Posted in Faith, life, Writing

Desiderata “things desired”

I read the following poem on a stormy afternoon while lying in bed. The window was open and great gusts of wind carried in the smell of an approaching spring thunderstorm. Even as the sky darkened with ominous clouds, I felt at peace. A peace I wish you could know. A peace I wish everyone could know.

I happened upon this poem, not by chance I’m sure. It spoke so loudly to me, so clearly, as if it held all the answers.

I felt it needs to be shared.  It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, yet its words are timeless. Read it slow. Take it in. Roll it around in your mind. I personally plan to commit it to memory. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Strive to be happy.

Angel

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Posted in Faith, Spirituality

Water-Walking in the Storm

 

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WHOOSH.
The sound of the wind being sucked from our sails. The rug being pulled from under our feet. The breath knocked from our lungs.

It happens. This life has a way of sometimes catching us off guard. Sometimes it’s when we’re rocking along, with everything going our way, and then WHOOSH. Or maybe it’s when things have just started to look up, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and then WHOOSH. That new job has come along, or that tax refund just hit the mailbox, or that relationship has blossomed into promise. Then WHOOSH. Without warning we’re blindsided.

Blindsided by the whoosh. The bad news. The unexpected turn of events. The loss of something we inevitably were taking for granted.  No one is immune from the storms and trials our existence on planet Earth delivers. If you are a human being and breathing air, you are going to feel the whoosh of life. It certainly doesn’t take anyone long for that realization to sink in. Storms come. They come in all sizes. From the small drizzle to the devastation of a tsunami.

I am a glass half full girl. I believe in hope. I see the Promise land. Deliverance from the desert. Rest for the weary. Rainbows after storms. Resurrection after death. Promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to stay stuck in our storms. One thing I know, storms are temporary.

My desire is to be a water-walker. I want to be like Peter, who when in the midst, (IN THE MIDST, not when facing it or after it was over, but in the smackdab middle) of his storm, put his eyes on Jesus and walked on water. While the waves beat and the wind howled and while his robe and beard blew in the gust and the water splashed upward and crashed into his face, while the rain stung his eyes, while all that was happening—  he kept his gaze on Jesus Christ and walked on the water toward him.

Are you going through a storm? A trial? Has the wind been sucked from your sails? Has the rug been pulled out from under your feet? Are you gasping for breath?

There’s only one thing to do.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not focus on the problems. Focus on the provider. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
What happened when Peter noticed the wind all around and put his focus on the storm? He began to sink. But immediately Jesus was there to save him. Our savior is here. Walking toward us in our storms. Take comfort in that.

Nothing catches him by surprise. Jesus doesn’t feel the Whoosh of life. Just as He knew the storm would come and he sent the disciples out  anyway, he also knew they would make it to the other side. He knows the storm that surrounds you. He sees you straining. He sees your toil. He is walking toward you, ready to assist you. He knows you will make it to the other side.

Look up. Lift your chin. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He who is the master of the storms. He who walks on water. He who braves all the storms and comes toward us when we are afraid.

He will rescue us when we cry out to him.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19

 

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, life, Spirituality

His Eyes Are on the Lilacs, And I Know He Cares For Me!

We left the arid, drought drenched plains of the Texas panhandle at the beginning of 2013 and moved to the majestic mountains of New Mexico.

It was nothing short of a complete leap of faith. There was not a job bringing us here. There was very little family here to support us. It was a dream of J-Dub’s to live here and so we shut our eyes and leapt knowing that “the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest”. Amen? Whithersoever. Doesn’t the old KJV just say it good sometimes?

Beauty surrounds us here. Snow capped mountain tops, fields of flowers, tall pines, rolling streams, abundant wild life. That first spring of 2013 arrived and I was awed by the sight of the lilac bushes that surrounded our property.  And I do mean surrounded. They are monstrous bushes, standing well over 10 feet tall and lined up in a row, bumping into each other.  I was so anticipating the arrival of all these purple bursts of flowers, that I blogged about it here.  Yet, I was left disappointed when a late freeze blasted the buds. The next spring, once again, those tiny purple buds appeared and I held my breath only to be disappointed once again when Old Man Winter blew his icy breath on them.

Earlier this year, JDub and I made a very difficult decision that it would be the best fit for our family if we returned home. Yes, to that arid drought drenched Texas Panhandle. We must wait until school is finished, so this will be our last Spring time here. Of course, I started a list of things I would miss about this place. Of course on that list is all the things that make is so beautiful.

Right before Easter, the many lilac bushes once again showed their promise, but I didn’t hold my breath. We drove back to Texas for the Easter break and my last thoughts as we pulled out of the driveway and I gazed upon the massive bushes were, “oh well. If they do bloom, they’ll be spent by the time we return.” No faith. No faith at all on my part. Sometimes prior disappointments squash it, don’t they? We don’t want to be disappointed again. In people. In circumstances. Instead we prepare ourselves for it not to happen instead of looking toward it. Where is our hope? We replace our hope with “realism”.

But lo and behold, when we pulled back in several days later,  I was met with an awesome welcoming! Those purple (and one bush of white) lilacs were in bloom and greeting me. They were happy, I could tell it. Every blossom oozed happiness. I was overjoyed! I began laughing and whooping and clapping before I ever got out of the car.

The past several weeks the bushes have bloomed and bloomed. Their aromas have washed over me filling me with memories and pleasure. We have brought some inside and placed them in Mason jars.  Now, I’m sad to say they are at the end of their blooming season.

But I’m so glad I got to experience them, this last spring I have to live here.

It’s God you know. Of  course it is. He has a way of caring about what we care about, even little things like lilacs, which I dare to argue aren’t little things.

Now that I’m a parent, I kind of, sort of, in my very limited human capacity understand the graciousness of God a teeny tiny bit more. My little girl is the apple of my eye and I long to lavish things upon her. Just for her enjoyment. Just for the sheer reason that it will make her happy. And of course I’m reminded of Matthew 7:11 that tell us,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

Isn’t that an awesome thing? All we have to do is ask and then believe. He knows what we need even before we ask. He wants to give to us. He is not one that holds back, in fact he GAVE his one and only son that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting Life. John 3:16

He GAVE the ultimate gift. Our God is a gracious giver. He will give us what we need.

Phillipians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

Why do we worry about our needs when we can call upon the God of the World, the Creator of all, the one who tells the lilacs when and where to bloom to help us?

Is there something you are consumed with? Are you worrying about a detail of this life?

Read again Matthew 25-32 and be reassured.  “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Friends, I am preaching to myself! Since deciding to move back to our hometown, J-Dub and I have experienced quite a few roadblocks. We have worried. We have fretted. We have doubted. I have wondered if God is going to come through. But I can tell you, when I think about my past and I think about the things He has done, and I read the promises from His word, I can affirmatively answer that Yes, he will come through. He has yet to let me down.

It’s the original work of Satan, to lie to us and to make us doubt God’s word. Recognize it as such. When Adam and Eve were in the garden, wasn’t that the words of the Serpent? He began with “Did God really say………” He planted enough doubt in Eve’s heart that she sinned.

Yet we are told that the promises of God are Yes and Amen. We are told that those who believe in Him will not be made ashamed. Look and see that the Lord is good. He will come through for you. He will come through for me.

So open your arms and receive my friends.

Be blessed!
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Posted in Faith, Love, Spirituality

You Dance Over Me

I’m not sure what it was that woke me in the middle of the night.  The dream.  The fact that my left leg was asleep from stem to stern.  Or my big barking dog in the backyard.  Whatever it was, I was awake.

I wiggled my leg, feeling the pins and needles begin to subside; laid there deciding whether I should get up and shut up the dog and face a possible ax murderer staring back at me ( I always imagine the worst); all while I picked the pieces of my dream and put them in their place, making it all come together.  It was a Dad dream, my favorite kind, and so I savored the memory of him for just a while longer before I ventured outside to yell at the dog.

It turned out, there was no ax wielding maniac, probably just a skunk.  I returned to bed, but now I had a new problem.  I was awake at four in the morning.  Alone in my head.  My thoughts crowding and bumping into each other.

As a mom-in-the-trenches, there are two things I currently cherish in my life.
1)  My sleep
2) My alone time when I’m awake.

I debated them.  Should I try to go back to sleep?  Should I get up and write? (something I don’t have time for unless I’m awake and everyone else is asleep).  I want to sleep. I want to write.  I can’t do both at the same time.  Instead I did neither. I played Words with Friends, then I thought of my dream some more, which carried me to a real-life conversation I had with my sister a few hours previous.

She had mentioned a scripture that she was focusing on.  Zephaniah 3:17?  Or was it Zechariah 3:17?  Four in the morning memory isn’t so hot.  She said she had highlighted it for her Bible Study and had left her Bible opened on the table.  Later, she noticed that her daughter, who’s battling her own adolescent wars, had drawn a heart beside the highlighted scripture and had written her initials inside.  That image touched me.  The fact that an adolescent girl would pause to read that scripture, and that it was meaningful enough to her that she would make her own notations with her heart and initials.

I am unfamiliar with Zephaniah 3:17.

I got my phone and looked it up.
Zephaniah 3:17
NLT:  “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will rejoice over you with great gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears.  He will exult over you by singing a happy song.”

Then I read it in the NIV:
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I read them again and again, mulling over these words and considered the relevance to my niece and her struggles.

God is with you.
Lives among you.
Mighty Savior.
Rejoices.
Great delight.
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

It paints a happy picture, doesn’t it?  It paints a loving picture.  It paints a picture of a God who is crazy about us.  One who cares.

Just then my little bed partner, Emma Kate, rolled into me.  Her skin was warm and toasty and her breathing was full of slumber.  I kissed the side of her head, and felt my heart bursting with love for her.

Those words echoed in my head:
Great delight
With gladness.
Calm all your fears.
Rejoice over you with singing.
Happy song.

We love because he first loved us.  He is our example of love.  We should strive to love like him.  Those words are of a Loving God.  And, just for an extra bonus, the words of an Old Testament God.  The mean one, you know?

You see, I have a problem with God.  Rather, I have a problem with my idea of God.   I try to fit him into a mold and relate to him in ways that I relate to others. I’m told God is loving.  I’m told He desires a relationship with us more than anything.  I’m told that he cares for us. But, sometimes I can’t help but see God as aloof, off in Heaven doing his own thing, his back turned to me, his ears barely hearing my pleas.  He’s busy.  He’s working.  He wants to be left alone.  Maybe he says, ‘In a minute.’  ‘Later.’  ‘I need to finish this first, then I’ll get to you’.  Or maybe he says, ‘Can I just have a few minutes to myself?  Geez, all I’m asking for is a little quiet time here.  To regroup.  Recharge. Is that too much to ask?’

Or wait.  No, that’s me.

You see, I think God relates to me the way I relate to my child. And others.

But he doesn’t.

My ways are not your ways.  My thoughts are not your thoughts.

We’re told here in Zeph. 3:17, that he delights in us.  Sings over us.  Rejoices.  Yagil.  That literally means he dances, skips, leaps.  He shouts over us with shouts of joy.

Whoa.

When was the last time you danced and sang over somebody?  Not with somebody.  Not for somebody’s entertainment.  But OVER somebody.  As much as we think we love, it’s no comparison to how he loves is it?

God does not have his back turned.  He’s not saying, “not now, later.”  He cares.  We are his children, and He is not weary with us.  He has shown up to live with us.  He has arrived.
Annnnnnd……He is full on dancing, singing, rejoicing, and loving us.

How awesome is our God?

I think that knowledge is worth getting up at 4 a.m. for.

In my book, anyway.

Posted in Dear Diary, Faith, Family

What happened when I quit Facebook

I quit facebook.  It was huge for me.  I think either today, tomorrow, or the next day marks two weeks.  Two weeks!

I don’t even know why I did it, except that somewhere in the past few years, months, weeks, or days, when it happened I’m not sure, but at some point, I kind of lost myself.  It’s not face book’s fault, but just a combination of my choices.  Maybe it’s never happened to you, but I got to the point where I just found myself sick to death of everything, including myself.  So I pulled the plug.  I can’t pretend it wasn’t hard.  Within moments my mind was racing with pathetic thoughts. The first thing I worried about was that if I died, while not on Facebook, no one would be able to visit my wall to eulogize me and tell my loved ones how much they missed me.  Or give a nice story.  Or even know I died at all.  That thought process right there may be indicative of the health of my mind at the time.

The next thought, after the death one, was that my sister’s birthday was coming up in a couple of days and just how was I going to handle that?  Usually it was an ol’ happy bd fb post, but now I would need an alternate method.  To the card store I went.   It got me thinking that I didn’t receive one card in the mail on my previous birthday, except from Bealls, the local department store, with a friendly $10 gift to use toward my purchase.  I may not have received a card for my birthday, but I know I probably got more than a hundred fb messages.  What is that saying about us as people?  Anything at all?  Sending cards will soon be filed away in the same archaic vault as sending a lock of hair to a loved one.  I almost sent one to my sister, just for old times sake.

Then over the next few days of my fb fast, I would catch myself thinking “I should put that on Facebook”.  Or wondering about certain people who I only kept in contact with through that venue.  It was comparable to a grieving process, how for a brief moment you  pick up the phone to call your mom or your dad, only to remember they’re no longer living.  But as the days passed, it became easier and better.  I haven’t really missed it.  Except maybe, a little.

I did want to post Ashlynn’s first day of 10th grade, so here it is:

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Isn’t she lovely?  This was the day after she was released from the hospital with yet another stomach blockage due to adhesions.  It had been a while since we have had to deal with this, and it was downright scary. She spent three days in there feeling terribly.  Normally, I would have been straight on fb for prayer, because it is a great avenue for that.  My sister kept the Facebook world updated and many prayers came for healing and I am much appreciative. I know her healing is from God and I know the many prayers of friends and family reached the heavens.

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Friends helped keep her spirits up.  She developed a nasty cough right afterwards, but about has that whipped now too and is on to smooth sailing.

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So here it is nearly September, and we are squeezing the last drops out of summer as we can.  We went and took Emma out on a paddle boat the other day and found ourselves way too far out with just a few minutes to get back.  Our thighs were burning trying to get back to the dock in time.  Emma was crying in the beginning, she is such a cautious child and really tends to get anxious at new things, but she was all smiles in no time.  A package of m&m’s might have helped.

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She’s a full blooded two and a half year old now and keeps me laughing.  She’s so good and a true blessing and joy in all of our lives. I really need to write down more of what she says because they’re just so darn funny.

All in all, since my fb sabbatical (and my deletion of all other social media, save pinterest and words with friends) I am feeling much more light hearted.  I’m finding my focus, which primarily should be on the people who live under my roof.  Other than that, each day is just a repeat of the previous.  Sometimes it’s drudgery, sometimes it’s chaos, but there is always beauty to be found when I pause long enough to look around.

The big things are still the same:  I’m still trying to find my purpose in life and  still trying to grow my bangs out, both of which might take to the end of my days.  And in the event the end of my days might come, you might have to go to the card store to send a condolence.  Go ahead and stick a lock of hair in their too, okay, just for old times sake.

 

 

Posted in Faith

A spirit of self-discipline

Last night I attended a womens’ Bible study.  My emotions were all over the place.  I wasn’t sure if I  should go since I don’t attend the same church as the ladies in the Bible study, or ANY church currently, for that matter.  Also, it wasn’t like I was actually invited.  They asked Ash to babysit for the women who had young children, and that’s how I got the invitation.  So it felt kind of like a second hand invitation,  you know.  An afterthought.

I was torn.  But I know that if I’m going to build relationship with people in this new town, I need to leave my house.  I need to put myself out there.  I need to be bold and confident.   Plus, I do love a good Bible study as much as the next gal, so I went.    I am so glad that I did.  The study was on fear and worry.  I don’t consider myself a fearful person or a worry wort.  So naturally I didn’t think I would gain much from it.  However I did.  I gained more than I could have imagined.  It was so weird because being the introverted person that I am, especially around people I don’t know, I usually clam up, smile sweetly, answer if spoken to and retreat as fast as possible.   Not last night.  It was like I had diarrhea of the mouth.  I answered every question, at the same time constantly worrying that I was dominating the conversation and not making any sense at all.  I added to other’s comments, and then later worried that I offended them, that I didn’t express myself good enough and they took it the wrong way.   I tell you, I’m one of those people who can’t even talk half the time, and if I do, then afterwards I play the conversation over and over and realize how utterly stupid I must have sounded.  Making first impressions is so hard.  For me.

I’ve learned since the Bible study, that yes, I am a worry wort.  Not in the aspect that I worry the house will catch on fire or the world will end, but I worry what people think of me.  I worry if I’m good enough for them, if I’m likable, if I’ll measure up as friend-worthy.  I find myself worrying about this a lot more now that I’m in a new place, trying to make new connections. In my hometown where I lived all my life, those relationships and connections were well established before I had to worry about it.  I mean, I made it out of junior high and then high school.  I’m nearly 40 years old, so figuring out who I am and worrying if people will like the person that I am, should be long gone and over with.  Well, it’s not.

As we sat in a semi-circle in a lady’s home, our Bibles opened on our laps, sharing our deepest fears and worry and getting all down and personal, I began to feel so refreshed and renewed.  It has been a very long time since I participated in a small group and I left there feeling filled up to the measure with God and fellowship.  It was a good feeling.  I just love how GOD knows exactly what we need and meets that need in ways we don’t expect.

The leader touched on many scriptures, but the one that spoke to me in so many ways was 2 Timothy 1:7.

I heard Beth Moore teach on this scripture before and so I know a  different version.  The version I’ve always recited is from the KJV that reads:  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (emphasis mine)

But the scripture read aloud at the Bible study was a different version than I know.  The NIV reads:  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. (emphasis mine)

EUREKA!!

Self-discipline is something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I can get lazy.  I can procrastinate.  There are so many things I want to accomplish and yet I lack the self-discipline.  I beat myself up each night for not doing what I need to because of the self-discipline it requires.    After hearing this version of the verse, it was an epiphany.  GOD gives me self-discipline.  It is from Him.  Which means I can accomplish all that I desire with self-discipline.  If He gives self-discipline, then it makes sense to me that the lazy, procrastinating spirit is from Satan.  Of course it is.  He doesn’t want me to succeed, he wants to steal my joy.  He came in fact, to steal, kill and destroy.  Destroy my dreams, destroy my hope, destroy my family, my health, and ultimately my life.  Satan wants me to live in defeat and to go to bed every night disappointed in myself.

On a second note, that scripture also speaks to my timidity around new people and new situations.  My lack of self confidence, my worry of first impressions and if people will like me.  Timidity does not come from God.  I know who I am in Him and I need to hold my head up and walk proudly knowing that if He is for me, who can be against me, right?

I’m refreshed by this.  Which is exactly what the Word of God will do, refresh.  I am uplifted.  I am hopeful.  I am smiling.  My joy is abundant.

Now when I’m faced with my lazy, procrastinating spirit, or my weaknesses want to override my strengths, or I want to give in and not work toward goals I have set for myself, then I recite 2 Timothy 1:7.

God has given me self-discipline.

 

 

Posted in Faith, Family, Uncategorized

Easter Sunday—-2K14

Happy Easter to all!

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This day finds me a bit happy, a tad sad, with a little hope thrown in.  I’ve neglected my blog as of late simply because my life is boring, quite frankly.   I do all the things that everyone else does.  I have a wonderful bundle of two year old joy that keeps me entertained.  I try to exercise.  I try to read.  I attempt to write.   I avoid cooking and cleaning as much as possible.  I have a stack of laundry that begs for my attention.  It’s really the same, ol’, same ol’ day after day.  I feel that I don’t have anything profound to say anymore.

I just feel quiet.

But today is Easter and so in an attempt to preserve some family memories, I’ll blog.

I’m happy today because I’m so truly blessed with every good thing that really matters in this world:  family, friends, faith, and health.

I’m a tad sad because we haven’t been to church for the past two Easters.  We have yet to find a good church home and that makes me sad.  Recently, when we went back to our hometown we visited our church and it was so wonderful, so refreshing.  I wish my dear old Briarwood would pack up and move here, then I would have the perfect world.  Sure, I understand that I don’t need a church to worship, I can worship right in my own front yard,  but I miss the fellowship and the sharing with a body of believers.

But of course, I keep my hope and I believe good things are always heading my way.  A wonderful church, included.

For Easter Sunday, we did the “thing”.  We colored eggs and had an egg hunt.

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We attempted to take a family picture with a self timer on our camera.  I regret to inform you that we did not get a good one.  Big surprise!

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The house is now scattered with candy wrappings and EK is green up to her elbows.

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She fell asleep after her sugar crash reading Beauty and the Beast and I am soon to join her for a little siesta.  All in all, I’d say we had some great Easter success.

 

Most importantly….

He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today.

You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.

I sang that to EK today, and she got a kick out of it, especially when I tried to hit the high notes.

I hope you too had a blessed Easter, spent with your loved ones celebrating the true meaning of the day.

God Bless you and yours.