Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Everything Will Be OK - A Personal Diary Entry

 

Everything Will Be OK

One of my favorite personal affirmations to pass along to friends and family in their hour of need is, "everything will be OK."

Let's Review the Phrase "Everything Will Be OK" or Just "OK"

The word "OK" can be magnificently soothing. If you haven't tested out that theory with text messages, give it a try.

Not long ago, I discovered that receiving the "OK" response to a text I've sent to family or friends, especially a lengthier text, is absolutely calming and instantly soothing. How about you?

Why the Words OK are Soothing

Here's my conclusion about this: We live in a world of constant information, turmoil, debates, disagreements, and multiple stresses - and when someone responds back to us with the simple words "OK," we're lifted away from the edge for that moment.

When my kids respond to my texts or verbal requests with "OK," I'm immediately disarmed and relieved. I am keenly aware of being "yessed," so I'm not speaking about that baloney. A sincere "OK," acknowledging that you've been heard, and there's actual consensus, is what I'm referencing - wow! Isn't that nice?

I Like to Hand Out OKs

Whenever possible, I respond with "OK" or the more detailed version, "everything will be OK." Since discovering what these responses do for me, I seek out as many honest moments as possible to say "OK" to others. It's such a gift.

I'll respond with OK to the most mundane things whenever I get the chance. Try it. Here's an example, "mom, I'll be late for dinner" - my response 'OK.' Just a simple 'OK' is what I'll use whenever possible. Here's another boring example, "hun, I'll be home shortly, can you be in the driveway to help me unload the groceries?" my hubby's response, "OK." I can't express how much I appreciate that short, agreeable text!

Our lives are filled with so much emotion that often, telephone conversations go off into unrelated tangents. A simple response and truthful acknowledgment of "OK" via text is the next best thing to therapy, in my personal opinion! Just kidding about the therapy part, but it does help! That's how much I appreciate it and love to hand out an OK as much as receive one.

Currently, my friend is going through a traumatic life event, and I've said "everything will be ok" to her multiple times. She needed to hear the sheer possibility of it all -  I could honestly say this phrase because it is legitimately what I believe. 

Is the Self-Fulfiling Prophecy at Work?

There's no doubt; what we believe is our truth. As that quote goes, whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

Since my truth is that everything will be OK, I'm sure I'm subconsciously taking steps to ensure it happens. Whether the issue is something involving life and death, or personal strife, I absolutely believe that in the end, "everything will be OK." 

At the moment, I have mountains going on in my life. My mom is dangerously unwell, another friend's husband almost died in a vehicle accident, and I have other personal issues I'm sorting through. However, I still believe everything will be OK.

Will I cry? Is it stressful? Am I overwhelmed at times? Yes, to all. 

BUT in my soul, there's an untouchable place, a place that only belongs to me and my higher power. For respite, I retreat there. I know to my core that everything will be OK. This truth shapes my life.

I'm not sure where all this hope inside of me comes from, but it lives - it's a real thing.

Here's a poem I penned decades ago about holding onto inner peace, that place that belongs only to you and your higher power, no matter the storms.

Take Me To Your Beautiful
50 Years of Poems By Barbara Tremblay Cipak Available on Amazon



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Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Emptiness of Our Hands - Book Review

Who would you become if you were to suddenly find yourself without a home?  Some of you here know the answer to that question because you have lived it.  For the authors of The Emptiness of Our Hands, the answer was far beyond what they could ever have imagined.  Living the question forever changed who they were and who they continue to become to this day.

Choosing to live on the streets of Columbus, Ohio for 47 days may not seem earth-shattering, but for Phyllis Cole-Dai, and her photographer friend, James Murray, the experience was, in many ways, soul-shattering.  They found themselves immersed in an alternate universe offering up the kind of devastation that stripped bare their psyches and spirits.  After just two nights, Murray was already broken to pieces. 

The decision to go to the streets had not been made lightly or done as a stunt.  Cole-Dai felt a deep call she could not ignore.  Her intent was to offer up the gift of presence to everyone she met.  

So then what transpires when you suddenly find yourself in deep survival mode?  How are you transformed while living in a world ill at ease with the homeless... with you?  How do you cope with feeling invisible, despised, and less than human?  When constantly wrestling with intense fear, uncertainty, and struggle, what gives?  What sustains?  

How is it that something as simple as being seen can be such a consolation?  Nothing is inconsequential to the one in need of the kind of attention that shelters, or the haven to be found in the eyes of compassion.  To be seen like that is to receive an act of love.

As one with an outreach to those without a home, immersing myself within The Emptiness of Our Hands has reaffirmed for me the power of "thereness" (really being there for, and with, someone).  It has stirred a deep desire to be a very present haven to the one who might need to rest for a moment in my embracing presence.  

This book is for anyone who seeks to express the kind of humanity that feeds and shelters souls.  Just as there are many ways to experience homelessness, there are also many ways to be the kind of home presence needed by the displaced, the lost, or the lonely souls we encounter all around us.  

I also highly recommend the companion volume entitled Practicing Presence.  This compilation of 47 reflections (one from each of the author's 47 days on the streets) enables each of us to more fully develop and engage our mindfulness intentions.  I consider these two books the most important reading I have done all year.  






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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Where the Blind Horse Sings - Book Review

To be in a place of sanctuary is a true blessing.  To be the sanctuary that another individual needs, whether human or animal, is one of the greatest privileges in life.  To know beautiful beings who have helped transform others, and themselves in the process, is often the impetus for ordinary people to become extraordinary instigators of deep community, deep healing, deep peace, and deep joy.

Reading about Kathy Stevens, and her Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), was more than enough to convince me that sanctuary is something that rescue animals gift to their extended human family.  Through a series of moving vignettes, Stevens illustrates the often unexpected intelligences (including emotional intelligence) that farm animals possess and use in relationship with one another and their humans.  

Who knew that an ornery, previously mean cockfighting rooster could come to crave human contact (eventually choosing to sleep in bed with his rescuer)?  Paulie knew.

And what gives with Rambo (a former sheep terrorist known for inflicting bruises on the unsuspecting)?  When and how did he become the early alert system for animals in peril?  Was this altruism in action?

You will meet a fire survivor (Dino the pony), a duck afraid of water (Petri), a goat found wandering in Manhattan (Oliver), and a blind horse afraid to move even one inch (Buddy).  There will be pigs, cows, rabbits, and a yellow lab named Murphy.

Mostly, there will be love—the kind of love that enables animals and people to live in harmony with those much different from themselves (at least on the surface).  

Where the Blind Horse Sings is a call to compassion.  It will speak to anyone who wishes to offer up sanctuary as her gift to the world.  

Reading this may change the way you see animals and your relationship with them.  It is likely to cause reflection about the sensitivities, the emotions, and the personalities of animals.  

Finally, for anyone at a crossroads in life, just as Stevens was before launching Catskill Animal Sanctuary, this book may raise the following questions: What do you love?  What do you do best?  What do you believe in?  What makes your heart sing?

Learning to move forward without fear made Buddy's spirit sing.  His story brought me to tears.  It also inspired me to move beyond those things that stood between me and my song.









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Sunday, December 27, 2020

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Personal Life Journey

What is Faith? As Seen Through a Life Review

Challenges, endless challenges, or so it seems. Then without warning, there it is, light.

This article isn't meant to be preachy. My life is as imperfect as everyone else's. What's different now is the feeling that my soul is on track, on the right road to home. It doesn't mean life is always easy, although I'll take that if it happens, only that living in the light helps to make sense of it all. I actually wrote a video poem about that very thing; Living in Light.

My family's challenges and what I've had to witness as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend should have broken me. When I reflect back, I see clearly, that instead, it made me. 

Each of us has our own bridge to peace, to inner calm. What I've learned along the way is that faith means many things throughout life.

FAITH - The Long Road Home - What is Faith? 

  • Faith is the belief that, in the end, everything WILL be ok: I believe that to the core of my being, I know this to be the absolute truth as sure as I breathe.
  • Faith is losing it all and having to start over again, and you do.
  • Faith is holding on when your heart has been torn to shreds, and you realize, even with that terrible pain, you've kept the most sacred thing you have safe in your heart. Love. You still love, you still can love. That horrible pain didn't steal anything from you - you discovered it couldn't.
  • Faith is being able to let go and forgive when you've been betrayed and disrespected. You're still able to look beyond your own pain and assess the situation from the other person's perspective and flaws. You don't forgive for brownie-points; you do so because it's the only road to peace for all parties concerned. You hold on to the faith that the person who hurt you will grow, for their own betterment, not for yours. Whether they do or not, you love them anyway.
  • Faith is a thousand prayers you've repeated in your heart and mind for your children. You watch them grow, and your heart fills with incredible worry for them until faith steps in to remind you that 'in the end, everything WILL be ok.'
  • Faith is watching someone you love step back from the edge of addiction, and save themselves. The hardest thing in the world is bearing witness to something you have no control over. Along with a shoulder and helping hand, the only thing you ultimately can have is faith.
  • Faith is watching your child drive away into their future endeavors. Your heart goes with them, and faith keeps you strong.
  • Faith is working your way through a life long disease and still believing that 'everything will be ok.'
  • Faith is when your children, even as adults, deal with sickness, and you still find faith, even through helplessness and tears.
  • Faith is watching your friends battle cancer. Knowing you can't take away their pain, you pray, and you keep the faith for them.
  • Faith is creating something, never knowing if anything will come of it, but you do it anyway.
  • Faith is seeing your father's face in the casket and knowing, within the depths of your being, that he isn't in there. That his body was truly a temporary home. That he is standing beside you as you cry. That he hasn't left. Faith is the gift of total understanding that we live on. My father sealed that faith. I was raised with the belief in an afterlife and always had that belief. However, when I saw my dad's face in his casket, it was as though a bright light of knowledge filled my heart. I knew for certain that he was still here, that his body was just that, a body. His soul was still very much alive. I felt it. I still feel it.
  • Faith is holding on so tight to your mother as she ages and lives without your dad. Your heart belongs to her in a way that nobody can truly understand. It's personal between you and her, and you love her so much that the only thing that erases worry is prayer and faith. I wrote this for mom a long time ago, and it's still how I feel.
  • Faith is losing your parents' wedding rings that were gifted to you and praying so hard for their return: Then five months later, you're in your mother's room changing her bedsheets, asking that when you go back into your own room to "please let me find those rings." You know they can't possibly be there because you and your brother lifted that mattress right up and off the bed months ago, and nothing was there. Plus, you searched your room for months only to conclude that there is no way on God's green earth they can be there. However, because of faith, you prayed again the day you were changing those sheets. You didn't expect to find the rings, but you prayed anyway. When you got to your room, you peeked under one side of the bed's mattress, laughed to yourself, and nope, they weren't there. You were about to leave the room, and something compelled you to lift the mattress again on the other side of the bed. You were expecting nothing, but a miracle was delivered, and yes, both those rings were laying neatly just under the top mattress, one slightly overlapping the other!! You gasped! Almost fainted! You were gifted another powerful moment to keep in your heart for life. This is a moment in my life I'll never ever forget. I'm still shocked by it!
Every time I begin to lose faith, I remember my parent's rings miraculously showing up under my mattress. I didn't expect that prayer to be answered in such a magical way. What an amazing gift that was. Finding those rings is my 'Faith-Reminder.' Every single time I begin to stress or worry about something - my parent's rings appear to me. As the lyrics in the beautiful song below say, "you will find your way if you keep believing, I've seen miracles just happen, silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new - that's what faith can do." If you're viewing via mobile, the video is here.


I've learned that faith is something that needs to be nurtured; to feed our soul, just as we feed our body. 

For 2021 I'm holding onto faith that humanity will find its way back into balance; body, mind, and spirit. If all of humanity is too big of a goal, I hope my friends and family can find or maintain that balance. 

"We Will Have Morning Smiles" - 50 Years of Poetry by Me - Available on Amazon.





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Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Garden of Small Beginnings - Book Review

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Let's start with the harvest here.  Lest you think this is going to be a book about a widow who has had a breakdown after her husband's untimely and tragic death, and who is still struggling with that loss, let me assure you that this is a book where the reader reaps joy.  I found The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, to be a brilliantly written, and delightfully humorous, take on how we get through the gritty times in life.

It's not often that a book begins with whale genitalia.  This is when you know this is not going to be your grandmother's gardening guide.  No... not at all.  This is where the irreverent humor and quirky cast of characters begin to emerge.  

You see, Lilian Girvan is a textbook illustrator.  And sometimes, though perhaps not every day, you are called upon to draw things like a whale's, ahem, penis.  Am I allowed to use the word penis in a book review?  This is surely a first for this reviewer.  

Anyway, getting back to Lilian.  On the day of her infamous illustrating assignment, she is called up to meet with her boss.  Lilian has been assigned a plum project designing the illustrations for a series of vegetable guides.  In order to garner favor with an important client, Lilian has been volunteered to take a Saturday morning gardening class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden.  This is where the plot (literally) thickens.

Over the course of six weeks, lives will be changed in beautiful and unexpected ways by an eclectic crew of aspiring gardeners.  Though this is not a gardening book, per se, it is a book about how we grow from loss, and grief, and other heartbreaks into who we will become in the next season of life.

I loved this book's characters and witty banter.  Lilian's young children are sheer delight.  This is my favorite kind of read: so well-written, clever, funny, and full of heart.  Highly recommended.





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Sunday, April 19, 2020

55 Different Ways You Can Show Someone You Love Them

55 Ways to Show Someone You Love Them
If anything 2020 has taught us, it's that life is precious. During these crazy pandemic-times, today's review features big and small ways we can show our love to each other.

In the end, it's only love that matters. Our family lost someone yesterday (not from the pandemic), and we've been reflecting and remembering that love is the most valuable asset we take with us.

Let's not wait until it's too late to show those we love how we feel; let's start today. Here's a quick list of ways we can demonstrate we care:
  1.  Call or video your I love you message and say it
  2.  Physically mail a letter or a card
  3.  Make them dinner and clean up the mess
  4.  Clean the house for them
  5.  Give them me-time; watch the kids
  6.  Bring them a coffee, or two
  7.  Play board games and laugh
  8.  Email articles and photos to let them know you're thinking of them
  9.  Write them a poem
  10.  Dedicate a song to them via the radio
  11.  Sing them a song; if you can't sing, even better!
  12.  Create a video that lists all the reasons you love them
  13.  Thank them for all they've done for you
  14.  Accept or give forgiveness
  15.  Say "I love you" as often as you can
  16.  Bring them breakfast in bed
  17.  Send flowers or a plant
  18.  Drop off treats, gifts, personal drawings or groceries when social distancing
  19.  Have cozy gifts delivered; throw blankets, pillows
  20.  Snail mail a card every day, with a beautiful quote, for a month or a year
  21.  Let them talk; be a listener
  22.  Don't offer your opinions, just be there
  23.  Don't try to solve unsolvable problems, just be there
  24.  Accept each other's differences and just love each other for who you are
  25.  Use please and thank you with your family members
  26.  Speak with a kind voice to your loved ones
  27.  Give sarcasm a break from time to time
  28.  Remember they were once a little child, see them that way
  29.  Keep dark thoughts at bay, and send people love and light often
  30.  Remember none of us are perfect
  31.  Go 24 hours judgment-free - judge nothing, forgive everything
  32.  Read together, sing together, dance together
  33.  Set a goal to laugh with them at least 20 times in one day
  34.  Live for the moment, the specific moment you're sharing
  35.  When possible, if possible, hug each other
  36.  Start a story by email where everyone adds their portion and emails it to the next person
  37.  Pray together in person or virtually
  38.  Use your thoughtful inside voice when you have to ask for something
  39.  Give them something personal that holds special meaning to you
  40.  Ask them their opinion, so they feel they matter
  41.  When they've made a mistake, remember your own mistakes before reacting
  42.  Be a safe place for someone to land
  43.  When they speak to you in confidence, keep it confident
  44.  Don't gossip about people you love to other people you love
  45.  Serve your community in some fashion; do it together
  46.  Give each other space
  47.  Be on their team in life
  48.  When discussing testy issues, do it with grace and respect
  49.  Smile at your loved ones - this one seems silly, but try it, you'll be surprised
  50.  Laugh at their jokes
  51.  It's ok to be happy; show joy in front of your friends and family
  52.  Don't be afraid to apologize if you've made a mistake
  53.  Forgive them if they can't apologize when they've made a mistake
  54.  Be the change you want to see in a relationship
  55.  When you need love, give love
When summed up, we should consider the lessons taught in the Paradoxical Commandments, also known as The Anyway Poem. Listen to the gorgeous song interpretation by Martina McBride here in her famous song, Anyway.

The above suggestions are fairly obvious to most of us; however, sometimes we forget it's how we make each other feel that's remembered. 

I'll end with a video poem I created a few months ago called Living in Light - Stay safe and blessings to you.






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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Reviewing The Love Of A Friend

Honoring Friendship

My review today won't be about a product but instead will be about the love of a friend, a long time friend who was given her wings this weekend. She will no longer be here physically to talk to but she will always be in my heart. How could she not be in my very soul? We were friends for 56 years! Almost 6 decades of wonderful memories. Times of laughter, times of sorrow, times of struggle, and times of triumph; we shared them all.

love of a freind
There is nothing like the love of a friend
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Our friendship had an odd beginning. It began the year we entered 7th grade. We both came from small towns in small school districts. Those two districts had consolidated bringing us together that first year of consolidation. We had a lot in common before we ever sought each other out. We were both the oldest child in our family and we were both being raised by a single Mom. In 1964 divorce wasn't at all common, not in our area anyway. Up until the day our two schools merged, both of us were the only family in our school whose parents had divorced. Neither of us had someone to talk to about how we felt; to understand what divorce does to the kids. We both felt a little lost.

Oddly, my Mom had a date with her Dad. As far as our parents are concerned, that part of the story fizzled out pretty quickly. What did come out of that random date was a friendship that bonded the two of us quickly. Suddenly there was someone who understood! There was someone who cried with you when you missed your Dad. A person who didn't say dumb stuff like, "I'm not allowed to hang out with you anymore because you don't have a Dad." We would laugh about that one, of course we both had fathers; they just didn't live with us anymore. Comments like that seem odd in today's society but back then we both heard it a lot.

Looking back, I think we were meant to be friends. The connection was instant and strong. It almost seemed like in the matter of 5 minutes we were soul sisters. We were pretty much inseparable from that first day. There wasn't much we didn't do together. Trust me we did a whole heck of a lot together! It is probably best if most of that behavior is not mentioned here. 

We planned our weddings together, we had children together and raised them at the same time. As time passed we lived away from each other and there might be spans of time that we didn't see or speak to each other for months. You must remember that back then we didn't have cell phones or computers to connect with. A phone call to your friend was long distance and cost money to make; money that was short in supply in our early married lives. My granddaughters don't even know what a long distance phone call is! Anyway, my point is that after months of not seeing or talking to each other we would begin like we had just seen the other the day before. 

friendship
Friends hold your hand through life
image courtesy of pixabay.com

It is pretty special to have a friend that loves you through it all. They know all your faults and love you anyway. Her friendship was special like that, it is something I have always treasured and been in awe of. I've had many friends throughout my life but none quite like her. She was special.

When her daughter called me last week, things went very quickly. I wasn't able to go hold her hand one last time. I didn't get to tell her how much she has always meant to me. At first that broke my heart but then I realized that she of all people knew. She knew I wouldn't be able to come because of the restrictions the world is going through and she also knew that I loved her. It was more important that she be able to spend those last few days with her children, her grandchildren and her family. I'm glad she got that time with them. 

As much as it hurts to lose her, I'm finding comfort in that she didn't have to suffer very long. She had a rare form of cancer that took her quickly. I'm glad she was spared months and possibly years of pain and those horrible treatments. God was going to take her anyway, I'm actually thankful He took her before she had to go through much of that. Those of us who love her have lost her physical being but her spirit lives on in all of us. We have our memories to cherish as we continue on without her. I don't doubt for a minute that our souls will reunite. She is waiting, she is getting things ready, she will be standing there with open arms when I meet her again. Her fight is over but her memory will live on through all who knew her. Rest in peace my sweet dear friend!

My final message in this post is to remind you of that special friend you have shared your life with. Reach out to her or him and let them know what they mean to you. I don't care if you just spoke yesterday, tell them again today. Tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us, make sure that those you love know how you feel today.






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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Add Love in Your Home Decor for Valentine's Day

Love Themed Home Décor Items
Love Décor for the Entire Year

Most of us rarely think about adding home décor that relates to a love theme. It's a beautiful way to honor our families and each other.

Here are some ideas for you:

1. Add a Heart Themed Rug to a Room

The nice thing about a heart themed rug is that it works no matter what time of year it is. If you have someone celebrating a birthday in February, it makes a terrific original gift. You'll notice there are many styles and colors in heart rugs to choose from. One of my personal faves is the pompom heart rug for a child's room. Be sure to check them out, you can find them here.

2. Add a Love Themed Wall Decal to a Room

There are countless wall decals that speak about family and love. A famous quote we've heard over and over is "All Because Two People Fell in Love". Add this quote to any room in the home, including a child's room. In fact, if someone you know is having a baby, this wall decal makes an excellent gift. You can find several featured here.

3.  Redecorate a Room with a Love Themed Bedding Set

With spring coming up, you may be feeling the itch to redecorate. If so, why not create a room that's all about love.

It can be a child's room, a guest room, or the master bedroom. Love themed bedding will stand the test of time. If you're not into changing your existing comforter, put a new duvet over it. That way when you tire of the love themed bedding, you can remove the duvet and get your room back to it's original state.

A guest room or child's room is an ideal place to go to town with a love theme. In fact you can incorporate the rug and wall decal suggestions featured here to complete the look. Check out a few lovely bedding sets here.

4. Put a Kindred Hearts Light Box in a Room

These are great! They serve a double purpose, ambient lighting and inspiration.

It's a decorative box that lights up. However, the best part is you can collect pre-made quotes and art to insert inside the box.

Collect a bunch of them and change them up for every holiday or special occasion. There are countless inserts to collect: birthdays, holidays, inspirational quotes, valentines day, Easter, Christmas, fun, jokes, patriotic holidays and more.

The inserts make an excellent small gift to bring to someone who you know has the light box already. Keep adding to their collection. Place one of these light boxes in your love themed bedroom and feature a quote about love.




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Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review
What Others Are Saying About This Book
Nazi Germany.  1942.  A priest in search of redemption.  A widow seeking provision for her fatherless children.  A people desperate for relief—relief from oppression, from evil, from hopelessness.  Olivia Hawker's new historical novel, The Ragged Edge of Night, is a revelation.  To immerse ourselves into Anton and Elisabeth's war-torn lives is to see glimmers of unimaginable beauty beneath the desolation of loss, shame, failure, and fear.

As the story begins, Anton is still reeling from the abrupt end of his mission as a Franciscan friar.  To be wrongly stripped of his life's calling has been painful, but even worse, he cannot forgive himself for being powerless to save the children who were in the church's care.  When the Nazis loaded up Anton's students, he was overcome by an overwhelming sense of having committed the unforgivable sin.  Though there was nothing Anton could have done to save the children's lives, the guilt is crushing.


While Anton wrestles with his demons, Elisabeth, a young mother of three who is still grieving over the unexpected death of her beloved husband, is in the midst of considering the hardest decision of her life: whether to remarry in order to provide for her family.  Elisabeth feels great shame as she struggles to reconcile the feeling of being unfaithful to her first husband.  If there was another option, she would gladly choose it.  Alas, the harsh realities of wartime force Elisabeth to publish the following personal ad:
Good churchgoing woman, widowed, mother of three.  In need of a humble, patient man, willing to be a father to my children.  Interest in legitimate marriage only.  I have no money, so those who think to profit need not reply.
 In coming across Elisabeth's plea for help, Anton is immediately struck with a new sense of purpose.  Though his first choice would be to eventually return to his Franciscan order, and while Anton remains true to his sacred vows, he feels that supporting Elisabeth and her children is the right thing to do.  This opportunity has the potential to fulfill Anton's deep need to be useful, to find forgiveness, and to protect those who need it most (addressing his need for redemption due to the loss of the children snatched up by the Nazis who shut down Anton's school and religious order).

The soul of this book is revealed in the simplest, and yet loveliest of ways, as two faithful individuals remain true to their vows, their principles, their hearts, and all that defines a life worth living, and for which they are willing to die.  When Anton's involvement in the resistance movement against Hitler brings danger into his new family's life, relationships will be tested, and the true nature of love will be revealed.

Based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members, The Ragged Edge of Night is a timely story that is sure to inspire every reader who is concerned about the extreme tensions that are being felt in today's world.  This is a moment in history when every single one of us can take heart as we consider the difference an ordinary person like Anton can make in the lives of those who are hurting.  I was deeply moved by this book and highly recommend it.








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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Language of Flowers - Book Review

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To read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is to reflect on how the bouquet of each of our lives is crafted flower by flower.  As we enter Victoria's story, none of us would want the bouquet she sees as the definition of who she has become: thistle, peony, and basil (flowers that represent a deep mistrust of people, anger, and hate).  Well before the end of this book, I suspect, like me, that you will be urging Victoria, in your heart of hearts, to pick a few white violets and daffodils.

Who is Victoria, this self-described thistle?  She is a child who has spent her entire life in the foster care system.  Victoria's self-image has been shaped by the one constant she has known throughout her childhood: rejection.  After being bounced from 32 different placements, Victoria is finally aging out of the system.  Having turned 18, she is eligible for emancipation.  While that freedom is welcomed, it comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Victoria has no money, no family, and no place to call home.  What she has, though, is an extraordinary gift for changing lives.  It will be the discovery of this gift that offers up new hope for a girl who has always been too afraid to hope, or trust, or love.

We learn early on that Victoria had one significant relationship at the age of nine.  Her foster parent, Elizabeth, taught Victoria how the meanings of flowers were an important form of communication during the Victorian Era.  This language of flowers is something intuitive for Victoria.  Plants, flowers, and growing things become her solace, her sanctuary, and the very life of life.

As Victoria seeks to find her way in a world that frightens her, individuals from her past reappear.  One offers the chance for true love.  The other offers the chance for redemption.  Both can give Victoria something she has always wanted more than anything: a family and a sense of belonging.  Will Victoria be able to move past the shame and feelings of unworthiness that stand in the way of making her way home?  You will want to read The Language of Flowers to discover the answer to that question.

Before we go, were you curious, in the introduction to this review, about why we might want Victoria to pick some white violets and daffodils to replace the thistles, peonies, and basil in her bouquet?  Those white violets represent the sentiment "let's take a chance on happiness" and daffodils are symbolic of new beginnings.  When it comes right down to it, isn't that what we wish for everyone who has waited a lifetime to grow into something beautiful?







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Thursday, July 5, 2018

I'll Push You - Book Review

Every once in a while, if we are fortunate, we are given a glimpse into a relationship of such incredible beauty that we are instantly inspired to be more, to do more, and to love more than we ever have before.  To read I'll Push You, is to witness the ultimate expression of brotherly love and devotion.  It is the opportunity to enter into a pilgrimage of the heart.

There are volumes of travelogues written by those who have embarked on such ancient walks as the Camino de Santiago.  The thing that sets this story apart, along with Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray's extremely rare lifelong friendship, is the fact that this trek was supposed to be impossible for them to accomplish.  Few believed they could actually pull it off.  Of course, those naysayers did not comprehend the enormous overcoming power of Justin and Patrick's friendship, of their faith, and of their spirits.

Born just 36 hours apart, Skeez and Paddy, as they affectionately called one another, never really knew life apart from one another.  They were classmates throughout their schooling, were best man in each other's wedding, and only became closer when Justin was diagnosed with a debilitating neuromuscular condition similar to ALS.  When Justin lost his capacity to walk, and to use his arms and legs, Patrick did not hesitate to step in to help Justin's wife care for his every need.

Not one to wave a white flag and give up in defeat, though he would have been justified in feeling more than a little bit of hopelessness, Justin sought to find ways to continue to live life with gusto.  When he learned about the Camino in Spain (The Way), Skeez asked Paddy if they might attempt it. Without losing a beat, Patrick replied: I'll push you.  At the time, neither Justin nor Patrick knew just exactly what it was they had agreed to do.  All too soon, they would begin the most arduous journey of their lives.

How do you cross the Pyrenees, and other mountain ranges, make it through the Mesita desert, and ford through raging rivers in a wheelchair?  What do you do when the pathway becomes a steep, boulder-strewn bowling alley, or an impassable quagmire of deep mud?  These became the daily challenges that had stopped even the most robust pilgrims along the way.  With the help and kindness of strangers, Justin and Patrick are drawn into the pilgrimage within the pilgrimage.  What began as a travel adventure, becomes a deeply transformational journey of self-reflection.

Over the course of 500 miles, Skeez and Paddy explore what it means to love, to serve, to trust, and to grow in grace.  To take the journey with them is a blessing, a privilege, and the chance to ponder how we might be the love that turns the impossible into the possible.









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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review

Jan Arden's Feeding My Mother Book Review
I do it too often. That is, pick up a book without a true appreciate of what I am about to read. Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as My Mom Lives with Memory Loss definitely fits that bill. I picked it up because it was written by a wonderful Canadian music artist and because my mother is experiencing some memory issues right now.

Feeding My Mother turned out to be a series of diary or journal-style entries written over a period of a few years while Arden tried to continue working in the music industry and care for her ailing parents. What I expected was information about memory loss; what I did not expect was the diary style of writing or the recipes. I did expect and receive heartbreak, which is definitely on the menu when a loved one disappears in this manner. It is not really a book to turn to for information about Alzheimer's disease but rather one to read to understand one family's struggles to deal with their situation.

It is a nicely put together book with pictures; caring and sharing; family, pets and lots of love; tears but also much laughter; and with a few simple recipes, some of which I may return to. This book was crafted from (apparently) popular Facebook and Instagram posts that Arden wrote during her journey. I believe that she handled her parental situation as best as she could, something we can all aspire to do if and when we become caregivers for our parents. As Arden says, it is not easy becoming a mother to your mother.

Jann Arden


Arden is an accomplished Canadian singer songwriter who has won eight Juno awards and been nominated for a total of eighteen. She has also written three books. This one plus If I Knew, Don't You Think I'd Tell You and Falling Backwards: A Memoir. Another couple of books for our reading lists.

You can hear Arden discuss Feeding My Mother on CBC Radio by clicking right here. They call the book a cookbook, which I disagree with though it does have a few recipes. If you picked this book up thinking it was a cookbook, you would be disappointed. It is more correctly categorized as a biographical book about Alzheimer's disease and patient care.

Do I Recommend Feeding My Mother? 


Yes, I do recommend Feeding My Mother. It is definitely of interest to someone who is dealing with a family member with memory loss or who sees that coming in the future, as I do. However, I am uncertain if it is a book that my mother should read. I know she would appreciate the humour and the love that is found within the covers but not sure that she needs to really think and worry about all of the situations found in this book. What do you think? Should I give my mother this book to read or not?  Have you read Feeding My Mother? Have you been a caregiver for someone with memory loss?

You can get your hands on a copy of Jann Arden's Feeding My Mother by ordering it from Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

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Order your copy of Feeding My Mother from Amazon.










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Sunday, June 24, 2018

When You Need Ideas on What to Write Inside a Greeting Card, Check Out These Words of Inspiration

Find a Collection of Sayings for Cards Here
When Words Fail You

One of the quirkiest things I've enjoyed doing as a hobby for decades is coming up with sayings to write on the inside of cards.

Since my friend and I were young twenty-somethings, we've been drawn to card shops. You could usually find us in a local card shop pulling the funny cards, laughing as we blurted the creative sentiments to each other.

In those early years, I remember thinking, if I had to do it all over again, I'd go into the advertising business so I could write funny lines for cards and create commercials.

Then came the internet, where I discovered I could put all those useless one liners rolling around in my head to good use.

Thus Was Born My Hobby - Writing Sayings for Cards

You'll find sayings for many types of cards: For a new home, a new driver,
Review These Sayings You Can Write in a Card
engagements, bridal showers, weddings, birthdays, sympathy, friends, to say thank you and much more.

It's a crazy knack to be able to write card sentiments in no time flat.

On a good day I'm able to sit down and pump out 50 to 100 ideas in an hour or less. Sometimes those crazy one-liners just keep coming. Of all the skills, THIS is the one I got??

When You're Stuck, Use These Sayings

For those who struggle with what to write inside a card, don't sit there racking your brain trying to find the best words.

Simply go to one of my card saying pages and choose something to put on the card, or just use a blurb as inspiration to write your own personal note.

Writing funny card sayings is my favorite thing to do, however, I've written just as many that are serious and even somber.

If I had to select, I'd say the sayings I've written for Sympathy Cards are the most useful. When dad passed away we received cards from all over the country with personally written notes and they meant so much to us.

I was completely shocked at how reading those notes eased my pain for a few moments. The thoughtfulness put into a few kind words meant more than I can express. That moment was my inspiration to put together a list of written sayings for sympathy cards.

Personally I always write a note when I give someone a card. You don't have to write long paragraphs either, just one or two lines of thoughtfulness can make all the difference.

Have fun finding the best sayings that fit your special someone. Here's a card already completed with the saying on it. It's oozing sarcasm for that friend who loves sarcasm :)



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Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Mountain Between Us - Book Review

The Mountain Between Us - Book Review
In every life, there are mountains to be crossed.  For some, those mountains are physical.  In other cases, the challenges are emotional or relational.  For Ashley and Ben, in The Mountain Between Us, those mountains come in all three forms.  On the surface, their story appears to be one of wilderness survival, but as we delve deeper, we will see that it is really about crossing over into your own truth after braving the storms of life.

As the story begins, Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, and Ben Payne, a surgeon, are about to be stranded in Salt Lake City as all flights are being shut down by a massive storm system.  Ashley is desperate to get home for her wedding, while Ben has surgeries to perform.  Given the situation, the only option left to them is to charter a private flight around the line of growing storms.  The plan is to fly to Denver while there is still the possibility of making it home.

Mid-flight to Denver, their pilot has a heart attack and makes a crash landing in one of the most remote and rugged areas of the country (the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah).  To make matters worse, a flight plan was not required, so no one knows the whereabouts of these three passengers (or even that Ashley and Ben got on that plane).

Now, with their pilot dead, and Ashley seriously injured, Ben must figure out a way to keep both of them alive.  Stranded at a very high elevation in the midst of winter storms, without food or other necessary provisions, the odds are not good for them to make it.  Without hope of a search and rescue operation, their bleak situation will cause both Ashley and Ben to reflect on the things that matter most in life.  During their odyssey of searching for a way to survive, both will discover what it means to truly live and love.

There are many things I liked about this book.  First, I must admit that I am really into wilderness survival stories.  There is just something about rising up above your circumstances, no matter how bleak, that speaks to me.  Nobody survives a devastating accident without being changed in critical ways.  It is the story of that transformation that greatly appeals to me.  I think, too, that it is impossible not to insert yourself into the situation to reflect on how you would handle things, or be changed by such life-altering circumstances.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the story is how Ben uses the few things available to him in a MacGyver fashion.  It was interesting to see how he came up with creative solutions to daunting challenges.  In a life-or-death situation, I would want Ben Payne by my side.

I appreciate how author Charles Martin tells a story.  He makes me care about his characters and they become real to me.  Though this book has been newly released as a movie, I'm glad I chose to read the book first.  The reviews for The Mountain Between Us, in book form, are much better than those for the movie.  It seems that many moviegoers felt a disconnect between the two leading actors.  That is so different from what you will experience about the connection between Ashley and Ben in the book.  The two become very bonded, though neither character violates any promises made to spouse or fiance during their time together in the wilderness.

This is a good book to read during the holiday season.  It reminds us that love conquers all and that we can each climb and cross any mountain that rises up in our lives.





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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

3 Outstanding Picture Book Stories to Win Little Hearts

Three Outstanding Picture Books to Win Little Hearts (A Review)

Today we will look at three books written by Pat Furstenberg


Everyone knows that children love Pictures and Picture books with lots of interesting words and sounds.  Part of every childs' development comes from those times when they are snuggled up with mom or dad, Grammie or Grandpa listening to the words and looking at the pictures.  It's also a wonderful time to bond with our children and grandchildren in a way that will bring fond memories back to them one day.


From my own experience, there is nothing quite like the quiet time spent with my little ones telling a story, listening to them describe how they see the pictures and teaching them some great life lessons all at the same time.  Books and the words they contain are stepping stones that children love to learn and hear.  So when you come across some books that you know children will love, it's only fair to share what you have found.


Rhyming and word-play are an important part of every child's verbal development.  There are word rhymes that are still taught to children today that go back at least 60 to 70 years and we are still teaching these same rhymes with their sing song rythms.  The kids just love them all.



These three books by Pat Furstenberg are all written in this way.  The pictures are delightful and the stories themselves are ones that will resonate with big and  little hearts.  Children will enjoy the stories of unlikely friends, while parents and grandparents can tell little side stories too. 


The Cheetah and the Dog are an unlikely pair, yet they become and remain good friends even though no on thought this was possible.  Too many differences don't matter when your hearts are in the same place.  How many times does that happen in real life?  Do you have a friendship that is still as strong as the Cheetah's and the Dog's? 



The Elephant and the Sheep is an endearing story too!  How often we make friends but don't think beyond what we see right in front of us.  Each of our lives are different, but, the one thing we all need is a friend.  A friend that can see beyond our hardships and differences. Only when we try really hard do we sometimes find out the truth.  Little sheep learns a valuable lesson about friendship,  love, and family.  Elephant learns something too,  family can be much more than living with other elephants.  Family can be living with those who love us!


The Lion and the Dog is another story about our differences and how they really don't matter.  What matters is how we care and treat each other.  Lion is so sad, yet the little dog Milo doesn't give up on Leo, even when he is less than friendly.  Milo knows what every good dog knows,  everyone needs a friend!  


If you have children, reading them stories about friendship and caring for others is a great way to encourage empathy at a young age.  The world needs more of that!  Word play and stories with great illustrations makes it easy for parents and grandparents to instill little life lessons in a very heart-warming way.  

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can get these books and so many more by Patricia and other authors as well, delivered right to your Kindle device and some are free with Prime Membership.









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Sunday, June 4, 2017

3 Decorating Choices for a Love Themed Bedroom

All You Need is Love - A Bedroom Theme Based on What the Worlds Need Now

Well, these grand sentiments may be a little too big for bedroom décor, however, decorating because love is love, family is love, children mean love, or you love to inspire how to love, makes all the sense in the world.

From deciding upon a nursery theme to decorating a master bedroom, love works. Love fits all ages, all sizes, and all families and best of all, we never outgrow love. We can re-use and re-purpose all things love.

Love Rugs - The One Time You Can Walk all Over Love to Feel Good

The above handcrafted, stain resistant Love Rug is like love itself; it works for all ages. Whether you're decorating a child's room or planning to add loveable funk to your master bedroom, this four foot by six foot, one inch thick rug makes a creative addition.

For the nursery, put it front of the crib, for a grown-up space, add it to the side or end of the bed, in the middle of the room, or depending upon the size of the space, in front of a corner reading chair.

If this rug isn't just right, be sure to visit the link under the above Love-Rug photo to view a wider selection of colors, styles and designs.

Light Up the Room with Love - LED Love Signs


This particular Love Sign features 16 LED white lights and measures 20.8" by 9.25" by 1.56". It's a cordless accessory that operates with two AA batteries. It has an on off switch as well.

Place it in a bedroom above a dresser or over each bedroom side table as a form of ambient lighting. Better yet, for those who get up in the middle of the night to feed baby, it makes the ideal soft lighted guide.

When rocking baby, feeling tired, the word of love helps to remind us about what's important in life.

When you visit the link under the LED Love Sign photo, you'll find additional LED sign choices.

Wrap Love Around You in Bed with Love Themed Bedding


One of the easiest ways to bring a little love into the bedroom is by redoing your bedding set with one that features hearts, or roses, or words

Love Themed Bedding Here - Additional Designs As Well
Surprisingly, artistic bedding sets can be quite affordable making them an excellent choice for a seasonal or emotional re-do.

We tend to think our bedding has to remain the same, when in truth, purchasing various duvet sets allows us to interchange our room's décor without much added expense or fuss.

Use a love themed duvet set for your love themed bedroom and interchange it from time to time if hearts and roses get a little too much for constant use.

Changing up duvet sets simply means choosing colors and themes to match the fundamental design of the room. Find duvets that tie into your existing floors and walls and you'll be able to give your space hassle-free-pick-me-ups whenever you're in the mood for it.

Lead with love, it's the only road that takes us home - happy decorating.


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Understanding What a Woman Really Wants


Watching the Academy of Country Music Awards Tonight, the Lyrics of One Song Jumped Out and Stole the Show

This year it was the lyrics from Faith Hill and Tim McGraw's latest hit song, Speak to a Girl.

Comfortably cuddled on one couch, with hubby relaxing on the other, my ears and eyes stood to attention as the beautiful Ms. Faith Hill began to sing the words to this song.

My first thought was writers Shy Carter, Dave Gibson and Joe Spargur, nailed the message, and of course the delivery by Faith and Tim sealed the power behind it.

These lyrics are especially powerful...
She don't give a damn 'bout your pride or the lies that you're hiding behind
She just wanna feel that you're real, that she's near to the man that's inside
She don't need to hear she's a queen on a throne, that she's more than amazing
She just wants you to say what you mean and to mean everything that you're saying
Being a mom of four sons, a wife, a sister to two brothers, and a daughter of an amazing father, the male psyche has been a part of my life from birth.

Surrounded by guys, I'm not going to sugar coat this, I have strong opinions about the plight of men. However, what struck me about the above words was how these four lines concisely sum up what matters most to women.

She don't give a damn 'bout your pride or the lies that you're hiding behind (Lyrics)
Yes. Thank you lyricists. Of course we don't want to be married to a book of secrets, but we understand that in your soul, like in our own, there's a place that belongs only to you and your God.

However...

She just wanna feel that you're real, that she's near to the man that's inside (Lyrics)
This is the message I've been trying, in my girl-way, to drive home to my sons, even my husband. Guys, if you're reading this, it's all about 'connection'. When we connect to you in mind, body and soul, we truly become your soulmate, your lady ... especially mind and soul.

From what I've seen, and what I've learned, unfortunately it is possible to go through life and never fully connect with your man. You can love, but never totally connect, you can admire but never totally connect, you can be friends but never totally connect. Sorta sad, but it happens often.

There's only one way to fully connect...

She just wants you to say what you mean and to mean everything that you're saying (Lyrics)
It's easy to create a block around ourselves, especially to those close to us. We may not mean to, but we all do it. We're holding back, we're not committing completely, we're failing at the one thing that appears to be the secret to our soul's freedom; the gift of oneness.

If you want to understand what your lady really wants, listen to this song and work towards connecting with her in mind and soul ... the body will follow in due time.



By the way, you'll also want to pay extra attention to these lyrics, "You better respect your Mama, respect the hell out of her" - because you've heard it before .... A girl will sum up the kind of man you'll be by how you treat your mother.

Give your lady the only gift she really wants - yourself, all of you.





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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Velveteen Rabbit Reviewed

Every Child's Library Should Have This Book


Could This Be The Velveteen Rabbit?
I do not remember how old I was when I first heard the story of The Velveteen Rabbit but I do know that after having it read to me; it became my favorite story of all time. I do not know for sure which I relate to more the child in the story or the toy rabbit. Truth be told, probably a little of both. 

I will fast forward in time to the day that I found out that I was expecting my first child. Do you know what I did just after hearing the news? I went straight to the local book store and purchased a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. Once purchased I went straight to the car, took the book out of the bag and proceeded to read the story to my growing baby. I had no idea whether I was reading to a boy or a girl at that moment but what I did know was that I was going to love that child with as much love as the boy did his toy rabbit. 

As time passed, I read that book to both of my children over and over again. We will fast forward again to the day that I found out that I was to be a Grandmother. The very first thing I bought for that baby and all of the grandchildren since is the book, The Velveteen Rabbit

 

What is it about The Velveteen Rabbit story with me?

I guess in a nutshell it is that powerful message of love. I am not sure why as a child it resonated so strongly with me but it did. It still does. The magic of love is about the most powerful thing we experience as humans. The giving of love and the receiving of love. I believe it is what makes us "real". 

Imagine being a new toy in the room and wondering what all of this is about. Imagine hoping that the child will pick you up and play with you. Imagine that at night when the child is sleeping all of the toys come alive. Some of them are rude to you and some even make fun of you. Imagine there is one toy that seems wiser than the others. It shows you kindness and shares wisdom with you. It is the Skin Horse. The tattered old horse tells you that the goal of all toys is to become "real" from the love of a human. This confuses you so the Skin Horse explains....

"Real isn't how you are made. It is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with  but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." 
I encourage you to share this book with a child in your life. Perhaps you will remember it from your own childhood. It has been a classic since 1922 when it was first written by Margery Williams. The story transcends time with the message of love. As the Skin Horse says, "It does not matter what we look like or where we are from; what matters is to be loved." Well, that is paraphrasing a bit but it really is the message. We become our real selves when we receive love and I believe give love to each other and the world we live in. Isn't that an important message that every child should learn at a very early age? Perhaps, I identify more with that old tattered horse who knows what it feels like to become "real"from the love of a child.... 



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Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Song About How Delicate Love Really Is - We Are Glass

(Lyrics) - "We may shine, We may shatter, We may be picking up the pieces here on after, We are fragile, We are Human, We are shaped by the light we let through us, We break fast, Cause we are Glass"

Glass by Thompson Square speaks to the delicate nature of a couple's love.

In this life our ability and willingness to love is constantly being tested.

Whether it's the love we have for our significant other, or love for people we don't know, love is constantly under attack. There's a battle between darkness and light and life's complexities often pull us in one direction or another.

"We Are Human, We Are Shaped by The Light We Let Through Us"

When we're unsure whether someone deserves our love, often that's our test. It's not easy, but who in this crazy life can say the journey from cradle to grave is easy.

What does it mean to love?

The answer may be as simple as the question.

We simply choose to.

We make that choice.

It's safe to say that very few people, past and present, have successfully pulled off unconditional love towards the human race.

What is unconditional love? It excludes the word 'But':
  • He loves me but...
  • My love is real except for...
  • I can love, but I don't forget....
  • Your love is real, but let's face it....
  • I love them when...
  • I'll forgive you but...
  • I Love you but...
The ultimate test in living our human life is to master ourselves.

There isn't a greater battle than our battle with self.

When we choose to live with love, really make that choice, it's a peace filled life.

But .... we are glass, we break fast.

(Lyrics) "We might be oil and water, this could be a big mistake, we might burn like gasoline and fire, It's a chance we'll have to take"








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