The Shocking Truth About Today’s Youth

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I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear someone bring up the topic of young people in today’s world, there is almost always a negative connotation applied to the conversation. There is rarely a noteworthy story of teens or pre-teens doing something wonderful in the community, but the evening news is riddled with reports of youth doing horrible, unspeakable acts of violence and perversion. The mainstream media would have you believe that all young people today are carbon copies of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. Likewise, the world would persuade you to lump sum this group that makes up nearly fifteen percent of the U.S. population into a league of miscreants leading lives where immorality abounds. Is this the truth or a distortion of reality? While I will not deny that this world has its fair share of Justins and Mileys, I am completely unwilling to buy into the one size fits all juvenile delinquent stereotype.

I have always been drawn to children of all ages. From early on in my childhood, I had an intense desire to be a mother when I grew up and married Mr. Right. I also decided that I wanted to work with children on a daily basis, so I earned a degree in Education. God blessed me by granting me my petitions. I am now the mother of four and am blessed to work with many children in both my church family and my homeschool group. Due to my close association and interactions with quite a large number of young people, I have been fortunate enough to observe what I feel is their true nature.While I am no expert even by a long shot, I truly believe when it comes to today’s youth, we need to open our eyes to who they really are.

bbbbbz1. Young people are people, too!

I am afraid that so many times we do not view teens as people. We are quick to judge them, quick to reprimand them, and quick to completely write them off. We dismiss their feelings, ideas, and capabilities. The Apostle Paul did not take this approach with Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:12

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,

but set an example for the believers

in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

He understood Timothy, like all young people, had feelings.He also realized that Timothy had the right mind-set and was completely capable of living a life worthy of imitation in the church.

Philippians 2:19-23

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.

But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me” 

Given due respect and opportunity, it has been my experience, that our youth will rise to the occassion.

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2. Young people breathe new life into old situations.

I don’t want to say that all adults tend to be “old fogies”, but the fact that we have the propensity to get into autopilot mode is hard to deny. All too often we get so caught up in everyday living that we become blinded to many things.  Young people often have fresh eyes that can more easily detect areas of need, joy, and thanksgiving that their elders may overlook. Not only that, the innocence and newness that they bring to the forefront is a much welcomed breath of fresh air. Just seeing and interacting with young folks is a visible reminder of the newness of life given to us on a daily basis by the Father.

Lamentations 3:22-23

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Even our Lord and Savior saw the value of spending time and interacting with young people.

Mark 10:13-15

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.”

Never underestimate the new life that can be interjected into any situation by involving youth.

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3. Young people can teach us a thing or two! (or three or four!)

Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we have all the answers. We really could learn some great things just by observing our young people. They have soft, supple hearts ready to extend love, eager to do the right thing, and extremely penitent when found in the wrong. More often than not it is a young person who responds to the Lord’s invitation. It isn’t necessarily because they sin more, but because they have hearts uncalloused from saying no one too many times.

Psalm 25:7

“Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”

Young people also seem much more willing to get outside of their comfort zone. When charged with a task, they do not allow preconceived notions or irrational fears to hold them back. They have the heart of a servant and are very willing to serve with zeal.

Romans 12:11

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Most importantly, young people really understand the first great command and the command second to it.

Mark 12:30-31

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

To learn how to love unconditionally, we would do well to study and emulate our younger counterparts.

1 John 3:18

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

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This past weekend I was honored to be in the presence of six thousand people intent on growing closer to the Lord our God. The vast majority of those souls were young people. They were from different states, socioeconomic backgrounds, and circumstances, but they were united in purpose. Believe me, it was an eye opening picture on the state of our youth, to say the least. Let’s all wake up, wipe the dust of misconception out of our eyes and see today’s youth for what they really are.They are what we need to become. What they really are isn’t really so shocking after all.

Shanna

Photo By Robbie Grubbs from Houston (What????) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Dear Beautiful Girl,

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I prayed to God and he blessed me with an amazing daughter. I have also been blessed to work with pre-teen and teen girls in the Lord’s church for several years. What strikes me over and over again as heart wrenching is the sheer amount of these young ladies that just seem downright deflated and defeated. It is difficult to stand by a watch such a vibrant group, full of life and full of endless possibilities, languish and struggle. I refuse to remain a helpless bystander in a sea of souls with silent cries grasping for reassurance and support. I want to throw out the lifeline to all young women, everywhere. I love you, God loves you, and this is what I want you to know.

Dear beautiful girl,

Yes, you! Don’t look around in surprise. I’m talking to you.You are beautiful! Oh, I’m not looking at you through the lens of popular culture or worldliness. I’m looking at you the way God intended true beauty to be seen.

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1 Peter 3:3-4

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear,  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious”

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Can’t you see you are so much more than perfect hair and make up or labels and trendy clothing? Those things are external and can NEVER define your real beauty. They are perishable. Your beauty is internal, “the hidden person of the heart”. Those who wish to see it have to look deeply and want to know you, the REAL you, to find it. They have to listen ever so carefully to your words as well, because you have a “gentle and quiet spirit”. That gentleness makes you so beautiful to me, but more importantly it makes you so beautiful to Him.

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You are not alone. There are so many people that adore you. Your parents, your friends, and your church family. They want to see you succeed, obtain happiness, but most of all, they want you to go to heaven. They want to help you do just that. Let them. This is especially true of your Father in heaven. He loves you so much He gave His Son to make a way for you. Don’t ignore Him. Talk to Him…a lot. Lean on him. He wants to carry your burdens.

1 Peter 5:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Do not worry.Your prince will come, someday. Just remember, your King is already here. Put Him first today and always and everything else will fall right into place.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

titusbrett

              Speaking of Prince Charming, make sure he is a true child of the King. Wait for Him. Do not settle. Do not rush. You are looking for someone who loves you like this.

Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

A true prince will be willing to give himself up for you. He will put his selfish desires aside for you.  He will not expect you to give yourself to him before marriage. You are worth the wait and he knows that. Pray for him, wait for him, and look for him. Don’t be decieved. No matter how many times you kiss a frog, he may never turn into a prince.

katie

Beautiful girl, above all else, keep smiling and letting your light shine.

Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

kandk

You are beautiful because you shine His beauty for all to see in a world that really needs light. Keep shining. Keep being what God wants you to be. He wants you to be beautiful. You ARE beautiful, beautiful girl.

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In Him,

Shanna

He Loves Me;This I Know

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Today is Valentine’s Day. A day set aside to proclaim how much we love our significant other. Many go to great lengths and expense to impress their valentine. Others are decidedly more understated in their approach. Nonetheless, few leave this day untouched without some small token for their love.

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When the roses have wilted, the last piece of chocolate has been consumed, and the other gifts are long forgotten, what remains? If you are blessed, as I am, these frivolities can NEVER compare with the expressions of true love your husband bestows upon you every day.

We read in Proverbs 31 that a good wife is worth far above rubies. Do we ever consider what a good husband is worth? Do we take time to let him know we love and appreciate him? Do we thank God for him daily and make supplications on his behalf? That is what I want to do right now.

John Davis Anderson, I love you, and respect you on so many levels. I have witnessed you progress from a bright eyed young man to a wiser, better version of you. I have laughed with you, cried with you, hoped with you, prayed with you, and have truly become one with you. I do not see me as me without you. We are a single unit knit together with our heavenly Father. I could never fully express why I love you, but I want you, and everyone else, to know the few reasons that I am feebly able to verbalize.

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1.I love you because you chose me.

You were able to see redeeming qualities in me while I was still immature and very rough around the edges. You were able to envision the wife and mother that I had the potential of becoming. You looked past my flaws and loved me despite me. Thank you for choosing me and for helping me continue to work on becoming all the things you dreamed I could be.

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2. I love you because you love me.

You have seen me at my best. You have seen me at my worst way too many times, yet you still love me. You have watched me transform from that youthful girl you took as your bride to an aged woman with gray hair and wrinkles. You still love me. You have watched me struggle and be my own worse enemy. You still love me. When I absolutely do not love myself, you STILL love me.

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3. I love you because you love our children.

God  blessed us with four of the loveliest babies that have ever existed. You have patiently sat by and waited while my mothering instinct has been at full tilt. Even though it was a financial sacrifice,you have allowed me to stay at home with them and nuture them in ways I could only dream.You have taught them and molded them. You have loved them more than they will ever know, but I know. I know and it makes me love you more every day.

johnnkids

4. I love you because you sacrifice yourself for your family.

You give even when you are completely depleted. Your hands bear witness of the lengths and depths that a true man will go to in an effort to support his family. You have done without the finest apparel, home, and car to allow your children to actually grow up together. Never think your sacrifice goes unnoticed. Never think you are not praised by your wife and children. You empty yourself that we might be filled. I love your sacrificial heart.

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5. I love you because you love the LORD.

This is the reason I love you the most. You are the spiritual leader of our home. I never have to fear that God will not be the center of our home or that you won’t put Him first. I appreciate the hours you spend in His word to feed His sheep. How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel! You are beautiful to me and I love you.

God knew what He was doing when he created the home. I am so thankful that God blessed me with a wonderful godly husband. I pray that I will never take him for granted. I don’t want to just wait for a special occassion to tell and show my husband why I love him. I want him to know. I want to make sure he knows. He shows me his love each and every day. He loves me; this I know.

Shanna

“IF” You Love Me……..

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It is officially February. Love is in the air, or at least it is in evey big box store from here to Timbuktu. You don’t have to go very far to see hearts, candies, balloons, and various other tokens of affection vividly displayed for all to witness. It is the time of year when sweethearts the world round go that extra mile to make sure their significant other really, truly, and completely understands how important they are.

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According to statistics, Americans spent 18.6 billion dollars on Valentine’s day gifts in 2013. I guess the old adage “love ain’t cheap” is extremely accurate. Why would people go to such lengths and spend so much of their hard earned money on someone else? The obvious answer is when we love someone, we want to make sure they know it. Even more than that, we want our love to be evident to the entire world. It is as simple as this, if a relationship is important to us, we will invest all that we have in that relationship.

As Christians, we are in a relationship with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ . Like any relationship, in order to reap the available benefits, we must invest our attention, time, and  money. In other words, we must surrender our entire being. Jesus Himself told us how He and the entire world would know that we love Him.

John 14:15

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

“IF” we love Jesus we will

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1. Listen to Him 

When we really love someone, we want to hear what they have to say. In fact, we usually hang on their every word. Their words are valuable to us because in them we find refuge,joy,peace and comfort. Jesus said,

John 10:27

“My sheep listen to my voice;

I know them, and they follow me.”

How do we listen to the words of Jesus, today? There is only way. We MUST immerse ourself into the written word, The Holy Bible. What does it say about our level of commitment to our relationship with the Great Shepherd, if we ignore what he has to say on a daily basis? If the only time you ever listened to your loved ones was on Sunday morning, how would those relationships hold up? In order to know His voice, to recognize it above the voice of any other, and to love its sweet sound, we must listen to Him each and every day.

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2. Talk to Him

How many times during the day do you keep mental notes of all the things you want to say to your sweetheart? When we love someone we feel the need to communicate with them as often as possible. We want to thank them for the wonderful things they do, ask them to help us in ways only they can, and share our troubles so they can help bear our load. How do we talk to God? We communicate to the Father through the Son in prayer.

Philippians 4:6

“Do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.”

God desires our prayers. In fact He has promised

Luke 11:9

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you;

seek, and you will find;

knock, and it will be opened to you.”

If you did not speak to those that you love over extended periods of time, how would that affect your relationship. What if you only talked to them when you wanted something and never thanked them for what they had already given you? We MUST speak to God on a daily basis.

1 Thess. 5:17

“Pray without ceasing,”

If we love Him, we will never fail to talk to Him each and every day.

3. Spend Time With Him

If we are in love, we want to spend every waking hour together. If we are really in love, NOTHING or NO ONE will keep us apart. Ballgames, work, hobbies, lack of rest, lack of time, or long distances will not seperate you from the one that you love. They are the number one priority in your life, and rightfully so. Jesus said,

Matt. 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name,

there am I among them.”

We are given the charge of

Hebrews 10:25

“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,

as is the manner of some,

but exhorting one another, 

and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Our love of the Savior is visibly evident in our attitude toward His church. If we love Him, we will undoubtedly make meeting with His church our top priority. After all, He is there. If we love Him, we will be there, too.

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4. Proclaim Our Love for Him

If you love someone, you will shout it from the rooftops! You want the world to know just how fabulous your loved one really is. You could not keep your feelings for them a secret if you tried because they are awesome. You want to share the wealth of the happiness they have given you with others around you. If we love Jesus, we will tell others. We will not hide our joy.

Psalm 96:3

“Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples!”

If we love Jesus, we will make sure others know the good news.

Mark 16:15-16

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,

but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

If we love Jesus, we will want others to love Him, too.

Any relationship requires attentiveness and precedence. If neglected, it will never yield the blessings it is possible of giving. So many people say they love Jesus but their inaction speaks volumes.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Our indifference toward Jesus may be the difference between life and death? Do you love Him?

 Shanna

You Saw What?!? Guarding Their Eyes and Hearts

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I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up in a time when “playing” didn’t have a thing in the world to do with any type of electronic device. It was a simpler time when your neighbors were your best friends, imaginations ran rampant, and make believe was a ticket to other worlds. I vividly recall one of the most popular pretend games in the neighborhood and schoolyard was cops and robbers.

Some of my play mates preferred to be robbers. They enjoyed the imaginary “thrill” of stealthily nabbing plundered loot and the chase that ensued. I on the other hand, being the first born in my family with a deeply rooted type A personality, was much more comfortable and suited to be a cop. After all, even at a young age, I had a firm grasp on the notion that things of high personal value MUST be protected at all costs. I had been raised with the ideology that if it is precious, you must keep it “locked up as tight as Fort Knox”. At the time all I knew about Fort Knox was that it is where our nation kept its gold. Later on, I discovered that it was so much more.

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Due to a 1933 executive order signed by FDR designed to alleviate stalled economic growth during the depression, the nation found itself in possession of $12 billion dollars worth of gold and no safe place to house it. As a result, the United States Bullion Depository, better known as Fort Knox, was constructed at a cost of $560,000 (equivalent of $9,420,624 today).

The outer walls of the depository are constructed of granite lined with concrete which is reinforced with approximately 1500 tons of steel. The vault itself has concrete and steel walls that are 21 inches thick, and it is sealed by a door that weighs over 20 tons. There are guard boxes at each of the four corners, sentry boxes at the entrance gate, and a steel fence that encircles its perimeter. The depository is protected with the most modern security devices and is under the protection of the army base at Fort Knox. No visitors are allowed at any time.

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Contrary to popular belief, the depository has been the safe place for much more than gold. It has been home to the original copies of the US Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and one of four original copies of the Magna Carta. It has also held the gold reserves for many European countries as well as crowned jewels belonging to several countries.

Now, I am grown up lady with the majority of my children swiftly entering adulthood, themselves. Yet, one thing has remained unchanged  since my younger years. I still understand, and in all likelihood even more so, the concept of guarding over treasure. However, unlike the treasure protected deeply within the vault at Fort Knox, today I am much more concerned about safeguarding something much more precious. We must guard the hearts of our children.

Proverbs 4:20-27

My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to thepaths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

We, like Solomon, are charged with teaching our children how to guard their hearts. It is a job that we as parents must not take lightly. Yes, it is a JOB. It requires forethought, planning, and consistent monitoring. Fort Knox is fortified, guarded, and uses all means available to protect its contents. We must follow this same plan of action when it comes to our children’s precious hearts.

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Our children are bombarded with sinful images on every front. They are especially susceptible due to the technology saturated world in which we live. Boys and girls as young as two years old can use smart phones and tablets as well as (or better than) adults. Because of this ease of use and the contentment it seems to elicit, we might easily be lulled into a sense of complacency. We must remember this.

1 Peter 5:8

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.

Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,

seeking someone to devour.”

Unfortunately, many times that “someone” is your child.

What’s a parent to do? Lock up your entire family allowing no contact with the outside world? (I have been tempted to go this route many times!) Even if this sounds tempting, it isn’t feasible or advisable for the Christian. We are told to

Matthew 5:16

….let your light shine before others,

so that they may see your good works

and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

So, what is the alternative? Just like Fort Knox, we can set ourselves up as guards and utilize the latest technological security devices available to us.  Consider the following areas.

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Computer/Tablet/Smart Phone

The most important thing that must be established up front is your absolute authority over the use of the computer, tablet, smart phone, or Ipod.

Only keep these items in common areas of the home. You would be ill advised to allow your child to have private access to internet enabled devices in their bedrooms, alone. Be sure your children know that in order to use these devices, they must follow your rules. Make sure guidelines for use are clearly understood. Also, make sure consequences of misuse are clearly understood and always followed through. Also, assure your children of your ability to go back through the browser history and see ALL of their on-line activity. As added security, many internet filters are available to download. Some are free and others have premiums that range from inexpensive to quite expensive. Open DNS Family Shield is a free web filter. It instantly blocks access to adult websites. When set up on the router in your home, every device in your home is protected. This includes X-box, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc. Did I mention that it is FREE?

Social Media

Facebook

This is a tough one. The age requirement to sign up for a Facebook account is 13 years of age. You alone know if your teen is mature enough to handle this responsibility. If you decide to grant permission to your teen to access Facebook, I personally believe you must be completely ready to devote a great deal of time to monitoring his/her activity. Here are a few things you can do to make their account a little safer.

-Know your child’s password

-You have ultimate say of who will be accepted as their Facebook friend

-Go to privacy settings

-Limit access on all settings to only friends

Twitter

Again, as with all social media, you are going to have to be in control and constantly monitor your teen’s activity. Just like Facebook, Twitter requires that one be at least 13 years of age to sign up for an account. Really the only safety mechanism on Twitter is setting your account to protect your tweets. You would have to set up rules as to whom your teen will follow. By protecting tweets you will be able to say yes or no to follower requests.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Television/ DVD

The best defense when it comes to television viewing is educating one’s self on programming. One way to do this is by using Focus on the Family’s pluggedin.com. It gives reviews on movies, videos, music, TV, and games. This is an excellent free resource. Also, to catch foul language that might occasionally slip in, you might consider investing in a TV Guardian. It is a foul language filter that you can use on non-live television programming. Another investment you might consider is the Clearplay DVD player. It filters vulgarity, nudity, violence, and more. It has been my experience that commercials are as bad or worse than the actual programming. One trick to avoid this problem is to record your favorite show and fast forward through the ads.

Ultimately, you have to decide what, if any, of these things you will allow your children to indulge. All of these suggestions are just aides to help you accomplish the goal of guarding your children’s eyes and hearts.

I am sure if I ask you what is your most important possession, most assuredly you would say your children. Their hearts are worth much more than the billions of dollars of gold at Fort Knox.Therefore, we must be even more vigilant guarding their hearts than the military that protects the US gold reserves. After all,

Matthew 16:26

“For what will it profit a man

if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Shanna

I am in no way affiliated with any of the above suggested products, nor do I receive any compensation from them.

US Bullion Depository photo By Cliff [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons