and recommended resource on the market for finding a place to sell what you are writing or locating an agent, an editor, a designer, a podcast, or a writing coach.”

I purchased two boxes (40 books) for $590 for the Colorado conference. It has cost $102 to ship them back to Pennsylvania. I am unable to return them and, honestly, I can’t afford to lose what I invested. Please help me and yourself by purchasing a copy at $18 (only .75 cents more than my cost). Regular price is $24.99. Click here to order.


I highly recommend this book for everyone who writes fiction. Time-saving tips, revision-made-easy charts, short checklists, and more.

  • Create great characters
  • Maintain a compelling pace
  • Craft believing dialogue
  • Expand your creativity.

246 page hardback. Full color
Retail $19.95.
Half price special $9.97.
Click here to order.

Please note: I’m finally updating the Write His Answer bookstore – something I’ve not had time to do until the pandemic has put both conferences on hold. I’ve got far too much tied up in books (I still have loads more to add) that are doing nothing to help the huge financial loss of postponing the Colorado conference. Knowing that financially things may also be difficult for you, I’ve greatly reduced prices. Quantities are limited.

Be sure to also check out the Other Titles that include 30 books I’ve edited in addition to the 14 Ampelos Press books I’ve edited and published. Amazing. Thank You, Father, for Your Ephesians 3:20 blessings.

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God is our refuge and strength,
a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear even if the world blows up
and the mountains crumble into the sea.”
Psalm 46:1-2 TLB

It’s been almost a week since our daughter told us we should not leave our home because we are both high risk. She did our grocery shopping and left the bags on the back porch. Deb is a physician, so even though this seemed drastic, we listened. Given the spread of covid-19 (the county we live in now has the highest number of cases in Pennsylvania) and the national emergency that has been declared, I’m grateful.

As schools close around the nation and daily more events are cancelled, I’ve wondered what to do about the May 13-16 Colorado and July 22-25 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. I honestly don’t know. Right now all I can do is pray and wait and see.

I have assured those on Colorado’s faculty that I will understand if they feel they need to cancel. Of course, the same is true for conferees who have already registered. I will refund anyone who feels it is not wise for them to come. The faculty and program is not yet finalized for the Philly conference.

Although I certainly hope and pray summer will bring an end to the virus, at least through the end of March I’m not going to focus on the conferences but instead invite you to join me in the following:

Pray, and not just tomorrow, Sunday, March 15, that President Trump has declared a national day of prayer. Pray daily for local, state, national, and world leaders that they would make wise decisions; for those who are ill with covid-19 and their caregivers; for medical scientists to develop an effective treatment and vaccine.

Pray much for others.” 1 Timothy 2:1 TLB

Balance time reading and listening to the news with digging into God’s Word. Of course, it’s important to stay informed, but if we pay attention only to what the world is saying and not to how God will speak to us through His Word, we’ll add to the panic that also threatens to become pandemic.

The whole Bible “is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.” 2 Timothy 3:17 TLB

Encourage others through posting on social media words of reassurance and hope from the Scriptures.

Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:7 TLB

Use the gift of words Father has entrusted to you to write blogs and posts to encourage readers to trust the Lord during this time of uncertainty.

Encourage each other to build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 TLB

As your daily routines are disrupted, ask the Lord, “What do You want me to do today?”

Make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.” Ephesians 5:16 TLB

Friends, let’s rest in the fact that none of what is happening has surprised the Lord or made it impossible for Him to intervene.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT


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It’s been a challenging week! That’s not surprising when I’m working on the Colorado or Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

For more than 20 years I’ve been typesetting the 16-page conference brochures on Quark, a desktop publishing program similar to InDesign. Since I write the copy to fit, it’s not a job I can delegate. And really it’s a task I enjoy – that is, when I don’t encounter problems.

Perhaps my joy (okay, pride) in opening registration four days early for the May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers Conference was why typesetting the brochure was more difficult than usual.

I’ve got a laptop with a huge hard drive and lots of memory, but clicking on the over 50 text boxes in the two pages below was laborious. I clicked and clicked. When a box finally opened, I couldn’t find the cursor. It was taking forever just to typeset these two pages, and I still had another 14 pages to finish!

The above does not include our keynoters or continuing session and clinic instructors. You can see who they are at https://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Finally ready to send to the printer

Wednesday afternoon, two days later than I had planned, I finally uploaded the brochure to the printer, or rather I tried to upload it. Can you imagine my dismay when I kept getting the message, “The file appears to be corrupted”?

Three hours and two calls to the printer later, I was assured they had the file and everything was fine. But the next day I got an email that they did not have the file. Would I “please upload it again.”

Unbelievably, Friday morning they called. Yes, same message! But now they admitted the problem was on their end. They said they would expedite the printing so I’d have the brochures in time for the February 22, Writers on the Rock conference. (If you live in Colorado or Wyoming, click here for info on this great one-day learning experience.)

I was more than ready to move on to the next thing I needed to get done that I hoped wouldn’t be another challenge. No such luck. (Well, luck has nothing to do with any of this. I am so beyond my own abilities and dependent on Father’s enabling.)

Facing another challenge

Again I faced not one but two challenges. I tried and tried to get the workshop grids posted on the website so they were readable. After hours of no success, exasperated, and at the “end of my rope,” I blogged “When you think you can’t . . .” promises from God’s Word. But I confess, I did give up (temporarily) and move on to the next thing on my never-ending to-do list.

Again, technology had me stumped and frustrated. After typesetting the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer below in Quark, I couldn’t create the needed PDF to send them to the printer. I tried to find answers in the 450+ page manual. I did multiple Google searches. Even got a Just Answer tech. He tried everything he knew and said, “You need to contact Quark.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Poster-and-TW-CO-2020-Teens-Write-CO-2018-2.png

I found a Quark tech online. Turns out my 2018 version of Quark is not compatible with the latest Windows 10 update. What? It was when I purchased it a year ago. The 2015 version that I typically use had created the needed PDF for the conference brochure. (The learning curve for the later version is so daunting that I rarely use it, but for some reason I couldn’t get the file I needed to update for the poster and Teens Write to load in 2015.) I couldn’t move the mini-poster and Teens Write flyer I created in the 2018 version to the 2015 program. I was stuck! (Yes, this is getting complicated. Stick with me, please.)

While I was relieved to know it wasn’t my lack of computer know-how, I wasn’t thrilled with the need to purchase an upgrade. And, of course, I encountered issues getting the upgrade to work! Again, I needed tech help, but PTL Quark included a full year of free support.

It was another long and exhausting day. I didn’t get near as much done as I had hoped to accomplish.

I’m so grateful Father helped me to persevere when the evil one tried to convince me that I had hit a brick wall
that I was not smart enough
or strong enough
or young enough to scale.

What about you?

While hopefully you’re not encountering the technical challenges that are so often a part of my experience, I know you face other challenges. The blank computer screen can be intimidating. Writing for the Lord isn’t easy. None of us will ever fully master the craft or understand all the intricacies of grammar and punctuation. And building a platform and finding a publisher are daunting tasks.

I’m often reminded of the challenges Solomon faced when his father commissioned him to build the Temple. I cling to the Lord and to the words He gave David to speak to his son – and to me and to you:

Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened by the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you; he will not forsake you. He will see to it that everything is finished correctly.
1 Chronicles 28:20 (TLB)

I know I’ll continue to face challenges, but God’s love and mercy never fail. PTL the new version of Quark is more user-friendly and isn’t hanging up. And now I’m able to create readable images directly from Quark. Hurrah!

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Accept the truth – you can’t. But . . .

with God everything is possible. Mark 10:27 TLB

Choose to rely on Him and His enabling.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. Proverbs 3:5 AMP

Refuse to believe the evil one’s lies that you can’t do what God is calling you to do.

Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:2-3 MSG

Claim His promises.

I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. Philippians 4:13 TLB

Don’t give up!

And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. Galatians 6:9 TLB

Praise Him in joyful anticipation of conquering the impossible in His strength.

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. Ephesians 3:20 TLB

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Confused
and
unhappy!

Today we are dog-sitting our son and daughter-in-law’s two dogs. Bailey, the brown dog, climbed in my lap to get away from our Labradoodle, Emmy, who is clearly confused and unhappy that Bailey has taken the place that she thinks belongs to her. For about 15 minutes Emmy barked and Bailey howled. I laughed so hard I started crying.

Yesterday I felt like Emmy. A missing “i” in “Mennonite” in an ad for The Christian Communicator caused me 2.5 hours of frustration and real tears. For years I’ve used Quark, a desktop publishing program similar to InDesign. Although I’ve never mastered it (someone has said that takes a full year), I have gotten comfortable with it. But my 2015 version crashed, and yesterday I was forced to use the 2018 “upgrade.” I purchased it a year ago, but found the learning curve so daunting I gave up.

Computers are supposed to make life easier. Right? Wrong! Although I’m more computer savvy than most of my friends, I am still challenged every day to understand technology that keeps getting more complicated. And it’s amazing how dumb my “smart” phone can make me feel.

I confess I do not “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4 NIV) or “celebrate God all day, every day” as The Message paraphrases this Scripture. I try. But honestly, I probably do more whining. Father, why does everything have to be so difficult? Why didn’t You make me smarter or more patient?*

(Oops! I definitely do not want to pray for patience!) But seriously, why can’t I be like the elk I enjoy so much at CCWC? I don’t think they whine about grass becoming brown or sparse. Or about the cold and snow. You provide for them the same as for the birds of the air.

Father, thank You for being with us especially when we feel confused and overwhelmed. Thank You that we can know the joy of the Lord as our strength. Help us, help me, to embrace my need to be dependent on You knowing that I can trust Your promise:

I can do everything God asks me to
with the help of Christ
who gives me the strength and power.

Philippians 4:13 TLB

* Sigh. I can’t see anything in the code next to the elk box that increased the font size. Can a HTML or WordPress expert help?

Despite ongoing computer challenges, plans are underway for the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Be watching for an email before Christmas with the latest news.

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It was one of those mornings! Multi-tasking (as always) I cracked two eggs into a pre-heated pan. I don’t waste time watching eggs fry or pots of water boil. Instead, I reached for my tray of pills, removed the lid, and somehow knocked it (the very full tray, not the lid) on the floor.

Knowing that our two-year-old Labradoodle (she has yet to grow up) eats everything but her monthly heartworm pill, my husband and I tried to get her to go outside. She thought it would be more fun to play catch-me-if-you-can. As usual, I had to give her a treat to get her to do what I want. (Yes, I know I’m rewarding her for bad behavior.)

Paul got two garden kneelers from the garage. I grabbed a flashlight and managed to get down on the kitchen floor. (My arthritic knees are bone-on-bone and one has been swollen for a week.)

The pills, of course, had rolled everywhere. I remembered the pick-up stix game I played as a kid, but this wasn’t a game and it wasn’t fun!

Paul is now vacumning the floor and then will give it a much needed scrubbing. (It was scary to see at eye level just how dirty my floor is.)

So . . . “give thanks in everything”?
Yes, “for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thess. 5:18 KJV

Now, I don’t think it is His will that bad things happen. And I don’t think He expects me to thank Him for my carelessness or the dumb and often sinful things I or others do. But in the midst of frustrating, annoying, and even awful circumstances I can choose to thank Him for being with me and for His promise to work all things together for my good.

Even when we are too weak to have any faith left,
he remains faithful to us and will help us.

2 Tim. 2:13 TLB

Now dumping a bunch of pills on the floor isn’t a biggee when it comes to my faith. But Father did use it to teach me, yet again, to give thanks.

  • Thank You, Father, for the availability of medicine and the wise new primary care doctor You have led us to.

  • Thank You that this new doctor discontinued three medications that were obviously causing my husband to be confused. (After almost a year of health issues since Paul fell and broke three bones September 30, 2019, I am so thankful He is much better.)

  • Thank You for my wonderful husband and our 56th wedding anniversary we celebrated November 9.

  • Thank You for calling and enabling me to direct the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference and for the progress I’m making planning next year’s conferences. (Colorado is May 13-16; I don’t yet have a date for Philly. I’ve asked for July 22-25 or August 5-8.)

  • YES, thank You for every thing!
And yes, I’m grateful for our strong-willed puppy!

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