The Space

Tonight you were distant.
I’m not sure why.
Was it something I said?
Was it something I did…
…or didn’t do?

I could feel the space between us.
It was wide and incredibly deep.
How do I tell you that it grieved me so much?
Something was wrong,
yet I struggled to find the words.

I’m searching for the bridge
to meet you again
like so many times before.
It has dissolved into the thick fog
and I cannot make my way

to tell you

that I miss you,
I need you.
Perhaps I have not said it enough,
you are a treasure to me,
a precious gift
I was blessed to receive
at just the right time.

I pray I will find the courage
in due time to share my heart
so that the God we both love
will connect our hearts once again
my dear friend.

God Works ALL Things For My Good

Today has been challenging at times, but I chose to allow God to lead me where He wanted to go, at least for the most part. Sometimes it didn’t go well because I was afraid to trust Him.

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There were other moments when I realized that going my own way was not working. As I followed His gentle reminders to step back and allow Him to work, doors opened that may have remained shut because I chose to wait on Him to move. There wasn’t anything I could do. It would only happen because He was the One who could make it happen. And the best part was I got to experience His faithfulness in the moment, right before my eyes.

I was the only one who could make band rehearsal this afternoon and frustrated because of how it came to be. I chose to make the most of the time I had, not only to practice, but to be present in His presence, giving Him all my passion and love. As I sang, as I played before my beautiful King, those frustrations seemed to just melt away. A spontaneous thought came to me to go visit another congregation of believers near and dear to me since I could end the rehearsal earlier now. It was then that I knew these last minute changes were not meant to frustrate me. They turned out to be an incredible gift from my King. He knew that I needed to go and receive an incredible word and oh how I was blessed! I went not knowing just how much I was in need of hearing Him say “give to Me all of you, every part; pursue Me in this life; receive whatever I want to give you.”

All day He was reminding me of Who He wants to be for me. He was challenging me to believe, to trust that He is greater, that He IS more than I could ever need in this life.

He said:

Am I not powerful enough to cover and protect you wherever you go?
There is no one greater than Me and because I am in you, I go before you, beside you, behind you. I am right here, next to you, walking with you, holding you up. You are My precious child and I am your Safe Refuge, your Hiding Place.

Will I not fulfill My promises to you?
They may not look like what you expect, but they are exactly what I want to give you when the time is right, when My time is best for you.

Am I not able to provide what you need in each and every situation?
I will supply everything you require. I AM all that you need. Don’t you forget it, ever!

Am I not able to move the hearts of those you are concerned about?
I AM. Watch, wait for Me to move at just the right time. Don’t doubt that I am working ALL these things for your good AND for theirs. I am Omniscient. I know when they will be ready to receive My love, My grace, My direction for their lives. So stay right where you are and let Me work because I AM the One who can work it out in the very best way. Nothing is impossible for Me. Trust Me, even when it seems that things are falling apart around you. Remember, I AM always here with you and never leave you. No, not ever.

He is. He is I AM. YAHWEH. He is powerful. He is faithful to do what He says He will do. He is more than able, able to move mountains for me, able to take out the giants who taunt me and try to defeat me with their destructive words. He provides, Jehovah Jireh. He is mighty to do ALL that He wants. There is NOTHING, No Thing that He cannot do. He is working it out, ALL things for me, to be able to receive His best and He knows just what I need in this moment, at this time in my life.

What a glorious thought that You, dearest Savior, would tend to my concerns and care for the burdens on my heart. They are important to You just like my feelings and frustrations are known by You because I am made in Your image, in Your likeness. So You feel what I feel and You care about those things that are important to me. Who is like You, oh Lord? No one in all the world. Thank You for Your love towards me. I am in awe of how You care for this dear one. Gracias mío Dios.

A Gift From the King

Tonight I was reading a post on Facebook from someone asking for prayer for a car and I thought it was a good time to blog about how God provided that for me recently. He gave me more than I imagined I even needed and I still marvel at how it happened.

In April I had to take my Ford Escort into the auto shop for yet another repair. It was spring break so it was a good time to get the work done. Over the past three years I have spent at least $5000 to maintain my car, which at first was not a negative thing because for the most part my car had run well and been faithful to keep me on the move. I bought it thirteen years ago with 40,000 miles and only one owner before me. It lasted a long time and I believe that was because of the faithfulness of God to take care of my needs. However by this time the repair costs were beginning to add up.

It wasn’t a big bill, but then it wasn’t running well after I picked it up from the mechanic’s shop and I was growing concerned. I decided to accept the offer of assistance from one of my brothers-in-law to see if I could save some money on repairs, but that’s when it turned south and things began to go from bad to worse. If it wasn’t one thing, it was something else. I was just so frustrated with all the time and money I had spent, yet I felt stuck with the car as if I had no other options.

At this time I was also in the process of reducing my teaching hours for the coming school year because I’d felt led by God to do that. I stepped out in faith trusting that whatever my needs were, they would be taken care of, but now I was starting to wonder if I had done the right thing. But it was all settling into place in a way that confirmed I was following the Lord’s direction.

And I certainly didn’t think that I could afford a car payment, much less even qualify for a car loan. I figured that the only thing to do was to keep taking it to the auto repair shop until it was beyond repair. I knew that God would come through for me when that time came, I just didn’t realize how soon that would be.

The week I returned back to school after spring break my car quit working altogether. It had been running a bit rough, but I was getting around alright. I had gone to workout at the gym. When I went to start her up, it sounded bad. Real bad. And I knew I was stuck. My brother-in-law lived close and came to help me find a tow truck, get it to the shop and then took me home. I was also able to arrange a ride with one of my sisters to and from school for the next day.

It was now time to wait for the diagnosis. And that was hard. I waited two days to learn that it would cost almost $2000.00 to repair. At that point I was done and knew that I needed to move on, but I felt like I didn’t know what to do. What kind of car should I get? What could I afford to buy? My dad said he would help me out if I needed it. I was able to borrow the loaner car from the auto shop for several days so I could take some time to think about what I wanted in the way of another car.

I have always said that my next car had to have four doors, a fob so I didn’t have to walk around the car to open the door for anyone riding with me and a CD player. I also wanted something that was safe and economical. It had to last me a long time. I did consider leasing a car so that I wouldn’t incur a lot of repair bills and still have a nice vehicle to drive. That seemed logical and reasonable to me, but God wanted His dear daughter to have something better.

Someone in my day’s church heard about my need for another car and offered to let me borrow one of hers. She also had a connection at a dealership and felt I could get a great deal there if they had something I was interested in purchasing. She also had a sense that God wanted her to bless me this way. All around I had a great deal of peace and felt that this was the path to take.

A week later she called, excited to tell me that she had seen a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid on the dealer’s website and said I should check it out. I did and wasn’t excited about the color or the mileage, but I let her make the call to get more information. Well, it had already left the lot by the time we called, but it got me thinking about applying for a car loan. So I went online and asked for $10,000.00 because that seemed manageable for me considering I needed to find something soon.

Well, to my surprise I was approved and for a lot more than I asked for. Amazed at how this story was being written I decided to take a closer look at the cars on this dealer’s website just to see what my options were. I also got in touch with another friend whose husband sold cars for a living and he was also helpful in telling me where to look and who to avoid. I began thinking about purchasing a Huyndai.

One of my best friends had always raved about hers and I knew that her mom had driven a few. I looked on Craigslist to see what they were going for and wouldn’t you know that there weren’t any listed. Not even one! I know when I have looked before just to see what was available it was the same story. So I considered that perhaps this was a good car to check out.

God is so amazing! And the way He works in our lives blows my mind every time. There was a 2012 Huyndai Accent at this dealership where I had an opportunity to get a great deal on the price. Every time I looked at their website it was there. The reviews were great and it was economical by far. It had four doors, low miles, a CD player and the fob! I checked other places, but whenever I came back to their website, the Accent was always there.

The timing of this all seemed terribly wrong. Two months before the end of the school year is always hectic and busy. The reality was I had no time to research what kind of car would work best for me. I didn’t think I could afford it with changes in my job, but time is never an issue for God who proved Himself faithful once again.

He sent someone to lend me their car while I prayed and considered what I should do. That same person had a connection with a dealer which had just taken my new Huyndai Accent in on a trade the day before my Escort broke down (only I didn’t know that until the day I bought it). I had loan approval with an already awesome interest rate, but then qualified for an even lower rate while completing paperwork with the finance guy at the dealership. The car was there for almost three weeks and no one else bought it. It was meant for me and my Father in heaven knew exactly what I needed.

Just before I drove it off the lot, the sales rep connected my phone to the Bluetooth inside the car and I discovered I could listen to music from my iPhone through the stereo system. I was blown away. I didn’t even know to expect that with Bluetooth capability, but here my Father was looking out for me once again, wanting to shower His love on me because He delights in me.

I just came back from taking it on a road trip to visit Bethel Church in Redding, CA. What a nice ride my new car is to drive on road trips! And it was definitely a trip worth taking. God knew that I needed to go. He knew my need. He knew what I wanted and hoped for. He set me up for a step up to receive the wonderful blessings He has for me in this season of my life.

We are so easily discouraged and distracted by the concerns of our lives that we often forget the goodness of our Heavenly Father. But we have to keep our focus on what He’s done and the wonderful promises He offers to us, His beloved children:

Matthew 6:26-27 (NIV)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

How many times do I forget, become fearful and doubt His goodness towards me when He always remains the same, showering me with loving kindness and mercies that limitless. Too many times I care to admit, but I am grateful for His reminders today that tell me keep praying no matter how dark and difficult my situation becomes, to talk about my blessings rather than my problems, to trust in the One who ransomed me from the curse of death just because He wants to be with me, because He loves me. He cherishes me and calls me His beloved daughter.

Psalm 8:4 (NASB)
What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?

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Trying to Make Sense of It All

Tonight I learned that a dear friend lost her baby boy. Her water broke this morning, but it was way too early for her to give birth and he went home to be with Jesus. It just breaks my heart.

We were all so happy for her being newlywed and expecting her first child. Just the anticipation of what was coming was excitement in itself. I remember our conversation earlier this week about how she was getting more excited now than when she first discovered she was pregnant. I think about those who were planning and preparing all of the baby showers and celebrations for this little one.

The whole thing leaves me struggling with the goodness of God, something I feel like I have been fighting for quite awhile now. I want to believe that He is good and faithful in the midst of this and other situations I’m walking through in my life. I want to know with confidence that my actions and response won’t change His goodness in my life when I find myself here time and time again. Yet inside there is this battle that I grow weary of and often feel defeated by because of stupid lies like “you don’t have enough faith” or “you’re such a fake for professing the importance of turning to God when it takes you so long yourself to come to Him.”

Sometimes I think “Am I the only one out there who feels like this?”

I know that God is good. The bible gives endless accounts of the faithfulness of God, His promises and truth, His power to change our lives for the better. He cannot be unfaithful to His promises. His love for me does not fail. It goes against His character.

I know that His love goes deep. I know that He accepts me in whatever state I happen to be in, even when I don’t accept myself in my messiness. Nothing separates me Him. Nothing I do would cause Him to stop loving me. EVER! One would think that if I truly believed that as deeply as I say I know it to be true, then I might not wrestle so much with these things.

But I find myself here again, fighting the negative thoughts of doubt and unbelief. And forgetting His kindness and grace that is always extended towards me. I’ve avoided spending time studying and learning about who He is and who He wants to be in my life, to bless me, to help me maneuver through things I face each day because I believed the lies and allowed them to take up space inside my head. That is the battle right there.

I find myself facing defeat again, a weary and worn soldier who just wants to take comfort in something tangible. However, unless it comes from God it won’t tend to the broken places in my heart.

Lord, I cry out and ask for You to bring comfort and hope to those places where my heart is hurting not just for myself, but for the people You have placed in my life as well. I have kept You at a distance and hardened my heart because of the pain, but I know that I can’t stay here. Forgive me. I repent and turn to You again, choosing to believe and trust that You are compassionate and loving, full of mercy and grace, and that You will embrace me forever and call me “dear one, beloved, in whom I take great delight.” Thank You for Your unfailing love and gentleness towards me. Such an incredible display of affection!

Psalm 27:13 (from the Amplified)
[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!

Psalm 103:1-5 (New American Standard Bible)
Bless the Lord, O my soul,And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities,Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit,Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Why does God ask such hard questions when He already knows the answer?

That was a poignant question I read today and it made me consider all the times when He asks me to do things that I feel are far beyond my ability and desire. Most of the time I say “I don’t wanna do that Lord” or “How am I supposed to accomplish that? It’s too much for me right now. It’s too hard. It’s too messy.” (I wonder if my response ever makes Him rolls His eyes at me in exasperation.) Of course I’ll pray and ask for Him to change my heart so that I have the want to, but it seems like I’m dragging my heels most of the way until I finally relent and wave the white flag in surrender.

Moses made the excuse that he was not an eloquent speaker when God asked him to go to Pharaoh to ask for the release of his people. God gave him Aaron to speak for him. He didn’t let Moses get away with making the excuse “my heart’s just not into it.” He persisted and pursued and wouldn’t stop showing His faithfulness to walk with Moses through everything He called him to do. God also did some incredible things to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. He was going to move this mountain to bring His beloved children out of slavery and bondage.

What does that say about God’s character?

It says He wants more for us than we ever can realize is possible. He sees way more potential in us than we see in ourselves. He wants us to not be bound up in our minds and bodies, but free to respond out of our love for Him because He has done more for us than anyone ever could. He redeemed us from eternal damnation and gave us a life free of condemnation and shame.

His heart is revealing just how deeply He loves us this way. He says to take a step towards Him, put our hand in His and join in this dance, trusting that He will lead us in wherever He asks us to move. He will not allow us to fall. Like a faithful lover He will protect and cover.

He knows that I don’t necessarily know the “how” to accomplish what He is asking. He knows that I may not be the most skilled or talented person, but He knows me and wants to work in me and through me to show others that He will do the same for them because He loves us so much.

I think our spirits genuinely want to say “Yes, Lord! I’ll do whatever You ask of me!” As we study His character, think on what the bible says about God, we can become convinced that He is the Everlasting Father, able to do so much more than we can imagine or hope for for us. He can not fail. He won’t abandon us. His love is perfect and merciful. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us, even with all of our faults, imperfections and messiness.

Why would He accept me when I struggle to accept myself?

I’m not sure how to respond to that, but I am thankful for His perfect love that never ends. For His faithful love and mercy that is always available to me, even when I’m in a bad mood and find myself having a temper tantrum. He is my Father who knows best what I need and what I am capable of. So when He asks me to do something that I’m just not comfortable or even happy about doing I know that He must have an amazing plan in mind and when I am ready to put my hand in His so He can lead me, then great things are going to happen. The possibilities are endless.

Oh Daddy, help my heart to trust and believe in Your ways, to stand up and say “Yes” when You call me out to walk upon the waters, to believe that Your plans have meaning and purpose for me and those You have placed in my life. Help me to surrender because You are good and faithful and know what’s best for me. Help me to pursue You steadfastly and pour out my love on You. I want to be a sweet fragrance that will draw others to sit at Your feet in adoration of Your amazing love. Can I do that for You?

A Display of Affection

Wow, Lord You amaze me. I don’t even know how to hold back these tears as I journal about my day. What incredible love I feel running down like a precious, fragrant oil You’ve poured over me.

Just in this moment alone You have shown Your faithfulness to provide for a need. I had no way of knowing how You planned to bring another person to assist the worship team I lead on Sunday mornings. But in less than a week three men from the congregation are coming in the morning to learn how to do sound and tech during the service. How did you do that so quickly? I am in awe and trust You will provide the very best.

You spoke to me about my need to stop complaining about my job and be thankful for what You have provided to meet my needs for this time in my life. Even though I often dread the potential struggles I know I may face each day because they might be uncomfortable, I know I can trust, believe and stand firmly on the truth that You are my source of strength and will supply an abundance of joy in the task of teaching each and every student who comes through my classroom.

I am reminded in a prayer request that came via text message this afternoon that I am not the only one who struggles with rising above defeat when I face disappointment in my personal life. And that to worship You is to overcome and find victory in the battle of my mind.

Even in my singleness You are reminding me that You have a plan and purpose for me. I can cry out to You in my loneliness and still declare You are sovereign in providing for me at just the right time. Today I felt You speak to me that I would see a specific man I know of, that some friends wanted me to meet awhile back. And I had dinner with them tonight. Wow! I was good. I stayed calm and true to who I am.

And the playlist from my iheart radio channel was speaking Your faithful love over and over with beautiful promises, truth of the woman You are calling me to become. Every word sunk deep into my heart, saturating my mind and restoring the joy that can only come from knowing You, Lord Jesus.

I am thankful for Your faithful, unfailing love for me, someone who is not deserving to be loved this way, yet I am considered worth every ounce of Your affection because You want me. You want to hold my hand and lead me through the life You’ve given me. You call me Your own, beloved, dear one. I am precious in Your sight. You know me through and through. Thank You dear Lord for Your amazing love that never runs out. Thank You for being the One who knows me best and knows exactly what I need, when I need it.

SOAP Hebrews 12:2

In an effort to be diligent in my practice of studying the bible, I am using the SOAP method. After I read a verse that speaks to me, I write it down (S). I make observations about what I notice from the verse (O). I then write about how to apply it to my life (A) and finally end my time writing a prayer (P). I felt led to share with you the SOAP journal I did for this verse from Hebrews 12:2 and used the Amplified version of the bible because it helps me to understand the context better.

S: “Looking away [from all that will distract us] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”-Hebrews 12:2

O: What sticks out most to me in this verse is the phrase “for the joy.” How could anyone find joy in the pain of being crucified? It’s nothing I would choose to do. Just the phrase sounds ridiculous in my mind, but oh how the ways of God are not ours. God longed for us to have a connection to Him. Jesus is the bridge that makes that relationship possible. Even though I don’t understand why He chooses things that make little or no sense at times, I am grateful for what His death gave to the world.

A: Jesus did what He had been asked to do by God the Father. He did it knowing that the end result would bring us into a much better place, where we have a part in receiving the good things God intends for us: eternal life, grace to believe that no matter what we do His love for us will never change, promises for healing and restoration, an inheritance that surpasses anything we could imagine here on earth. He ignored the humiliation and disgrace that came with death so that I might live. What a beautiful Savior!

P: Lord God, I am awestruck at the beauty of Your love for me. I am amazed that You would lower Yourself this way because I am worth so much to You. Thank You for being my sacrifice so I didn’t have to walk through life on my own. I bless You Lord for Your goodness and merciful love poured out on me. Help me today to respond with the same attitude that You had in going to the cross, that I would choose to do what You ask of me, even if its difficult to go through. I know that You have been working for my good before I was born. I choose to trust You and believe in Your promises, that You are for me, not against me, that You love me with an unfailing love. Thank You for the cross and the torment You endured so that I might live forever with You my king. Amen.

Not Failure

A few nights ago I was renting a movie from Redbox and a young man asked me for a cigarette. I told him I didn’t smoke and he said “Good for you.” (I thought to myself “That probably wasn’t the best thing to say.”) But he didn’t seem offended by my honest answer and continued to talk with me. “I don’t want to by a whole pack, I just want one. I’m trying to quit.” I responded with “I’m sure that’s got to be hard.”

Honestly I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. I didn’t want to do anything more than get the movie and go home. I had dinner in the car and it was late. As I walked back to the car something told me to tell him that even though I didn’t have a cigarette I could pray for him, but I wasn’t about to turn around and talk to him some more. Remember, I had food, a movie and it was late. Obviously, I had greater priorities here. (As I write this I shake my head in disappointment at myself, but I would much rather respond with a willing heart than out of a sense of duty and obligation.)

So I headed home, but I knew I should have stayed. My heart strings were being pulled, but I responded selfishly. I now wish that I had stayed and shared the love of Christ. That’s truly what I want to do, who I want to be. But I find myself at this crossroads more times than I care to admit and its getting old. All I can think about now is why I don’t do the things I know I should and do the things I shouldn’t.

So here comes the battle in my head:

Lies rush in like “I’m not someone who should be in leadership at church, that was low girl, what’s wrong with me, I’m a selfish person (well, that’s true if you look at my actions here), I’m rebellious, disobedient and a myriad of thoughts that I know aren’t from God. Just condemnation from the enemy of my soul.

Then I begin questioning my behavior and the motive of my heart. Is it because I’ve felt so worn out lately, exhausted from life, my job? Life itself has been draining. I’m working hard to change so many things, in an effort to be a better person, a better Christian, a better leader in the church. Why shouldn’t I give myself a break? Is it because I’m struggling with depression? Is it due to the discontent that I find in my heart because I’m disappointed at what I don’t have that I want right now in life?

I am reminded that I don’t need to concern myself with the why so much because it only seeks to take my focus from You Jesus? Like my four year old niece I want to understand the why behind my choices so that I can fix it, yet I recognize that I don’t need to know or really understand the why because it’s not my job to fix things or derive the solution to making a change. I have been trying for so long to fix things and find solutions to walk in freedom, but anything I try on my own independent of God’s leading goes nowhere or finds me more disappointed than before.

My response is to come to Jesus, ask Him to change my heart so that I will respond with His when the next opportunity arrives at my doorstep. In desperation I asked “Would you put me in the place where there is no other option but to respond the way I know You would have me respond?” Maybe I would make the best choice next time, but then again I don’t know that I would. I have to discipline my thinking to recognize when the fear and doubt come that it’s not from God. I must remember the truth of who God has purposed and called me to be, humble and in community with all types of people, even those that I am not always comfortable with at times.

This scripture comes to mind “Everything is permissible, but not everything is profitable.” Lord, I want the profitable, not just what’s permissible. I want to respond with a willing heart out of my love for You and those You put before me everyday. Thank You for being patient with me as I grow to become more like You. Flood the heart of this dear one with the beautiful love of my Savior. Don’t let me hold back; compel me to love like You want me to love. I offer my heart and my life to You again to be used as You want dear Lord Jesus.

He sees. He knows. He loves.

As I read through posts tonight on Facebook, these words really hit home: “He sees. He knows. He loves.” I read them sandwiched in the middle of this: “Honest cries for help lifted up to Jesus will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.” They are from Lysa Terkeurst and exactly the reminder I needed after this afternoon.

Someone at church asked me about my dad and how he’s doing. It’s difficult not to be concerned about him these days given the time of year and state of where my family is at, but I know God has him in the palm of His hand. I wish I could do more to fix the things in him that concern me, but I can’t. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work even when I try because that’s not my job. It’s God’s alone.

My beautiful friend who runs the coffee bar at church asked how I was doing and mentioned that she had been praying for me this past week on a specific day. She had her prayer journal there at the coffee bar and looked it up because she had felt God impress upon her heart to be intentional about praying for me. That day, March 19th, was the third anniversary of my mom’s death. She didn’t know that at all before today. I’m amazed at God’s love for me. And thankful for someone who is praying for me on a regular basis.

I am reminded that God is for me, not against me, that He has great purpose and wonderful plans for me. Even when I doubt that I am qualified and capable of doing what He asks, I know that He is greater in me and uses me more than I understand. Even when I can’t make others recognize His heart for them, I know He is still standing right beside me, holding my hand, telling me He is never going to leave me, that He’ll always be there, in every situation I face.

As I write this, I am reminded of an encouraging word I heard today in the American church: to receive rest from the Lord. Help me Father to receive Your rest, to stop striving and just lay back in Your tender embrace, to feel Your merciful love overtake me. Oh God, You are kind and compassionate, with love never ceasing. Help me Savior to trust You even more, to put my hand in Yours, to rest in the truth that I am Yours and You are mine, that I belong to You and nothing can or ever will keep us apart.

Tu eres maravilloso, mi Señor. Tienes mi corazón.

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